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Heart (Good and Bad)

“Real life is lived in the depths of our heart, as is our hell and our paradise. That is where the battle is fought between our good and wicked self. That is where we reject or accept God and our neighbor. And that’s where our journey to eternity begins.” (Fr. Andreas Agathokleous)

“The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace—all things are there.” (St. Macarius)

“The heart is subject to injury. The traumas and the contradictions of our lives easily wound the heart. Our fears, our anger, our shame, our darkened memories and such, all contribute to the heart’s coldness…we know that those elements are intensified by the actions and whisperings of the adversary. All of the actions of asceticism – fasting, vigils, etc., have the single purpose of cleansing and healing the heart. Sadly, we often give greater attention to what we are eating (or not eating) than the things that are eating at our hearts.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Let us not overlook the fact that Jesus comes to the Temple in Jerusalem as the Master of the house. God Incarnate appears as a man, yet He is deserving of all honor, glory, and worship as He enters His holy Temple. Instead, He finds buying and selling: profane exchanges of various denominations and forms of money, as well as animals for sacrifice. This bustling trade by the merchants thrives by providing a convenience store for those coming to offer sacrifice. By driving out the sellers and overturning the tables, the Lord Jesus dramatizes His ownership of the Temple and expresses His displeasure with these business operations. He reiterates the same truth that He revealed in His conversation with the woman at Sychar (Jn 4:7-26): God’s Temple is far less of a place than it is a condition of the heart, for the human heart is designated as a temple for the Lord. Of course, we may sinfully set up other “businesses” in our heart and thus displace the true worship of God for which our hearts are consecrated through the holy mysteries.” (Dynamis 8/4/2023)

God is everywhere. And when He finds a heart that isn’t opposed to Him, a humble heart, He enters it and fills it with joy. The joy of the heart which has God within it is so great that it attaches itself to Him and never wants to separate from Him. The Lord doesn’t approach a heart puffed up with egotism. Such a heart is deeply sad, shrivels and slowly dissolves. It wallows in ignorance, sorrow and darkness. No matter how sinful we are, as soon as we turn to the Lord in repentance and desire, the door of the heart opens to Him. Our inner uncleanness drains out and makes way for purity, virtue, the Savior Himself, the great Visitor of the soul, the Bringer of joy, light and mercy. This blessed state is a gift of God, not something we ourselves have achieved. And since it’s a gift, we ought, in humility, to thank the giver.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“The treasure in one’s heart is the intention of the thought, from which the searcher of hearts judges the outcome. Hence it quite frequently occurs that some persons perform good deeds of lesser importance with a greater reward of heavenly grace. This is because of the intention in their hearts to accomplish greater good if they could. Others, though they display greater works of virtue, are allotted smaller rewards by the Lord on account of the indifference in their lukewarm hearts. The deed of the widow who contributed two copper coins to the temple was preferred to the large contributions of those who were rich by the One who weighs what is within our hearts.” (St. Bede)

“A small heart means a small life with small rewards. A large heart means larger and more meaningful life experiences that can help us heal and learn new ways of relating. The larger our heart, the more aware we are of our own inner world and, most importantly, the inner world of others. The larger our heart, the more willing we are to act when we see a need in someone else, even if it means inconveniencing ourselves. We can go from being the one needing the healing to becoming the healer. We are called to have a heart that expands to the point of being able to cover all of humanity. Having a large heart is also a sign of spiritual maturity…Some of us start life with a big heart, but with the passage of time, the addition of life’s responsibilities, and the inevitable hurts and painful experiences, we become self-consumed, or consumed with the welfare of our own immediate family. Our heart contracts, and sadly our world grows smaller. We only have time for ourselves and our own. Such a process often happens subtly and unconsciously. Our vision of life grows so small and narrow that we miss opportunities and the most beautiful aspects of our life in this world.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“How attractive is the image of a good heart! The reason is simple. “There is wisdom in the good heart of a man” (Prv 14:34), and we can be certain that “the Lord loves holy hearts” (Prv 22:12), for as He says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The true miracle of the Wisdom who imparts wisdom is the light that He creates in those who embrace and follow Him. He fills those who strive through repentance and prayer to be ever more blameless and acceptable to Him (Prv 22:12) so that their faces shine (Eccl 8:1) with an illumination that comes from Him, the Source of all wisdom. After all, Christ “is radiant and unfading and is easily perceived by those who love” Him (Wis 6:12).” (Dynamis 1/3/2022)

“We all affect each other in words and actions. But we also affect each other by our mere presence through our hearts. Science has shown the heart is more than just a pump, and has its own logic, “talks” with the brain, and along with the gut, controls us in ways far greater than the brain. Cardiologist Dr. Trent Orfanos explains that the heart’s electromagnetic field is much stronger than the brains. It extends outward from each person ten feet while brain’s electromagnetic field only extents a few inches. This is why we feel good around a “good-hearted” person. The opposite is always true. This is also why the Lord, the Apostles, and Holy Father spend so much time instructing us to make our hearts good and to guard our hearts. In doing so, we love ourselves and others whether we realize it or not.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“…it is important for every Christian to pay attention to his own heart. Christ makes this abundantly clear when he interiorizes the commandments on murder and adultery, warning…It is not that our outward actions do not matter, but that they are only manifestations of the state of the heart: The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The condition of our heart determines how we will respond to God’s presence and love when we depart from this world. We are to reflect the love of God to others. The more we do this, the more familiar God’s love becomes to the other. Thus, when they find themselves in the presence of God and His love, perhaps we will have done some part in helping them recognize and embrace God’s love and presence, rather than finding it unfamiliar and turning away.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“A true Christian knows that the heart is a mighty mystery. Everything that comes in touch with the core of our very being enters through the heart. All meditation involves the heart. The mind has several levels, most of which are generally hidden from our consciousness. Thoughts come out in our dreams, daydreams, and even when we most wish they were not present. Obsessions and compulsions invade our thoughts and cause us to think and act in ways that may not be in our best interests. We don’t easily control the workings of our mind. But our hearts express the conditions of our body and soul at every given moment. Everything mental, physical and spiritual forms its impression on the heart. All that comes to us through our senses, surrounding or embracing us, impacts on our hearts. Jesus knows that better than we do. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). How does one purify the heart? It takes at least one lifetime. To begin, one must pay attention to the heart.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky) 

“Disasters have their spiritual beginnings in men’s hearts…Within the heart’s recesses, our passionate thoughts hasten our journey toward visible, sinful action. This corrupt interior movement effectively negates the truth of God, leading us to question whether He truly acts in our lives. Such interior insults leave us utterly without excuse before God (Rom 1:20). When we deny and destroy the image of God within us, we first do ourselves in by the disastrous consent of the heart. The sinful heart dares God to act visibly, as if challenging Him to put up a billboard listing what is already written within us.” (Dynamis 3/20/2019)

“Cain’s heart was not right and he killed his brother Abel as a result. The Lord spared him but that still did not bring about his change of heart. Instead, he went to the land of Nod. Nod means “one who wanders away from God.” He built a city and had a son named Enoch (not to be confused with the Enoch, the Father of Methuselah who went directly to heaven like Elijah as told in Genesis 5:24). In his pride, Cain named the city after his son. He glorified himself and his accomplishment, not God, and sent this message to his own son. Adam and Eve had another son Seth, and Seth had a son he named Enosh. The Bible said Enosh, in contrast to Enoch, hoped in the Lord and called upon his name (Genesis 4:26). This is the humility of a good heart. So we see even in the beginning as the world populates the manifestation of the sheep (Enosh, the right hearted) and the goats (Enoch, the wrong hearted) that Christ warns us about in Matthew 25:31-46.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“We grow cold within when our heart is distracted, when it cleaves to something other than God, worrying about different things, getting angry and blaming someone, –when we are discontented and pander to the flesh, wallowing in luxury and wandering thoughts. Guard against these things, and the coldness will diminish.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“Most of us live outside our heart, and our mind is in a constant state of confusion. Some good thoughts may surface from time to time, but the majority will be harmful, and this destructive condition will prevail for as long as we continue to ignore our heart...The prayers of a fragmented mind have neither clarity nor depth, but a mind that is reunited with the heart overflows with humble prayer and has such strength that it reaches the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” (Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex)

“There is a need, rather, to become good watchers of the heart, as well as the mind; to discern that which is good and fosters our prayer from that which rends it from us. This is the spiritual labor of disciplined prayer, and is the preparation by which we draw near to God.” (Bishop Irenei Steenberg)

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