by Fr. Mardiros Chevian
We have all said those words many times as we have tried to communicate with someone about something that we felt was important. We may have also heard those words addressed to us by parents, teachers, friends and fellow-workers, as they tried to communicate with us. To that question, we may have sometimes automatically responded, “Of course, I am listening,” and yet later realized that deep down, our listening was only half-hearted.
Listening is not as easy as it might appear because to truly listen to another we have to sacrifice a little bit ourselves — a move from the self-focus to an other-focus in the communication process.
If this is so true in human situations, it is just as true when we try to listen to God, to listen to His presence in our lives, to listen to His will and call as it reveals itself to us. In this case, listening takes on a whole new dimension. There are many obvious ways to listen to God–the word of God in the Scriptures, the Church, the teachings of the Church Fathers, the experience of the Liturgy, in the Eucharist and in the other Sacraments. All of these experiences of listening require a move from self-focus to other-focus–the “Other” meaning God.
In our search for direction and answers, there is also another kind of listening; listening to how concretely I am being called to serve the Lord and His Church. In order to do this, I need to listen within, to be quiet within.
To listen in the light of the deepest feelings of my heart, my personality, gifts, talents and experiences are all God’s gifts that enable me to discover and to live out a call. For some, that listening will lead to a vocation of lay ministry. For others, it will lead to the priesthood. The most important thing is that we listen as we try to search.