Rich Hearts, Poor Hearts: Getting to Know the Difference

Nothing is more beautiful than a poor heart, poor because it is humble. Nothing is more ghastly than a poor heart, poor because love for God is absent.

Newsdesk (20/09/2022 10:27, Gaudium Press) Nothing is more terrible than heart disease. No other organ, when it stops, causes such immediate death. The supernatural reflection of this physical reality is the death of the spiritual heart, which consists of the extinguishing of the flame of charity.

Although in appearance the man has not changed, everything in him has died: all his works are fruitless, all his efforts are useless. Because love is dead, although he is still alive, he is only a thinking corpse, often not even aware that he has died…

In Scripture there are two meanings of the concept of poor: the first signifies the detached humility (cf. Mt 5:3) of the one who has all his treasure in God; the second, is in the sense of privation and need (cf. Dt 15:7), to be supplied by others in virtue of the precept of charity. Taking the latter sense, the man who does not love is a poor man whose heart is in the most terrible state of need, because it is deprived of its principal element, its very essence.

Nothing is worthwhile without love

Nothing is more beautiful than a poor heart, poor because it is humble. Nothing is more ghastly than a poor heart, poor because love for God is absent. Hence, a man’s worth is determined by the intensity of the ardour of his charity, and this, according to St. John of the Cross, is the final criterion of man’s judgement and of the consequent definition of his eternal destiny: “In the twilight of this life you will be judged according to love”.

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Indeed, God said, “I desire love more than sacrifice” (Hos 6:6); and if God wanted for Himself the total holocaust of even His only Son, how could He not want all our love?

For this reason, nothing we do is worthwhile without love. As the Apostle reminds us, all prophecy, all knowledge of science, countless alms-giving, faith without measure, “are of no avail without love” (1 Cor 13:3).

Theology itself, undertaken without love, does nothing but manipulate a jumble of meaningless, lifeless, aimless words. Not only because knowledge without love is sterile; but above all because, since God is the proper object of theology, only passionate and measureless love puts man in some proportion to his goal.

True love

Joseph de Maistre said that “reason can only speak; it is love that sings! More than just “giving wings to thought”, love is the force which launches the human soul through the firmament, like an arrow, in search of God!

Thus, even someone very limited intellectually can attain a high degree of holiness, while the most intelligent man can never save himself if he does not love God proportionally. For principles point a man to the right path, but it is love that gives him the courage to persevere in the hour of difficulty.

For this reason, further, he is mistaken who confuses love with emotion and heart with feeling. True love, which consists in the virtue of charity, is made of a firm will, seized by a holy and burning passion which, sprinkled with grace, results in the most exalted holiness.

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Text extracted from the magazine Heralds of the Gospel, n. 165, Sept. 2015

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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