On The Way To Quiet

As I always hope to do, I find spiritual motivation and inspiration in a variety of places and in a variety of voices. This can and does prove to be a bit of a problem, however, when I begin to search for those sparks of inspiration, rather than simply allowing them to hit me.

These days, we can be bombarded with voices constantly, if we allow it. Whether these voices express views we espouse ourselves or those with which we disagree, they may speak about truly superfluous topics (celebrity gossip, sports), or to truly essential human topics, like spiritual life and holiness. We can get ourselves “into the weeds” a bit, and distracted.

Even in the midst of so great a wealth of helpful and worthwhile resources and media, those authentically graced moments of Holy-Spirit-breathed inspiration can easily elude us. Conversely, wading through that tremendous volume of thought could lead us to those moments in uniquely timely ways.

For example, one of the few podcasts to which I listen regularly had a discourse on the life of prayer, and being properly disposed to fruitful prayer, that is prayer that is filled with consolation from God. In this instance, the hosts of the podcast agreed on the brief statement that the very best we could hope to be when we go to pray is fully open and expectant.

Of course, this is no kind of guarantee, and not a formula for consistent mystical experiences with the Lord in prayer. However, the more perfectly open we are, the more able:

1) We will be to receive what the Holy Spirit wishes to communicate to us.

2) God is free to touch our hearts and bring us to experience his love in a given moment.

The way to be the more open, though, is through detachment from worldly concerns and things.

Therein lies the irony: if I hadn’t listened to that podcast, I wouldn’t have heard this insight that I know will fuel my efforts to grow in prayer for weeks and weeks to come, as I struggle to still myself and listen—to God, and not the hundreds of voices from throughout the years of my life that float and echo through my consciousness, when I attempt to stop the wheels of my own thought processes from turning.

Admittedly, something must be said for striking a balance between being wholly disconnected from these unexpected avenues the Holy Spirit may use, and saturating the ears of my heart with sounds (even music), voices, and noises, and indeed ideas I consume from various media sources. Obviously, there is too much of a good thing, and on the other hand, we clearly don’t know everything, or plumb all the depths of the spiritual life in all facets, so we need to take in new information or things we have heard before that bear repeating.

The news, social media, radio shows, podcasts, music of all kinds (yes, even distinctly sacred music), and of course television, short videos, and other visual arts all occupy a given amount of the sort of finite mental bandwidth at our disposal.

This is what gives rise to the various movements or thoughts of either removing or severely curtailing the use of technological resources. I know that is a refrain that can (and sometimes does) become tiresome. We can only tolerate being told so many times to put it down, turn it off, or log out before we indeed “tune out”. We become so familiar with a message that we no longer hear it, unfortunately, sometimes, having never internalized it.

Unfortunately, I feel I am among the worst at this kind of moderating of my own media intake, so I really have nothing to say in terms of giving proven or successful advice. Hopefully, however, this article finds you in a moment like the one I am in: realizing that I have not lived up to my baptism into the family of God, understanding that I have adequately tended to the will of my Father to be in intimate, personal, ongoing, and growing relationship with me.

If we are open, God is always ready – ALWAYS ready – to meet us. What steps do I need to take in order to hear the Lord in the immediate moment?

David M. Dunst
Director of Music and Liturgy

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