St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"How do you hear God?"

The following are questions from anonymous bloggers:

1) “How do you hear God? …I have heard others say that they hear God through prayer- but h-o-w does that happen?”

The fourth part of the summer Adoration series is this Friday night. My reflection will be focused on “How Do I Pray?” During the reflection, I will address your question, Anon. The answer has to do with putting ourselves in God’s presence (meditation) in order for Him to speak to us (contemplation). Because we are all different and have different personalities, contemplation occurs differently for each of us. In other words, we all don’t hear God speaking in the same way.

The general principles of how to hear God speak to us (mediation and contemplation) are captured beautifully by Fr. Thomas Dubay in his book, “Fire Within”. Of course, pray-ers should consult a spiritual director to know how to apply the principles specifically in their prayer lives as well as how to interpret what happens in their prayer.

2) “Except for the inability to forgive, aren’t anger and resentment a normal emotion, felt by some more than others? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there such a thing as justified anger? Didn’t both God and Jesus exhibit anger at the behavior of many people? Wasn’t their anger justified considering the acts people were participating in? Had they choose not to express their anger, what would have happened?”

This comment is a response to a homily I gave where I made the link between a lack of forgiveness and anger. There are those, I claimed, who “don’t forgive others or themselves as often, and so their burdens are heavier. Their resentments grow, and anxiety and anger increase in their lives.” Anon, your qualification, ‘Except for the inability to forgive’ is exactly the situation I am describing! The inability to forgive brings the negative emotions of anger and resentment.

Emotions can be good or bad. We all have passions; they are the “natural components of the human psyche” (CCC, #1764). How we direct our passions will determine whether they are good or evil. Anger, for example, is an “emotion which is not in itself wrong” (CCC, glossary). Anger which is directed toward evil or acts of injustice is righteous or justified anger. Christ himself was filled with righteous anger at least once in the Gospel.

But, when it “is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, (anger) becomes one of the seven capital sins. Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment” (CCC). “Everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to judgment” (Mt 5:22). The anger which leads to hate others is the type of anger to which I was referring in my homily. When we don’t forgive others, we become more and more angry with them.

3) “What about the gospel passage that says he who is without sin, cast the first stone? None of us are without sin, so how can we admonish another whether in love or not.”

As other bloggers have pointed out, the Gospel passage to which you are referring is not about the admonishment of sinners. I personally think that it has to do with capital punishment; it reveals Jesus’ opposition to it, in my opinion.


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