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no. 37


How to Pray with the Heart
part 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 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 ninth column, his fourth in the DAILY CATHOLIC he continues to explains what it means to a person and the distractions that steer us away from who we really are.    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 Nine: The Journey from the Head to the Heart
     The past generations have found it exceedingly difficult to follow Jesus' example of heart-living for various reasons, but one stands out. A man by the name of Descartes, being in high esteem by people of his day, came forth with the statement: "I THINK, therefore I AM." ("Cogito, ergo sum"). What he said in effect was, because he experienced THINKING, he KNEW that he existed. Pulling away from Jesus, he went back to put the mind ahead of the heart. This is the state in which the world, as such, finds itself in our present day.

     One consequence of the above is that satan has great power over us in our time because he has easy access into the mind. The heart he cannot directly touch, the mind he can and does. In addition, because he IS the prince of this world, he sees to it by way of his fallen-angelic power to maintain wherein the mind is continously stimulated. We of our day find it most difficult to live a life of the heart. We are constantly being presented stimuli by way of our five senses, which senses have a tremendous power over the mind. Unless we make great effort to keep ourselves in the heart, we can go the way of all flesh.

     The hope that Jesus' presence (living in our midst) gave, and continues to give us, is somewhat dimmed because of what seems to be a diabolic effort to keep us out of the heart. We live in a mind-dominated culture. Unless we choose to cling to Christ and His teaching, we can easily and obliviously be led down the prim rose path of rebellion against our God.

     What can one do? On the natural level, but with supernatural help, we can slow down our mental intake and intensify the life activities of the heart. We can more often turn off the television, put down the newspapers, shorten our social telephone calls in favor of PRAYER WITH THE HEART. We can put forth a greater effort to align ourselves with Jesus than with the world.

     One directive can be given in this one: connect each day of the week with a genuine and healthy heart activity. What I mean is this: let Mondays be BELIEVING days (Faith), Tuesdays - TRUSTING days, (Hope) Wednesdays - LOVING days (Charity), Thursdays - OBEDIENCE days, Fridays - FORGIVING days, Saturdays - THANKING days, and Sundays as PRAISING days. If, on each of these days, we could posit the corresponding heart activity, and at the same time cut down on our mental intake, we could keep ourselves in balance. If we follow out this simple directive for a period of time, let's say, two months, we could eventually live in the heart. All of the above heart activities are wholesome and very dear to the Lord.

     Next week, I will continue this trend of thought, as we conclude the theme Journey from Head to the Heart.

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.

November 24, 1997     volume 8, no. 37
Father Stephen Valenta Column

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