Saint Teresa of Avila stated that the mind is the Loca de la casa—the madwoman of the house! Meaning? It is very difficult to control our thought world, most especially our imagination. Despite the difficulty of the challenge, still we must put forth the most noble of efforts!
Our Dynamic Thought Life
There is a dynamic in the human person, the way the Creator constructed us! And this is the way it unfolds. What goes into our eyes, ascends to our mind; from the mind it is archived in the memory. From the memory, the image can easily descend into the emotions. Then from the emotions into the heart. From the heart a decision is made that transforms into an action. If the action is good, then it is virtuous; if bad, then vicious or sinful. Many repeated actions form the person’s character—either a virtuous person or a bad person. Then finally the person’s eternal destiny is determined—either condemnation or salvation.
How then can we work on cultivating a rich, deep, noble thought life? All of us should accept the challenge because the formation of our character, and the influence that we have on others, depends largely on the cultivation of our mind, our thought life.
St Paul and the Mind
The great Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Paul, makes reference to the mind on various occasions. He says that we should have a fresh way of thinking and not conform our mind and thoughts to those of the world. Still more, this fiery missionary saint who loved Jesus so much asserted: “Put on the mind of Christ!” Then Saint Paul stated: “You have the mind of Christ…” And of course he said: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
Therefore, this being the case, how then can we cultivate one of the most noble gifts that God has bestowed upon us? The following are certain practices that we hope will be helpful in the battle to give your mind to the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, Jesus the Lord. May Jesus as King reign over your whole being and that, of course, means your mind too!
1. Watch What Goes In
First of all, we should all make a concerted as well as constant effort to control what goes into ourselves, especially our mind. By way of analogy, none of us would purposely shovel into our mouth garbage from the street—unheard of! Nonetheless, we can very easily give ourselves liberty to view with our eyes the ignoble, the profane, the crude, the obscene, the sinful.
Therefore, a primary step in controlling our thought world is to control our visual world; what we take into ourselves comes through the gateway of the senses. This proverb rings so true: The thought is the father of the deed. In other words, we carry out in action what has already been conceived in our minds through what we have previously seen. Every day we should be exceedingly vigilant over those wandering eyes that can get us into so much trouble! Not only does curiosity kill the cat, but worse yet, the curiosity of King David led to adultery and the murdering of an innocent man.
2. Find Good, Solid Reading
In such a fast-paced modern electronic world, many have lost the habit of spending quality time in silence, immersing themselves in the world of the most noble ideas by reading! We can start to cultivate a very noble mind by reading the classics.
In the spiritual life there is a plethora, an immense and vast sea of good literature. Just to mention a few: The Bible—the Word of God, the lives of the saints (God’s heroes), the writings of the saints, the writings of Saint Pope John Paul II, the Fathers of the Church, and the Doctors of the Church, including Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of course, it is always good to nourish our mind by reading a good book on the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Suggestion: Our Lady of Fatima by Thomas Walsh). As stated earlier, noble thoughts will be translated into actions, character, and one’s eternal destiny!
3. Good Friends, Good Conversations
Many of the saints formed the habit of establishing good, solid friendships. Good friends maintain good, vibrant, noble, enriching, and stimulating conversations. This we see in the lives of the saints. You are called to be a saint and part of the labor is the cultivation of your mind! Why not follow the exhortation of Saint Paul: “Put on the mind of Christ… you have the mind of Christ!” The Bible says that a true friend is a treasure of infinite value. Good friends help each other mutually to keep on track by keeping their thoughts focused on Christ.
4. The Most Holy Eucharist
It is indeed true that when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we receive the total Christ. This of course includes receiving the mind of Christ! Upon receiving Jesus, we should humbly implore the Lord Jesus to purify our mind of all useless thoughts, lift our mind to all that is most pure and noble, and beg Him for the grace to have our thoughts lifted on high to the most noble realm—the Kingdom of God!
5. Pray the Psalms
It is so true that we become like those with whom we associate. Now if you can get into the habit of spending some time with Jesus, who is truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament, then He will gradually transform you. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who was faithful to his daily Holy Hour for more than 50 years, called this The Hour of Power.
If we spend quality time in the presence of a good person, even a saint, then there is a transformation; so much the more, if we spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Open your Bible and pray the Psalm of the Good Shepherd: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want…” (Psalm 23)
May the Good Shepherd, and Our Lady, the Mother of the Good Shepherd, attain for you the renewal of your mind, the renewal of your thought processes, the renewal of your affections, the renewal of your heart, and the renewal of your entire life! May it be said of you by the end of your life: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who thinks and lives in me!”