Chapel of the Heart

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Spirituality
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Often I talk about being a ‘demi-Catholic’, so it may not surprise you that I was excited to find a small chapel at the Catholic bookstore across the street from my work. It took a few weeks, but I finally started to develop a habit of going over to spend time alone with God. Pope Benedict in all his cardboard-cut-out glory greets me at the door, and I slip into the chapel. In its silence, dotted as it was with other seekers of God’s presence, I felt peace. Away from the noise, the busyness and pressure of the world, at the only place that mattered and to hear the only One who matters.

A thought struck me (not my own of course but one from God). I realized that seeking God’s presence in a chapel or church is too small a thing. Why? Because the kingdom of God is in us.

In my last post I wrote about the brave new world Good Friday heralds. I reasoned that the crucifixion of Jesus purchased a way to God, rather, a relationship with God, who is free to be with us, and we with him. We just celebrated Easter, leading me to ask ‘what does the resurrection herald’? I think that the death of Jesus defined the kingdom of God, but it was the resurrection of Jesus that established it. Thus, Paul said that if Christ were not raised, then our faith is in vain.

Where is the kingdom? In Acts 1 the apostles asked Jesus “Is it now that you will establish your kingdom?” They were looking for a place like my chapel, a place to go and find God.  But the resurrection heralds the inbreaking of God’s kingdom into – us.

If God’s kingdom can be compared to the Allied forces of WWII, then all of creation is like France in June of 1944 and our hearts are Normandy. Our hearts are the first beachhead in God’s invasion of the world.

I knew this going in that chapel. The Spirit questioned me: why do I go to a chapel and feel so welcome, so at peace, but not in the interior castle of my own soul? Why can’t I just as easily go there to be with God?

God has broken into my heart and lives there, establishing his kingdom by the power of the resurrected Jesus – yet that interior space is not enough my place of worship, safety and comfort. Why? Because I have not had enough faith, devotion, worship and love for Christ and his kingdom to make it so.

I have to work that out with Jesus. I only pray that God help me to prepare it as a place suitable for him, reform the interior places of my heart so he can roam freely in the wide pastures of my soul. I pray also that I can roam freely there, safe in the kingdom of God within my own heart.

I know I’m not the only one. I pray the same for you. May you know God’s welcome in depths of your heart. May the chapel or church you worship in be a mere reflection of the worship continually at work in the chapel of your soul.


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