Purification by way of substitution: Nature abhors a vacuum

The heart is made for loving.  There are good, beautiful things all around us; not only is there nothing wrong with recognizing them as such, but something is amiss if we do not.  However, we get ourselves all tangled up by loving things that, although good in themselves, are not good for us, or by loving them more than they merit, etc.  We have all read the words, “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  What do these words mean?

Although an entire book, or even several volumes, could be written explaining this short-but-profound sentence, this blog entry will only scratch the surface.

The human heart must love; it is incapable of not loving.  As mentioned here , our choice of objects to love is paramount — upon it all depends.  If we give our heart too completely to things which cannot satisfy us, not only will we be unavoidably disappointed, we will also lose our peace of mind and heart.  Put another way, if we give the principal place within our hearts to objects that are and can only be of secondary importance — which includes all created goods, all that is not God — it is absolutely certain that interior disorder and pain, perhaps a good deal of it, will result.  However, if we love first things first, so to speak, the rest tends to fall into place in an almost-effortless manner.  The principal place within our hearts, the ‘best portion’ of our love belongs to God alone.  He created us out of nothing, maintains us in existence during every single moment of our life, provides for all of our needs, etc.; in a word, He is our best and truest Friend.   All the trouble within our own hearts, within our own lives, and throughout the entire world flows from one thing: misplaced, disordered love.

While it is vital that we get to know ourselves and purify our hearts of the disordered affections we find therein, it is good to keep in mind that nature abhors a vacuum.  We cannot just leave off loving, even if the things we love are not good for us or should not be loved in the way or to the degree that we love them; we must transfer the affections of our heart to the only object that can really satisfy them: God.  While absolute purification of the heart and the concomitant restoration of a rightly-ordered interior is not an easy process to complete, we may begin at any time and God is always ready to assist us.  As we grow in the love of God, all desire for lesser objects will naturally find its right place and proportion.  Although the work involved in cleansing our spiritual house has an unappealing, difficult aspect, it is the most invigorating, satisfying work we can do — and God takes care of the really hard parts, provided we faithfully and perseveringly do our part.  What is more, although it may seem like hard work, the alternative is actually much harder.  Think of a filthy home: yes, it is hard work to clean it, but continuing to spend our time, day after day, in a filthy space that we know we should clean wears on us much more than a little bit of hard, manual labor.  Continuing to needlessly carry burdens that are immeasurably beyond our strength makes no sense whatsoever, our inclination to do just that notwithstanding.  If we seek God first, it is absolutely certain that all other matters will fall into place in the way that is best for our temporal and eternal interests.

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