DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY, December 8, 1997    volume 8, no. 47

How to Pray with the Heart

Part Eleven: How Tears can move us to Pray

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

      Why do you think that our Heavenly Mother, filled with the Holy Spirit, having the fullness of Wisdom, finds it so necessary to keep on badgering us to PRAY WITH THE HEART? Why does she allow herself to become so helpless as to have to resort to tears, at times even tears of blood? It is because she is dealing with persons made to the image of God with the power to make up one's own mind and the power to choose freely what one does. It is because as her children, we still carry within ourselves the effects of the connection with our first Mother, Eve. For Our Lady, then, it is out of bounds to scream, manipulate, twist arms and/or use any form wof what might even smell of the slightest bit of coersion. The Blessed Virgin is simply making the best use of that which has at her disposal - pleading and tears.

     In my own early days of formation, and sometimes even years after, a ply of the spanking hand of my mother helped to get me and keep me in line. Yet, there was nothing that moved me quicker to surrender than her tears. These worked wonders! I could not stand to see her cry. What was it within me so base, so hard, that could be melted only by witnessing a breakdown on her part? It was, as I learned later, my fallen human nature.

     What I know now and did not know in my youth, at least by way of experience, is the fact that I came into the world damaged. My mind was dark, and so, quite dull, and my will was weak, and so, quite uncontrollable. I thrived on ego power and made its use my chief motivation for action. If what was asked of me suited me and enhanced that power, I responded quickly and easily. If what was asked of me seemed to me to lessen the expression of that power, I responded quickly and easily. If what was asked of me seemed to me to lessen the expression of that power, it took more than a team of horses to get me to obey. I found out that sulking, pouting and throwing tantrums got me nowhere, thanks to my mother's firmness and gentle tears. As I think of it now, it was much the same with me and Holy Mother Church. When she threatened me with mortal sin if I did not take up the penance of Friday abstinence, I responded more readily. Now, when she merely lovingly suggests that I do so, I find it much harder to go her way.

     People of the world at large find themselves in the same difficulty when faced with the gentle and even comforting Words of the Gospel. This I will treat next week in the next installment in showing you some measures, when taken seriously, can help one to Pray with 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.

December 1997