23 October 2009

Purity of Heart

Everything we do, our every objective, must be undertaken for the sake of purity of heart. This is why we take on loneliness, fasting, vigils, work, nakedness. For this we must practice the reading of the Scriptures, together with all the other virtuous activities, and we do so to hold our hearts free of the harm of every dangerous passion to keep it pure and in order to rise step by step to the high point of love.

It may be that some good and necessary task prevents us from achieving fully all that we set out to do. Let us not on this account give way to sadness or anger or indignation, since it was precisely to repel these, to destroy them in our hearts, that we would have done what in fact we were compelled to omit.

What we gain from fasting does not compensate for what we lose through anger. Our profit from Scriptural reading in no way equals the damage we cause ourselves by showing contempt for a brother. We must always relate our fasting, vigils, withdrawal, and the meditation of Scripture and all these similar things, which are merely effects and consequences of our piety, to the principal end to which we must tend, that is, to this purity of heart which is nothing other than charity.

~ Saint John Cassian ~