September 18, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

Listen carefully to hear God’s voice in your life

Rick HermannAn old man was talking to his neighbor, telling him about the new hearing aid that he just bought.

“It cost a fortune, but it was worth it. It works perfectly.”

“Really,” said the neighbor. “What kind is it?”

“Ten thirty.”

Like the man in this joke, we sometimes need to hear more clearly.

When we are lonely, worried or confused, we wish we could hear God better. We yearn to hear his voice of comfort, encouragement and guidance.

God wants you to hear his voice. Do you know that? Listen now.

To hear God clearly, first we need to be quiet. Just as Jesus left behind the noisy crowds to hear his Father’s voice in the desert, we must abandon our feverish quest for news, noise and entertainment. We need to turn off our computers, televisions and cell phones, and enter into the quiet majesty of the cathedral of our souls.

As we grow accustomed to the silence, our ears become more sensitive. We may contemplate the fact that, in the beginning, God actually spoke the universe into existence. “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gn 1:3). So we may hear God’s words in all creation, whispering to us in a gentle breeze or the surging seas.

Next, we recall that God spoke each of us into being so, in some mysterious way, we embody his life-giving voice. Thus, we may hear God speaking within us, in a deeply heartfelt and mystical way. Or we may hear God speaking to us through others, if they speak in love. So God may talk to us faintly through prophets, angels, spouses, children, family members, friends, even strangers.

How is God speaking to you today? What do you hear?

God may speak directly to you, as he did to Adam and Eve in the Garden; what a treat for ears to hear!

God spoke to prophets like Moses to tell him the Ten Commandments, and to ordinary people in the Old Testament. When God spoke to Elijah, he spoke with a “still small voice” (1 Kgs 19:12). God speaks to us today in the same way. Can you hear him?

God spoke most clearly to us through his son, Jesus, whom he sent to tell us the good news about the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. To hear these comforting words of Jesus, we simply open the New Testament and his message of love engulfs us!

Jesus actually delivered an even more astonishing message when he told us that he is the Word of God made flesh. We may receive this living Word of God in the Eucharist in a way that is infinitely intimate and overwhelms our senses.

Jesus also authorized and empowered his disciples to speak to us in his name so we may hear Jesus’ words spoken to us by priests when we receive the sacraments.

Finally, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in each of us so we may hear God speaking to us daily in the secret places and most cherished depths of our souls.

We know God passionately desires us. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” (Rv 3:20).

When at last we can sit in quiet prayer and hear the voice of God everywhere, we realize that our lives are filled with a magnificent symphony of God’s loving words in endless prayer.

As we listen, we recognize God’s life-giving voice, always surrounding us and astounding us, with enchanting echoes of Eden and joyful revelations of the kingdom of heaven.

“He who has ears, let him hear” (Mt 11:15).

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is

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