Let God purify our hearts and we will experience the fullness of joy and peace.
This point was at the heart of Pope Francis’ catechesis during his General Audience, this Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
As he continued his catecheses on the Beatitudes, he turned to the Sixth one, which promises that the pure of heart will see God.
“To see God,” Francis stressed, “means having a personal relationship with him.”
In order to do so, we must look deep within our hearts and make space for him, and purge from ourselves that which gets in the way of our holiness and unobstructed closeness and unity with the Lord.
In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic spreading worldwide, like the Holy Father’s morning Masses and Angelus, this too was made available to faithful via streaming and done privately in his apostolic library.
“To see God,” Francis reminded, “it’s no good to change one’s eyeglasses or point of observation, or to change theological authors that teach the way: it’s necessary to free the heart from its deceits!”
“This is the only way,” he underscored, noting: “This is a decisive maturation: when we realize that our worst enemy is often hidden in our heart.”
The “noblest battle,” Francis said, “is that against the interior deceits that generate our sins. Because sins change one’s interior vision, change the rating of things, make one see things that aren’t true, or at least that aren’t so true.”
Therefore, he reminded, it’s important to understand what “purity of heart” is.
“To do so, one must remember that for the Bible the heart doesn’t consist only of feelings, but is the most intimate place of the human being, the interior space where a person is himself — this, according to the biblical mentality.”
He reminded that in Matthew’s Gospel, he writes: “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (6:23).
“This ‘light,’ he said, “is the gaze of the heart, the perspective, the synthesis, the point from which the reality is read…”
Asking what a “pure” heart means, the Pope responds: “He who is pure of heart lives in the Lord’s presence, keeping in the heart what is worthy of the relationship with Him; only thus does he have an intimate, “unified” life — linear, not torturous but simple.”
The Pope concluded his audience with various greetings and praying that we are preparing well for Easter.
The General Audience ended with the Pope giving his Apostolic Blessing.
Here is the Vatican-provided English summary of today’s General Audience, followed by the full Zenit translation of the Pope’s full address:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Beatitudes, we now turn to the sixth Beatitude, which promises that the pure of heart will see God. To see God means having a personal relationship with him. This requires looking deep within our hearts and making space for him; as Saint Augustine put it: “You were more inward to me than my most inward part” (Confessions, III, 6, 11). Yet often our hearts are slow and foolish, like those of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who at first failed to recognize Jesus by their side. To see God, then, requires a process of purification, whereby our hearts are freed from the sin which blinds us to his presence. This entails renouncing evil and allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct and guide us. A further aspect to seeing God is recognizing him in creation, in the Church’s sacraments, and in our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and most in need. If we let God purify our hearts he will lead us ultimately to the beatific vision where we will enjoy the fullness of joy and peace in the Kingdom of Heaven.
I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media, as we continue on our Lenten journey towards Easter. Upon you and your families, I invoke the strength and peace that come from our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you![Original text: English] [Vatican-provided text]
FULL GENERAL AUDIENCE ADDRESS–
[Working Translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 am from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.
Taking up the series of catecheses on the Beatitudes, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the sixth: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to the faithful.
The General Audience ended with the recitation of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we read together the <eighth> Beatitude, which promises the vision of God and has, as condition, purity of heart.
A Psalm says: “My heart repeats your invitation: ‘Seek ye my face!’ Thy face, Lord, do I seek.’ Hide not thy face from me” (27:8-9).
This language manifests the thirst of a personal relationship with God, not mechanical, not somewhat nebulous, no: personal, which the Book of Job also expresses as sign of a sincere relationship. The Book of Job says thus: “I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees Thee” (Job 42:5). And I often think that this is the way of life, of our relations with God. We know God by hearsay, but with our experience we go forward, forward, forward and in the end we know Him directly, if we are faithful . . . And this is maturity of the Spirit.
How can one come to this intimacy, to know God with the eyes? We can think of the disciples of Emmaus, for instance, who had the Lord next to them, “but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16). The Lord would open their eyes at the end of a journey that culminates with the breaking of the bread and that began with a reproach: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25).” That is the reproach of the beginning. Here is the origin of their thirst: their foolish and slow heart. And when the heart is foolish and slow things are not seen. Things are seen as cloudy. Here is the wisdom of this Beatitude: to be able to contemplate, it’s necessary to enter within ourselves and make room for God because, as Saint Augustine says, “God is more intimate to me than myself” (“interior intimo meo,” Confessions, III, 6, 11). To see God it’s no good to change one’s eyeglasses or point of observation, or to change theological authors that teach the way: it’s necessary to free the heart from its deceits! This is the only way. This is a decisive maturation: when we realize that our worst enemy is often hidden in our heart.
The noblest battle is that against the interior deceits that generate our sins. Because sins change one’s interior vision, change the rating of things, make one see things that aren’t true, or at least that aren’t so true. Therefore, it’s important to understand what “purity of heart” is. To do so, one must remember that for the Bible the heart doesn’t consist only of feelings, but is the most intimate place of the human being, the interior space where a person is himself — this, according to the biblical mentality. The same Gospel of Matthew says: “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (6:23). This “light” is the gaze of the heart, the perspective, the synthesis, the point from which the reality is read (Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 143).
However, what does a “pure” heart mean? He who is pure of heart lives in the Lord’s presence, keeping in the heart what is worthy of the relationship with Him; only thus does he have an intimate, “unified” life — linear, not torturous but simple. Hence, the purified heart is the result of a process that implies liberation and renunciation. The pure of heart is not born as such; he has lived an interior simplification, learning to renounce the evil in himself, something that in the Bible is called circumcision of the heart (Cf. Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Ezekiel 44:9; Jeremiah 4:4). This interior purification implies the recognition of that part of the heart that is under the influence of evil. — “You know, Father, I feel so, I think so, I see so, and this is awful”: to recognize the awful part, the part that is clouded by evil — to learn the art of allowing oneself always to be taught and led by the Holy Spirit. The way of the sick heart, of the sinful heart, of the heart that can’s see things well, because it is in sin; at the fullness of the heart’s light is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is He who guides this journey to fulfilment. See, through this journey of the heart, we come to “see God.”
In this Beatific Vision there is a future, eschatological dimension, as in all the Beatitudes: it’s the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven to which we are going. However there is also the other dimension: to see God means to understand the designs of Providence in what happens to us, to recognize His presence in the Sacraments, His presence in brothers, especially the poor and suffering, and to recognize Him where He manifests Himself (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2519).
This Beatitude is somewhat the fruit of the preceding ones: if we have felt the thirst of the good that dwells in us and are aware that we live of mercy, a journey of liberation begins, which lasts our whole life and leads us to Heaven. It’s a serious work, a work that the Holy Spirit does if we give Him the room to do it, if we are open to the action of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can say that it’s a work of God in us — in the trials and purifications of life – and this work of God and of the Holy Spirit leads to a great joy, to a true peace. We must not be afraid; let us open the doors of our heart to the Holy Spirit, so that He can purify us and lead us forward on this path to full joy.[Original text: Italian]
I greet warmly the Italian-speaking faithful. My thought goes, in particular, to the groups that long ago registered to be present today. Among them, the youngsters of the Profession of Faith of the Diocese of Milan, connected to this meeting through the means of social communication. Dear children, although your pilgrimage to Rome is only virtual, it seems as though I perceive your joyful and noisy presence, rendered concrete also by the many written messages you sent me: you sent me so many, and they are beautiful! They are beautiful, beautiful messages, Thank you so much. Thank you for this union with us. Pray for me, don’t forget. I thank you and I encourage you to live the faith always with enthusiasm and not lose hope in Jesus, the faithful Friend who fills your life with happiness, also in difficult moments.
Finally, I greet young people, the sick, the elderly and newlyweds. May the last part of the Lenten season we are living be able to foster an appropriate preparation for the celebration of Easter, leading each one to a more felt closeness to Christ. My Blessing to all.[Original text: Italian]