Lenten Strategies; Listening, Not Looking
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By Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
We are constantly searching for signs and wonders, never satisfied, always looking, seldom quiet or still enough to listen. Pope Benedict recently said, "As long as we live in the world, our relationship with God consists more in listening than in seeing; and even contemplation comes about, so to say, with eyes closed and thanks to the inner light lit within us by the Word of God."
He said, "Human life is, in fact, a journey of faith and as such, progresses more in the shadows than in full light, and is not without moments of obscurity or even complete blackness."
Each day we get up to face a new day. We may feel we have our lives figured out to a certain extent, but in actuality, we are always venturing into the unknown, walking in faith. Our Holy Father also told us that the Blessed Virgin "advanced in her own pilgrimage of faith day after day." We should remember that although she was the mother of Jesus, she was human like us and needed to be steadfast in prayer to walk in faith.
Humbly listening to the voice of the Lord, Mary meditated on the Word of God through Scripture and through events in the life of her Son in which she knew and accepted as the voice of God.
By remaining close to our Lady, we can progress in our faith through the shadows of this Lent and the uncertain days ahead in our lives. We can seek the Blessed Mother's help in our journey, asking her to teach us to be quiet so that we will be able to listen.
Our Lord is always present even when He seems obscure or absent. He is always waiting for us to communicate with Him and listen to His loving words to us. We have to learn how to be still to hear Him. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament help us to quiet our thoughts and move aside the clutter of our minds that gets in the way of a real communication with our Lord. Resting in our Lord's presence in the Blessed Sacrament will refresh our souls. Seeking out more time for prayer in the stillness of our hearts wherever we are in our walks of life will help us come closer to our Lord and His holy will for us.
Our Holy Father specifically told the faithful this Lent to "listen to Him in His Word, conserved in Holy Scripture...listen to it in the events of our own lives, seeking to read therein the messages of Providence," and finally, "to listen to it in our brothers and sisters, especially in the smallest and the poorest, towards whom Jesus Himself calls for a concrete display of our love."
Jesus gives us this message through His Vicar on earth asking us to begin to truly listen for Him. We can take some time out each day to pick up the Bible, the Divine Office or the Readings of the day and after reading, pause to listen. We can be more attentive to the nitty-gritty of our lives and the events that fill our days. Nothing is a coincidence. Is our Lord speaking to us?
We need to look outside ourselves and find the "smallest" and the "poorest" in our families and in our neighbors and coworkers and respond with a "concrete display of our love."
Pope Benedict tells us that our Lord "always speaks to us, and expects us to pay the greatest attention, especially in this period of Lent." Our Lord is speaking to us. Do we hear Him?
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, mother of five, writes from Connecticut. She is the author of the best-selling book, "Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers," (OSV Oct. 05) It was endorsed by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and given a blessing by Pope John Paul II. It is available through her website: www.donnacooperoboyle.com. Her new book, "The Heart of Motherhood, Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home" will be released in September. Donna writes for numerous publications and websites. She lectures on a number of issues relating to Catholic women.
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Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
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Lent, Spirituality, Pope Benedict
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