Blessed Are the Clean of Heart
Presence of God – O Lord, purify my heart and my mind, that I may learn to know You better.
The beatitude: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), corresponds to the gift of understanding. There is a purity of heart which is the indispensable condition for receiving an abundant inflowing of the gift of understanding; it is the purity that results, not only from the absence of sin, but also from the absence of the slightest earthly affection. In fact, God does not communicate Himself fully to a creature whose heart is not absolutely pure; that is, one whose entire capacity for affection is not reserved for Him. As long as we have any attachment to creatures, any seeking for the affection of others, any complacency in feeling that we are loved by them, our heart is not pure enough to enjoy the divine communications. Therefore, before allowing a soul to penetrate His divine mysteries, God subjects it to a purification of the affections by means of detachments and sacrifices, sometimes at the cost of blood, but which, if generously accepted, will eventually detach the heart from creatures and leave it entirely free for its Creator. If God makes us pass through this trial, let us not draw back or try to evade His action, but let us cooperate with it, being fully persuaded that He reserves the fullness of His gifts and of His light for those souls alone who are free from any shadow of creatures, those hearts which belong entirely to Him. In this sense it may well be said that the sight of God is the reward promised to the pure of heart. In fact, if the heart retains any attachment, even slight, to creatures, the intellect remains clouded, and “has no more capacity for receiving enlightenment from the wisdom of God than has the air, when it is dark, for receiving enlightenment from the sun…. Oh!” exclaims St. John of the Cross, “if men but knew how great is the blessing of divine light whereof they are deprived by this blindness which proceeds from their affections and desires!” (Ascent of Mount Carmel I, 8, 2.6). Indeed, when the heart is pure, then the intellect, like a clear glass, can be completely penetrated by the light of the Holy Spirit.
“O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.
“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy, but only purity of heart permits us to see You.
“My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence” (St. Augustine).
“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (cf. St. Bernard).
Note from Dan: This post on the clean of heart is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on the clean of heart: St. John of the Cross, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1656; Augustine of Hippo [retouched], c. 1490, Sandro Botticelli, PD-Worldwide; both PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; both Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.