Jesus preaching in the Sermon on the Mount

In the context of the Sermon on the Mount one of the Beatitudes is “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)  Jesus challenges us to go beyond the mere exterior but to dig deep into the inner recesses of our heart with these penetrating words: “You have heard it said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:27-28)

The holy and afflicted, man of sorrows of the Old Testament, Job asserted with conviction:  I have made a pact with my eyes not to look upon a maiden.”(Job 31:1)
David fixing his eyes on Bathsheba

Both the great King and leader David as well as the elders in the time of the chaste Susanna fell headlong into the mire and it was for specifically one reason: they failed to keep custody of their eyes.(Daniel 13)   David committed adultery which led to murder and denial.   The elders, in their turn, tried to calumniate an innocent and chaste married woman. (II Samuel 11)

Many proverbs teach us important lessons on the importance of self-control but especially related to the eyes.  “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.”  Another saying asserts that “One is what he eats.”  Equally important is the following: “One is what he thinks.” And another:  “The thought is the father of the deed.”  Here is the dynamic!  What we see is engraved in our mind; from the mind it descends to our emotions and feelings; these feelings in turn translate into actions. Repeated actions form habits good or bad, vices or virtues. In turn the sum total of these actions forms our personality; finally, terminates in our destiny--- salvation or damnation, heaven or hell!

In this short essay we will present five clear ways that we can utilize our eyes properly so that we can indeed live out that challenging beatitude of Jesus:  “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt.5:8)
Archangel Raphael healing the blindness of Tobias

1.    PATRON SAINTS.   Why not invoke the patron saints of the eyes? There are two: St. Lucy who died as an early virgin martyr, and the Archangel Raphael, who is one of the key figures in the book of Tobias.  Due to his powerful intercession the elder Tobit had has sight completely restored.   Why not invoke these powerful friends of God, who now are contemplating the beatific vision of God, to help us to use our eyes to behold the beautiful with our eyes in this life so as to contemplate God’s face for all eternity?

St. Faustina contemplating the face of Jesus
2.    CONTEMPLATE IMAGES.   One of the rich treasures present in Catholicism is the honoring and venerating of images--- statues of God, the angels, saints and Mary as well as paintings.  Highly recommended for all is to have enthroned in one’s own bedroom attractive pictures of Jesus, Mary and the saints.   Why not purchase an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or Our Lady of Fatima, or Our Lady of Lourdes and with it an image of Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and not to forget the silent but all important person of the great Saint Joseph.  With these images enthroned and enshrined the feeling of loneliness evaporates because these images remind us of God and our heavenly friends!

The penetrating eyes of Jesus
3.    CONTEMPLATE THE EYES OF JESUS.  St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we start out our contemplation by placing ourselves in the Presence of God and then imagine “the loving gaze of God” upon us.  The Gospel often presents Jesus gazing, peering, and looking into the eyes of others and with a profound effect.   The loving and merciful gaze into the eyes of Simon Peter, after he betrayed the Lord, elicited tears of profound contrition and repentance.  The eyes of Jesus, peering into St. Matthew, moved the future Evangelist to leave all to follow His Lord, God and Savior. Finally, as He hung on the cross between the two thieves, Jesus looked into the eyes of the repentant thief and attained a last-minute conversion.   Of course one of the best ways to contemplate the eyes of Jesus is to gaze into the Blessed Sacrament—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus.  His eyes also are present in the Blessed Sacrament!  As the Psalmist so accurately invites us:  “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
The foliage season in bloom

4.    NATURE.   With your eyes take a nature walk! Question??? What element in nature most appeals to you as a bridge to elevate you to the beauty of the Creator? Never forget!   The beauty of creation is merely a pale glimpse of the utter beauty of the CREATOR--- God Himself. God indeed is Wisdom, Love, and Beauty!  The morning sunrise or evening sunset, the night sky painted with the multitude of glimmering stars, the multi-colored rainbow as well as the trees in full-bloom in foliage season (especially evident in New England, mid-October)--- these are just a few manifestations of the glory of the Creator!
The Word of God--- our light and shield

5.    THE WORD OF GOD.  Of paramount importance, in the proper use of our eyes is the reading and meditating of the Word of God, which as the Psalmist reminds us “is a lamp for our steps and light for our path.” Steve Wood in his excellent booklet “Breaking Free: 12 steps to sexual purity for men”  states:

“One of the few effective means of getting these pornographic images out of your mind is spending time reading and memorizing Scripture every day. For many of you it might be particularly helpful if you have a Scripture time both morning and evening. In addition, you need to begin a program of memorizing Scripture. In my experience, a disciplined plan to memorize Scripture is necessary to clear the rot out of your brain.  “Occupy your mind with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.” (St. Thomas More).

If you like the analogy, what chlorine does to kill the floating bacteria in a swimming pool, the Scripture, God’s powerful Word, does to kill the rot of the bad images engraved through pornography!

The beauty of Mary
Let us end with a quote from St. John Berchmans, S.J., a young Jesuit who died in his early twenties: “I desire to keep my eyes pure in this life so as to contemplate the majestic beauty of the face of Mary for all eternity.” Therefore, like the holy Job, let us make a pact with our eyes to contemplate only that which is pure, noble, edifying and innocent so as to live out  to the fullest possible extent Jesus’ challenge:  “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)