Wholehearted and Courageous Listening … to God

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Sitting next to the fireplace in the community room recently, I could hear the heat kick on, the cold wind blowing outside (which has given me extra days off school), voices rising and falling in the kitchen. I heard but did not listen. Listening means much more.

As a Benedictine Sister, I deeply value listening. St. Benedict begins his Rule with, “Listen with the ear of your heart.” It means active listening … active pondering … active supporting, or obeying, if appropriate. It means, ultimately, doing.

As a preschool teacher, one of my classroom rules is to use your listening ears. It applies both to the kids and to me. We all must listen, and understand, and act upon what we learn from each other.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way. When – like every teacher from here to eternity – I find myself saying, “Are you listening to me?,” I wait for the wrong answer. The students always say, “Yes.” And I always follow up with, “Then why didn’t you do what I asked you to do?”

Michael Casey, OSB writes, “Listening implies obedience.” That is often the definition we give in the classroom. It’s also the definition we should use with ourselves and God.

To truly listen to God, we need to obey what we hear. We need to put God’s message into action.

Casey continues, “We submit to God’s word with the obedience of faith … We pray that we may be led, guided, encouraged to move forward without knowing our final destination. This cannot be a selective response. It must be wholehearted and courageous.”

We never know where we’re being asked to go … only that we are being called forward. If we are listening, we take that step.

Take that step.

Shoot me an email at smacdonald@smmsisters.org if you’d like to explore this further. Benedictine life is the best. I’d love to tell you more!

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