Saturday, June 16, 2012

Holy Heart, Pondering Heart

If forced to choose between my head and my heart, I would go with the heart, because I believe God dwells there. Religion is an affair of the heart. Love and truth can be described by the mind, but ultimately they live (or die) in the heart.

The Catholic Church celebrates, on consecutive days, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yesterday was the solemnity of the Sacred Heart; today is the observance of the Immaculate Heart. I recommend a visit to Bro. Jack Rathschmidt's blog for concise Scriptural reflections on these respective feast days (click here and here). For a history of devotion to the Sacred Heart, start here; for a history of veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, go here.

It usually takes me an hour to fall asleep after I turn the lights out and rest my head on the pillow. My mind takes a long time to turn off. Last night was no exception. I tried to let go of my thoughts and attend to my breathing. As I was attempting this, I began to notice not only my breathing, but also my heart beating. And I realized in a way I never appreciated before, that my heart always beats, and my heart never stops. It has never stopped from the moment I was born. It beats constantly for my sake, moving my lifeblood, pushing it, pulling it, motoring it into the lungs so it will be filled with the life-giving air I breathe and emptied of waste into death-breaths, and speeding it to every organ, tissue, and cell. I never have to think about any of this, never have to direct my heart; indeed, I cannot control my heart consciously. I can make it beat faster or slower, but that it beats or it doesn't, I cannot decide. It is a heart; it will always beat.

And I found myself in a mild state of wonder and gratitude that this organ on which my life depends is steadfast. I prayed a little prayer of thanks to God that my heart keeps beating, and I asked that it stay strong. I asked that it persevere. To these prayers I now add another: God, help me remember the beating of my heart. It is a holy thing. Let me ponder it.

If every human heart is holy in its "devotion" to the good of the body, how much more sacred is the heart of Jesus Christ, devoted to the good of all humanity. Our human hearts are the heart of our bodies; Jesus' heart is the Heart of the World.

As I learn to meditate and pray, I hope for a fuller awareness of the rhythm of the heart; and not only mine, but also the rhythm of the Sacred Heart. If the mindful remembering of the beating of my heart is good for the body, so the prayerful remembering of the rhythm of the Sacred Heart is good for my soul. God, give me a heart like that of Mary so in faith and hope I can keep all treasured things: the joy, sorrow, glory, and light of compassion, mercy, peace, and justice. These things are of Jesus Christ, thus they are of God. I ask this for my sake, my neighbors' sake, and my brothers' sake. Amen.

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