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Discernment According to Pope Francis #3

Voc week Blog with Francis 3

Are you a good listener?  To be honest, it’s not something that comes naturally to me, and I suspect others may be the same.  My sister Monica often gets annoyed with me when I am tempted to ‘multi-task’ and find myself tidying up, checking emails or scrolling through Facebook while I’m speaking to her on the phone.  When I do this it is obvious to her that I am not fully present.

Lately, I’ve been learning the art of listening.  Last year I spent 20 weeks on a hospital placement, with over 100 hours spent listening to the stories of patients.  I’m learning that giving someone our undivided attention honours them and allows them to communicate their very self with us. 

To listen means spending time.  It’s costly.  It means giving up other things or resisting distractions (like glancing at my computer or re-arranging a messy shelf) in order to focus on just being present.

But when I really listen, to others, to myself and to God, there is more depth.  I can see deeper inside myself, the other person and even God.  I can hear better, see better and understand better. 

No wonder deep listening is such an important part of discernment.

A crucial part of discerning my call to religious life was taking a 5-day silent retreat at Jamberoo Abbey in NSW.  There in the quiet and stillness I discovered a joy within me at the prospect that maybe God was calling me into this way of life.  I could listen to the deeper desires of my heart without distraction, judgement or worry because I knew that I was being deeply loved by God and I could hear God’s voice of love for me whispering in the quiet, murmuring in the trees.

When was the last time that you really listened…to others, to yourself and to God?  Maybe today is the day to put aside distractions and go deeper – who knows what amazing things you’ll discover!

Berna Toohey