“All the toil and anxiety of the heart” is vanity. Our modern hearts are torn every which way, or as scripture says elsewhere, nothing is more tortuous than the human heart. Jesus says that he knows it well. St. Paul observes that he tries to do the good, but so often fails; it is his heart that is stressed, confused, and scattered.

The heart today means the seat of our emotions, their locus. In the ancient world, the heart represented more the inmost part, the core of the person. Our contemporary hearts are awash in emotions over which we seem to have lost control. The spiritual life and practice is a disciplined process to still and calm the modern heart so that it can rest in Christ from all its labors.

This spiritual life is arguably very difficult for the modern person who has the attention span of a white fly gnat. We like to read no more than a 40 character text, if we’re going to read anything at all.

I’m writing this today on the memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola who gave the church the Spiritual Exercises as a rigorous way to attain this perfected heart. He teaches the putting to death of the parts of us that are earthly from the second reading. It is not the path of “eat, drink, and be merry.”

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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