How to Pray with the Heart
column twenty-five

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-fifth column, his eighteenth in the Daily CATHOLIC he begins a series on Reconciliation with God, with ourselves, and with our neighbor, and how we are so often in the mind that the heart cannot forgive - either ourselves or others, and thus we rationalize and hold grudges.    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-Five: Reconciliation


      Reconciliation is not a thought, it is an experience. As an experience, it is lodged deep within the human heart, and not only within the human heart, but within the Divine Heart as well. Were it a mere thought within the Divine Mind, mankind would never have had a Redeemer. As it is a mere thought within the minds of so many of today’s generation, human hearts find no craving or need for a Redeemer.

      Within the Divine Heart there are found both justice and mercy. When our first parents were tricked by Satan and turned on God in favor of establishing an independent domain within their own human hearts, the justice of God exiled them to the vale of tears, sweat and blood. It ultimately turned out to be a felix Culpa, a "happy fault" in as much as it obtained for them and for each one of us, a Redeemer through the mercy of God. Through the suffering and excruciating death of Jesus, God was reconciled to man, and man to God.

      Reconciliation, as an experience, is based upon the fact that God, the Creator as well as God, the Loving Father, wishes order in the universe. Despite the fact that the world knows earthquakes, cats chasing mice, spiders catching flies, in the complete picture of creation, it all tends towards unity as conceived in the Divine Mind and experienced within the Divine Heart. In creating the angelic and human person, the loving Father left it up to each person endowed with a free will, to maintain a union with Himself and amongst one another. Lucifer and his legions chose to go their own way. For them, because of their angelic nature, there was no possibility for reconciliation; for human beings, because of their human nature, God has given and continues to give each an opportunity to choose to be in union with Himself. The nature of the angel is such that once a decision is made, it cannot be changed; the nature of the human being is such that, because he is created with a less perfect nature, not ever knowing the full consequences of his decisions, he is given unlimited opportunities to return to a union with God after he has estranged himself from Him.

      Though God the Father in His mercy has sent to earth His Son as our Redeemer, it nonetheless remains with each individual human being to make his/her own way back to a union with Him. As a continued expression of His mercy, it is God Himself Who must give help to each, first to be put onto the path of reconciliation, and secondly, to receive necessary graces to be reconciled over and over again as each estrangement takes place. This mercy expresses itself through Jesus’ establishing the Sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation. These are direct aids to the attaining of a union with God. The other Sacraments help to maintain oneself in that union.

In my next installment, I will delve into how reconciliation with self is just as important in the healing process with others.

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.