Nothing can be in the heart that is not first in the mind, unless God puts it there. For instance, God may harden a heart or soften it. The Lord may mercifully enlarge our hearts, and create within us a new and upright spirit. But these are proclivities, which the freewill cooperates with or not. In the hardening of the heart, the person is subjected to justice. As it is written:
"Your commandments we have not
heeded or observed,
nor have we done as You ordered
us for our good.
Therefore all You have brought upon
all You have done to us,
You have done by a proper
But the Evil One influences us with images. This is the way of Angels. Being as they are, that they are pure intellect. They influence the mind with images, by way of memory, by influencing the imagination, by sending evil images of vanity, violence, lust and every other evil. They "use all the sons and daughters of disobedience," having tripped them up this way, and have them trip up the saints. A woman scantly clothed, a man demanding respect through cruelty, another flaunting ill gotten gain so that you might covet. They seek in every way to fill the mind with evil images, so that in poisoning the mind they may poison the heart. In this way they defile the temple of the Heart, which is the Temple of the Most High. In this way they pull down the temple, and raise up the 'abomination of desolation' where it ought not be.
Your holy angel, which the Lord gives to each according to their need, also seeks to influence your thoughts. He is not there, as so many presume to say, to merely protect you from bodily harm. Do you think he ceases to sing spiritual hymns to your soul, or that he does not sing all the more loudly when you are tempted, and louder still once you have fallen? It is written," On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen who shall never hold their peace!" These Watchers cry out to you when dangers approach, because it is written:
" ...if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone's life, that person's life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.'
And we know that they always obey our Father in Heaven. Therefore, listen for the Watchman, and be vigilant. Build up the walls of Zion by "redeeming the time," by making your days upon the earth holy. Commit your memory to the Lord, and He will rescue you from it, and by it. Fight evil images with prayer, especially by crying out for mercy," Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!"
But do not think that by voiding out evil alone you can succeed. How can you void out evil, and not fill it with good? This too is evil, and will be filled with evil. It is not in your power to sustain voids, nor is it right, because you are to be filled with holy things. And how can you fight endlessly and not become weary? We enter into the Lord's rest not by merely hating evil, because even evil people hate evil things, but by loving the good!
"Clean the inside of the cup and behold, all things shall be clean unto you." Free your mind from evil images by fighting them with the name of Jesus, by washing the soul with prayer and the reading of scripture. But of these two, prayer is more important for you. For though it is written of scripture:
"...the Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
It is written of prayer in the scripture that you shall,"... pray without ceasing." and the psalmist says," I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will be continually upon my lips." But what good is it for a man to put his house (his soul) in order when a demon leaves? Unless he fully arms himself and protects his goods, thereafter? Unless he does this, the demon will return with seven other demons more evil than himself, and inherit that place again. But how easy it is to overthrow an armed man in the dark! Will you stop at merely cleaning your house and arming yourself? Isn't your intent to keep the Evil One out, and not to make a trap for him, luring him into your house? Do you presume to overpower the Evil One by your strength? Don't be foolish.
What else, then, can a man do? What destroys darkness and will turn it away when it returns? The answer is so simple! What do you do in the world when darkness approaches? Don't you turn on a light? And how do you turn on light apart from prayer and the reading of scripture, even apart from good works? Is there another way? Yes! By making your eye good. As it is written:
" The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light." But someone will surely say," But what if all I see is evil and corrupt?" The important thing is that your gaze is pure; love all that you see. As it is written," All things are pure to the pure." Purify yourself therefore with prayer, the sacraments, and the reading of scripture, and determine to love all that you see. If you do this, the Evil One's images will lose their evil meaning.
All of us have seen someone pure in heart, often old or very young, saying things that would be inappropriate for the wicked to say. The imagination of the wicked is evil all the time, and they never stop looking for a way to taking innocent sayings and making them evil, so they may call good 'evil.' And so that you may see how evil the day is, how can a priest publicly say he loves children with out being scrutinized or mocked? This same evil is in us, and we must destroy it! Without it, the influences of Satan becomes unintelligible, and the truer meaning of things are known to us. Love becomes all the more possible. How can you have peace if you imagine that every time someone cuts in front of you on the highway, they are malicious? Isn't your eye bad if you aren't charitable? Perhaps, they are having an emergency. What do you really know about them? I do not say that you ought to be ignorant, only admit your own ignorance, and think better of people. This is just an example of what I mean to make your look good. Make your ear good, too!
These are the ways to fight the evil images and free our minds from the poisons which poison the heart. Do you seek higher forms of prayer? Do you really wish to see God? Is holiness something you really desire? Then, pray without ceasing, read the scriptures, frequent the sacraments (especially confession and the Eucharistic Feast), make your eye good and fill your body with light. Continually say with the Publican," Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!" and you will go up to your house justified before God. Free yourself from condemnation, forget the language of the world, which is reading perversity into everything, so that you may forget their conversation.
The Psalmist says," They bend the bow and draw the sword so as to slay those of upright conversation." Who does this mean more than those whose souls are perpetually in conversation with God? The Evil One has nothing but an argument. If you should stop listening to him, he has nothing else; he will desire to slay you. This is why Christ said," Do not fear him who can destroy the body and do no more." He has no other language apart from images with which to make his argument to your soul. Therefore, do not entertain evil thoughts," Do not set your mind on the things of the flesh, but set your mind on heavenly things." Do this and you will surely progress. And remember my family when you pray, if you will.
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~