Posts tagged ‘moral decision-making’

Hearing God’s Voice

up the garden path

Image by seriykotik1970 via Flickr

People often ask me how I discern God’s voice from some evil spirit’s or my own ego’s. I share this guidance because it is what I do and it seems to lead me on a righteous and serene path when I am faithful to its practice. I can’t honestly say though that what i think is God’s voice always is; that is for each person to discern for him/herself.

Ask “What’s the next right thing to do?” When two completely different sources – in voice or print, direct or indirect – give you the same answer, go with it. The echo is your assurance that the answer harmonizes with your soul, that it is the voice of Spirit.

God speaks to us constantly, but far too rarely are we listening. If you do not ask and actively listen with just one thought in mind, you can neither be sure you didn’t miss the echo and are only stretching to conform an unrelated message to Your Ego’s desire nor be certain of the context of the guidance you have been given thus sending you in the right direction but down the wrong path.

However, do not fret, even when we head in the wrong direction or down the wrong path, God is constantly calling us back and so with due diligence we shall arrive. Some of us just enjoy a more “scenic” route to Enlightenment, Nirvana, Heaven. When I can though, I prefer the shorter path, however difficult or narrow, because I am convinced the Eternal Valley is of greater splendor than any route which might lead me there.

In a future post, I will share some of my experiences applying this practice.

Meditation to Evoke Empathy

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I learned from Eastern meditation a method of reflection whose Americanized name is “Pillow Pause”. You place the problem as you define it on top of the pillow. At each side, you place your response. You act when your response leads you peacefully to do so, when thought and emotion harmonize and come in tune with the greatest good that you are capable of at that point in your spiritual journey. If none of the four responses leads you peacefully, you flip the pillow and challenge yourself to reinterpret “the problem”. You may continue to flip the pillow as many times as necessary. I’ve never in 20 years quit in frustration before being lead. My choices today are not the same as a year ago because I am in a different place on the journey, but I can expect no more of myself than my development allows. The practice of this meditation has gradually caused me without purposeful exercise of the meditation to find less and less reason to judge and more and more ways to act with empathy.

The Way, One Truth, God’s Love

Doorway, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damasc...

Image by jemasmith via Flickr

[Note: This is a first draft, but I wanted to go ahead and publish it. Throughout this post, you will see “(link)” which is a note to myself to add a link or citation. I will eventually return to replace these, but if you have a question about a particular one, please leave a comment and I will try to respond more promptly.]

My mind is a whirlwind of thought and emotion. Like so many, I really do desire to do God’s will, but struggle to know what it actually is. I was listening to a book on CD by Sheila Walsh (link) during a recent road trip. She was explaining how the apostle Paul, then Saul, really thought he was devout and doing the right thing, persecuting the Christians, by keeping the Jewish faith pure. The Risen Christ blinded him, a physical manifestation of his spiritual nature, then showed him The Light. As I have been reflecting on the readings this Advent Season and thinking about the Second Coming, I’ve felt the responsibility to share the Word weigh heavily upon me, but I’m confused and filled with trepidation.

I want to boldly share the Good News. At the same time, I’ve been moved with empathy by stories of homeless persons who feel unwelcome at shelters that require them to participate in faith practices that differ from their beliefs. I am likewise disturbed by the declaration of some Baptists that Catholicism is a cult. The anti-Muslim sentiment of so many self-proclaimed Christians is troubling as well. I don’t want to be unloving in declaring God’s love for all.

I remember Pope Jonh Paul II, the Roman Catholic Pope, coming under verbal fire for declaring that the grace of Jesus the Christ is available to those who have not heard the Good News. Recently I read a blog (link) that insists that when Jesus Christ says “No one comes to the Father except through me, (link)” He meant NO ONE who doesn’t know and believe in the Passion of Christ will be admitted into heaven, so we must take the Good News to as many people as possible and accept that most of humanity will perish. Who is right? Both seemed convincing. I wonder, are we each just a story or are we the essence of our actions?

The song line, “They will know we are Christians by our love” (link) is sometimes spoofed by changing “love” to “T-shirts.” While the emphasis is to point out that a changed heart must be reflected in our actions, I’ve wondered if the original song line doesn’t reflect the Truth in its entirety. Does living The Way insist knowledge of its source or name or professor or rather adherence to its principles? Jesus the Christ said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. (link)” The Son of God calls us into communion with God by showing us the perfect example in human form of obedience to God. I notice that The Lord never says “Be me.” Surely, you realize that would be in conflict with The Creator’s admonition of Adam and Eve for eating from the Tree of Knowledge (link). This leaves me with more questions.

Am I mistaken to now believe that being a Christian means living the example of Christ? The deepest question then is whether someone can know how to without knowing and understanding the totality of His life and Passion. I’ve come to a place of finding it easy to have empathy for and forgive others because I recognize the immenseness of my ignorance. How well can I know the heart of any person and how well can I know the depth of their understanding or even their potential to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus the Christ? How well do I know myself in these matters? This leads me to wonder, how well equipped am I to teach others, what is my responsibility to teach, what should I be teaching, and how should I teach it?

In all faiths of the world, there are some common truths. Surely this is no accident. Coincidence is often evidence of God’s presence in my mind. How can we acknowledge a God of unfathomable wisdom and yet seek to limit that same God’s power to present The Way to people in the cultural context that would make sense to their/our tiny minds? I propose it would serve us all best in preserving the good of humanity to respect those common truths. Further who am I or you but a peer to all others of which God is the Creator? Who am I to judge the work of the Master? The Bible instructs us only to judge those of our believing community and even there to do so through a construct of law and justice (link). Further we should bear in mind that no matter how inspired the Word, God did not write it by His own hand and it has been translated in multiple ways. Therefore we should look to the traditions of the Church for guidance as well.

In all matters of serious moral judgment, the original Church taught (to summarize from the Catechism of The Roman Catholic Church, link) that we should seek wise counsel (from one or more persons well-versed in Biblical languages and culture, literary interpretation, Scriptural study, etc) and examine an issue from all sides and in every intellectual field (historical, philosophical, social, psychological, theological, scientific,etc). God gave us brains and the collective gifts of humanity to USE. Then we should pray long and thoroughly (most especially that God’s will be done and with an open ear to the echoed answer of the Spirit from at least 2 entirely different sources lest we be deceived in our haste). Finally, we are obligated to act in accord with OUR conscience even if our actions would be in conflict with “official teachings” because ultimately we are responsible for our own salvation (link). On the topic of evangelizing, this has been an ongoing process for me.

I’d like to share some seemingly disconnected but relevant truths revealed to me in prayer, study, and conversation with counsel on the topic at hand. Love and hate cannot coexist. Temptation does not foreshadow sin; it merely warns of it’s potential presence. A Jewish philosopher (link) taught the Golden Rule this way, “Do NOT do onto others what you do NOT want done onto you.” In matters of morality, majority does not rule. I cannot consciously hate in word or deed because it conflicts with the Truth of Love.

So, because Christianity makes sense to me and It’s teachings are what my conscience most often leads me to profess and follow, I am bound by my conscience to spread the Good News for my own salvation. But I am committed to letting my “speech” begin with acts of love and then continue, as opportunity allows, by relating the example of Jesus the Christ. I believe that the Truth will make itself known to whomever answers the door. Somebody’s knocking. Will you let Him in?