Be still and hear the voice of God

By Father James Wilcox

Vocations Director

North Texas Catholic

3/11/2015

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting a friend. David was in seminary with me and has remained friends with many of us from seminary, however, at that time, with prayer he discerned he was not called to priesthood. Since David just bought a new home, two other priest friends and I decided to go for a visit. During a conversation with David on our trip, he reminded me that discipline fosters the spiritual life. Or better yet, the rhythm of prayer, meditation, and conversation with God are essential for growth in the spiritual life.  

For all of us who are seeking God’s will for our lives, discipline in the spiritual life is necessary to reap a bountiful harvest. This is especially true for those discerning their call to priesthood and religious life. God speaks through the rhythmic discipline of prayer.  

Many analogies spring to mind concerning the disciplined life:  

•  The farmer’s routine of tilling, sowing, weeding, and reaping.  
•  The rancher tending the herd and scheduled milking of the cows.  
•  The athlete maintaining the required regimen for achieving the goals.  
•  The musician’s habitual practice to perfect their pitch, tone, rhythm, all in accord with their fellow orchestra musicians.

The spiritual life requires the same consistency. However, spiritual progress requires not only a disciplined prayer life, but also a docility of life that is vulnerable and accepting of the Holy Spirit’s movements in the heart. This docility allows the beauty of the Lord to come into our lives and impassion our hearts with his desire.  

Many of my male friends joke about the “honey-do lists” that their wives prepare for them. The husbands, for the most part, approach the list and begin the tasks of repairing the fence, fixing a piece of broken furniture, and replacing lightbulbs.  

It can be a temptation to approach our prayer life as solely a “honey-do list” for God.  After all, in his Scripture God told us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).  Rightly, we come before God with requests to have certain things happen in our lives. Still, beyond lifting our petitions, prayer must be a regular moment when we silence ourselves to hear the voice of God in the stillness of our hearts. The hush that comes over us when we are docile to the movements of the Holy Spirit allows the whisper of God to travel on the breath of love deep into our hearts, minds, and souls.  The grace of his voice, heard with a demeanor of docility, explodes within us and ignites us to answer his call for our lives.

In this Year of Consecrated Life, we have only to look at men and women religious who have felt the breath of God in their hearts and with his grace have committed their lives to the service of God’s love in service of his people. These men and women are dynamic examples of discipline and docility, participating in and being open to the movements of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.  

Last year, Pope Francis spoke about the docility of one of the apostles, St. Philip. The Pope stated, “this makes us see that without this docility or meekness before the voice of God, nobody can evangelize, nobody can announce Jesus Christ: at the very most he will be announcing himself. It’s God who calls us, it’s God who starts Philip on that road. And Philip goes forth. He’s docile.” Philip accepts the call from God, leaves everything behind, and sets off to evangelize.

The Lenten season is a great time to return to or begin a new disciplined prayer life. Please consider holding the seminarians and those considering priesthood or religious life in your prayers. Cut the calendar of seminarian names out, put it in your Bible, prayer book, or breviary, and offer a prayer by name for the seminarian listed on that day of the month. 

May this Lent be a turning of your heart through a disciplined prayer life and a docile demeanor to hearing the will of God and have the grace of courage to act. 

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting a friend. David was in seminary with me and has remained friends with many of us from seminary, however, at that time, with prayer he discerned he was not called to priesthood. Since David just bought a new home, two other priest friends and I decided to go for a visit.

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