Longings of the Human Heart

‘Vita Consecrata’ series part 12 of 12

from Vita Consecrata #100-103

The wonder of encounter – as human beings our backgrounds and life circumstances are more varied than the grains of sand and yet our hearts search and long for the same God!

A week ago before returning from a road-trip we stopped off to fill up the gas tank. As one of our sisters went inside the gas station the attendant’s face lit up. In a hushed voice he informed her that he had just become a Christian but because of his cultural/religious background he was in serious danger…He humbly asked “Can you help me?” Sister, recognizing the gravity of the situation and assuming the “help” he referred included keeping him safe, perhaps a new place to live, a new job, responded “Yes”. He then proceeded to ask for the help he was most desperate for, “Please, teach me how to pray. I want to know how to pray.”

Faced with legitimate fear, he recognized prayer to be the only thing that could truly “help” him. His heart was stirred with longing for God to know Him more deeply.

We live in a culture that attempts to cover up this desire for God – in fact the culture goes so far as to deny that there is a religious dimension to life.

In this last section of Vita Consecrata Blessed John Paul II says “Because of the very nature of their choice, all who embrace the consecrated life, men and women alike, become privileged partners in the search for God which has always stirred the human heart.” VC #103

This “longing,” this “stirring,” within the human heart is undeniable. Those called to consecration become “partners in the search for God” when they live consistently and fully their freely assumed commitments. Blessed John Paul II emphasizes that, “By practicing a personal and communal asceticism which purifies and transfigures their entire existence, they (consecrated religious) bear witness, against the temptation of self-centeredness and sensuality, to the true nature of the search for God.” VC #103

The “true nature of the search for God” requires a self-less surrender to a God who is Love. This entails dethroning our self-will and allowing the King of Love to reign in our hearts. When we search for God in this way – we find that He is pursuing US!

The newly converted gas station attendant recognized that his need for prayer was essential to his search for God. We, too, must devote ourselves to prayer. It is in prayer that the profound longings of the human heart find fulfillment.

Eternal Father, we bow our longing hearts before you and pray for the grace to persevere in prayer with renewed hope and trust that even the “stirring” of our hearts is a sign of your great Love for each of us.

This meditation is part 12 of 12 in our series on Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.  You can download a copy of this document from the Vatican’s website: www.vatican.va