Do You Know Your Shepherd?

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Devout Catholics seek to learn more about God through various avenues, such as prayers, songs, spiritual reading, discussions, talks etc. Yet sometimes we forget that the study of our faith should lead us to an encounter with Christ. Last week my friend and I were reminded of this when we opened our hearts to God in the forest.

After dinner, we went to a nearby park for a walk. For about an hour, we followed the path along the creek as it meandered through the valley. We discussed various aspects of Church history, apologetics, the Saints etc. It was a great conversation but I felt that there was something missing.

A bit later, we came to another path that went up a steep hill. As we ascended the hill, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to shift the conversation a bit. Instead of simply talking about the Church, I asked my friend about his relationship with Christ and shared a bit about my own. The conversation moved a bit deeper and we stopped and sat down on a log near the top of the hill underneath a myriad of trees.

It was a very peaceful place and my friend suggested we turn to God in song. He closed his eyes and reverently sang an old hymn to God from a place deep within his soul. Struck by the beauty of the song, we both sat in silence for a bit and listened to God speaking to us in our hearts. I then closed my eyes and sang a song in praise to God. We paused again to listen to God and then sang some more. This pattern of singing and silence went on for a good while.

Afterwards. I was struck by the fact that as we had gone up the hill, our conversation had moved from discussing God to experiencing Him in song and the quiet of nature. The climb symbolized our movement from merely speaking about God to encountering Him in prayer.

So often, we put obstacles in the way of truly experiencing Christ in our spiritual disciplines. For example, you may commit to a Holy Hour once a week. However, you may fill up the whole hour with reading or reciting prayers quietly so that there is little time for God to speak to you. Additionally maybe you are so intent on finishing a great spiritual work that you plow through it and don’t stop and let God speak to you through the words of the author.

Often, there is no stillness in our prayer and very little opportunity for Christ to speak into our hearts. Even though it is good that we are spending time with Jesus t in prayer, it would be better if we carved out some time to listen to what He is trying to tell us instead of simply just speaking to Him.

In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

As his sheep, we are not primarily called to study his voice or listen to people talk about his voice. Although these things are good, above all, we are called to quiet ourselves and listen to his voice asking him how we can grow in holiness to be transformed into the saints whom he has called us to be.

So as you think about the things that you do as a Catholic, ask yourself, do these things help me know the Shepherd? If yes, great, keep doing them. If not, consider ways to change your prayer routine or forms of prayer so that you allow God to speak to you. Above all, ask God to reveal himself to you and teach you how to pray; it is a prayer that He will surely answer.

 

Bob Waruszewski

Bob Waruszewski

Bob Waruszewski is a cradle Catholic from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from St. Vincent College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics. Currently he works in the energy industry in the Pittsburgh and is enjoying life as a married man and father to his one year old daughter. He enjoys hiking, reading a good book and competing on the athletic field.

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4 Responses

  1. Learning how to hear God’s voice is a foundational spiritual skill. I’ve just posted this comment elsewhere, but I’ll repeat it:

    Jesus said that His sheep would hear His voice; that if we abide in Him we would become so in tune that what we ask is what He wants to give; that the very Spirit of God would make His home in us so, as St Paul testified, we acquire the same mind as Christ. That’s where God wants to take us, into more and more transparent communication, truly ‘face to face’ with Christ.

    Let’s not settle for less than an ever-increasing grace to hear God speaking to us, daily and constantly. If He seems at times to play ‘hide and seek’, He intends that to test our faith and train our hearts, and when we surrender afresh He leads us to a new level of intimacy, friendship and admission into His counsels. We are His children, made in His image, and perfectly designed to hear His voice and know His heart!

    I converted a year ago, but one of the most helpful teachers on this subject whose writings still help me is an Evangelical called Mark Virkler. I recommend him strongly.

    1. John, thanks for your comment. I agree, we cannot settle for mediocrity but must desire to have a deeper relationship with Christ and hear from him daily.

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