Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pour your heart to God

   Question: In our modern culture that is so materialistic, scientific and focused on biology and the natural sciences, how can we even become aware that the heart is something more than just a muscle?. How can we become aware of ourselves as being something more than just a brain or a circulatory system?!.

   Answer: We must learn the language of God. Because we all have sinned, we all have a common language, the language of pain. When we come to God, we will inevitably have to suffer in order to be purified. If we speak to God with that pain, if we pour out our heart to God with that pain, then God will listen to us, and the heart will be activated.
I have an example from the First Book of Samuel. The Prophetess Hannah was childless, but she had a servant who had many children. This servant despised her; she was very proud and arrogant, because she was so about her family. Hannah did not take any revenge, although she was the mistress, but she went to the temple and, like one drunk, she poured out her heart to God in pain. Of course God heard her and answered her prayer, and the following year she came back to the temple with her new-born son Samuel. 
   When we suffer tribulation, pain or illness in our life, we must remember to pour out our heart out to God rather than seek human consolation by going from one person to another and talking about our distress. (This might give us some psychological consolation, but we lose all the tension of life, that energy of pain which is so precious when we direct it towards God). This is one way. The other way, is to find someone who can teach us how to speak to God. In the temple, little Samuel was sixteen or seventeen when he heard a voice calling him and he ran to Eli, the priest of the temple, and the priest said to him, 'Go back to sleep, nobody called you.' The same thing happened a second time. Again he ran to Eli, saying to him, 'Did you call me?', and the priest sent him back to sleep once more. When the same thing happened a third time, Eli, who had been initiated into the life of the Spirit, understood that this was a prophetic calling from God, and he advised him, 'Go, and if you are called again say, "Here am I, speak for Thy servant heareth" (cf. I Sam. 3: 1-20).' Indeed, the voice called again and Samuel received the prophetic anointing. Similarly we learn to speak to God with our heart through obedience to our elders and, in fact, the ministry of a priest is to teach his people this language of God in the same way as Eli taught Samuel. We all have a common language of pain, of suffering; one way or another we all go through it in this life, because God loves us.
Archimandrite Zacharias


Archimandrite Zacharias (2008), The Hidden Man of the Heart, the Cultivation of the Heart in Orthodox Christian Anthropology, Mount Thabor Publishing, USA.