Saturday, April 9, 2011

Religion of the Heart

Something I want to remember since it's easy for me to focus on content with religion, and more difficult to cultivate the heart aspect of it (which is not the same as simple sentimentality or emotionalism).

from Catholic Reading Circle Review vol 9

There is an aspect and power of religion too frequently overlooked, especially by parents and teachers and even by priests. And this is the religion of the heart.

Religion is that moral link that binds the creature to the creator. It is just as real, and flows as necessarily from the creature's intellectual nature as is the physical bond that couples the maker and his handiwork in one grand, harmonious whole. It is a higher and holier bond than that of mere material existence, and possesses a beauty and harmony far exceeding in excellence the varied charms of beauteous nature. It is consequently a higher and holier development of the creature. It stops not with the grosser portion of man's being; but extends to his noblest faculties. It elevates and purifies them all. It furnishes each with its proper object, in the attainment and enjoyment of which, they find their highest rest and satisfaction. The intellect is ennobled by the consideration of the grand truths of nature and of revelation. The will is lifted up and strengthened by the moral precepts and motives of Christian conduct; and the heart finds its most delicate and tender emotions resting in the purifying and soothing offices of religion.

Not any one of these alone: not mere truth appealing to the intellect: not mere precept appealing to the will: not mere aesthetic influences appealing to the heart: not any of these alone; but all of them combined constitute religion in its entirety. The will, indeed, must rest on the veracity of the intellect: the heart must repose on the double base of will and mind. The law must be founded on the dogma: and the sentiment must find its sure resting place in the twofold security of dogma and of law.

But all these blended harmoniously together, acting on man's constituent parts make religion in its operation among men and toward God.

It is hard to say which of these has the greatest claim to recognition; which of these exercises the most potent influences on men's lives and characters; which of these is most far reaching and lasting in its results. The truth is each and all are necessary; each and all are potent in their influences; far reaching in their results.

But in the practical purposes of life: in the undertaking and accomplishing of great works: in the achieving of permanent and wide results the heart exercises a dominating influence. The intellect may lead the way with its changeless truth: the will may choose to follow and embrace it: but the

glow, and earnestness, and fidelity necessary to bring it to a successful issue must come from the love furnace of the heart, from the vast power house of the affections along the motor lines pf the sentiments and the emotions. The fact is that almost all the great and heroic deeds that have thrilled the world flowed from the generous heart: almost all the evil that has disgraced human annals, had its origin in the first feeble impulse to wrong not strangled in its very birth.

I do not allude here to mere spiritual unction and fervor, much less to religious enthusiasm or fanaticism. These all have had their results good and bad. But merely to necessity of real rectitude of heart even in those founded on solid dogma, and obedient to just law. This aspect of the heart's place and power in religion is too often lost sight of by those whose duty it is to train the youthful heart.

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