Wisdom Story #6: Listening for Wisdom


A retreatant reads on the Benet House hermitage patio at St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Illinois.

Ask a Catholic Benedictine Sister for her wisdom, and she’s likely to tell you a story. Why?  Because wisdom comes through listening and being. This is the 6th story in our Wisdom Series.

Making decisions about major life changes can be tough. What’s best? How can we recognize the wisest path?

“Well, if you are asking the question you are a seeker, so you already have some wisdom,” Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB muses.

“Look within your own heart,” she says. “The answers are there, where God dwells. Take the time to listen.”

Sister Rosemary Becker, OSB says deep listening must be both intentional and attentional. “I pray to listen deeply, to avoid my own self-deceptive ways.”

Wisdom begins with listening, then. Deep, selfless, contemplative listening.

Which begins with silence.

Sister Jackie Walsh, OSB says seeking daily quiet time has long been her habit.

“Before I entered the Benedictine community, I would have constant meetings and always be on the run,” she says.

“Sometimes I would just sit in my car at lunch and zone out for a while. You have to be able to have that connection. It doesn’t have to be in a chapel or church, but you need somewhere to be quiet and connect.”

Although solitude encourages silence, it is neither required for nor a guarantee of silence. Indeed, being in solitude can be no more helpful than being in a crowd to cultivate inner knowing and awareness.

“You can be alone outside but noisy inside,” Sister Sheila McGrath, OSB says. “If your mind is noisy and in turmoil, you won’t be able to listen even if you’re outwardly alone and quiet.”

She suggests ways to access that inner silence.

“Yoga, walking in nature, looking out a window without thinking are all good ways to help turn off inner turmoil of mind and heart,” she says.

Inner silence promotes deep listening. And deep listening is where we will encounter God … and God’s wisdom.

To the question, then, of how to recognize wisdom? How to know the right path? Sr. Catherine reiterates that listening will guide us to where we need to be.

“Listen,” she repeats. “Wise conclusions, wise decisions will surface. They will resonate in your heart.”

One thought on “Wisdom Story #6: Listening for Wisdom

  1. A lovely post which I totally agree with . Silent prayer, whilst being in the present moment, is my way…



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