How to Pray with the Heart
column twenty-nine

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

INTRODUCTION: "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 series on Zero Resistance, Zero Ego Drive in focusing on abandoning our will totally to God's Will.    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

column twenty-nine: Zero Resistance, Zero Ego Drive

      In your life and mine, when do we experience the highest degree of resistance, an intense restlessness, a loss of tranquillity, the loss of joy? When we are all absorbed with SELF. It seems that when self becomes first and foremost in our lives, there is the gradual dissolving of that which keeps us united with ourselves and every part within ourselves against every other part. There follows a gradual disintegration of health, of sanity, of hope.

      It is better for us now to put an end to our introspection. It leads ultimately to a life of continual resistance and to endless hopelessness, for "he who finds his life, will lose it." (Matt. 10:39).

      Is zero resistance in those endowed with free will possible, and if so, where can it be found? It IS possible. It is found in Jesus, in Mary, in all of the angels and saints in heaven and in some people on earth. What all of these have in common is the fact that they all, without exception, have freely chosen not to resist the Will of the Father. They have chosen to bend freely, totally, and joyfully to IT.

      Let us turn our attention elsewhere for a moment, to the Words of Jesus when He said, "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven..." (Mark 3:29). What does this have to do with zero resistance. Everything! It is the Holy Spirit Who makes zero resistance possible. Zero resistance is found in all who are consecrated to the Holy Spirit. He is the Sanctifier. On the contrary, anyone and everyone who by way of an expression of blasphemy, resists the Holy Spirit, defies sanctification.

      Now, what about zero ego drive. Zero ego drive is a companion of zero resistance. They travel together. Wherever there is zero resistance, there is zero ego drive. Conversely, ego drive and resistance go together. The more ego drive within an individual, the more the resistance and again conversely, the elimination of ego drive brings along with it the elimination of resistance.

      It is vital for each oneís spiritual growth to recognize oneís own ego drive. Ego drive is that internal force which Adam and Eve ended up with after Satan got through with them. It is that internal drive which exists within each individual as the main effect of original Sin. It is that propelling force within humans when they live merely on the natural plane. It is that internal force which empowers an individual as he/she strives after that which the mind, in its darkened state, presents as an object of pursuit.

      To bring mankind out of the cage of ego drive, the Heavenly Father, in His love, sent Jesus into our midst. There was no ego drive in Jesus. In Him there was zero resistance. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My Own Will, but the Will of Him Who sent Me." (John 6:38). He came as the Redeemer. He is the One Who came to save us, to release us from the cage of SELF, that the flow of His divine power through us may bring our ego drive to zero, thus imitating Him in offering n resistance to our own Fatherís Will.

      This new life had its beginning in each of us at the time of our Baptism and was intensified at the time of our receipt of Confirmation. It was because of Jesus that we were able to receive the Holy Spirit and thus gain power once again over Satan. Jesusí gift of the Spirit to each one of us now makes it possible for us to live by obedience rather than by what the darkened mind presents to us as motivation for our behavior.

      For the heart to live continuously, moment by moment, in an experience of "yes" to that presented to it by a mind enlightened by grace, by Scripture, by the Holy Father and the magesterium, and by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, is its living of the new life. It is this life that is the life of the Kingdom; it is this life that brings peace to the soul, that peace which the world cannot give.

      In my next installment, I will complete this talk about Zero Resistance, Zero Ego Drive tying in how we can tranform the "old man" into the "new man."

To review Father Valenta's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the August 18, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 16.

Daily CATHOLIC          April 20, 1998