Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 26, 2017)
As in the case of the Scriptures, the image of ‘heart’ in the Salesian tradition embodies all that “is most profound, most inalienable, most personal, most divine in us. “(Ravier, Sage and Saint, p. 146).
Living from the heart per se, however, is no guarantee of a happy, healthy, holy life. We know that our hearts harbor vice as well as virtue; our hearts reflect darkness as well as light; our hearts entertain temptation as well as follow inspiration; our hearts flirt with death as well as long for life.
In short, the content of our hearts – good and not so good - impacts upon every aspect of our lives, most especially our relationships with God, ourselves, and one another.
Francis de Sales knows the joy and pain of the human heart. He knows of its high tides of grace, the low ebbs of sin, and everything else in between. He knows that living from the heart requires the willingness to consider its contents. He offers us this simple, yet powerful method for doing just that:
What affections hold your heart? What passions possess it? In what has it chiefly gone astray? By the passions of the heart we pass judgment on its condition, examining them one after another.
The lute player touches all the strings to find those which are out of tune and brings them together either by tightening or loosening them. So, too, if we examine the passions of love, hatred, desire, hope, sadness and joy in our hearts and find them out of tune for the melody that we wish to make to God’s glory, let us attune them by means of God’s grace and the counsel of others. (Intro Part Five, Chapter 7)
Heart is the place in which all of who we are – intellect, affect, will, sexuality, desire, imagination, and so much more – comes together. To that end, people willing to tune the passions of their hearts – to blend with God’s melody of love - are people of integrity.
As we prepare for another Lenten season, this is a wonderful opportunity to “bring to light what is hidden in the darkness” of our hearts, both the good and the not-so-good.