Thursday, 13 March 2014
People ask me how I "hear" God. As a Catholic, God speaks to me through the Catholic Church's wonderful teaching, and, of course, through the Mass.
God speaks to all of us through the Scriptures, the daily readings, the Divine Office.
God speaks to us through the meditations of the rosary.
God speaks to us through the events of our lives, and through other people we meet.
The gift of listening must be developed in prayer and in the daily events of our lives.
But, rarely, God speaks to us directly. And, this is rare. I can count on one hand the times I have "heard" God directly. And, the reasons He did this was to get my attention and to emphasize a point. Some of us suffer from self-doubt when we think we are perceiving God in prayer. But, on those rare occasions when God "speaks" and one "hears", one cannot doubt the Voice of God.
We must not compare ourselves with other people either in prayer or in the events of our daily lives. To compare is a useless endeavor, as each one of us is unique and God deals with us all uniquely.
A spiritual director would help, of course, but many cannot find one. Good friends who are solid, orthodox Catholics can also help us discern the Voice of God. Sometimes, someone holy will tell us the same thing we think we heard from God.
Pray for clarity.
Like so many other families, my immediate family has three members who are fallen-away Catholics. They are "practical atheists".
Thinking about them and praying daily for their re-version on the rosary brings up feelings of grief. Yet, one must trust in Divine Providence, to provide grace for these persons.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux ends his treatise on the steps of humility with a meditation on St. Martha at the tomb of her brother, St. Lazarus. Bernard remarks that she had faith, but perhaps we do not understand how to ask God for things or for persons. In his effort to teach us humility, Bernard notes that the humble do not demand answers to prayers, but request, politely, with trust.
In addition, Bernard writes that those who have died spiritually, such as our family members who are living in sin, separated from God and His Church, not attending Mass, not going to confession or receiving Christ in the Eucharist, are like the monk who has been cast out of the monastery for not only grievous sins, but for a spirit of rebellion, as well as hardness of heart.
Bernard reminds us that on Good Friday, we do not pray for the "excommunicated". But, pray we must as long as there is hope for repentance, for change. Lay people are excommunicated for some serious reasons.
But God forbid that we should cease to pray in
our hearts for such even as these though we do
not venture to do so openly, as Paul also mourned
for those whom he knew to have died impenitent.
For although they shut themselves out from our united prayers,
they cannot altogether do so from
their effects. They should nevertheless realize
the great danger which those incur whom the
Church, which prays confidently for Jews, heretics
and heathen, dares not to mention in her worship.
For when on Good Friday prayer is expressly
offered for certain wicked persons, no mention is
made of those who are excommunicated.