Voices are like finger prints. Each is as unique as the person who speaks with it. You can be walking down a crowded concourse at an airport and hear your brother/sister/friend calling you and immediately you know who it is that’s calling you.

It’s not so easy to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is that he speaks in a whisper. It’s a low, brief, quiet speech that we can easily miss if we aren’t paying attention. The second reason it can be hard to hear is because it often sounds just like MY voice. And so sometimes I think I’m hearing God’s will for me when really I’m just hearing myself wanting what I want.

But every once in awhile you hear deep in your heart “a feeling that has a voice like yours” telling you something you need to hear. It goes like this for me: it starts with a feeling, let’s say frustration. “I’m sick and tired of being the one who makes the peace —- let someone else get everybody together.” This is MY voice expressing a very familiar frustration with having to put aside MY feelings for the sake of the good.

But then I hear way down in my mind . . . “Tim” (this voice knows me by name). . . and usually a few seconds later . . . “You know what is needed here; don’t you?” Then MY voice speaks, “Yes. I guess so.” Then the Spirit speaks . . . “Well?”

Something not to be missed is that there are actually TWO graces happening here. The first is the grace to hear the voice of your conscience (“you know what is needed here”). The second is to know the source of what you are hearing – – – “Hey, this is your con-
science speaking to you. Listen up.”

So how can we tell which voice we’re hearing, our own or the Holy Spirit? Here are some pointers to hearing God’s voice.

+ God’s voice usually invites us to put our self second to someone or something that needs help.

+ When we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit there is a feeling of “being reminded of something we already know deep in our heart.”

+ God’s voice carries with it a personal note. What I’m hearing has a feeling of “being meant for me” in this time, in this place.

+ God’s voice is persistent. It keeps coming back even when we may flee. It can feel like it’s pursuing us.

+ If what we are about to do (or have done) is good and virtuous, God’s voice is usually quiet and peaceful. “Good” it says. If however we are contemplating something sinful, the voice is generally loud and insistent. “Stop this!” or “No, this is wrong!”

+ God’s voice generally asks me to “surrender” to “give in”. It must have been what Jesus heard in the Garden that night, “But not my will Lord, thine be done.”

+ There is generally a peace that comes over us that tells us what we’re hearing or feeling comes from a place (person) that loves us and speaks goodness to us.

So Lord . . . Give us the ears to hear your voice deep in our hearts. And thank you for this beautiful spring. What a great idea you had!

Continued Easter joy to you.

Fr. Tim