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Holy Listening
Holy Listening

Listening to the Voice of God

Friday, July 29, 2022

Father Richard reminds us that when we listen to the voice of God, we are given the grace to “pass it on” to others:

We must receive all words of God tenderly and subtly, so that we can speak them to others with tenderness and subtlety. I would even say that anything said with too much bravado, overassurance, or with any need to control or impress another, is never the voice of God within us. If any thought feels too harsh, shaming, or diminishing of ourselves or others, it is not likely the voice of God. Trust me on that. That is simply our egoic voice. Why do humans so often presume the exact opposite—that shaming voices are always from God, and grace voices are always the imagination?

If something comes toward us with grace and can pass through us and toward others with grace, we can trust it as the voice of God.

One holy man who came to visit me recently put it this way, “We must listen to what is supporting us. We must listen to what is encouraging us. We must listen to what is urging us. We must listen to what is alive in us.” I personally was so trained not to trust those voices that I think I often did not hear the voice of God speaking to me or what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.” Yes, a narcissistic person can and will misuse such advice, but a genuine God lover will flourish inside such a dialogue.

We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves. It can take years, if not a lifetime. If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks, but sadly, it is too often how we talk—to ourselves and to one another. God is supremely nonviolent, and I have learned that from the saints and mystics that I have read and met and heard about. That many holy people cannot be wrong.  

If we can trust and listen to our inner divine image, our whole-making instinct, or our True Self, we will act from our best, largest, kindest, most inclusive self. There is a deeper voice of God, which we must learn to hear and obey. It will sound like the voice of risk, of trust, of surrender, of soul, of common sense, of destiny, of love, of an intimate stranger, of your deepest self. It will always feel gratuitous, and it is this very freedom that scares us. God never leads by guilt or shame! God leads by loving the soul at ever-deeper levels, not by shaming at superficial levels.


Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019), 87, 88–89; and 

A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 141.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Claudia Retter, Caroline’s Porch (detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Lynn’s Tomatoes (detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Micah’s Room (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click to view the image.

This week’s images by Claudia Retter appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. This year we invited a few photographers, including Claudia, to share their vision with us in an artistic exploration for the Daily Meditations. The inspiration questions we asked each artist to create from were: How do you as an artist connect to and engage with (S)spirit and/or tradition(s)? How can we translate deeper truths through a lens? and How can we show our inherent connectedness (of humans, nature, other creatures, etc.) through imagery?

Image Inspiration: Our eyes are so often drawn to grand majesties – a vivid sunset or an expansive landscape – but the smallest of things has value, a story of its own, a place in the world. —Claudia Retter

Story from Our Community:

I’m part of the Talking Shop, a project set in an empty store in the centre of Cardiff, UK. We welcome people in for a free cup of tea and a chat about culture, society, and democracy. It’s not a Christian initiative, but as I listen to people I’ve never met before talk about what matters to them and the kind of society they want to live in, it feels very Jesus-like. —Claire B.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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