HEARTS TO HEART TALK
How to Pray with the Heart
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-third column, his sixteenth in the Daily CATHOLIC he begins a series on Listening and how we cannot hear what God wants us to hear if we are not listening with our heart for our ears are too attuned to things of the mind. We are too set on our own agenda rather than His agenda. 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-Three: Not listening is the crux of our problem!
As a priest of more than forty seven years, giving direction and counselling to thousands of people, I would not my head in total agreement that true listening is very difficult to come by. I would even go beyond this to say that as satan has had a prime part in the fall of man, contributing to the problem of good listening. I feel that in our day, when so many are of the belief that the twentieth century has been ceded to him for his final hurrah, he has made it and continues to make it most, most difficult for humans of our day to be not only good listeners, but even mere listeners. He has much to gain if he succeeds in lessening man's power to listen. He has more to gain if he brings about almost a complete destruction of this power.
In counseling married people, I find that the greatest source of arguments, separations, and divorces is the breakdown in communication. What is this breakdown, but a failure of spouses to listen to each other. This same condition comes up in every facet of life. Children by and large do not listen to their parents, parents to their children, individuals to individuals, individuals to authority, authority to individuals. I personally feel that all of this is the concentrated work of Our Lady's adversary in order to bring about a society wherein no one listens to another, and instead, goes about doing his/her own thing, not giving any concern how it effects another. The complete breakdown in family life is the result of this type of satan's interference.
Why would the devil be so interested in bringing damage to, or even a destruction of, good listening? First, because in doing this, he is dissolving an essential element that keeps society bonded. If ultimately no one listens to another, there comes about total confusion and a dissolution of the human family. When God created the human being, He made each person to be a unique individual and yet, not so unique as not to be an integral part of the human family as well. Satan here is working to erode an essential part in the composure of the human being. He is also in the process of destroying the internal integrity of each human person. All of this he does in order to revenge himself, first on God and secondly, out of jealousy, on every human being.
In my next installment I will continue with this as we talk about how satan gets us to listen to him by us not listening to God.
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.