PROFOUND LISTENING: How to listen with the “ear of the heart”.

When St. Benedict wrote his Rule at the very beginning of the Prologue, his warning to brothers and sisters was to “listen with the ear of your heart.” Cistercian contemplative practices allow me to have Christ Jesus’s mind each day and be aware that I am aware of my mindset to seek God each day in all that I encounter.  With all the noise flooding my brain, it is increasingly difficult to know what is real from what is false (the classic dilemma of Adam and Eve). Like our prototype parents, we can reason and choose what we think is good for us. Assumptions about what is real and meaningful in life are the basis of our beliefs and the foundation of our behavior. A contemplative approach to reality is an art that we don’t automatically acquire at birth. It takes specialized focus and demands many, many hours of practice within a spirituality system. Profound listening is only a tool to place us in the presence of Christ while we pledge to do God’s will as we understand it. It is the consistent and passionate urge to be in the presence of the one you love that is at the heart of Christ and so should be in our hearts. Contemplation is a way to get there. What follows are several ways I have found to use profound listening to enliven my Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, and other Cistercian practices so that I may decrease and increase the capacity for Christ in me. Profound listening may be seen in three universes, the last of which, the spiritual universe, allows us to fulfill the covenant relationship of the Old and News Testaments by opening our hearts to the energy of the Holy Spirit in Love. In looking at reality, everything I observe is measured with The Rule of Threes. The first universe is the physical one. The second is the mental universe to allow humans to find meaning in the first and second universes; the third universe gives finality. It solves the Divine Equation, the six questions each human must ask and answer to move forward toward their destiny. PHYSICAL UNIVERSE Listening in this universe, the one we share with the rest of physical reality (time, matter, space, light, energy), is the act of hearing with our ears. Rocks don’t hear anything, but living species do. Humans live in the physical universe. In fact, they evolved from and share the natural law with all other life forms. But, there is a difference with human hearing.  MENTAL UNIVERSE Listening in the mental universe takes our ability to hear in the physical universe. It uses it to find meaning and to communicate with our environment and with each other. This takes language. There are lots of languages out there. Some of them are the language of science, the Laws of Nature, how to read music, German, Spanish (and all the communication languages), and the language of Love.  SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE Listening in the spiritual universe is slightly different because it transfers not only sound but also of energy, God’s energy of Love, knowledge, or service. I am using the term “profound energy” to approach what it means to “listen to God with the ear of the heart.” St. Benedict speaks of this in his Prologue to the Rule.  CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFOUND LISTENING The process of profound listening is to place yourself, through various contemplative practices, in the presence of God, then listen with your heart, not just your head. The Church is composed of two elements (for lack of a better way to describe it): the Church of the head and the Church of the heart. The Church of the head comprises all the rules we must follow as outlined in Scripture and by constant practices from Apostolic times. The Church of the heart receives the thoughts and reason coming from our minds and seeks to use them to love others as Christ loved us. This is the Love of the heart. Profound listening is needed to move from the head (Faith is only WHAT you believe) to the heart (Faith is HOW you love Christ by being in the presence of the Holy Spirit).  Profound listening allows each of us to grow deeper into the Love of Christ by using the five levels of spiritual awareness:
  1. Hearing the Word of God with the mind.
  2. Praying the Word of God with the mind and the heart.
  3. Sharing the Word of God with two or three in the name of Christ.
  4. Becoming what you hear, you pray, and you share in the presence of the heart of Christ.
  5. Profound listening is silence, solitude, work, prayer in the context of community.
Profound listening is the intense focus on the heart of Christ in prayer or before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration of the Trinity. Profound listening allows the Love of Christ to transform you to become more like Him and less like your false self.  Profound listening is the level of spiritual awareness that you always seek in Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Reading Scripture, and Liturgy of the Hours, going beyond words to enter into the mind and heart of the author. It allows me to become open to the transformation that comes from surrendering worldly self to humility and obedience to the will of the Father. Profound listening means you can never grow deep enough in your Faith to stop and be satisfied with “doing all you can.” Profound listening means only Christ is the source of your energy, not the Church, not your friends, and most certainly, not yourself. Profound listening means you grow so that Christ increases in you (capacitas dei) and your worldly preoccupations with making yourself happy. Profound listening means The Christ Principle is your only center and the North on your compass. Profound listening means Faith informs what you hear, and you “hear what cannot be heard” by the world’s languages. Profound listening means you purposefully and consistently make a schedule each day to transform the moment from just ordinary to sacred and holy. What follows is a series of blogs that I wrote to try to surround my mind with the elements that enhance my profound listening as I pray my Lectio Divina each day. I pray as I can. Some days are better than others. What is constant is my passion to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” each day, to the extent I can. Being conscious that I must “listen with the ear of the heart” allows me to anchor myself in, with, and through Christ, as He offers the timeless sacrifice of the cross, the resurrection, and ascension to sit at His right hand for The Father’s honor and glory. Using Profound Listening, I can tag along with Christ and peek at the Love between the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit. 
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