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Guard of the Heart


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A look at the contemplative practice of Guard of the Heart, growing from the Benedictine spiritual tradition. Given at the Benedictine Center, St. Paul's Monastery, on 24 March 2017.

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Guard of the Heart

  1. 1. Guard of the Heart in a Heartless World Sister Edith Bogue Benedictine Center St. Paul’s Monastery 24 March 2017 Journey of the Heartbeat by Gwen Mehag
  2. 2. 2 “Guard of the Heart”  The Cistercians seem to use this phrase more than the Benedictines.  Has a history going back to scripture.  Phrase and concept are now rarely heard.  Some recent problems, such as internet addiction, are understandable in these terms.
  3. 3. 3 With all vigilance, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life. (Ps 4:23) AllartworkinthispresentationisbyGwenMehag,fromherDraw NeartoGodwebsiteat
  4. 4. 4 The Heart in Scripture  800-1000 uses (870 in New American Bible, RE.)  Scripture refers to the heart of God as well as to human hearts.  It is our hearts that turn toward God or away.  Heart connects to God • Strengthen it • Hold heart steadfast HeartsofWorship series
  5. 5. 5  HEART  SOUL  MIND  STRENGTH https://s-media-cache-
  6. 6. 6 St. Benedict Speaks of Heart  Prologue: Listen…ear of your heart Hearts & bodies prepared Hearts open wide (expand)  33 uses of heart  “No one follow the will of her own heart.”  Murmuring in the heart, humble in heart.
  7. 7. 7 Science and the Heart  Recent changes is views • 20th century: a pump • 21st century: interplay of systems; heart expresses and induces feelings.  Impact of prayer and spirituality on hearts  What Scripture calls “heart” resides in no single organ.
  8. 8. 8 Heart in Spiritual Imagery  Heart as sign of powerful, steadfast love of God • Sacred heart of Jesus • Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary  In modern times, took on a more emotional tone https://s-media-cache-
  9. 9. 9 The Heart is a City (1677) “The heart, from which issues the life of grace, is like a city, every moment liable to both inward commotion and outward assault.” The Works of the Pious and Profoundly-learned Joseph Mede, 1677 TheWorksofthePiousandProfoundly-learnedJosephMede
  10. 10. 10 Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. (Ps 139:23) AllartworkinthispresentationisbyGwenMehag,fromherDraw NeartoGodwebsiteat
  11. 11. 11 =planted-by-the-river-by-the-river-series-miniature "When we guard our heart, we refrain from being in contact with energies that will interfere with our effort to pray ceaselessly and eventually with our experience of God's presence. We cannot engage in ceaseless prayer and engage in afflictive thoughts and emotions. So, guard of the heart prevents easy entry of any disturbance into our heart. It requires us to take control of what goes in and what the heart has to 'feel.' Margaret Mary Funk, Tools Matter For Practicing the Spiritual Life
  12. 12. 12 Keep watch at the boundaries  Cities were walled.  The walls are patrolled.  What enters the city has been viewed. =hedge-of-protectionangels
  13. 13. 13 Fend off invaders  Some come with the intent to do ill.  Some bring ill without intending it (plague)  The guards are to be alert to threats. art=host-of-glory
  14. 14. 14 Preserve the treasures  Within the city are many treasures, including its history and its symbols.  Preserving is active. The treasures are seen and remembered. =holy-holy-holy-24-seven-series
  15. 15. 15 Nurture new growth  A city has young people, new ideas and new ideas.  The gates to the city must be open to resources and to innovations. =heart-released
  16. 16. 16 Clean and renew  The waste and discarded items must be cleaned.  Unattended, an infection sets in.  Sanitation and garbage are crucial city functions. rt=hearts-connected
  17. 17. 17 Rest in the heart  We only rejoice in the city when we stop to see it as a whole.  “Taste and see.”  We cannot love a city when we only use it. =sway
  18. 18. 18 My heart is withered, dried up like grass, too wasted to eat my food. (Ps 102:5) AllartworkinthispresentationisbyGwenMehag,fromherDraw NeartoGodwebsiteat
  19. 19. 19 Individualism  Self-Actualization (Maslow)  Emphasis on needs and rights more than on common good and our responsibilities.  Impact on marriage, families, even children. Babydropinahospital.Anunwantednewborncanbeputintoan exteriorcompartment,theloweredtoaninteriorlevel.
  20. 20. 20 Internet: Alone Together  ICYMI  YOLO  Meme  FOMO
  21. 21. 21 Consumerism  Seeking to fill the longing for God with something tangible.  Conspicuous consumption to present an identity of wealth or power.  Products create new appetites.  Workshops to teach how to make addictive products.
  22. 22. 22 Affluenza Affluenzawebsite 2 2 affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf)
  23. 23. 23 Organizations  Wield tremendous power through authority (govt) and through money and investment (economy).  Rules and procedures are designed for the company not the person.
  24. 24. 24 Ancient Economy  Violence related to goods and property.  Surplus allowed growth of both a military and a religion.  Both were related to hope for prosperity. TheStandardofUr,ca2500BCE
  25. 25. 25 Polarization  A growing practice in the 21st century.  Debate and collaboration are seen as weak. Only the defeat or destruction of “the other” is sought.  This is a spiritual ill first and foremost. It cannot be resolved by new rules.
  26. 26. 26 Where there is schism and anger, there is no place for God. St. Ignatius of Antioch
  27. 27. 27 A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. (Ps 51:12) AllartworkinthispresentationisbyGwenMehag,fromherDraw NeartoGodwebsiteat
  28. 28. 28 Preparing Your Heart  It will take some time of guarding your own heart before you can see others’ clearly.  The result of this practice will be greater sensitivity to the world’s pain.
  29. 29. 29 =new-thing-miniature "Guard of the heart is a practice that is most helpful once we've made a resolution about something. When we want strongly to follow through with our resolution we should guard our heart from doubt and from counter experiences that move us away from our resolve. The fruit of guard of the heart is a heart full of strength and commitment to our vocation, our work, and our relationships. Since the heart provides us our innermost experience of 'being with' God, we should guard all our choices to 'be with' God." Mary Margaret Funk, Tools Matter
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  31. 31. Guard of the Heart in a Heartless World Sister Edith Bogue Benedictine Center St. Paul’s Monastery 24 March 2017 Journey of the Heartbeat by Gwen Mehag