No doubt this is not the first time you have heard the phrase of an "open heart." We hear it often in religious exhortations and counsels. Many times we are told to accept the teachings of Christ with an open heart or to follow our vocations with an open heart. But what does this mean? It is obvious, but at the same time it is rarely explained. What is it to have an open heart? How can one have an open heart?
After my post on abandonment, it is very important for me to explain what a open heart actually is. It is, of course, a willingness to accept Christ and whatever He wants of us. It is a lack of concentration on personal desires in making our decisions. Thus, an open heart is an essential for making a self-gift of oneself... but more importantly essential to seeking our vocations. We must be willing to give up all our own ambitions for the sake of doing whatever Christ asks.
When we are told to receive Christ's teachings with an open heart... it means we are to accept them. We are to be ready to have faith and set skepticism aside. We must be willing to follow God's commands with pure acceptance, and thus receive the seeds of God's Message without restraint. For some, to have an open heart is essentially to deny one's own reason. If we scrutinized every teaching of the Church and did not accept it until we have been convinced, we would soon lose faith. It is the same as if one argues without listening... we must be prepared to listen and accept Christ, and allow Him to explain to us what we are to do, with the intention of doing as He says. An open heart is the "good ground" Christ spoke of in His parable of the sower. If a heart is open it is fertile and bears much fruit.
When I was younger I had some very sure ideas about what I would do with my life. I was determined beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would somehow make it to be a nun. It was my ambition. As worthy as this life is, it would have gone very hard with me if I had tried to pursue such a vocation without God's calling. In my case, opening my heart was literally setting all my dreams aside. It was necessary for me to look into other vocations, college, etc. before I could proceed any further with that vocation I so heartily desired. When we seek our vocations, at some point we learn that our vocation is from God and we have to be ready to go where He guides. If we are to follow our vocations correctly, our hearts must be open to absolutely anything He desires, and thus directed solely at following His Will and no other, tainted, motives.
Thus, an open heart is first accepting Christ into our hearts without reserve and then allowing Christ to guide us. If we are prepared to seek our vocations with an open heart then we will receive our vocations directly from His Hands. If we do not have an open heart as we seek our vocations, they will remain young and immature. We cannot expect to live our vocations to the fullest without being prepared to do God's will for us, and we can not be prepared to do God's Will for us if our own wills are in the way. Accept Him, receive Him, allow Him to guide you and you will surely live your vocation to the heights He has intended for you!