Preferring Nothing to Christ (2)


Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart.

St Benedict’s words are an invitation to intentional discipleship, an invitation to follow on a path that has been trodden for centuries. Listening with the ear of the heart is no small matter. It can challenge you at your very core. Sr Clare Condon, an Australian Good Samaritan Sister, comments:

To listen with the heart doesn’t come easily. It is a difficult and challenging journey. I need to empty my heart of my own agenda, of all that clutters my life and my survival: to empty my heart of my own assumptions and prejudices; to empty my mind of all the preconceived answers and solutions I might conjure up. This is a place of inner openness to receive the other, the word, whether that be the Word of Scripture, the word of a confrere, the cry of despair, or the hope of forgiveness and reconciliation. That inner openness is what the desert fathers and mothers called “purity of heart”.

Being open to what God has to say doesn’t happen overnight for the monastic. Those first years of formation are an intense time of adapting and sifting of all the things you are hearing. You learn, perhaps for the first time, the particular cadence of your own inner dialogue. You learn to listen for God’s voice in your sisters and your superior. Your day is shaped by the times of communal prayer and there you listen to the voice of the Church at prayer. In the psalmody and the Scriptures you listen to the story of our salvation being told over and over again. Few things are familiar. You become acutely aware of what you hear and how it is said.

St Benedict’s invitation to listen with the ear of the heart is every bit as relevant for you as it is for the monastic.

Look back over your week.
When are you aware of having listened intently?
How did God speak to you?

Will you do anything differently next week?