Today’s post begins our examination of a section entitled, “Knowledge of the truth and love.” Many westerners are formed to see the mind as the center of the will. The heart is more associated with feelings. Can the heart be the organ we consider as the core of Christian faith? Let’s explore that a bit with the Holy Father:
26. This being the case, can Christian faith provide a service to the common good with regard to the right way of understanding truth? To answer this question, we need to reflect on the kind of knowledge involved in faith. Here a saying of Saint Paul can help us: “One believes with the heart” (Rom 10:10). In the Bible, the heart is the core of the human person, where all his or her different dimensions intersect: body and spirit, interiority and openness to the world and to others, intellect, will and affectivity. If the heart is capable of holding all these dimensions together, it is because it is where we become open to truth and love, where we let them touch us and deeply transform us. Faith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love. Through this blending of faith and love we come to see the kind of knowledge which faith entails, its power to convince and its ability to illumine our steps. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes.
Whether one believes in a literal heart or mind at the center of the human experience, what Pope Francis seems to be communicating is that faith is at the core of the human person. It is how we were made. Every human being was made for God. And God remains with us in our various dimensions: thoughts and feelings, action and contemplation, body and spirit, work and play, and so on. Nothing is foreign to God, and neither is any activity of ours lacking his presence. Why? God himself resides at our center, or at least, that is where he often chooses to meet us and there we will find the fulfillment for which we long.