St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Fine Art of Listening

The fine art of listening must be exercised on the human level before we can expect to advance in the listening to our guardian angels. For if a man cannot listen to those whom he can see and hear with his senses, how can he expect to be attentive to the voice of the angel whom he cannot hear with the senses?
Two qualities are needed for docility: zeal to know the truth, and humility to learn from others. The consequent enemies to docility are, on the one hand sloth and complacence which are contrary to zeal; and on the other, pride which is contrary to humility.

We may first consider sloth, and complacency. People generally enjoy being "in the know", to be on top of things and to be aware of what is going on. The whole news media supplies for that voracious appetite. The problem of sloth with regard to docility lies in man’s contentment in knowing truths and the facts about things, to the detriment or exclusion of knowing the Truth. This sloth is founded on, and feeds upon the sensuality of curiosity. Curiosity is a vice which seeks to gratify oneself through the abuse of the intellect. It is like the gluttony of the mind, or in chastity of the spirit. It is related to the kind of false friendship which only wants to use the other for our own personal gratification. We cannot learn to listen to others unless we are inclined to serve their needs. This is related also to our wanting to listen to get to know Christ, the Truth in order to serve him and his Church.

Take for instance the story of our Lord going to speak in the synagogue of his home town Nazareth. The people know many truths about Christ. They have heard of the miracles he has performed in Jerusalem. They note his learning and eloquence saying, "where did he get all this?" They know whose son he is, and who are his relatives, etc. And they are content with that. All these things are true. But they miss the Truth about Jesus. They do not receive the light of Truth that comes from the divine gift of faith.

In a parallel way it is all too common that Catholics know all about what Bishop So and So has done or failed to do; they know about what Fr. So and So has said; and they can tell you what Sister So and So has been up to etc., etc. They can talk about the various things going on in the Church. They can chatter on and on about these things. This gives them the sense that they are good Catholics, because they are concerned about these things, and they are knowledgeable. But in the end, they know about the human truths without ever getting any closer to knowing the divinity of Christ and his Mystical Body. They are like the people of Nazareth, who know many facts about the human nature of Christ, but they know little or nothing about the divine. They are not willing to make the effort involved in prayer and study in order to see and know the Truth. The chatter itself is detrimental to the silence needed for listening to these greater Truths. This is one form of sloth which is contrary to docility: the complacency of being filled with the facts, without desiring to grasp the Truth.

Continued at: Formation Letter: Docility to the Holy Angel


Esther said...

This is good Denise!!

It reminds me of a mission I attended. The priest asked us what Jesus was doing when he was lost for three days and found in the temple. Almost everyone said he was answering questions. When in reality, Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them quesions. Strange, huh?

Lynn Stewart said...

Good food for thought - really enjoyed the reading.
God Bless you and yours,