Notebook

A Heart Changed

How often are we not told, ‘Do as your heart dictates!’ In a symposium in Hildesheim today on what the Benedictine patrimony can contribute to the Church’s mission, Mother Christiana Reemts, abbess of Mariendonk, picked up this imperative and said, ‘I hold it to be quite false’. She explained what she meant by pointing out what we know from experience and what Jeremiah pointed out almost cruelly: ‘The human heart is deceitful above all things’ (17:9). Our heart is not an infallible compass; it is subject to many temptations, tensions, and trends. Before it can guide us reliably, it must be oriented and, when necessary, healed. The great Christian task which the monks or nun exemplifies, said the abbess, is ‘to let the heart be transformed by God’s Word — then to listen to this transformed heart’. How liberating to hear a voice speak such basic truths, truths that, once one has assimilated them, seem self-evident. There is more food for thought, in German, on the abbess’s blog.