DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY, December 15, 1997    volume 8, no. 52

How to Pray with the Heart

Part Twelve: Apathy - the great obstacle to prayer

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

      It is so sad that people of the world at large find it is so difficult to respond when faced with the gentle and even comforting Words of the Gospel. Even listening to those Words which Jesus spoke with fire in His eyes and Words which speak of the devastating consequences of unbelief and sin, scarcely merit a blink of an eye. There seems to be something even more wrong with us in our day. We are children of a fallen race, yes, but through the sacrifice of the Cross, with Jesus' coming into our midst, leaving with us the Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and His greatest gift, that of the Holy Spirit, we don't seem to be responding too well. Nor is it that we respond better when there is the threat of punishment for our failure to respond to gentleness and tears. As the Gospel is preached in our churches with pleas for compliance; even the televangelists with their constant pounding of the Word into millions through our modern vehicles of television and radio; with all these efforts to reach the hearts of God's children everywhere - it all seems to be falling on deaf ears! If threats of punishment, if pleas and tears, if nothing seems to move people towards obedience, what hope is there? What makes us think that Our Lady's tears are going to accomplish much, even to get us to pray with the heart, to say nothing of converting us.

      With what has been said, does it mean that Our Blessed Lady should throw in the towel and stop her tearful pleading? No, definitely not! What it does mean, however, is that everyone entering the world has a responsibility to self and to God to avail themselves of the redemptive aid given to us by the loving Father through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Moved by compassion, this same Jesus leaves for us as He returns to the Father, the prescription of being baptized by water and the Holy Spirit in order to generate a want for that Word which will make one truly free. What it all comes down to is this: Unless one allows oneself to be assisted by the Holy Spirit, one will never be able to respond to Our Lady's pleas to pray, pray, pray and/or to pray with the heart. In my next installment I will go into this in more detail and how we must give recognition to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

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