DAILY CATHOLIC for January 12
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no. 8


How to Pray with the Heart
part fifteen

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 will be a regular column in each on-line issue. 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 sixteenth column, his ninth in the DAILY CATHOLIC he begins his take on what Reverence is and how we can retrieve something so special.    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 Sixteen: Reverence: born in the heart and lost through the mind
      Reverence is one of the deepest and most treasured qualities of the human heart. It is a basic quality of every person. In fact, it is so basic that when one would consider the Trinity, as three Persons, it is interesting to come up with the notion that there is the experience of reverence within Each of the Persons for Each Other. The Father has a deep reverence for the Son, the Son for the Father, the Father and the Son individually for the Spirit and the Spirit individually for the Father and the Son. This can be said only within the framework of our limited human understanding for, in truth, as God IS Love, and as God IS Truth, so God IS REVERENCE! Every human being, having been created in the image and likeness of God, having been created a person, is capable of experiencing reverence within his or her heart.

     A replica of the Divine Reverence is found very early in the heart of each child. It is by default, meaning that, the child is reverent by its very nature as a child. A child is not capable of self-reflection; its mind is not yet fully developed. The child, as a child, is not capable of making a deliberate choice to be reverent. Reverence can indeed be further cultivated within the child by those who have the duty to form it. On the other hand, damage to reverence can be inflicted upon it likewise by those who contribute to its formation. It is a delight to observe the genuine expression of this quality at a time such as when the child makes its first Holy Communion.

      When Jesus said in Matthew 18: 3, "Unless you change and become as a child...", He was saying something very profound. Many of the qualities that are found in the child seem to dissipate once the child begins to make use of its reasoning power. As it goes to school, as it watches television, as it reads, the center of the child's life experience shifts to the mind and it very easily loses many of its child qualities such as reverence. If the heart of the youngster is not given an equal opportunity to develop along with the mind, if truth is presented and the need to aspire to goodness is not given importance, it is altogether possible that the child grows into adulthood without even a trace of the reverence it had known. It is an established fact, and most regrettable, that a great number of adults slip out of seeking goodness in favor of acquiring "smarts" for the advantages this offers in one's life in worldly matters.

In my next installment I will continue this same trend of thought, taking it to a higher, holier level.

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.

January 12, 1998     volume 9, no. 8
Father Stephen Valenta Column

January 1998