By Lisa Henley Jones
“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come:
fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
~ Mark 7:21-23
On a sunny January day, my daughter walked to the car with a big smile on her face after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. Knowing she had been nervous an hour ago, I asked her how she felt. She told me, “My sins are washed away, and my heart is squeaky clean and full of love for Jesus.”
The simplicity of her statement struck me. At that moment, she understood that holiness starts with the purification of our hearts.
As adults, many of us focus more on what we are doing and saying and tend to lose the bigger picture of what is happening within us.
I often think about her pure childlike knowledge and faith that day and ask, “How do I focus on keeping my heart squeaky clean and focused on you, Lord?” The answer starts with me regularly looking at my heart’s inner motivation.
Examining our Hearts
Recently I was introduced to the daily Examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He created this discipline to help us be more present to God in our daily lives and encourage us to live more aware of how God works within us.
Examining what is inside our hearts can be difficult, but when we do it daily, it helps answer our prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
In praying the Examen, you spend a few moments reviewing the day, paying particular attention to the moments you felt God’s presence and, alternatively, becoming aware of the times you felt separated from God. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to examine one moment closer. Then finish looking forward to tomorrow in Hope.
The awareness of my interior life offered by praying the daily Examen coupled with often returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation helps me focus on washing my heart squeaky clean and filling it with the love of God.
Lord, purify our hearts, our desires, our thoughts, our motives, and our deeds. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Amen.
Call to Action
- Find a quiet spot to sit in the presence of God.
- Savor your blessings in gratitude and review your day, paying attention to what drew you closer to God and what pulled you from Him.
- Spend a few moments talking with God in prayer, as you would a friend, about these moments and feelings.
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