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Want to hear God? Then listen

First slide

As a first-year seminarian, the logistics of going to speak in a parish for National Vocation Awareness Week was nerve-wracking. Thankfully, God used my fellow seminarians and my seminary formators to assure me that everything would go well, and not surprisingly it did.

This experience drove home to me how often in our relationship with God we complain that he does not speak to us. How often is he talking to us, but we don’t hear him because we are too busy talking? Imagine that we are at a baseball game with a friend, or out for lunch, and we just talk nonstop about ourselves, our lives and our problems, not giving the friend any time to respond or share their perspective. I think that is how God must feel with us and our constant need to speak.

It has been my experience during this first semester at seminary that if I stop talking and start listening to God and those around me, I will begin to hear his voice. A prime opportunity for this is prayer. Many of the spiritual graces that I have received have come simply from quieting my mind in prayer. This listening has given me the peace and direction I needed especially during times of struggle. I’ve learned that when I have a problem, I bring it to God and wait to receive his guidance. 

God also uses the words of others to give us guidance and comfort, as illustrated in my experience with Vocation Awareness Week. We must be attentive to those around us because we never know how God might use them to our benefit (and sometimes it is the person hardest for us to get along with who has that beneficial information for us).

Advent is the perfect time to make listening to God and others a priority. Start with simply committing to time for prayer, then find a quiet place with limited distractions, maybe before the Blessed Sacrament or your family Nativity scene. While the birth of our Savior seems to be frozen in time, in silence it comes to life as we admire the Christ child alongside the shepherds. Look, ponder and most importantly, don’t get up before you’ve left time to just listen. 

Bottom, who is from St. Thomas à Becket in Reston, is in his first year of pre-theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021