Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called today, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end. While it is said, Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in that provocation.

Hebrews 3:12-15

Oh friends – what a depleting thing it is to take in the world around us today. In the past week, my small circle of awareness has encompassed: the tragic death of 13 Marines at the hands of the Taliban, the Taliban takeover and ensuing massacre of Afghanis, hate towards President Biden for how he has handled all this, hate towards people who criticize Biden (including the mother of a fallen Marine). Hate towards those who refrain from taking a vaccination, hate towards those who have concocted a vaccine and disseminated it to countless individuals before trials have ended. Bishops, priests, (and both my in-laws) have a bad case of Covid, some on ventilators, some with people celebrating their decline. “Doctors” in Texas pulling extra shifts to conduct abortions until 11:59pm before the Heartbeat Bill taking effect in the morning. Two of my friends have miscarried, I was asked to pray for a family who lost their baby the week of the due date, my brother in law was diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and one of my sister’s favorite teachers just tested positive for the return of cancer, metastasized.

There’s more that I’m thankfully forgetting in this moment. A mercy, I am sure.

None of this happened to me, and yet, how heavy are these things even from a distance? And so much heavier to the people on whom they have fallen.

I want to say, “the past year has been heavy” or, “society is crumbling now more than ever” or, “what a difficult time for us.” But the truth is that it isnt limited to this year, or this country, or these people. The truth is that while things are objectively worse today than say, a few years ago, or a few decades ago, this is normal.

The trend, is normal. This is how things are now.

That’s not to say they are irreversible, to be clear. They are. Every sin can be forgiven. Every mistake can be atoned for, if not rectified.

But we must remember that those opportunities are fleeting and time is finite. We will not always have the option to right these wrongs.

But what is our response to hearing these things, or even moreso to having these things happen to us? At the end of the day it is very much a hardening that takes place.

We brace ourselves against the onslaught of the world. We harden our hearts and sharpen our teeth and prepare to defend our burrow from the attacks of predators. This reaction is normal. Animalistic, to some degree, but human also. It is in our nature, subdued by reason, understanding, and tempered by whatever empathy we can muster.

The normal flow would then be to let our guard down after the threat has passed. We cannot live permanently in a fight or flight response, in a heightened state of danger, alarm, and provocation. For one, it is bad for our health. It is also bad for our souls.

So what happens when it becomes so frequent, so back-to-back, so persistent and intense that we cannot spare a moment to drop our defenses and allow the sigh of calm to blow through our lips and empty our lungs?

Do you also feel the breath caught in your throat, unable to let it pass? I know it is not just me.

All we can do, it seems, is allow ourselves to stay hard. To toughen up. To dig trenches around our intellect and build fortresses around our hearts, and often to borrow blinders from the fearful to keep our gaze from taking in too much of this ugliness. Somehow even this seems natural in response to the unending waves that keep crashing down on us.

But what are the side effects of all this?

If we harden our hearts and separate ourselves from pain, suffering, love, hate, truth, reality… we separate ourselves from our human nature. We cannot respond to pain with sympathy, to hate with reason, to anger with empathy, to fear with consolation, if we have removed ourselves from these realities.

Most importantly, we cannot respond to God with faith if we refuse to acknowledge that all of these things are still occurring in a world created by and for God.

And what does this mean for those who want to be faithful?

Having faith in God means that we cannot harden our hearts. We must preserve them, soft and vulnerable as they are. Without them we cannot minister to the afflicted. If we want to comfort the sorrowful, bring peace to the conflicted, support the wronged, love the abandoned, counsel the misguided, and instruct the ignorant, we must first have the capacity to give those gifts. And we must remember that we cannot give what we do not have.

Therefore, friends, we need to have peace and love and stability and constancy and steady judgment and compassion and strength within us first before we can pour it out to any one around us. We need to retreat just enough from the world to remember our faith in God and rally our strength and our love from knowledge of His promises to us. And we need to soften our souls that have been hardened by sin and pain and evil. And we need to take heart in belonging to Christ, and then do as he did.

He spent his public life walking in the world, feeding hungry people, healing the sick, speaking only truth, admonishing and exhorting the uneducated and unbelieving, and then after being accused, tortured, and condemned, He quite literally picked up a heavy cross and carried it up a mountain so that He could be crucified for you. He lived and died in this world so that you would be freed from the shackles that bind you to the evil and destruction and pain and torment of current events, to a world full to bursting with deceit and agony, and so that when it is all over you can be united with Him in peace and perfection, wholeness, …heaven.

If our hearts are hardened, they are hardened to this too. We must remain soft, human, in the likeness of God.

So, all that is to say, “today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” And if you cannot hear his voice, that just means your heart is already hardened.


  • Pray the rosary.
  • Go to confession.
  • Maintain your priorities: salvation.

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