Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

I've been taking a class this semester called "The Psychology of Learning."  It is tremendously interesting to discover how different organisms learn and all of the different neural processes that take place that make learning possible in God's creatures, from the least complex, like cockroaches (yes, cockroaches can be trained) all the way "up the chain" to humans.

But (there's always a but)...

Psychology, and science in general, doesn't go any further than that.  It can't.  It is purposely limited and leaves off without delving into the "metaphysical."  This all left me thinking, is that it? Is that all there is to it?  Is learning nothing more than an ever-increasingly complex system of theories of behavior modification?  Is there no difference between me training my dog and raising children, save the advantage of brain size and a more and more complex system of modifying behavior and shaping neural processes?

Of course there is.  For those of us who believe in the Lord and his plan for us, behavior is simply not enough.  We need to go deeper.  We have a longing to discover not only why we do what we do, but who we are and why we were created.  It is here that our search for understanding takes a gargantuan leap from the brain to the heart.  Where our limited human knowledge leaves us unsatisfied, there is precisely where love picks up. 

We were given the incredible gift of free will, of being able to choose, so that ultimately we might choose to love.  In loving as Christ commanded--God with our whole heart, mind, and strength, and flowing from that, our neighbor as ourselves--we finally find satisfaction in our thirst for identity and meaning (cf. Matthew 22:36-40).  It lies in complete surrender of self, of holding nothing back.  It is in that burning, self-sacrificing love that is embodied in the Sacred Heart of Christ, where we are invited to enter and abandon ourselves in trust to his unfathomable love for us, that our hearts are united with His.  It is love so powerful that it brought God himself down from heaven, to ultimately descend into death and rise again to prove that it--that HE--still wants us.  From there, it is only a stone's throw back to our minds, so that in His Spirit, we learn more and more each day to think and judge with the mind of Christ.  Our behavior is changed, and along with it, our whole way of thinking and doing.

Far from being relegated to a complex, animalistic way of thinking and living, we are given the gift--through Him, with Him, and in Him--of becoming like Christ, to share in the eternal glory of God.

"Behold this Heart Which has loved men so much that It spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them It's love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show me in this Sacrament of Love." 
Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Choose what all the science in the world cannot and will not ever be able to explain.  Choose Him.  Choose Love.


  1. YES YES and YES=- it is the HEART of the matter!!! Lest we become pharisees and live by the letter of the law and not the spirit. We must worship in Spirit and Truth- John 4. Without truth, worship is heresy, and without Spirit, it is barren. Amen to your post!

  2. Beautifully said, Jaris!! You have such a talent for writing, and the world needs talent that can communicate truth.