April 24, 2012

The Light and Shadow of the Heart

The heart is a place of encounter, the innermost sanctuary of the human person. What a mystery this innermost sanctuary! Although we are closest to ourselves, we understand the wilderness of our own hearts least of all. Those who explore this landscape discover endless horizons covered in light and shadows, surrounded by God whether closed against Him or opened to Him.

The paradox of true self-possession is that it is realized in sharing our hearts with others, in being vulnerable, in being true in our friendships and dealings. The truth about the heart is only realized when it is open. We only know the truth about who we are when we give ourselves in love. For those who give themselves in love, this truth is received and all kinds of wonderful holy affections are born deep within that they did not know they could have.

Without the truth, the heart is a very dark place where rash judgments are made and malice conceived. Posed against the truth, sentimentalism and nostalgia are as much enemies as are resentment and bitterness. Such enemies confine the heart in the prison of one's own big fat ego. If the walls to this prison do not come down, there is no escape.

The heart is the prize that is at stake in the cosmic battle of good and evil. The battle for the heart is waged in the mind. We use our minds to pray because we want to lift up our hearts to God. Prayer opens our minds to the truth.

If we are to preserve what is most good, beautiful and true about our humanity, we must safe-guard the heart with the truth. The truth is the banner of the heart, the seal which protects what is most sacred about our lives. Truth is the royal road to freedom of heart, to the heart-felt joy this world cannot take away.

For those who pray, truth is revealed on the Cross. Christ Crucified is forever the new man who opens God's heart to man and He is God who reveals the truth of man to himself. To live under this saving truth means to constantly scrutinize our lives in the Light of the Gospel and in the Shadow of the Cross. Even more, it is to behold with wonder and adoration the splendor of this Shadow and Light across those limitless horizons which reveal the One in whose image the human heart is fashioned.