Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hearing God's callings

An anonymous blogger posed these questions: "Why does God have to be so elusive about communicating our callings? His silence can really be deafening. Why do we have to search and search and wait and wait? Please don't tell me that God speaks to some people and not others." Thanks for the questions, Anon, and I'm sorry if you've experienced some frustration in hearing God speak to you. But, He is communicating to you His callings. It is a matter of being able to discern his communication properly.

I have found in my own experience that discerning God's Will can be the hardest thing in life, if it's not obvious to us. I say this because I experienced much frustration in the past discerning my Call to priesthood. God can make it more obvious for some people, especially those who are called to marriage. He will often just bring two people together who clearly are meant for each other for the rest of their lives. And, I will remind engaged or married couples who are in love how blessed they are to see God's Will visibly in front of them (in the person of the other). It can be much different for those who are called to religious or single life because it is not so obvious or visible.

I'm not trying to equivocate my past frustration with yours, Anon, because I don't know what you've been dealing with or for how long, in terms of discernment. But, I have found that God can communicate differently to each one of us. In Scripture, He speaks to some (prophets, e.g.) directly and not to others. But, He still communicates to all (indirectly through the prophets). Mary and Joseph each received a communication from our Lord (through an angel) about His plan to bring Jesus into the world. It is easier for some to know God's Will, but I truly believe that God ultimately communicates His Plan to anyone who is listening.

How do we listen? How can we hear God speaking to us? In my experience of discernment of God's Will, I have learned that God speaks to us primarily through four ways:

1) Sacred Scripture
2) Prayer
3) Other people
4) Our experiences

Just last night, I had a conversation with a young woman who realized that Christ is speaking to her directly right now in her life through Sunday's Gospel: "Beware that your hearts do not become drousy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life" (particularly the 'anxieties of daily life'). If we are actively listening to God speak to us through His Word, it is amazing what we hear! The same can be said about hearing God speak to our hearts in prayer. St. Theresa of Avila once said that "Jesus is always speaking to us. The question is, 'are we listening?'"

I sometimes had a tough time hearing God speak to me through other people about my vocation because some faithful Catholics told me they thought I was called to be a priest, and others thought I should be married. However, there were some conversations with family members and friends that I do feel were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Finally, we should not overlook our experiences as ways that God speaks to us loudly and clearly. A good friend of mine felt strongly that God was calling him to be a monk. It wasn't until he went to the monastery and experienced life there for several weeks that he realized it clearly wasn't for him. He is now very happy as a parish priest in another diocese.

It is always wise to meet with a priest to better understand how God is speaking to us. Many Catholics have a "spiritual director" with whom they meet regularly. A spiritual director can help read the signs in a person's life, and how God is speaking to him or her. I know I would be pretty much lost without mine!!


At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have noticed that in some large churches like the Shrine, there is an alter with a, I don't know what it is called, but it has 4 posts and a 'roof' on it, what is that and why is it there?????

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Father Greg,

Are you offering adoration this Friday night?

Thank you to all bloggers who have kept me and my family in prayer as of lately. Also thank you for kind words of encouragement.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 7:00 PM, Anonymous kelly said...


Oh! I forgot Dec. 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception! The reason I asked is because my 12 year old and 14 year old want to attend adoration. So they will go to Mass instead. We will try for the next Friday at St. Andrew's.
My dad has a very serious condition called an aortic abdominal anyeurism (sP?). The cardiologists thought that he was having silent heart attack(s) or cardiac events. When they did the angiogram, they discovered his heart is fine, BUT they diagnosed the anyeurism. The dr. said that they usually present no symptoms until sudden death from rupture. Doc called it serendipity that they discovered it. They are working on lowering his blood pressure (which is the primary cause of the condition)and diet changes. He is weak from all the meds and cranky :), but there is hope. The anyeurism measures 3.5 cm. The goal is to keep it there. It becomes life threatening at 5 cm.

Yes, this is all very draining!
My dad says "you have to be tough to get old." I think I agree with that after sitting around Washington Hospital Center for days.

Thanks for asking! Thanks for praying for us! :)

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Joan said...


It sounds like things are getting a bit better. If it helps, some patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms (also know as tripe A's) live the rest of their life without any further issues, but they need to be monitored for changes.

Spending time in any hospital can be trying for patient and family; especially being present to the family member/patient who may take their frustrations about their condition out on those they love the most. Last time I visited that hospital, the chapel on the 1st floor was always open and provided a quiet respite from the vigilance.

Praying he will be home soon and all will be well with you and your family.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

The roof over some altars is called a baldacchino. It's a way of marking the high altar in a church that has multiple altars.

It satisfies the very human desire to decorate, adorn, and set apart from the rest of the building the altar where Christ's sacrifice is made present.

Bernini's 95-foot-tall baldacchino at St. Peter's in Rome is said to be the best there is. Here's a link to a picture; you can see how the eye might overlook the altar without it.

Of course, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown D.C. has one as well.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernini's 95-foot-tall baldacchino at St. Peter's in Rome is said to be the best there is!

Very true!


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