DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 21, 1998     vol. 9, no. 246


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 five

          It is not easy in our day for anyone of us to maintain a respect for our person. We are dealt with by and large as "What's instead of Who's. My inherent value does not rest on WHAT I am, a doctor, a priest, a bus operator, a homemaker, but on WHO I am. In many ways within our culture I am not given my initial importance as a person. It seems that I am nothing but an object to be exploited by consumerism, as a commodity in the hands of the producer, the manufacturer, to be bargained for or to be ousted depending upon the use or lack of use of a particular product offered to the general public. Appeals are made to me by the media to give up my money for some material object or service which the buying world is made to feel that it needs.

         The value, the sacredness of the human person is nothing less than disregarded as crimes of all sorts are committed against individuals, families, nations and presented by the media as facts of daily news reports. Governments by and large make no effort to safeguard their citizens agains dehumanization trends. Individuals are used to serve the purposes of the few, the rich, the powerful. For the sake of financial enrichment, lives are snuffed out, ordinary human values are trodden under, consciences are neutralized and even demoralized. The primary purpose of the human person, that is, getting to know love and serve God is completely passed over and disregarded.

         God's number one enemy - satan - is also the chief enemy of the human person. This one time angelic person, being very high in the court of Heaven, knows well the value and purpose of the human person and is out twenty four hours a day, seven days each week, creating havoc from without and within individuals and groups, entering into the very Sanctuary wherein the Savior of mankind resides, to bring division so as to curtail and even destroy pure human actions as also actions prompted by grace. His most effective attack upon man is by drawing him out of the heart and presenting such forceful stimulations of mind that the primary thrust into life becomes one of thought rather than love and loving service.

         Despite all of the attacks brought against the human person, there is hope. It is Jesus Who has come to give assistance to humans by opening the channels of grace, bringing to each person sources of strength to mind and heart to make it possible for anyone who chooses to maintain one's human dignity, wholesomeness and integrity. Prayer, that is, carrying on a conversation with God, obtains for one all the help that is needed to sustain in one's life those qualities which will make it possible for the one who prays to give protection against any and every dehumanizing element.

         One of the strongest weapons that one can use against the world and satan is Faith! Jesus tells us that we believe in Him, we will be saved. It is understandable that every enemy of the human person puts forth the greatest amount of effort to destroy one's Faith and to cripple or at least de-activate the faculty of the the will, that is, the heart, wherein Faith abides. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within the heart of the baptized person, every safeguard is offered to maintain one's self in Faith. The indwelling of the Spirit has been merited for us by Jesus' suffering and death. Jesus, therefore, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, offers the greatest confidence to anyone who wishes to live a life of that dignity offered to the human person by his Creator.

         There is a lot of depth and an instant clarification to many of man's problems in one specific teaching of Jesus. It is: "If you obey My Commandments, you will discover who you are." That is encouraging. Only a person can choose to obey; all of the other creatures must obey. They are not given a choice. I think that most of us can work on that liberating statement. What a joy will be mine if and when I begin to respect and revere the WHO in ME.

         In the next installment I will venture onto the journey from the head to the heart - a journey that often meets with roadblocks because satan waits along the roadway throwing every obstacle and detour at us that he can.

December 21, 1998       volume 9, no. 246
HEARTS TO HEART TALK by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.


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