St. John Cassian recalls a striking illustration a wise old abbot named Moses taught him. Your mind is like a flour mill: it keeps grinding all the time, but you are responsible for deciding what it grinds.
A good way to illustrate the movement of the heart is by comparing it to a millstone driven by a waterwheel. The headlong rush of water whirls the wheel around, with revolving force, and the millstone can never stop its work so long as it is driven around by the action of the water. But it is in the power of the man who directs it to decide whether he will have wheat or barley or weeds ground by it. Whatever he puts into it must certainly be crushed by it.
Likewise, the mind through the trials of the present life is driven about by the torrents of temptations pouring in upon it from all sides, and cannot be free from the flow of thoughts. But it will decide for itself, by the efforts of its own earnestness and diligence, the character of the thoughts that it should either throw off or allow in.
For if, as I said, we constantly go back to meditation on the Holy Scriptures, and raise our memory towards the recollection of spiritual things and the desire of perfection and the hope of future bliss, spiritual thoughts are sure to rise from this, and cause the mind to dwell on those things on which we have been meditating. But if we are overcome by laziness or carelessness and spend our time in idle gossip, or are tangled up in the cares of this world and unnecessary anxieties, the result will be that a kind of noxious weeds will spring up, and give our hearts a harmful occupation. As our Lord and Savior says, wherever the treasure of our works or purpose may be, there also our heart is sure to continue. –St. John Cassian, Institutes, 1.18
What have I been grinding in my mind lately? Have I been grinding good wheat or weeds?
Lord, be pleased to send me your truth, and enlighten my mind to understand your divine oracles.
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