By: Fr. Tom Hurley
Sunday, March 26, 2017
the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, I recall a few moments when one of the faculty members would get on my case for various things, all part of the process of formation. This particular faculty member (a priest of Chicago) has become one of my mentors and he was instrumental to me in those important years of discernment and preparation. One tense moment, in particular, happened when our floor was gathered for our weekly meeting and prayer. Near the end of the meeting, after a long conversation amongst the members of our floor, I recall asking a question related to the topic which, unbeknownst to me, had already been resolved. I clearly had been daydreaming and obviously focused on something other than what was being discussed. This did not settle well with the dorm priest and to his dismay, he shouted across the room, “Hurley, you don’t listen!”
That night, it was true. I hadn’t listened.
It wasn’t the first time and certainly not the last time I was “called out” for not listening. There have been plenty of times in my own home when my mom has chastised me with almost the same the sentiment as the Father Dorm Director. She has often said, “Tom, you hear but you don’t listen!”
I was reminded of this important practice this past week when I contemplated the scripture reading from Jeremiah 7:23-28, “Thus says the Lord: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people!” Psalm 95 for the same day captured a similar theme, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.”
It seems to me that one of the important reminders offered to us in Lent is the act of Listening. I found that to be especially true this past Tuesday night into Wednesday with our Solidarity Fast. Not only did I keep listening to my growling stomach and throbbing head wanting food, but a more dramatic form of fasting like what many of us did together in solidarity, really does cause us to listen more attentively to other things happening inside of us. It was a great experience and I hope the Solidarity Fast was as special for you as I found it to be for myself. Instead of being focused of food, I found myself listening more attentively in the hopes that I wouldn’t’ be so focused on a growling stomach. As I was listening to the news, I became more aware of the plight of so many people especially in some of the African nations where people are starving in unbelievable numbers. On the day of the Fast, I heard more clearly the number of 20 million people who possibly could starve to death if nothing is done soon.
I don’t recall ever doing a 24 hour Fast before. Being in a world where food and other pleasures are readily available and literally at our fingertips, I found this experience was a powerful moment of Listening. In order not to be driven crazy by my craving for something good and delicious, I found myself my focused and more attentive on other things, and things that matter. Try this ancient spiritual practice some time, if you’ve never done it. You might be amazed at how such an act of Fasting might startle you to being concerned about other things in life.
I think my mom was right, I hear but I don’t always listen. May the spirit of God help me to listen to what’s most important and what’s Holy, instead of all the other noise that is readily available at any time of the day. Let’s continue to use these Lenten days wisely and effectively in the listening to the voice of God.
A holy and peaceful week for you,
Fr. Tom Hurley, Pastor
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