In light of Becs’ wonderfully thought-provoking post yesterday, a belated Valentine for you and your beloved. More cheeky ones here.
After multiple friends instagrammed, facebooked, and quoted Christopher West’s Fill These Hearts, I promptly ordered myself a copy. I cannot stop raving about this book and with Valentine’s just behind us, what better time to write a brief review about a book focused on “God, Sex, and the Universal Longing.”
I KANT stop talking about this book. Okay, puns aside, this book has seriously captivated me because it is ultimately about DESIRE.
In the very first paragraph of the whole book West writes, “This is a book about desire. Not trivial desires. Not superficial wants. This book is about the atomic energy of our souls – that universal “ache” and longing we feel as human beings for something.”
You can now leave this post momentarily to order a copy.
West’s subsequent pages do not disappoint. Stemming from the premise and TRUTH that we are all created with a deep desire, West points out that we can have three responses to the desire of our hearts.
1. The Starvation Diet: Like those dedicated to the heresy of Jansenism, we can ignore our desires completely, essentially starving ourselves. We deny our deepest hunger opting for a life of depravity. I think this is the view most people have of priests and other religious – that they are starving! #nottrue
2. The second response we can have to hunger is to feed it with the fast food diet. Like the prodigal son who went out and spent his inheritance on a life of dissipation, we can SETTLE on fast food. We can feed every whim with what is available, convenient, and fast. What comes to mind when I think of this is the widespread addiction to pornography. Men and women, we settle for this fast food!
But, West points out, there is a third way! This is good news! I don’t want to starve myself nor do I want to be super-sizing my meals at McDonald’s daily.
3. This is what West writes: The third option, that of the saints or ‘the mystic’ as West calls this third way, is to acknowledge that, “the true pleasures of the world are a welcome but only dim foreshadowing of the of the ecstasy that awaits him in the life to come. He can live within that “ache” because of his living hope that his “soul shall be satisfied as with a banquet.” (Ps. 63:5)”
This third way probably sounds less straight-forward, less clear to us mortals! Much easier to ignore our grumbling stomachs completely and starve or head for the drive-in. But this is what we need to remember. West looks to my hands-down favourite saint, St. Therese, and says, she “was afraid of being ‘overwhelmed’ under the weight of her bold desires…and yet she was convinced that God would not allow her to experience such bold desires ‘unless He wanted to grant them.”
So whether you’re in a relationship this Valentine’s week or going it solo, strive for the third option. Don’t starve yourself and don’t settle for fast food. Desire is good. It shows us we are made for more.
Happy belated Valentine’s,