Third Week of Easter

How's Your Heart?

So, how's your heart? Your answer might vary from day to day, but here's a fundamental answer provided by Sacred Scripture:

More tortuous than anything is the human heart, 
beyond remedy; who can understand it? — Jeremiah 17:9

Yikes! To put it simply, our hearts are a mess. They're full of concupiscence (the tendency toward sin), confusion (uncertainty about the truth), and conflict (disharmony with others). Often, our hearts are a mystery even to ourselves. The sorry state of our hearts is the result of sin, and the struggle to purify our hearts is the spiritual warfare that we focused on during Lent.

But in Easter Time, in his resurrected glory, Christ brings spiritual peace to our hearts:

The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!" God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced: 
"Let us fix our eyes on Christ's blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance." (St. Clement of Rome) (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1432)

The Cross has the power to change our heavy, hardened hearts, to lighten and soften them, making them receptive to God's grace. Jesus gives us the grace of contrition (sorrow for our sins) that leads to reconciliation with him:

Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved "the world wrong about sin," i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion. (CCC 1433)

In this time between the Empty Tomb and the descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire, let us allow the Lord to reveal and sweep away the sin and disorder in our hearts, giving us his righteousness and peace.

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.