How to Pray with the Heart
column twenty-five

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 twenty-sixth column, his nineteenth in the Daily CATHOLIC he continues his series on Reconciliation with God, with ourselves, and with our neighbor, and how we are so often in the mind that the heart cannot forgive - either ourselves or others, and thus we rationalize and hold grudges.    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-Six: Reconciliation

     In giving human beings further assistance, Jesus, as Redeemer, explains to us that it is not possible for anyone of us to be reconciled to God unless we are also reconciled to one another. This makes the fact of reconciliation more difficult. It is one thing to be reconciled with God, but quite another to be reconciled with every human being. On the other hand, it becomes much easier once one is reconciled with God, for once this isaccomplished, there are additional graces given by Him to become reconciled with everyone else. Nonetheless, to live in harmony with every single person requires continued prayer in order to be able to arrive at, and maintain a humble and forgiving heart.

      There can be no true love expressed by anyone of us unless and until our heart is reconciled with God, our neighbor and ourself. The commandments are, first, that we love God with our whole being and, secondly, that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. True love and reconciliation go hand in hand. It all comes down to this: in order to fulfill the law of love, we must be reconciled first with God, secondly, with our neighbor, and thirdly, with ourselves.

      It should be noted, however, that the order need not always and necessarily be as stated. Reconciliation with self may in instances be necessary before one can be reconciled with neighbor, and reconciliation with neighbor may come as a preparation to be reconciled with God. Grace works at times mysteriously through any given individual, so that ultimately reconciliation in whatever order, ends up so that every single person who desires it, may ultimately live in total reconciliation. Reconciliation becomes necessary when one realizes that he/she has caused hurt to some person. This can be the Person of God, the person of neighbor, or the person of self. There is no need to seek reconciliation with non-persons. Likewise, there is no need to see reconciliation until and unless we realize that we have caused hurt. It is spiritually helpful and praiseworthy when one is not conscious of hurting anyone, yet would find it in one’s heart to say, "IF I had hurt anyone without my knowledge, I am sorry and would wish to be reconciled."

      Reconciliation is not possible unless there is a sincere regret within one’s heart that he/she had caused hurt. It is an act of charity to be able to go to someone and say, " You may not realize it, but you have hurt me." This helps both parties, the one who unknowingly has hurt, and the one hurt. If one has been hurt and keeps it hidden and/or suppressed, it does not contribute to one’s peace of soul. If one, not realizing that he or she has caused hurt, finds out, the opportunity to ask for forgiveness is then given and peace can be brought between two people. It is a helpful practice to examine one’s conscience daily in order to become aware of having offended someone. The conscience is God-given so that acting upon it one can better maintain within oneself a state of peace.

In my next installment, I will continue to delve into how reconciliation with self is just as important in the healing process with others.

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.