DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 14, 1998     vol. 9, no. 241


Weekly Column by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

          "Hearts-to-heart Talk" is a compendium of talks & writings on "How to Pray with the Heart" by the popular Franciscan from upstate New York - Father Stephen Valenta, O.F.M. Conv. and is a regular column each week on Mondays. This quiet, sincere priest, with over 45 years in pastoral care and in the radio/television ministry, will touch your heart as he pinpoints the "how to's" of praying with and from the heart. In his column today in the DAILY CATHOLIC he continues a crucial series on the foundation of his talks - "How to pray with the HEART" which will lead up to Christmas and properly prepare us during Advent.    Fr. Stephen's column along with columns by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto and Father John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. promise simple, but effective and vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can reach Fr. Valenta at Hearts to heart Center at P.O. Box 212, Rensselaer, New York, 12144 or you can reach him at (518) 434-1723.

How to Pray with the Heart part four

          So many of the pains, sufferings, and evils of our day are with us because the dignity of the human person is not given recognition. Human beings are treated like animals at times, brutally dealt with, receiving merciless infections of degrading humiliations. Even animals are at times given more lofty consideration than humans. All this because of mankind's turning away from its Divine Source and being unmindful of the infinite value that God puts into each and every person, no matter how lowly in stature any person may appear in the eyes of his fellow persons. How good and considerate of God to let it be known to all men of all times that even inhuman treatment from others can reap for any victim a state of joyu with His teaching of "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake..."

          What others do to me disregarding my dignity is one thing; what I do to myself disregarding that same dignity is yet another. If I myself am not aware of the worth that I have before God and deal with myself in an inhuman way, I have no one to blame but myself. The more I keep my eyes on myself, the more faults I find in me and the less respect I give to the "Who" that I am. When I take my eyes away from my essential worth and deal with myself as a bundle of habits, some good, some bad, I open the door for others to treat me with disrespect. For me to build myself up in my own estimation after a put-down by others, it needs for me to say to myself with conviction, "I am a PERSON! I am a subject of the Most High King. I AM important!"

          It is the very Maker of me Who says to me, "Thou shalt love your neighbor as YOURSELF." In giving me importance, God insists that I give myself that same importance. In my own eyes I must be to me what I am as He knows me to be. My true self has the value which He Himself gave and gives to me. If I consider myself of any lesser value, I do Him and myself an injustice.

          In the next installment, I shall continue on dignity and how outside forces influence us away from God.

December 14, 1998       volume 9, no. 241
HEARTS TO HEART TALK by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.


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