How do I Love God with My Whole Mind?
Part II of II
Editor’s Note: In part I, we looked at what Christianizing the mind entails. Then, Father John went on to explain the first two of the three interrelated functions of the human mind: information gathering and thinking deeply. Today we will examine the third function: remembering, and the power of memory, which is connected to remembering. Here, then, is the question we are looking into:
Dear Father John, in both the Old and the New Testament it talks about loving God with our whole mind. I’m sure I don’t even know my whole mind completely. So, how do I love God with my whole mind?
The third function of our intellect links our minds (a spiritual power) to our memories (a sensitive power). Loving God with our whole mind involves training our memory so that it easily retrieves whichever ideas, impressions, or experiences will help us most in each stage of our spiritual journey.
In order to interact with the world around us in a Christian way, we have to learn to recall the truths of revelation and allow them to guide and enlighten us in the various life situations we encounter. What good is it to be able to define Divine Mercy if we refuse to allow that mercy to give us hope and comfort after we commit a grievous sin?
Ancient Israel had a memory problem. God would perform amazing miracles for them, and a week later, when things got tough, they would forget about the miracles and stir up a tempest of whining and complaining. They would also forget about God’s action in their lives in times of prosperity, slipping into a comfortable self-sufficiency that led them to neglect their relationship with him.
The temptation to forget about God’s faithfulness and presence is a strong one. God vehemently warned Israel about it in the Old Testament: “Be careful not to forget the Lord, your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11). The entire chapter expands on this warning. We see the same warning in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, Jesus issues a series of reprimands and encouragements to the seven churches of Asia. In each one of them, he chastises or commends the members of the community in terms of what they have forgotten or kept in mind, what they have held onto or what they have lost. And his indications about how the churches should move forward usually include a reference to repenting and remembering, to persevering along the path that they took up at the beginning. Here is how he exhorts the church in Sardis, for example:
Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:3, emphasis added).
Keeping the truths of our faith constantly in sight so that we remain faithful to our calling in spite of the failures and successes, the sufferings and temptations that necessarily go along with life in a fallen world–this, too, is the job of a mind that seeks to love the Lord.
Connected to this capacity for memory is the power of imagination, another bridge between the sensitive and spiritual powers of our soul. Our imagination allows us to picture in our mind’s eye good things or bad things,
noble things or base things. When we are feeling sad, for example, we can allow our minds to wander over to memories of even sadder situations or concoct images of how things could get worse. This would increase our sadness. On the other hand, we could also harness this power of our mind to help us rekindle hope, by picturing the crucifixion and the resurrection, for example, or by picturing the Sacred Heart of Jesus–the pledge of his undying love for us.
Our imagination can enhance all the other intellectual functions: gathering and learning information, penetrating the depths of the truths we learn, and recalling those truths in order to allow them to influence our daily living. But for this to happen, we have to educate and develop the imagination. Unfortunately, this training is severely handicapped by consumerism (which keeps our imaginations dependent and reactive so advertising images can be used to manipulate our emotions) and by media saturation (which keeps our imagination overloaded and therefore almost uncontrollably frenetic).
We need to recognize that the Christianization of our intellects involves developing harmoniously all these facets of our minds. A Christian mind is a mind that has learned God’s revelation, assimilated it, and taken ownership of it. As a result, mature Christians will naturally see themselves, others, the world, events, and God through the clear window of truth. But reaching that maturity requires a daily decision to love the Lord with all our minds, actively seeking to grow in Christian knowledge and godly wisdom, the wisdom that addresses itself to us through the sacred Word:
Happy the one who listens to me, attending daily at my gates, keeping watch at my doorposts; for whoever finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD; but those who pass me by do violence to themselves; all who hate me love death (Proverbs 8:34—36).
Editor’s Note: This is another excerpt from Father John Bartunek’s new book “Seeking First the Kingdom” filled with “practical examples and down-to-earth wisdom which will show you how to bring Christ into each facet of your life”. Click here to learn more about the book…or if you wish to get it for a friend or relative who doesn’t read on line.
Art: Mirror of Freskenzyklus mit Szenen aus dem Leben des Hl. Martin von Tours, Kapelle in Unterkirche San Francesco in Assisi, Szene: Der meditierende Heilige [The Holy Meditators], Sieneser Schule, Simone Martini (1322-6), PD-US; Liebesglück – der Tagebucheintrag (Happiness–the Diary Entry), August Müller, by 1885, PD-US copyright expired; both Wikipedia Commons.