The Blessedness of the Clean of Heart
1. “Blessed are the clean of heart,” says Jesus in the Beatitudes, for they shall see God. (Mt. 5:8) “The sensual man,” adds St. Paul, “does not perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
How true this is. When the flesh gains control over the spirit and our lower instincts enslave the intellect, we are overcome by confusion and spiritual blindness. No longer can we see God's reflection in created things; no longer do we hear His voice. Impurity and sensuality lead to disregard for the law of God, whereas purity of heart makes it easy for us to love His law.
One day, as was his custom, St. Joseph Cafasso went to the prison to visit the convicts. Among them there was a hardened old sinner who was interested neither in God nor in confessing his sins. The Saint met him and tried to persuade him to kneel down and make his confession. "I do not believe in God," replied the old man. The Saint simply looked at him. "Kneel down," he said, "confess your sins, and afterwards you will believe." It turned out as he had predicted. The old crime-hardened sinner told his sins, wept for them, and became a new man. It was as if the scales had fallen from his eyes, which now saw God clearly once more. Through the forgiveness of his sins he found again the way of supernatural love.
We should be grateful to God that we are not in the same state as this poor prisoner was, but it is probable that we have been often disturbed by impure suggestions. On these occasions we may have lost sight of God and our high and pure ideals may have suffered an eclipse. We must preserve our chastity, however. With this purpose in view we should renew our good resolutions in the presence of God and should constantly implore His grace and the protection of the Blessed Virgin.
2. The clean of heart will see God. St. Thomas observes that the heart may and should be purified in two ways, even as God may be seen in two ways. (S. Th., II-II, q. 8. a. 7) The first essential is to purify the disturbed passions, which blind the soul to heavenly things. The second is to cleanse the mind and to make it immune from error and from evil fancies so that it may be permanently enlightened by God.
Similarly, the vision of God is twofold. When we see God perfectly, we see His Divine Essence, and such happiness is possible only in the Beatific Vision. There is also an imperfect vision of God, by which we see Him not in Himself but in created things. We can and should have this vision in this life. All the wonders of creation are rays of the eternal beauty of God. Creatures, therefore, should form for us a mystical ladder which leads us to God. We should never become entangled with transient worldly goods, but should see and love God in them all. The Saints were clean of heart and could see God more clearly than the most learned scholars.
3. Let us conclude this meditation with an appropriate prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas. "Make my heart watchful, O God, so that no vain thought may distract it from You. Make it noble, so that it may never be seduced by any base affection. Make it upright, so that no evil intention may defile it. Make it steadfast, so that troubles may not dismay it. Make it free, so that it may not yield to the onslaughts of passion. Grant me, my God, the intelligence to understand You, the love to seek You, the wisdom to find You, words to please You, the perseverance to wait faithfully for You, and the hope of embracing You at last. Grant that I, a repentant sinner, may bear Your chastisements with resignation. Poor pilgrim that I am, may I draw on the treasury of Your grace and may I one day be eternally happy with you in heavenly glory. Amen."
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