Priest as Holy Listener By Father John Maxwell
God as Holy Listener • “The Lord will hear when I call unto him.” (Psa 4:4) • “Evening, Morning and at Noon will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice.” (Psa 55:17) • “I love the Lord because he has listened to my voice and my supplication. Because he has inclined his ear to me … (Psa 116:1-2) • God is a discriminate listener • “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.” (Psa. 34:15) • “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psa. 66:18)
Priest and Listening to God • Hear the word of the Lord • “Hear O Israel .. The Lord our God is One God” (Deut 6:4) • Wisdom let us attend, Let us Hear the Holy Gospel • Priest as Obedient Hearer (hypakoúō) • Priest is a discriminate listener. • “My Sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) • “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5)
EntICING IDEAS AND THOUGHTs • “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words”. Col 2:4 • “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col 2:8 • “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”2 Corinthians 10:5
Priest as Listener to Others For HELP • “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:” (2 Cor 2:2) • “Each person is a word spoken to us by Christ the Divine Logos – a word to which we in our turn are invited to respond.” Fr DumitruStaniloae • Instruction: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” (Prov. 1:8). • Counsel: “A wise man will hear, and will increase in learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” (Prov. 1:5) • Correction: He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. (Prov 15:22)
CathOLIC NUNS In Inner City “You came down here to help us poor people. You had enthusiasm and dedication and lots of bright ideas. You knew what was needed to be done and you went ahead and did it. Only problem was, you never asked us. You talked and talked to us and at us. But you never listened. You never heard what we said, you never asked our opinion. You made us feel poorer and stupider than we already felt. You want to help us? Then listen to us!” Juliana Casey, Food for the Journey, p. 103 Priest as Listener of the Community
Priest Listening to help others • Rooted in Loving your Neighbor and Not Judging your Brother • Goal is Healing – Diagnostician • Wounded Healer • Relational
“Listening therefore, is a crucial virtue for those endowed and entrusted by others with authority. Often one will help others most not so much by what one says and advises, as by one’s peaceful, silent presence and attentive listening.” Fr. John Chryssavgis, Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction, p. 106.
“Sometimes we need people because the wounds are too deep to admit by ourselves, the evil too painful to confront alone. Sometimes we need people to help us name and own our past. We may need a gentle companion who accompanies us on the spiritual path, to whom we can express the pain we feel, or the abuse we have suffered, or the addiction which ensnares and enslaves us.” Fr. John Chryssavgis, Soul Mending: the Art of Spiritual Direction, pp. 10-11.
Priest ARE SOMETIMES EXPERTS IN Shutting Down Communication “You must not feel that way.” “Everything will be okay.” “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” “God just needed another angel in heaven.” “Let’s pray.” “That reminds me of the time ….” “Here’s what I would do, if I were you, ...” “ You’ll have other children.” “You should be happy she is out of her misery.” “He wouldn’t want you to be upset.” “I Know just how you feel.”
Hendrances to Listening • Forming your ideas before you actually hear • Asking Why Questions • Directive – Yes /But • Fear – we won’t know what to say • Feared – The one who wants to divulge is afraid of rejection • Cold or Harsh Demeanor: “Severity and harshness never changes anyone.” St. John Cassian cited in Joseph Allen, Inner Way, p. 53.
LESS WORDSMORE LISTENTING • “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (Ec 5:2) • “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, SLOW to speak, SLOW to wrath.” (James 1:19) • “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” (Pr. 17:27) • “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Pr. 29:20)
Smart people hide their knowledge, but stupid people show off their ignorance. Pro. 12:23
Active Listening • Conscious effort to enter into the other’s world. • It enables the other to express her feelings, thought and behaviors. • It facilitates a sense of community and relationship. • It places the other on a path of self discovery. • It diffuses strong emotions and brings a sense of peace.
Keys to Listening • Hear Every Word rather than thinking about what your will say. • Be Comfortable with Silence. • Use of the Pause • Hear the Message behind the Message. • Listen for the Parable. • Have healthy sense of Skepticism • Interpretive Listening • Reflective Listening
Asking OPEN ENDED Questions OR STATEMENTSto Deepen Listening • Tell me more • What are your options? • What do you want me to pray about? • Perception checks …. I think you are saying is • You seem terrified …
Confession • Is there anything more? • What do you think would help you avoid this sin? • Not over listening • Stages in life time confession • Affirmation and Encouragement • Opinions rather than Commands • Student rather than the teacher • “Elder Paisios suggested that a pastor should not speak as a teacher or a superior, but like a humble student who recalls the sayings of holy father for similar situations.” Father Alexis Trader, Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy, p. 154 • Correct with gentleness • If a rebuke is necessary it should be done “with great gentleness and great prudence.” St John Chrysostom, Commentary on 1st Corinthians 44.3
Difficult Person Listen to the: Pain behind the words Fear behind the aggression Insecurity behind the rigidity Guilt behind the compensation Be careful with your words “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Prov. 15:1 “Better will the body bear unsuitable medicines than the soul unsuitable words.” St John Chrysostom Commentary on Colossians 11
Pastoral Presence • Trust that your calm presence is enough • Job’s friends • They sympathize and comforted him” • They wept and mourned with him • They sat in silence with him for 7 days • Eliphaz the Temanite • You must have sinned in someway. • Bildad the Shuhite • If you would just repent, then God will take away the suffering • Zophar the Naamathite • This was just God’s will
What we are sayingwhen we Listen With Undivided Attention • Your are important to me • Your words and feelings are important to me • I give you the space to express yourself