BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
Scanning the internet for the words of great spiritual writers I discovered a multitude of beautiful quotes that can speak to us in every situation. One example I’d like to share with you are these words: “Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for Divine Love? “
Leaving a place for God’s love in our hearts are the inspiring words of the Venerable Bishop Sheen who referred to our heart as the place where we can find true happiness in God. Here are his words:
“Look at your heart! It tells the story of why you were made. It is not perfect in shape and contour, like a Valentine heart. There seems to be a small piece missing out of the side of every human heart. That may be to symbolize a piece that was torn out of the heart of Christ which embraced all humanity on the cross. But I think the real meaning is that when God made your human heart, he found it so good and so lovable that he kept a small sample of it in heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy its gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to him. But be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with your whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love. In order to love anyone with your whole heart, in order to be really peaceful, in order to be really wholehearted, you must go back again to God to recover the piece he has been keeping for you from all eternity.
The Bishop reminds us that we cannot love the things of this world totally; we can only love them partially. So then our love will never be perfect. But we can keep striving to love God “…with our heart, mind, our soul and strength.” One writer translates these words of Jesus to mean “Love God as best you can with your everything.” And that takes us back to Bishop Sheen’s beautiful description of the love of God for us.
But the question remains: How do we strive to love God as God commanded? Praising God with our happiness, smile, gratitude is easy when all is going well. It’s like when we receive an answer to prayer or receive one of life’s good gifts. But how about when things aren’t going so well? ALL our heart means at ALL times. All — includes the times when God seems quiet, when he says wait, even when he says no. Do we then continue to love God in these challenging situations? We just have to see through every circumstance to the God who wants to love and comfort us and will never leave our side. This is a day-to-day process. St. Paul is a good example for us. He said, “I am content no matter what. I can live with almost nothing and I can live with everything, all through Christ who gives me strength and courage.” Referring back to Bishop Sheen’s words — we have a heart with a hole that only God can fill. God loves us and is only asking for our love in return. After all, he loved us enough to send his only son to die for us.
But we must always remember that God’s commandment has two sides. We must love God but we must also step out in faith, show that love, and take action on that love of God. It’s a matter of living by faith so others see our example and follow. It is doing things that are right even when people don’t understand. It is speaking up when we see injustice. It is being kind and generous and forgiving when we don’t see any kind of reward.
So we sum up what it means to love God with “our everything.” With all our heart intensely. With all our soul sincerely and lovingly. With all our strength and all our energy, with every faculty we have, with every possibility of our nature. With all our mind, not solely focused on self, but striving to develop a laser focus on God and the good of all God’s people. We understand that loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is simply responding to God who first loved us and continues to love us completely. According to Bishop Sheen, God has kept a piece of our heart to prove that!