There is nothing more difficult for a human being than to listen to God with the ear of the heart. That God would even consider speaking to me in the silence of my heart is, in itself, astounding. What I try to do as a Lay Cistercian, but often fall short, is keeping my mouth (my mind) shut so that God can get through. The difficulty is not one that God has, for God is everywhere in everything, in our minds and our hearts. That we even approach God in humility and obedience to what God tells us is astounding.

We don’t even know a lot about God except through Christ. In the Old Testament, we heard about God but did not know about the Trinity. Christ told us that.

Matthew 11 NRSVCE – “25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank[i] you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[j] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Listening with the ear of the heart is achieved by obedience to others, which obviously means God but also to God’s authorized representative on earth, the abbot or abbess. By extension, obedience means you are ready to give up your will, according to the Prologue in the Rule, and “… do battle for the true king, Christ Our Lord.”


Make no mistake about it. We are in a battle for the conquest of our souls. The effects of Original Sin are ever present and all too evident, even though Baptism washed away that Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Some people believe that humans are rotten by nature and that only the grace of Christ coates us so that we will be saved. It is like pouring Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup over us to make us fresh and pleasing to God. The problem with that point of view is we are made in the image and likeness of God. If we are rotten, so is God. That is evidently not the case. So, we struggle to be good and accept our responsibility for making choices that are what God says is good for us. Listening with the ear of the heart helps us discern what is peudo-truth (cotton candy spirituality that tastes very good but has no nourishment) from what is means to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Christ. These are dark and difficult time, when we must choose between what is right and what is easy.

Doing what is right means we must see reality from two views: The World— which tells us our wills are important and to be happy you must do those things that give us meaning. The Spirit–which says you must renounce yourself and follow Christ. (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23) You can’t do both at the same time, just as hatred and love can’t coexist in the same room together. You can’t listen with the ear of the heart using the techniques and meaning of the World, even though humans use the words like “humility” “Meditation” “fulfillment” in both views, the techniques and the purposes are radically different. Humility and being poor in spirit will help you to approach God through, with and in Christ and do battle. This battle is nothing other than the daily grind or struggle to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). To be more like Christ who is meek and humble of heart is our goal, not to make more money, achieve fame and adulation, or to become powerful. Listening with the ear of the heart, in the context of a community of believers, helps to sustain us in our quest to move from self to God.


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