Heart Burning???

Ok so some people are probably going to think I’m a little nuts, but its ok, builds character :slight_smile:

Basically the thing is my Heart burns in certain points, mainly when I’m in prayer or when I’m thinking about a specific someone, always the same someone and most times the same burning feeling. Its almost as if something is touching my heart for just a second, its not painful, it can be, but it hasn’t been for a while. I went to the doctor got it checked out, got told “If your running 2 miles in 12 mins 14 secs, you probably don’t have heart problems.” Ran through some tests and all came back green. So she told me to ask a Priest, Priest didn’t know either, so I’m trying my hand here.

Mainly I was just wondering if anyone has had similar experiences with the same thing, or if they may have heard about this same thing happening in the lives of the Saints or just in general. I’m not claiming its Divine, just there’s no medical answer when my heart is completely health.

Oh I also get a pain in my side, right around where my ribs are, but its like in between the ribs, not on the actual bone and sometimes I’ll get a heart burning sensation from that a few secs to mins later. Again any insight or ideas would be awesome and it just makes for good conversation.


Hmm. That’s interesting stuff. I’ve never heard of anything like it before.
Out of curiosity - what kind of prayer brings on this feeling? What kind of feelings are associated with the person you think of? And when do you get the rib pain?
There could be a connection somewhere.
I’ll keep you in my prayers, hopefully you get it clarified soon :slight_smile:

No idea what it could be – not a cardiologist, nor a psychologish, nor a theologian.

I would recommend reading some of St. Teresa of Avila’s or St. John of the Cross’s writings on prayer and the spiritual life. They are both Doctors of the Church and their writings are truly amazing.

God bless you.


Well, definitely don’t feel like you’re crazy or anything. A number of things I’ve ran across in the past couple of months has said stuff like this happens. Particularly after people receive the Eucharist.

This is literally a quote out of a book I’m reading: "often some young man would come up to me afterwards and say something like, “Father, that was a great talk on vocations! When you were talking, my heart was really burning.” I would always reply, “If your heart was burning, it was not because of my talk. The Holy Spirit is the only one who makes a man’s heart burn, and he does it especially when he is calling that man to something great. You could be called to be a priest”.

I do want to caution you that it’s a book about discerning priesthood… so I think it could be very different in your case. I think this could be a sign that you’re called to the vocation of marriage (and you know who with, it sounds like :wink: )
It also mentions a Scripture reference: [BIBLEDRB]Luke 24:32[/BIBLEDRB]

Lastly, I had an experience like this once a couple months ago. I was praying for a long time, and towards the end my heart felt like it was burning. I realized that I had my rosary laying on my chest. And it felt that way for like 20 or 30 minutes. It was a very amazing experience, it just felt like the love of Christ and of Mary.

But yeah… you said it’s not medical. So, it’s definitely not medical. It’s definitely a good thing that it happens so often; I bet you’re a pretty spiritual person. … Sorry if this was a long post, I haven’t really discussed this with anyone, but I definitely can relate… and I’m reading about the same stuff happening too.

Hmm, have you tried this?:smiley:

I would rule out a medical problem first.Burning on the right side could be indicative of gall stones.Or it could be a religious experience.I wouldn’t discount either.

Eww Tropical Fruit sounds disgusting. :eek:

Great answers, I’ll have to look into St. Therese of Avila and St. John of the Cross. I usually try to stay away from the Mystics just cause I have a fear I’m going to find myself in them lol.

As much as I would love to say Tums would help this one…it doesn’t lol. I’ve tried that.

As for you Sparrow, here goes. My prayer life is…interestingly complicated. I spend a lot of time in prayer, only had to cut back lately cause I’m in my last semester in college and its a hard load this semester. Usually I’ll pray almost unceasingly. When I’m sitting around in public I’ll listen to Christian music and sing or hum along, when I’m alone and not doing homework, I’m prayer. I usually do the Liturgy of the Hours in the Morning, Daytime, Evening and Night. Now that doesn’t sound complicated, but then there’s the second part of my prayer life that only one person has really seen, sort of. I enter into states of prayer in ecstasy, it happens every once in a while. For me the last time was at the end of January. I was on the March for Life in Washington DC and we were in the Vigil Mass. I had just spent the entire mass with my favorite person, she’s my best friend and we’ve known each other for over a year now, more of her later. After receiving communion, I came back to my little spot and sat down. My usual prayer involves something along the lines of “Have mercy on me a Sinner oh God, Have mercy on me a sinner!” and I’ll pray a little bit and repeat that about 3 times again, rinse and repeat. I also usually gaze on the crucifix and place myself back at calvary to re-enter into my Savior’s death.

This particular occasion, I was kneeling there and I could feel Christ’s presence starting to wash over me, its pretty easy to tale, I’ll get this fear of the Lord feeling, start shaking and I’ll start reliving the crucifixion of our Lord more earnestly. I’ll watch him be whipped, beat, made fun of, I’ll watch him carry the cross, watch him fall all three times, get to calvary and be crucified. After the nails are driven through, I’m usually in tears, my heart will sometimes start to burn ever so slightly, just a comforting pain. When my eyes usually re-hit the cross that is when I am enter in. In this particular situation and day, I just sort of had my eyes fixed on the cross and I began to pray for God’s strength, his courage, for him to be my everything, guide me and keep me in his grace. I asked him about some personal stuff, mostly vocation since I have been discerning the Priesthood for over a year and a half, and even though the answer keeps coming back no, I keep trying praying it’ll change lol. Well the main part of this story comes once we stood up, my knees were weak, I was still shaking and standing wasn’t helping things. My eyes were still fixed on the cross, and then it was like a voice from within side of me, in the silent part of my heart just speak to me and the words were not just coming out that quiet part of my heart, but they were coming out of my mouth and my heart was all tingly burny feeling, but I didn’t care, I was wrapped up in what I was hearing “I love you Son, know that I’m always with you and your never alone, even when the times are hard, when you can’t feel me within you, when you don’t know and you doubt, be of good faith for I stand beside you now and forever to lead you and guide you always.” That was the basic sum it was pretty long.

Now the weird part, my friend beside me asked me what I was praying, she said “You were freaking the people behind you out, and I knew you were saying something, but it wasn’t english.” I know what I heard, it sounded like english but to the people around me the things I was saying, they couldn’t understand.

This is just one example of prayer life, or the intensity of it anyways. When I am in these intense moments of prayer, the world around me is nothing, time stops and its just me and Christ. I’m always in a sense of peace, so its not like I’m tensed up or anything, just a sincere sense of peace.

As for the someone, its my friend in the last story, she’s my best friend and I’ve liked her for a while, she’s knows it, her boyfriend knows it too, which is the reason why its been driving a wedge between our friendship lately. The last time, with her well was tonight, I was thinking about her, the times we’ve spent together, etc and I got a small burning sensation. We’ve really had some rough spots lately, mainly her boyfriend sees me as a threat so…naturally she pushed me a way for a while. The day after Ash Wednesday, she apologized, realized that she actually missed me and felt bad for trying to push me away. My heart was burning ever so slowly that night when we had another talk about if I was going to actually take her back in, especially after she literally cold shouldered me for a month and a half. I could hear God saying, This is it. Now what that means, I don’t know, guess I’ll find out later lol. I know I have had thoughts about pushing her away myself but after yesterday, I don’t see that happening. Yesterday, I got lost around one of the bigger towns here where I live, I didn’t know where I was, but I decided that I would go down and see the Franciscans. I didn’t want to see her, talk to her or think about her, I just wanted to put her behind me. Well I get lost, and I don’t know where I am, and I end up at her home parish. Yea…I try running to the Franciscans to get away from her and I end up at her home parish. Still processing that one. My heart was burning the moment I entered the Sanctuary, I could feel Christ there, and I wanted her there with me.

Anyways, as for the rib thing, it comes and goes, its the more unusual effect that I don’t get as much, just every now and then. The primary one is the Heart burning and that’s the one I’m still trying to figure out.

Sorry for the long message.


If Jesus gave you an experience of His presence in an ecstasy and told you He would be with you even when you could not feel His presence then there will likely be a time ahead that is very difficult and you will not feel His presence. You will be termpted to think He has abandoned you. The expereince was given so that when that time comes you can remember it and be able to keep faith. It is a preparation like the Transfiguration of Christ was a preparation for His Crucifixion for Peter, James and John.

Most saints had some experience where they felt abandoned by God. Mother Teresa had one great experience of God’s presence and hearing his call and felt abandoned and alone for the rest of her life.

Saint John of the Cross wrote the Dark Night of the Soul. He experienced ecstasy and abandonement. Saint Therese of Lisieux felt abandoned as she was dying of tuberculosis.

So in the spiritual life there are times of consolations and dryness, when we know God is there with us and feel great love and times when our souls are in the desert and parched.

Why is this? The saints tell us it is when we do not feel God’s presence, but persevere in faith is when we are making spiritual progress. When we know consolations is when we are resting, not going anywhere. Both are good for us. The analogy is the Jews being led through the desert. They come to a good spot every once in awhile, but mostly it is a struggle. Life is like that.

Jesus said the way to heaven for us is to take up our crosses and follow Him. He told us to take up an instrument of torture, suffering and death and if we don’t we can have no part in Him.

Why does He tell us we have to do this? We share in His suffering. Why? We are the Body of Christ, the nation of priests God promised to raise up for Himself. Jesus is the eternal high priest. The catechism says by our baptism we share in His threefold office of priest, prophet and king. A priest is a person who offers sacrifice. Jesus felt abandoned and alone on the cross when He offered Himself as sacrifice. The saints feel and share that same abandonment. When He faced the coming terror He sweat blood. Angels cam and comforted Him to prepare and strengthen Him. You are also receiving comfort in preparation, and being told so.

The only way to heaven is the cross. We follow Him in His bloody footsteps, each of us in our own way, with our own particular crosses.

I know these things in general. I can make no comment about anyone’s particular circumstances, like this girl, or what the feelings you are having mean. If Jesus told you “this is it”, and that means she is supposed to be more than a friend to you and she has a boyfriend then she will have to do something about that. Maybe you should stay away from her and see what happens, if she continues with the boyfriend or not. It is normal that he feels threatened by her friendship with another man. Pray for him.

If Jesus has picked out a spouse for you then things will develop in that direction. I have been married many years. I was with a woman I liked quite well walking on the beach. God clearly told me to marry her. He did not whisper this in my ear. I was flattened on the ground and terrified, but at the same time exalted. That was to get my attention, so I would listen and not doubt what was happening. He told this to me not her.

An alternative to giving her some space from you to allow her to see if she can be happy away from you, is to tell her what happened at her parish and that you think you might be destined by God to marry. She might think you are crazy and run away, or she might agree. You might tell her this and ask her to try to decide for herself if that is what God is telling her also. Let her make up her own mind freely.

When someone tells another person that God wants them to do somthing as life changing as merry me, it does add a bit of pressure. If you do not do this thing I am telling you God wants from you, like marry me, then you will be not doing what God wants of you and that will not be smart. I don’t think you want to put her in that position.

If you think God wants you to marry her He also gives you freedom in the matter. We always have freedom. You don’t have to tell her anything about your spiritual experience and what you think God told you about her. She already knows you have unusual spiritual experiences. You might just tell her you would like to marry her and she needs to decide if she wants to marry you. You can tell her this and she will have to decide in freedom what she wants to do. She might say yes right away, or no, or go think about it. She will have to figure out what to do about the boyfriend. It is up to her not you.

Jesus said be anxious over nothing.

Before you proceed you might want to check in with prayer again to be sure you got the message straight. What does, “this is it” mean Lord?


Awesome reply, thanks grandfather. There is a lot of that, that I knew yet it still needed to be said to hit the right place.

I have been hitting a dry spot lately. Yesterday, I walked into church for adoration, sat there for 20 mins and walked right back out. I usually don’t get depressed, but I have been lately only cause I’m in a degree program I never wanted, I’m overwhelmed with homework and just complete lack of motivation to pray which makes me feel as if I’m losing God, and since he’s my everything (I always say, “my Faith is all I have” mostly cause me and my family don’t exactly have a good relationship, its sort of like whatever). I’ve been a good soldier for a long time though, coming up to 8 years this year, and working on my first year as a Catholic (was a protestant minister (student) since I was 15 years old). I force myself to pray, even when I don’t want to, but its in solemnity, away from everyone and just in complete solitude. These days I don’t want to be around people, I know I need to, but I know that when I’m in this suffering I need to rely on Christ, even when I can’t hear him or feel him inside.

I think the main reason why my heart burns in prayer is remembrance. There is a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my parish. I use to stare at the picture for just a straight hour and pray to Christ to give me his Sacred Heart to guide me to his will for his Glory. I did it for weeks straight, cause I use to just love to sit in front of the Tabernacle. One day in adoration was the first time it happened, and it wasn’t that bad, just some slight warmth, nothing big. I didn’t think anything of it. After a couple of weeks, I got worried so that’s when I went to the doctor.

I doubt alot of things, and my friends don’t really understand what’s going on in my life and my Priest doesn’t know either. So it sort of feels like me and the world. I don’t date, I live celibate so I can focus more on God, and just glorify him by doing things for his Kingdom. I’m feeling this is slowly coming to an end though, which scares me cause go figure its been me and God vs. the World and I’ve sort of liked it like that, really don’t know what it would feel like to have someone in there with me fighting the fight. Nonetheless, I digress.

I appreciate the responses.

A light raised high and shinning in the darkness, leading others to the Sacred Heart.

With a prayer life like this, I can’t imaging why you’d question the supernatural nature of a burning heart. With the experience of “resting in the spirit”, you are working your way toward abandoning all attachment to the worldly, and connecting to the spiritual.

Keep in mind that prayers spoken in the complete silence of your heart are known only to God. So, if you do pray something in particular, and get a strong reaction the way that you have - you can be fairly certain that it comes from God.

You have come here with questions, but I fear it is you that is the professor. Regardless, I do strongly suggest that you get a spiritual adviser (could it be that you really do not have one?). Have you read about the life of Padre Pio? That might give you a deep appreciation of your station.

If you could pray for all of us that are trying to shine our light as well, I’d appreciate it.


If you have not read it please find a copy of Come Be My Light.

There is probably nothing wrong with desiring solitude. The notion that it is you and God vs. the world, may not be healthy however. Jesus said His Church would be a sign of contradition in the world, and you are part of His body, but so are others.

He taught us to pray they kingdom come they will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His kingdom is His rule. We are here to bring it to the world. It is the reign of love, and love is the power that will conquer the world.

If you go off and separate yourself from the world it will be to pray for the world, for His kingdom to come here to souls.

If you discerned you are not called to the priesthood that does not mean you are not called to an eremetic life, a life of solitude and prayer. Maybe you can find a spiritual director who can help you discern.


I suspect that if you had a real mystical experience a la Teresa of Avila, you would not be wondering whether it could be a medical issue. Have you considered the possibility of a chronic digestive disorder? Because that can cause pain in the ribs and heart area.

If you are experiencing ecstasy, it would probably be best to stop posting about it on the internet and find a good spiritual director.

Mystical experiences come in many variations, intensities, frequencies, and for different purposes. They are not all ala Theresa of Avila. Few are. That does not make them false. It does not make those who experience them less credible. Why even try to make a comparison?

Most people who have spiritual experiences are unsure about what to do or make of them. The poster said he spoke with a physician. Do you think he sould find a different one? A “chronic digestive disorder” might cause physical symptoms, but it is highly doubtful the other phenomenon reported could result from a stomach problem.

Without going into detail I have experienced numerous ecstasies and supernatural phenomena. I never discussed them with a priest. I don’t have a spiritual director and don’t want one. I can not explain what happened or why it happened and do not need an explanation. I believe, based on experience and the experience of people I know that it is much more common than most people think that people who pray regularly experience God in various ways.

One could have a medical problem and be experiencing special graces in prayer. It is not an either/or situation. I have been frequently misdiagnosed by doctors for different problems which then worsened, so I know it’s possible for a real illness to be missed by the first doctor you go and see; in fact, it’s common. I was trying to be helpful, not insulting.

As for the rest, all the saints that I have read say that anyone who seems to be experiencing ecstasies or visions should submit those experiences to a spiritual director. There are spiritual dangers if one does not do so.

Ok so I’ve read through some of you guys responses. First off I can tell you that its not chronic digestive disorder for several reasons, a tums would cause the pain to go away. Like I said earlier I tried that, it didn’t work. Also it is only appearing at times of intense prayer, and sometimes it happens when I fast too, so rules out the chronic digestive disorder. Secondly, tests were run, I trust the doctors that did the tests, I can’t say who did them or anything, just cause my profession is not only a student, I’m just going to say they were government doctors and leave it at that.

As for my solitude, usually I end up praying for the world, the poor, the homeless, the sin sick souls, the diseased etc. I do enter into solitude, but that’s only so I can pray more earnestly for those who need it. In my current position I’m not in the best position to help out with these problems, so I do my best and pray for them instead.

I do have a spiritual director, who was a Jesuit, and he’s walked me through all these ecstasies and gone through some steps in the spiritual exercises to discern whether they were misleading or if they were from God. From what we have been able to discern, they are God.

I work hard in Christ’s church, I teach theology at my Parish, I’m constantly active doing something with the college group or any other ministry that needs help.

The furthering of the Kingdom is important, that can never be debated, I was just wondering if anyone else had maybe a similar experience.

My biggest pet peeve is the fact that people who see me in prayer, or know me, perceive me as a Saint, a Holy man and I tell them constantly, I’m nothing, but everything only in Christ. If anything pray for me, that I should be worthy of the promises of Christ one day, but before me pray for those who need it more. The poor and the diseased, the prideful, the arrogant, these souls need your prayers more than me, for they are in the greatest of distress. Nonetheless, I digress.

My prayers are with you as I hope yours are with me.

I have had my heart burn in prayer, it is a very comforting thing, although probably not anything one should get too attached to. I am sure we are not the only two people to have this experience. I know I am not a great mystic, or even a sufficiently good Christian. There is a verse in the Bible that seems to speak of this: Luke 24:32: (Two disciples speaking about having encountered the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus) They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” I have not had the pain in the heart or the ribs though.

Sometimes I get a sort of “heartache” when I’m thinking about a person. I usually find out later that something’s gone wrong or will go wrong for them. It’s probably the converse of a “sense of peace” I get when some people die, particularly those who were strong Christians (particularly strong when my old pastor died - the “sense of peace” must have lasted for about half an hour).

I think the “heartache” I’m referring to above has a spiritual cause, and is a message.

But it’s not a burning sensation - more like the sort of oppressive sense one gets during grief.

You also included the phrase -

mainly when I’m in prayer or when I’m thinking **about a specific someone, always the same someone **and most times the same burning feeling.

Are you praying for a specific outcome for this person?

A man had spent most of his life deep in a cave. One day, he noticed that the people closer to the entrance of the cave were having a great time, and he decided to join them. As he walked toward the entrance, the extra light allowed him to notice he was not all that clean. He paused to make himself more presentable, and continued working his way toward the entrance. Again, as more light was shining on him, he noticed he could use some more time cleaning.

Those in the deep parts of the cave do not see their own issues as those who are bathed in the light. Yet, those in the light more easily find their own faults, but in fact appear to be quite clean compared to those in the dark. It seems to be way it was designed.

I understand your point of view. I have come up with this cave analogy to explain to myself why someone would view such a wretched person like myself as any kind of “saint.”

I have had that to the point where I could not sleep at night or focus during the day, and sometimes associated with a strange physical pain that is hard to describe. There are other parts of the experience as well. I did consult a priest who said he had seen it before and recommended prayer, frequent reception of all sacraments and seeking God’s will. He said pray against deception, pray for discernment and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately that priest passed away and I have not been able to find an expert who will take me seriously. The few times I have described this, people have scoffed at me and acted like I’m being ridiculous. I no longer mention it except to my husband and a couple other people who are very close to me.

So yes, I know that feeling. No I don’t really know what it means. It is like a burning love that never consumes you although you feel like it could and you would like it to. I’d be glad to have some specifics about what it is and how to respond to it. I’m 43, mother of 2, married, life long Catholic but lived a rather sinful youth.

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