DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     August 31, 1998     vol. 9, no. 170


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 concludes his series on the craftiness of the the fallen angels and how they can deceive us all if we are not rooted in love, truth and goodness in the heart.    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.

The subtleties of satan part seven

          Mary, knowing full well the ploys of satan, begs through some of her instruments that we go deep, deep, deep into prayer that we get into that prayer that is sponsored by her Spouse, the prayer of contemplation. She knows that the winds of immorality are so strong that unless her children put their roots deep into prayer, they will be blown away and lost forever. She warns against simply SAYING prayers. She never says that we should SAY prayers, SAY the rosary. She knows that unless we have the EXPERIENCE of prayer, wherein we humbly speak from the heart with our Father, and receive His Words through our hearts, we become easy prey for satan.

          Because satan is prince of this world, he uses everything at his disposal to keep us away from prayer and/or so active in mind with material things, that we cannot pray without being plagued with distractions. Making use of his many intriguing ways, he has seen to it that hardly any one speaks of goodness, that hardly any one speaks of the source of goodness, the will. Without the use of our will, it is impossible to keep our mind o God even for a minute. It is the will that has power, and most especially with grace, to harness the mind and to raise it up to God. It is for this reason that Our Lady emphasizes that we pray with the HEART. The word HEART is being used synonymously with the word WILL.

          Satan is the essence of evil; Mary is the essence of goodness. Satan lives and operates in the height and depth, length and width of hatred. Mary, immersed within the Spirit of Love, will ultimately crush the head of the Angelic Hater. She asks us to help her in this by converting to her Son Who teaches us by word and example to love all, even our enemies. As followers of Jesus, we are to be LOVERS. Satan, on the other hand, strives with all of his angelic power to keep human beings in the head, i.e., the mind. He enjoins upon whomever he can, to be SMARTIES. The raging battle, therefore, is between LOVERS and SMARTIES. Mary teaches us that if we would become LOVING SMARTIES, wherein both of these qualities flow from our Divine Guest, the Holy Spirit, we have tremendous power over satan. We will become aware of his traps; we will help to counteract his hatred with our love.

          All that has been presented above comes under the umbrella of DOCILITY. Our Heavenly Mother offers this as one of her main directives. To be docile means to be clear of mind and open of heart to receive the influxes of the Spirit of God. It is this Spirit Who is the SANCTIFIER. It is He Who has the responsibility to remind us of all that Jesus taught. It is He, together with Mary, Who brought Jesus into our midst the first time. It is He, Who, together with Mary, will bring on the Second Advent of Jesus into our midst. It is the Divine Indweller Who, abiding within each of those baptized, will help to make all those of good will, simple as doves, shrewd as serpents. It is for this reason that Mary is directing us to look for guidance from her Spouse. She knows how imperative it is for each one of us to live WITH the Holy Spirit, giving Him a continuous, generous and free FIAT. Mary pleads with us to LIVE within the Divine Will, so that we, as her children, will pattern ourselves after her. When we are so connected with our God, we are in the position to help Mary to expose the subtleties of satan and to defeat him, first in our own life and through that, in the lives of our brothers and sisters.

          Mary, as "The Handmaid of the Lord," instructs us in humility. She knows how important it is for each one of us to live in lowliness, in obedience, to our Heavenly Father. Satan's number one sin is pride. Satan introduced pride to our first parents and through them to each one of us. It is her loving concern for her children that she directs us to imitate her. It is no difficult task for children to imitate their mother. It falls within the nature of the child. Our humility is a powerful weapon against satan's usurped power over us. When we imitate Mary in her humility, we disarm satan of this power.

          Finally, Mary never stops asking her children to live in harmony with each other. Every mother wants her children to get along lovingly and to live peacefully with each other. When an effort is made, prompted by grace, to give respect to each PERSON, MADE TO THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD, we weaken and make dull the sharp points of confusion and disunity that satan makes use of to keep us at odds with each other, thus being of no help to Our Mother in her battle against him. Again, it is to the Great Unifier, the Holy Spirit, to Whom we must resort to be one as Jesus and the Father are One.

          Because the bond between the mother and the child is the greatest bond known to mankind, the Triune God sent Mary to us to whisk us out of satan's clutches. If we do not heed her, if we insist on going our own way, we will be lost. Mary is our Leader against satan. If we fail to follow her, we will be lost to him. To refrain from making a decision to follow Mary by placing ourselves under the protection of her Mantle, is to make a decision to be swallowed u and fall victim to the subtleties of satan. Mary is the Gift of the merciful Father to each one of His children. While there is still time we are encouraged to implement her directives in our daily living.

          Let it be known that there are many more directives that Mary gives than those mentioned. These can be obtained through our life of prayer and through our life WITH the Holy Spirit. Through our prayer life, prompted by the Spirit, we will not only become aware of these, but will be assisted in implementing them into a network of Gospel living.

August 31, 1998       volume 9, no. 170
HEARTS TO HEART TALK by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.


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