Voices in My Head?
Unlike some of the Scripture stories, however, we will probably hear God’s voice in much more ordinary ways. Most of us will never have an angel appear to us with a divine message from God. Nor will many of us encounter a burning bush or other supernatural revelation of God. More than likely, we’ll hear God the way the woman at the well did—in a simple conversation with another person while doing the simple things we do everyday—or the way Mary did—in an unexpected turn of events.
As Catholics, we believe that God is constantly trying to reveal God’s self to each person, using the ordinary things we experience in our lives to be the “messengers” for God’s word. In our family, friends, and the familiar events of our life, through the stranger and the new experience, and most especially in the poor, the outcast, and those events that shake us to the core, God is trying to say, “Here I am. Listen.”
At critical moments in our lives, God’s voice may be very strong: at the birth of a new family member or at the death of a loved one; when we fall in love, or when we break up; when tragedy happens or when we are overwhelmed by goodness; when we are deciding on a career, a vocation, a life-long partner; when we are hurt, or when we cannot forgive; when we need to choose a new way of life.
When we hear God’s voice, we might feel unsettled or out of sorts. We might feel that we need to do something, to make a change or be more resolved. Discovering who God intends us to be (our truest self), what God is asking of us at this moment in our life, and making a decision to act is called discernment.
For discussion: When was the last time something critical or significant happened in your life? What was God communicating to you at that moment?
Hearing and Responding
A big part of becoming and being Catholic is learning to hear God’s voice and responding. Our Scriptures tell us many stories of people hearing God and responding.
Abraham heard God’s voice from an angel, a “messenger” of God, asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Confused and probably afraid, Abraham responds by trusting God’s voice (Gn 22). Moses heard God’s voice coming from a surprising and unusual source—a burning bush. He responded to this unexpected encounter with the Divine by taking off his shoes and accepting God’s call to set his people free (Ex 3). The Samaritan woman at the well heard God’s voice in the midst of her everyday chores, in an ordinary conversation with a stranger. She responded to Jesus by becoming the first evangelist proclaiming the Good News to her village (Jn 4). And Mary heard God’s voice in an angel with unbelievable and perhaps terrifying news for one so young—she would bear God’s child. She responded in faith with amen, “let it be done” (Lk 1).
Perhaps Adam and Eve’s sin was not just disobeying God but not responding when he called, for when they heard his voice after eating the apple, they hid themselves (Gn 3).
For discussion: Do you remember a time when you heard God’s voice and knew it was God speaking? Where or who did it come from? What did you feel when you heard God’s message for you? How did you respond?
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) formation sessions meet in the fall in the Parish Center in Deerfield at 9:00am (check the bulletin for schedule). The first few weeks are INFORMATIONAL. Anyone interested in finding out more about the Catholic Faith, please contact the office at 517.447.3500.