I wish that life really was the way the disciples believed: What you eat can defile you. This would make life so much easier for me. Although it may be hard to watch what I eat and drink, most of the time I can follow a healthy eating regimen.

But Jesus informs us that what defiles a person comes from within – from his heart: evil thoughts, greed, malice, deceit, envy, etc. These temptations are much harder to avoid. Thoughts and emotions like these develop instantly and often grow to fruition insidiously without much effort on my part. I have to be constantly on the lookout for these thoughts and feelings. I find that the Ignatian Daily Examen is a great tool to help me recognize these temptations. After realizing what thoughts and emotions are “defiling” me, I find that the best way of dealing with them is to bring them to Jesus in prayer. 

—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.