How to Pray with the Heart
column twenty-four

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-fourth column, his seventeenth 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-Four: how satan gets us to listen to him by us not listening to God

     Satan, who is the prince of this world, has already so dealt with human beings, especially those of the Faith, that it has become most difficult to listen to God, to the Pope, to the Blessed Mother, and to all authority. To be able to listen is almost a matter of going counter culture. Even within our Faith, when it becomes evident that one of the brothers or sisters starts taking God, or the Holy Father, or Mary, or authority seriously, he/she becomes an object of ridicule and even outright persecution. It is not fashionable to take Jesus at His Word, to follow the teachings of the Church as presented in its documents. It is no wonder that private revelation is talked down and look-askance at by man and even by leadership. The prophets of old were the recipients of private revelations. They, too, in a large part were not only ridiculed and persecuted, but at times even put to death by the very ones to whom God has sent them. So many of us who are striving to follow out the wishes of Our Lady, are found to be the butt of scorn by our own. I, as a priest consecrated to Mary, find myself set apart by fellow priests and even shunned. As part of the present culture each one of us, who is aspiring to listen to Jesus and to Mary, finds it difficult enough. When harassed for the fact that we give importance to private revelation, it becomes even more difficult.

      Perhaps now we can begin to understand why the Holy Spirit has arranged in recent times places like hermitages, retreat centers, places of quiet. He foreknew what was coming and that what is taking place in our present day, will make it even more demanding in time to come, to se ourselves aside to be able to be ALONE with ourselves, with God the Father, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and with Blessed Mary.

      The word "refuge" crops up more and more, either as a condition or an actual geographical place. Satan is making every effort to disintegrate the person through loss of faith, mental, emotional psychological, spiritual breakdowns. Unless each person who is aware of what is taking place, separates himself/herself from the present stream of conditions in the world, in the Church, it will be the easiest thing in the world to go down the road to perdition with al the rest.

      We need to struggle for composure; we need to individuate ourselves enough to find time to be alone especially with the Holy Spirit that His gifts might become fruitful in our daily living. Our Lady, with her please for faith, prayer, prayer, with the heart, fasting, penance and conversion, is giving us effective tools of battle against satan. What must be done on the part of each one of us is to plead with the Holy Spirit for the grace to become good listeners, grace to implement in our daily lives what it is that we hear being said by the Mother of God, and at all times to be able from our hearts to turn to God, fix our gaze upon Him and say, "Speak, Lord, your servant IS listening" (1 Samuel 3:10)

In my next installment, I will begin a series on Reconciliation since we are now in Lent, a perfect time to consider this.

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.