Guarding our hearts desires

Guarding our hearts desires
Sr Anne Marie Walsh SOLT

We tend to like a lot of things. The more we like something, the more attached we can become to it. This can be good, bad, or indifferent. Being attached to our families, our spouses, our children, etc., is a good thing so long as it is a healthy attachment and doesn’t usurp the primary place God should hold in our lives.

If everything were so straightforward, we wouldn’t have to worry about what we are attached to. But as it is, we need a lot of purification to bring order and healing into our fallen nature, which is drawn to so many things that are not life-giving and not helpful to deepening our relationship with God.


Oftentimes, we can become attached to things that are morally neutral in and of themselves but which become problematic because of the power they exert over us.

For instance, you may love to listen to music because you appreciate its beauty and its capacity to touch the soul or spirit of a person. But if you find yourself compulsively listening to music, spending hours daydreaming or fantasising, then there is a problem.

The affection for something can begin to take over and control other vital areas of life. Our heart begins to demand what it wants when it wants it. Allowing our likes and dislikes to lead us begins to compromise our freedom and disorient our hearts away from God.

God has designed our hearts in an interesting way. They want to be entirely filled with that which they love. And they are meant for this.

But the attention of the heart is fickle and easily deceived because upon obtaining that which it thinks it loves, it becomes disappointed quickly, discovering that it still has a great emptiness inside.

They will never be at peace until they take God in and allow Him to fill the emptiness with Infinite fullness and infinite Love”

And so, it looks for something else. It allows itself to be captured by many different things that will, in the end, also fail to satisfy it to the depth it craves.

How else can you explain the number of people who have ‘made it’, who have acquired everything this world has to offer, fame and notoriety included, and then suddenly end their own lives?

People are always shocked by this, but if the heart is starved too long of the authentic love it is really seeking, it comes to a point where it finds life no longer worth living.

God works hidden miracles when it comes to our hearts. The secret is that our hearts, though finite, were created for the infinite. They will never be at peace until they take God in and allow him to fill the emptiness with Infinite fullness and infinite Love.

St Augustine discovered this after allowing his own heart, his affections, to wander down pathways of grave sin in search of what would finally appease the restlessness that continually dogged him.

His most famous quote is the result of discovering the answer: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee O Lord.”


The challenge today is to guard our hearts, first and foremost, from any affection for sin, to remind ourselves that, ultimately, the human heart cannot digest the world’s offerings.

Any attachment to mortal sin must be severed. And any affection for venial sin (ie, liking to gossip, liking to overeat or drink too much, etc.) must also be banished from our hearts.

This does not mean that we won’t occasionally fail. But it means that generally, we don’t allow our affections to engage with what we know either offends God as our loving father or is a poor substitute for the true inheritance he wills for us.

Only the Triune God should inhabit our souls. There is no room for the infinite God to dwell within us if our hearts are filled with finite ‘treasures’, the vain attractions of the world.

Pope Paul VI noted that today, even believers are enamored of the marvels of the modern age and diverted from attention to the one thing necessary.

If we are to attain to God himself and avoid the utter destruction of our own hearts in Hell, we must do the hard work of uprooting affections and attachments that block God from mastering our hearts to the more abundant life.