Your Thoughts include your memory and imagination. Here are things to note and to do, to improve the acceptability of your thoughts in the sight of God.
- Be Aware that Your Thoughts Are Audible to God
Our thoughts may be hidden from others most of the time. However, God can hear them clearly. Therefore, when you examine your conscience before Mass and Confession, your thoughts must be examined as well. Christ pointed out that a person can commit sin in their heart even before any action (Mt 5: 27-28). He also corrected the prejudices in the mind of certain Pharisees: (Lk 7: 39-50) and (Mk 2: 8-12). Any immoral thoughts you allow to fester or which you consent to or welcome internally, is material to repent from in your prayer; particularly during the “I confess” at Mass or at the Sacrament of Confession.
2. Note that They are Selective
Our thoughts are not totally reliable in every instance. Our memory in particular can be very misleading because it tends to download the past in an incomplete way. Be careful how you use your memory to make current decisions.
Memory can delete crucial elements from the past and highlight what seems most important to our present circumstances. This is why the children of Israel, as they wandered in the desert, complained that they missed the “fish, onions and leeks” in Egypt (Num 11: 4-6). They forgot that they were also slaves in Egypt under great oppression, and that they had cried out to God to rescue them. Therefore, always be cautious about how you recall and use the past especially when it is triggered by present discomfort.
3. Know that They Are Not Good by Default
Avoid the presumption that any thought which emerges in your mind is without bias. Our thoughts are often not neutral. They could be charged with emotional content – positive, negative, or neutral and can have moral content: good or bad.
Use your reasoning to discern what thoughts should be allowed to remain in your heart and mind. Struggle against thoughts with bad moral content so that they do not fester and lead to sin. Bring any difficult thoughts to a Priest for spiritual direction (e.g., after confession).
4. Moderate the Thoughts You Absorb from Others
Hundreds of thoughts from others bombard us daily from social media. If you must remain on social media and will be exposed to posts by others, it is important to protect your thought processes by moderating your absorption of these varied thoughts by using the virtue of temperance. This means that you should try to limit your reading of posts on social media to no more than one hour per day. This way, you are controlling social media and social media is not controlling you.
Treat social media like junk food – limit your intake and aim to consume the healthiest components alone, if any.
Instead of exposure to social media, fill your mind with information that have been proven true over centuries. In this regard, read the New Testament for a few minutes daily. Aim to read certain tried-and-tested classic or contemporary books such as the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis of Sales, Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Jacques Philippe, among others.
5. Use Your Thoughts as a Resource for Good
Use your memory and imagination to recall and avoid wrongdoing and mistakes of the past. Memory is also important for recalling what God has done for us. This is why Churches have crucifixes and images displayed in prominent places. Let the images at Church jog your memory and your imagination about the life of Christ and all the good things he has done for you.
Use your current thoughts and imagination to aspire to, and develop a better version of yourself.
Also, use your imagination to put yourself in the scenes of the gospel. Imagine that you witnessed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand or that you saw Christ passing by with the Cross on his way to Calvary. What would you have thought then? What would you have done? What do you wish to say to Christ now? If you do not know what to say, then pray to God for help using the words of King David (Psalm 19: 14):
May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.