Friday, October 23, 2015

4. The Mind, the Gateway of the Heart

The Mind, the Gateway of the Heart

4rd Epistle

My beloved child,
from the moment we make the decision to live with the simplicity of a child and to allow everything with absolute trust in the hands of God our Father, a crowd of angels undertakes to protect us. Joy and serenity rules over our heart and our soul enjoys God's peace.
Satan, of course, is very annoyed by this and tries with a thousand and one ways to upset this joy that a Christian soul has. The ways he uses are mainly acts of sin upon man's five senses. With these he first attempts to contaminate the body and then the soul in order to distance it from its God. But Satan, even here, faces a great problem. Because all these actions are visible and therefore perceived a pious man repents easier and quicker. So with the fire of his repentance he burns the evil nets which Satan has set and doesn't allow him to easily reign over his soul. 

Satan's real target is man's heart, which God claims to make it His throne and rule there as an eternal King and God. This is also said in the Holy Scripture: "My son, give me your heart" (Proverbs, 23:26).
Satan knows very well that if he rules over man's heart, he has won his soul as well. For this reason he is trying to seduce it with various loves and bonds which distance him from God's love and protection. These kinds of love are ambition, sensuality, avarice and selfishness. He also uses every kind of earthly ties which hide extravagance and doesn't allow you to live according to God's will. Even the extreme love towards your family, when it becomes an obstacle to worship your God the Father with all your soul, is a mistake which can be used by Satan's tricks to divert you from the path of truth. For this reason our Lord says in his Holy Gospel: "Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Mathew 10:37).
So, all these loves and ties make the soul weak and, as a result, it makes very great mistakes such as jealousy, selfish assertion, envy, dislike, criticism, slander and others, which don't allow God's grace to act upon it.
As a result of all these things Satan is winning a large part of man's heart, which is now split into two parts, between God and Satan. So this soul, as much as it wishes its salvation, sometimes behaves like a child of God and other times like a captive of Satan.
Of course, Satan's ultimate aim is to gradually win man's heart completely. In order to do this he uses man's mind, which, as the Fathers of the Church also say, is the gateway to the heart.
So he starts fighting man's mind through various deceitful thoughts which he sows with great skill and mastery. In order to better understand the role the mind plays in the soul's course, I could compare the mind with the role of the steering wheel of a car, ship or airplane. He who controls the steering wheel can drive it wherever he wants. The same thing happens with the mind. He who is able to control a man's mind inevitably rules over his heart as well so he may easily lead this soul wherever he wants.
Satan fights against the mind with various thoughts, which are aimed first of all to disturb our relationship with God and then with our fellowmen. Such thoughts might be: "Does God love me? Is He close to me? If yes, why does He test me?" "Is my spouse being honest with me? Does he really love me? Why is he so abrupt with me?" "Why does my friend have more things than me? Why is he happy and I am facing difficulties?" and many other similar thoughts.
If, my child, we start making excuses for all these thoughts, we will never see the truth, which can be hidden behind our own weaknesses and passions, such as envy, lack of communication with our spouse or those around us, our secret selfishness which doesn't allow us to rejoice in the joy of others and many other things. All of these offend love and repels the grace of God. Then various trials take place which make us believe that God has abandoned us and doesn't love us anymore.
But when man learns to control himself and blames himself and not others for his mistakes, then he is able to fight against all of these thoughts which Satan puts in his mind to tempt him. But to be able to make a correct diagnosis and identify his mistakes, it is necessary for him to learn to ask for the grace and the enlightenment of God.
The most basic thing, my child, is for us to understand that these thoughts are not ours but Satan's war on our souls. If we now start excusing ourselves instead of banishing these thoughts, then they are becoming ours and freely descend into our hearts to pollute it. But if we fight them, seeking at the same time, our share of the responsibility, then the blessing of God comes to expel them and so serenity returns to our hearts.
     The war of thoughts is great and very dangerous because it is invisible and often very unclear. But the worst thing is that we face them in such a way that usually we justify ourselves and put the blame on others, that's why it is difficult for us to ask for forgiveness from God.  It is a hidden hemorrhage that, if we don't notice it in time, it can cause a great spiritual disaster. I would recommend that you continually check your thoughts and confess them regularly to your spiritual confessor.
     Of all these things we have said, I believe you have understood that, if you want to safeguard yourself against Satan's attacks, you must put the weight of your  defenses on the castle of your mind. As long as the mind manages to resist, Satan cannot easily enter the palace of our hearts. But when the castle of your mind collapses, then it is only a matter of a short time before the soul falls.
     I would be happy, my beloved child, if you assured me that you are determined to fight with all the power of your soul to make your mind an impenetrable castle from Satan's evil attacks. So you will be able to preserve the throne of your childish heart intact and give it to our one and only King and God, our Lord Jesus Christ.