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 fifteenth column, his eighth in the DAILY CATHOLIC he gives us the remedy for clearing up "spiritual cholesterol."

   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 Fifteen: The remedy for clearing the blockages caused by "spiritual cholesterol."

      In order for one to be able to give pleasure to Our Lady, measures need to be taken which will clear up whatever blockages one might find within one's spirit. The task, a difficult one, and one that is time consuming, can be aided along by recourse to the Holy Spirit with a prayer such as, "Dear Holy Spirit, please help me to ask for the help which my soul needs most. I do wish to pray with the heart and yet I know that I am offering resistance to you. I ask you sincerely to work on my soul together with Your Spouse, the Virgin Mother, and make of it a place wherein You will feel comfortable to do Your sanctifying work." A prayer such as this will not be despised, but be most quickly answered. Sincerity is the key inner disposition needed, the sincerity of a little child.

      There needs to be in all of us a growth into littleness. It means that one must look for and expect a change. Who can better express need than a little child? A child trusts instinctively; a mother responds instinctively to the needs of the child. It is the expression of total dependence that moves the Holy Spirit to action. Trust and total dependence, as coming forth from a child, open the floodgates of grace. It seems almost paradoxical that one must pray with the heart to obtain the grace to pray with the heart. It is comforting and hopeful to know that even the prayer to be able to pray with the heart already has, as its Author, the Holy Spirit, and His chief promoter, His Spouse.

      In my next installment I will begin speaking about something we seemingly have lost today - Reverence - and how we can retrieve it.

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 1998