Filling Our Hearts with the Greatest Good

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This is the third in a series of short reflections on the eight general attributes of God that can known by reason, as set forth by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica.  I've been learning about St. Thomas and the Summa from Dr. Taylor Marshall and the online classes he offers at the New Saint Thomas Institute.  These reflections are the result of my meditations on each individual attribute during prayer.  As such, they are not meant to be deep theological discussions, but simple spiritual thoughts on the majesty of our God .  I pray you find them beneficial in your walk with Christ.

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"God is good all the time; all the time God is good."

The author of this often-repeated phrase, as far as I can tell, is unknown.  But no matter its origin,  St. Thomas certainly would agree with the statement.  In fact, he explains not only that God is good, but that he is the greatest or supreme good.  Stated another way, nothing is more desirable than God, for all "other things are deficient in comparison."   (Summa Theologica I, q. 6, art. 2)

Deep down, we know this to be true, but the secular culture we live in wages an all-out war to convince us otherwise.  Lots of things are more desirable than God, the culture tells us: money, material possessions, power, fame, success, beauty, physical pleasure, entertainment, political ideology, etc.  This list could go on and on.  What the culture doesn't tell us though, is that none of those things will fill the God-sized hole in each of our hearts.  St. Augustine may have said it best:

"With You there is true rest and life untroubled.  He who entered into You enters into the joy of his Lord, and he shall have no fear, and he shall possess his soul most happily in Him who is the supreme good.  I fell away from you, my God, and I went astray, too far astray from you, . . . and I became to myself a land of want." (Confessions p. 81)

It's simple, really. When we try to fill that hole with anything other than God--when we want things more than God--we actually end up in "a land of want," "far astray" from Him.  What better time than Lent to fill our hearts with Him and discard all the empty promises of the world.

I was reflecting on this recently while reading the first chapter of John's Gospel, where the priests and Levites were questioning John the Baptist as to who he was.  Was he the Messiah, Elijah, the Prophet?  He answered them simply by saying: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, Make straight the way of the Lord."  (John 1:23)  The Lenten imagery in this statement immediately struck me.  Indeed, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once wrote, "Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry."  We too then go into the desert of our hearts during Lent, praying and fasting in imitation of Jesus and to prepare for his coming Passion, death and resurrection.  And our goal is nothing more than to "make straight the way of the Lord," as St. Thomas explains in his commentary on John's Gospel:

"The way, prepared and straight, for receiving the Lord is the way of justice, according to Isaiah (26:7): 'The way of the just is straight.' For the way of the just is straight when the whole man is subject to God, i.e., the intellect through faith, the will through love, and actions through obedience, are all subject to God. "

Make your way straight and receive God this Lent.  Fill your heart,  nay your entire being, with Him--the greatest good.  Temptations no doubt will come while in the desert; they did for Jesus.  If and when they do, remember these words from St. Louis De Montfort:

"[Jesus] is our only Master, who has to teach us; our only Lord on whom we ought to depend; our only Head to whom we must be united; our only Model to whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician who can heal us; our only Shepard who can feed us; our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe; our only Life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us."  (True Devotion to Mary, pp. 29 - 30).

God love you.

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