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Monday, November 18, 2013

What is the heart made for?

A guitar night that changed everything
                                      [The following post was started on Nov. 6, 2013]

        Last week I wrote a post about the Epidemic of Escapism.  Where do we escape to when we don’t want to feel, don’t want to face what’s difficult?  More food, more alcohol, more videos online (some not so PG), more football, more fantasy stats?  What is it? 

            Tonight I went to a men’s talk in Bethesda and the priest asks the question, “What is a heart made for?”

            As I reflect more and more on Escapism, I realize tonight that a large part of where I/we escape is because we are displaced in where we place our heart.  I’ll repeat that.  We are displaced in where we place our heart.

            What is the heart made for?

            Why do so many young women take their heart to inadequate men who are not yet prepared to provide and protect them both physically and spiritually?

            Why do so many men take their hearts online to the women who promise them a good time, a desire that will take care of them for several minutes but is never left satisfied?

            Why have I for years in my life taken my heart to girls and women since 5th grade to senior year of college, desiring perfection and relentlessness of “feeling good” to always left unsatisfied? 

            What is the heart made for?

            After my Mimi broke up with me Senior year in 2010, I decided to take a hiatus from romantic relationships all-together.  It helped I was going away to serve a mission year in Costa Rica.  God has a sense of humor though.  I remember telling Him that I was shutting down the engines, and within the first month later I happened to meet three of the physically most attractive women I’ve ever known in my life (of course, none of them, or really anyone, comes close to my wife now).  The situations on how I knew them were ideal, too: one lived literally next door, one was a fellow teacher at the school I worked at, and one was one of my salsa dance partners at Thursday night lessons.  Knowing how these scripts played out, I successfully (but not always easily) avoided these temptations and focused rather on my friendships in the country and with myself.

            I remember Valentine’s Day of 2011, it was my first year without a date since literally 5th grade.  I remember feeling unsettled going around that day trying to figure out who my Valentine was.  Were it my students I was teaching?  The friars who provided for us?  My housemates I constantly had fun with?  My family and friends who supported me from home?

            I still wasn’t sure even to the end of the night once I was in my room.  I lit a candle and took out my guitar.  As a musician, sometimes my fingers will think for themselves and play before I can even choose something.  They began playing a tune called “Your Love is Extravagant”, plucking away at the D bass F sharp chord, G major, B minor, and A major chords over and over again.  I closed my eyes as the music flowed.  It was then that I had realized who my Valentine was that day, and who the Valentine of my life was.    For the first time in my life, I said words I’ve never said before.  I whispered right there in the silence in my room, “I love you God.”

            Taking a break from relationships that year, I didn’t realize that I would fall in love again.  I whispered again.

            “I love you, God”

            I still remember saying it, playing that song and mouthing those words over and over again.  I was falling in love in this weird-but-not-so-weird intimate way, a closeness that was not-tangible-but-tangible, the type of love that will make me do anything for the one I was infatuated with.  That night, I had realized that it was possible to fall in love with God.


            For the past several weeks I find love causing me do things I don’t quite understand.  Out of my better judgment, I’ve been getting up to go to Mass every day whether it’s at a church five minutes away at 7:30 in the morning or catching ones at CUA or at UMD or at St. Andrew the Apostle on the weekends.  I’m still a screw up I still waste time during the day and I can’t stand myself for it, but I can’t help but desire to see and consume our Lord every day.  I plan my day around it actually.  I’m falling in love and I’m getting to a point where I can’t imagine going a day without seeing Jesus.

            What is the heart made for?

            I am so unperfect and I struggle to stick to my schedule and make the most of every moment, and even at Mass and in prayer I’m not always entirely into it and think about Kyrie Irving breaking ankles on the basketball court or Peyton Manning dropping bombs in the end zone while I sit there in the pews, but when I get in line and I look at Jesus and I ask Him to come back to me and for me to come back to Him, there is absolutely no other perfect moment than when I receive Him in the Eucharist.  And do I entirely get it, that this host is the total full body, soul and divinity of Christ or can I comprehend his unconditional, forgiving love for me? No.  But can I tell you in one sentence why I love my wife?  Or why I decided to marry her?  Or why I love my father whose birthday was yesterday? Or my mother or my brother or my sister?  Can I tell you why I love my brothers from college who help form the man I am today?  Can I tell you completely how I love my work at Centro and the hearts of the women there or my beginning men’s ministry at the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland? 

            What is the heart made for?


            The heart is made to love.  What is your heart made for?  Who and what do you love and why?  Who and what we choose to love will shape and form our lives.  Love will make us do funny things.  I don’t always get it, and maybe I never will.  


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