Step Away From the Noise
When I was a kid at Mass, crammed into a pew at Christ the King Church with my parents, my aunt, and my three siblings, I sometimes fidgeted. My mind wandered to lunch or my itchy church clothes or something else I wanted to be doing. Usually, one of my parents would whisper gently and redirect me back to the liturgy.
One thing that helped me pay attention was my anticipation of an exciting story. The Old Testament proved a reliable source: Those old prophets and kings lived lives packed with action.
One of my favorite stories was the story of Elijah standing on the mountain, waiting for God to pass by. In 1 Kings, Elijah waits through what sounds like a couple summers’ worth of Michael Bay movies.
“There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire” (1 Kings19:11–12).
I liked that part. But the best part was the surprise ending: “[A]fter the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (1 Kings19:12–13).
As an adult, I’ve come to realize that the ability to step away from noise and distractions allows you to hear the light, silent voices—that of your conscience, maybe even that of the Holy Spirit.
The theme for this month’s Liguorian is discernment, a practice in which listening to quiet voices is essential. As Kate Basi writes in “Just Live It,” be still and listen. In the meditation, “Message for Frankie,” Bonnie Beaudet suggests a similar kind of release of day-to-day concerns by amending the saying let go and let God to let go and trust God. And Fr. Don Willard offers suggestions on ways to focus on the right priorities in his column “From the President.” These techniques are elements of discernment, of aligning oneself with God.
Today, when I am able to turn down the volume and listen to those quiet voices, I always feel more energized, more aligned, more at peace. Interestingly, the voices I hear often sound like those of my parents.