By Father Roch Kereszty
Special to The Texas Catholic
You may remember that we had several columns on the challenge of faith for young men and women. This will be the last on this topic.
To some people, young and old, purity of heart sounds like a naïve and absurd proposition, feasible only for children whose sexual passions have not yet awakened. Yet, if we are Christians we cannot excise from the Bible the sayings of Jesus on purity of heart: “ … I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5: 28). “To the clean all things are clean,” St. Paul says to Titus (Tit 1:15). Being clean means that our intentions are clean with the result that we can see the world and ourselves in their God-intended reality. We see its goodness and do not want to distort and abuse it. The dying brother of Fr. Zosima in The Brothers
Karamazov exclaims: “the world would be Paradise if only we could see it.” Jesus came to enable us to look upon the world with God’s eyes and thus bring us back to Paradise as he promised the good thief, when He said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” He also gave us a preview of it already on earth (Mt 6:25-34) when he spoke of the lilies of the field, a preview only the pure of heart can see; those who are no longer dominated by the cravings of the flesh, the cravings of the eye and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:16). To obtain this new and pure heart should be the goal of all young men and women so that they have the strength to face the challenges of adult life as well as enjoying the foretaste of Paradise. They will possess a peace and serenity amidst the worst turbulences. A pure heart is like a powerful lens which, by God’s grace, is able to recollect and focus all our energies on what we are doing, as a lens focuses the divergent rays of the sun. Such persons alone can give their whole selves wholly to God and wholly to their spouses since they are whole in themselves.
With a pure heart we can somehow see God already in this life. Not face to face but in his creatures. If we can sense their beauty and enjoy their goodness, we have a vague intuition of the infinite beauty and infinite goodness that is revealed in them.
Purity in sexual matters is only one aspect of the purity of heart but an important aspect that intensifies our happiness and zest for life. With a pure heart we can look at a beautiful girl, admire her and perhaps fall in love with her, but, in spite of our physical longing, we will not want to use her in order to satisfy our lust. Since we are a fallen race, as long as we live in this world, strong temptations of lust will come upon us. We might even feel at times that we are walking on a stormy sea and the waves are drowning us. If, with Peter, we cry out: “Lord help me, I am perishing” Christ will always grab our hand and take us back to the boat. We might feel at times that the sexual temptation is a volcano which is about to cover us with its red hot lava, but it cannot hurt us as long as we entrust our bodies to Mary who will obtain for us the help of her Son.
Even if we succumb to a temptation, we should beg for forgiveness and start over again immediately. If we humble ourselves and persevere, Christ will heal us to purity of heart – to a foretaste of heaven in this world.
Father Roch Kereszty, O.Cist., is a theologian and monk at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas in Irving. His column will appear occasionally in The Texas Catholic.