One of the Beatitudes is: “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8). As challenging as it might seem, to be a true follower of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we must strive to understand these words of Our Lord and to put them into practice.
USE OF THE EYES: TO GLORIFY GOD! We were created to know, love, and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in heaven. (Basic catechetical truth). Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in his famous Principle and Foundation, expresses the concept with a slight variation: “Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God and by means of this to save his soul.” (Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius # 23) We are called to glorify and praise God in all times, places and circumstances and that includes the proper use of our eyes. Indeed the eyes are the very mirror of the soul.
THE DYNAMIC. What passes through our eyes, is embedded in the mind. From the mind these images descend to the feelings and the heart; then from the heart an action is carried out. Repeated actions form habits. A good habit is a virtue; a bad habit is a vice. These habits eventually will chisel out and form a personality. Ultimately, this will determine our eternal destiny—salvation or condemnation and for all eternity.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon true followers of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life to strive with all our heart, relying on the grace of God to make proper use of our bodies, and especially that of our eyes.
This being the case how can we attain the level of a truly disciplined and proper use of the eyes that God has given to us, that Jesus challenges us with these words: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8). As soldiers of Christ the King and Mary the Queen, let us establish a solid foundation for our spiritual strategy!
1. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. Saint Peter warns us that the devil is constantly on the prowl, like a roaring lion, seeking who he can devour. We must resist him.(I Peter 5:8-9) Jesus warns us to stay awake and to pray because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.(Mt. 26:41) Pope Francis, a Jesuit priest, constantly reminds the world to watch over with vigilance their thoughts and their hearts. Remember: many of our thoughts, feelings and heart movements were formed by ideas that came into our mind through the window of our eyes! Also remember the fall of the great King David started by his eyes and unguarded glance and ended in adultery and the murder of the innocent. ( II Samuel 11: The story of Bathsheba and her husband Uriah). If the holy King David could slip and fall through the improper use of the eyes, how much more could we?
2. MARIAN CONSECRATION. One of the key devotions that is spreading throughout the country is that of going through a process of consecrating oneself and his/her whole being to Jesus through Mary. St. Louis de Montfort, St, Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. Michael Gaitley—are three program of consecrations to Jesus through Mary. By doing so the consecration implies starting off the day by consecration of one’s whole being to Jesus through Mary, starting with the consecration of one’s eyes to Jesus through Mary. May all that the eyes see that day be pleasing to Jesus and Mary.
3. TWO-EDGED SWORD: USE IT PROPERLY. We live in an electronic world with the constant bombardment of images. The list of the means by which these images bombard us are almost limitless: t.v., radio, movies, books and magazines, but especially the INTERNET… All of these means can be used properly so as to honor and glorify God. However, they can also easily be abused and as such for the detriment of our immortal soul. Therefore, a constant vigilance over the proper use—especially of the INTERNET—must be applied with respect to the topic of the custody of our eyes—the mirror of our immortal soul!
4. NUMBER ONE ADDICTION: PORN! If these means are abused very easily one can fall into the viewing of pornographic materials. Quite quickly a bad habit is formed leading to an addiction; then to a binding slavery. Studies have revealed that this powerful addiction to pornography can be even more difficult to break than drug addiction. For that reason some have even called it the “modern drug”. Better preventive medicine than curative medicine. However, if one has fallen into this poisonous moral swamp, he should never give into despair but trust in God and have immediate recourse to God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. God is quick to forgive and slow to anger, as the Psalmist gently reminds us!
5. LOOK TO THE LORD AND BE RADIANT WITH JOY. One of the Psalms addresses the proper use of the eyes: “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”(Psalm 34:5) There are various ways that we can focus our eyes on the Lord and consequently be filled with a radiating joy. Here are three concrete suggestions:
a) BEAUTIFUL ARTISTIC IMAGES. Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina last century and among many of His requests was that of having an image of Himself painted to be venerated in her convent and then eventually throughout the whole world. Consequently the image of Divine Mercy was painted and now it is venerated and honored throughout the whole world in sanctuaries, churches, parishes, convents, monasteries, and in “The domestic church”—the homes and families throughout the world. Therefore, with respect to the use of our eyes, to contemplate with great reverence, love, devotion, and confidence the beautiful image of Divine Mercy can help to purify our mind of past bad images and implant this most sublime image in our mind, memory, imagination and the depths of our heart and soul. JESUS I TRUST IN THEE!!!
b) THE WORD OF GOD. Another most salutary means by which we can purify and elevate our eyes on high is to form the daily habit of reading, pondering, meditating on the Bible, the Word of God. Saint Luke states that Our Lady for her part pondered or meditated upon what had happened to her with respect to Jesus. May Our Lady encourage us to meditate the Word of God in our minds and hearts. To derive fruit from the meditation on the Bible, the Word of God, you can apply three simple steps: read prayerfully, think deeply and apply concretely the Word of God to your life!
c) THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. Finally, the treasure of the Catholic Church is the “Real Presence” of the Eucharistic Lord Jesus Saint Pope John Paul II calls the Tabernacle the living heart-beat of the Church! In the Tabernacle, better yet, in the monstrance, the Lord Jesus Christ is truly present in His Body, Blood Soul, and Divinity. Why not make it a habit to spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament on a daily basis and look into the very eyes of Jesus, the very Sacred Heart of Jesus. Maybe you could spend a few minutes? Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the greatest Bishops in the country, the first and most powerful radio-evangelist, insisted on spending an hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He called this his HOUR OF POWER. The great Bishop, at the end of his life, dedicated time and effort in preaching retreats to priests and Bishops. He stated to them point blank that he wanted them to end with one concrete proposal: to make the DAILY HOLY HOUR—in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This would transform their lives; this indeed would be their HOUR OF POWER!!! By gazing at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, with our eyes, we are filled with purity, light, peace, inspirations, consolations, courage, and strength. And what chlorine is to a swimming pool, the Blessed Sacrament is to our eyes—it cleans, burns away and purifies the eyes of past filth! Why not try this: “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
In conclusion, let us make a firm purpose today, right now, to give our whole beings to Jesus through Mary and start with giving them our eyes, the very mirror to our soul. Let us humbly beg Our Lady, who contemplated Jesus with her eyes, mind and heart constantly, for the grace to live out that most challenging Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.” Indeed if we contemplate God’s beauty with our eyes in this life then we will contemplate His Face forever in heaven.