HEARTS TO HEART TALK

How to Pray with the Heart
column nineteen

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 nineteenth column, his twelfth in the DAILY CATHOLIC he begins today a series on Unity and how only through unity is there strength.

   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 Nineteen: In UNITY there is Strength

      Jesus addressed Himself to the above title, but by way of the opposite when He brought to the attention of His accusers that "A house divided against itself, cannot stand" (Matthew 12: 25). Our human experience presents us with both, unity and division.

     Our first encounter with unity and division without a doubt occurred in one of our earliest experiences in family living. There was the Sunday afternoon when Dad and Mom took the children to the park for a picnic and everyone laughed, played games and sang. Then, on that same Sunday evening when returning home, Mom and Dad had an argument in front of us kids because Dad forgot to put the dog out and it made a mess all around the house. After that there were hundreds of times when every one in the family got along: unity and harmony ran supreme; and hundreds of times when division surfaced and people in the house got on each other's nerves and shouted and screamed at each other.

     Childhood days are usually filled with experiences of unity and division. At times we got along with the kids next door; at times we fought and were "mad" at each other for a week. In school, there were days when the whole class had a lot of fun with the teacher and then there were those times when the whole class had to stay after school because no one would own up to taking the apple off teacher's desk. Later on we became aware that there was unity in the world for a couple of years when all the countries got along and then something happened and the whole world was at war.

     As time went on and many years of life's experiences of unity and division flowed through each day, unity and division was uncovered closer to home, that is, right within one's self. There were times when mind, feelings, heart and body worked together like a team, and there were those times when the mind did not get along with the heart and the feelings upset the body. With the passing of years, and thousands of experiences in life, one was able to garner that choice bit of wisdom that unity and division were part and parcel of everyday life and that they appeared on every single one of its various levels.

     It began, we were told, even much before Adam and Eve were created, when a great war took place between lucifer and Michael. At first they got along and then they didn't. It appeared in the lives of our first parents; first they got along with God and then they didn't. The entire history of mankind is replete with times of unity, in which times there was peace and much was accomplished, and then, when people were at odds, very little, if anything by way of development and growth, took place.

     Somewhere along the line a bulb within the mind lit up and it became clear without a shadow of a doubt that there was division when people did not listen to God and did that which they wanted without giving consideration to what God wanted. Then even a brighter light brought in the clear understanding that God was infinitely One despite the fact that there were three distinct Persons within that Oneness. What is more, there is undivided unity in all of Heaven with the angels and the saints, living as individuals in perfect harmony amongst themselves and with God. When lucifer and the angels under him attempted to create division, they were immediately ejected out of the presence of God. It was to be understood that Heaven would remain in unity for all eternity at all costs.

In my next installment I will continue this thread on Unity - for in Unity there is strength!

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.


Text Visitors to date in 1998: February 2