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Today’s Psalm exhorts us: “if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” This teaching underscores the importance of listening as a spiritual “must” for the person of prayer and fidelity to Christ.
Prayer is a lifting up of the heart and mind to God. The person of prayer is able to attend to more, to perceive the spiritual reality that goes beyond the senses, to a Transcendent Reality. The realization that we are missing out on a great deal of life’s reality is the beginning of an effective desire to pray. The way to “not miss out” on reality is to LISTEN. Harkening our ears with docility to the voice of the Lord and the whisper of the Holy Spirit is the beginning of a conversion of heart and life. So often, we join the Apostles in asking, “Lord, increase our faith.” Yet, frequently, we don’t listen to his promptings, and heed his inspirations. Are we really listening, as we walk on the journey of discipleship? At the very minimum, listening to and for the voice of the Lord is what we are obliged to do.
There are benefits, of course, to listening at prayer. First of all, we can spiritually grow by becoming more aware of reality and how to deal with it more effectively. Furthermore, listening opens us to Christ, the Word of God, spoken in all things, namely, in the physical world around us, in the Scriptures, in the Church and the Sacraments, and in our fellow human beings.
Quite simply, learning how to relax and doing it well is the first step toward listening when we pray. The intensity of keeping our lives in “high gear,” not to mention being drowned in the cacophony of noise around us, can often block our ability to truly spiritually listen to life. Yet, to sharpen our listening, so as to listen prayerfully, it will be necessary to engage the highest functions of both the mind and the heart: that is, to know and to love. Indeed, interiority and recollection are integral parts of maturity and growth. A relationship with the Lord, motivated by love and gratitude, and pondered in reflection and meditation on our life in Him, are the beginnings of a nourished and increased life of faith. It’s a must for the person of prayer and fidelity to Christ. We will never learn to live the years prayerfully, unless we learn, by prayer, to live the seconds deeply as well. Spiritual listening will be the key.
How, then, are we to listen to life, so as to hear the voice of the Lord, and do so with docility, rather than hardened hearts? We should listen to what life is saying in the present moment before trying to shape our prayer. We must be open to the truth, rather than what is unreal in our lives. Additionally, when life gives us its message, we must make the understanding of that message our first object of prayer. Life’s powerful river of events provides much of the impetus for a vibrant spiritual life. Finally, once the message of life has been received, we must try to integrate it with our attempt to live by the Gospel. How else can faith increase, unless we listen to the voice of the Lord, and do what we are obliged to do? Insofar as we use our intelligence and live by Gospel values, we will prayerfully integrate the events of our lives into our spiritual journey.
This weekend, the Scriptures again challenge us to listen and grow as persons of prayer and fidelity to Christ. We might ask ourselves, are we praying? Are we listening? It’s important to know of this dynamic link between prayer and living. As one improves in quality, so does the other. May the path for our lives become clear, as we more and more dispose ourselves to hear the voice of the Lord, and live in fidelity to Him.
61. On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises, for the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation. There are regions now at high risk and, aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view, for we have stopped thinking about the goals of human activity. “If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations.”(Papal catechesis, Jan. 17, 2001)
Source : Laudato Si’
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