DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     June 15, 1998     vol. 9, no. 115


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

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 completes his two-part treatment on Endurance - something we all need in the long haul in our journey to Heaven.    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.

ENDURANCE part two

          If anyone prays with the heart, Mary certainly does. If among other things, she constantly brings the need to pray with the heart before our mind's eye, then it must be that this is one of the things she offers to either pull away from or avert the danger. Too, if she pleads with us to pray with the heart, we can be assured that she too is praying with her heart to the Father, to her Son and to her Spouse, asking, begging, pleading with tears to spare us harm. Evidently, this danger of harm must be so great and perhaps even so imminent that Mary knows that only God can make it possible for us to be spared. She prays unceasingly in our behalf. For Our Blessed Mother to hang in there during the prolonged period of time could not be done if it were not for the fact that she was receiving re-enforcement. Who can say what is the nature of this re-enforcement? One thing can be said, however, and that is, that it comes from God, from Jesus, her Spouse. How much longer will Mary continue to stay by us? Without a doubt, she will not abandon her children as long as they have a need of her.

          There is another side to this coin and it is this: could it possibly be that it is we, her children, who keep her in tears and make it necessary for her to keep on begging and pleading, by our resisting her, dragging our feet, turning a deaf ear to her? I would suggest that it is, at least this is how I would personally perceive it to be. I base my perception on my own behavior towards my mother as also on the many others and their children whom I have counseled in the many years of my priesthood.

          Whenever there came forth a request, a plea from my own mother, I would respond verbally in the affirmative, but there was always a delay, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, in carrying out the plea or the request. At times, I know that it was sheer laziness, at other times mere procrastination, and all the time I felt a need to put a buffer between request and fulfillment. It seems that I held on to a need on my part to be in control, protecting myself from having to do something I was not quite ready to do. A third and even a fourth request had to be made, at tines these with threats or tears. Secondly, I learned in my counseling sessions with mothers and their children that my situation was not unique, that hesitation in fulfilling a mother's wish or plea was quite commonplace. In almost every case, it seemed that youngsters as youngsters, and sometimes these youngsters were already "oldster," would be testing the endurance of their mothers, to see what it would take to get her upset, angry or to shed tears.

          Do you think that there are those in our day who are testing Our Heavenly Mother's endurance? I think that there are some, but I think that most of her children do not respond to her due to a weakness, a lack of will, or at least because they do not take her seriously. There are those who do respond even wholeheartedly from the beginning, but gradually fizzle out or burn out or at least lose their wholehearted response. It is no easy task to maintain a listening stance for a longer period of time. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

          The best way, and perhaps, the only way to a wholehearted response to any or every request being made by Our Lady, especially her wish that we pray with the heart, is to invite the Holy Spirit to become a partner in the action. He h as power that we do not have; He has power that He would like to share with us, power which would make it possible for us to become stable in our response to His Spouse. With His Life flowing through us, everything goes easier. As He indeed dwells within each one of us, it needs for each one of us to welcome Him, reverence Him and to love Him as the One given to us by Jesus to facilitate our imitation of Him in following through on the fulfillment of our purpose in life.

          To pray with the heart for one or two days is not that difficult, but to pray with the heart day in day out is something else. It can, however, be done. Our Heavenly Mother would not be asking us to do something that was impossible.

          Endurance in anything takes will power. To endure in some things, those more difficult, takes a healthy will strengthened by grace. Once one is able to maintain a life of prayer with the heart, all of the other requests that Mary makes will be more easily responded to. When one prays with the heart to be able to take on fasting and/or to do penance, it would fall under the hope that Jesus gives us in saying, "knock, and it will be opened to you." It would certainly please all of heaven were this to be our chief prayer, namely, "Dear Holy Spirit, help me to live my life in praying with the heart so that I may fulfill all of the wishes of Your Spouse. Help me not to resist, not to put off complying with her wishes that sooner would come the time when her Immaculate Heart triumphs."

          As Mary endures in staying by our side in these difficult times, let us ask for the necessary help to endure in a life in which we not only SAY PRAYERS with the heart, but indeed and in fact, PRAY with the heart.

June 15, 1998       volume 9, no. 115
HEARTS TO HEART TALK by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.


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