If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series on the beatitudes, click the category “Beatitudes” and start from the beginning! No repeated info. One beatitude builds on the others!
Purity of heart and seeing God. Makes sense.
But the transcendent joy, the blessedness, is already present: “Blessed are…” = present tense, even though the seeing of God is in the future, in heaven, of course. Not even the Immaculate Conception, but only her Divine Son, Jesus, enjoyed the blessed vision of the Trinity (of which He is the second Person!) whilst walking upon this earth, or hanging on the cross above it.
So, how is it that such blessedness of seeing God can begin here? There must be something rather special about being pure of heart.
First of all, the word in Greek for purity is where our word “catharitic” as in “a cathartic experience” comes from: “The event was so dramatic, I was totally drained, but that was a good way for me to forget all my worries. Really cathartic!” = cleansing. So, there’s a sense of having been cleansed, a purity that was provided by something impure being taken away.
Here, in this beatitude, this having-been-cleansed-purity refers not to psychological catharsis, but to purity of soul, of spirit, of heart. Yet, the two are intertwined a bit, for we are soul and body, no?
In the book of the prophet Ezekiel 11,19 (RSV) we read about our Lord’s promise:
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
In getting rid of our stony hearts, we would like spiritual hearts, no? That’s not good. Our Lord’s ways are above our ways. He provides a heart of flesh, just as He did for Himself. Why? Because a spiritual heart cannot suffer the way a heart of flesh can suffer. Our Lord’s heart was pierced through, but only after it had already been literally broken (as the Doctor of Calvary says) by way of a massive heart attack in the Garden of Gethsemane, because of which our Lord literally sweat blood for us.
The purity of heart our Lady enjoyed, being immaculately conceived, and that of our Lord, did not permit them to escape the hell of this world. They saw it all the more clearly.
We, having been conceived in original sin, are so blind to the reality about what our Lord saved us from, and we therefore cannot see clearly all the good that He has done for us. In being forgiven by Him, we are filled with sanctifying grace, but He wants us to agree to see reality the way it is. He wants us to love Him with our free will. He wants us to say, “Yes, Lord, I will be generous enough with the truth of the reality of our redemption — by way of Your grace — so that I might learn how good and kind You really were to reach into this hell of darkness with you light of glory, and save us, bringing all the darkness and hell on Yourself so as to have the right in justice to have mercy on us. With patience, gentleness, little by little, the Lord opens our eyes, unblinds us, removes ever so slowly the fear we have of this tremendous, overwhelming reality of who we all are before God. So…
Being pure of heart doesn’t at all mean that our hearts are free of the darkness and hell of this world, though we are then His littlest children, rejoicing with His life within us. Instead, being pure of heart means that we can see reality all the more cleary, who we all are before God. Such a fright! But also such transcendent joy, for we then can be about rendering to our Lord the humble thanksgiving which is true religion. The paradox is that the more clearly we see, the more hell of Calvary we see, the more we see the glory of the Lord’s tender love for us on the cross. Inpurity of heart, we can even stand, like John, next to the Blessed Mother, there, under the cross.
It is there, under the cross, through the darkness, through the hell, that we begin to see God: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.” And when it is time for us to enter heaven, where we will have the joy of humbly thanking Him with full understanding – knowing as we are known – it is then that we will fully see God, and see with such clarity His goodness and kindness. Amen!
But what if we have been impure in any way? What about arrogance, lust, stomping on others? What about… you name it. Are we lost? Damaged (as non-U.S.A. English speaking countries) horrifically – stupidly — call weakness?
Rather, with repentance, conversion, turning to the Lord, we can love with the love which He provides, and be forgiven much. Our Lord absolutely delights in forgiving us and bringing us to Himself.
Confession just so sets us on the right course, and just so opens our eyes to His goodness and kindness, having us look to Him, though we also know our weakness in this earthly body. But this pushes us to look just to Him, no? Yes! Our Lord uses all this to have us look to Him. To Him be praise and glory and honor forever and ever.