“If, today, you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
For those unfamiliar with the Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office), this is a common antiphon before some of the Psalms. With the second part, I typically have had no hesitation in following my Shepherd when it is undeniably clear. I know in my heart that wherever He is, and whatever His will is, it far exceeds any plans or desires I may have for myself. I pray it will always be so for me. But, I often ponder, how do I know His voice? When I am in Adoration meditating, am I listening to Him or the echo of my own thoughts? Why is it so hard for me to know?
I believe what the Scriptures say, that the sheep know the voice of the Shepherd. I know I heard His voice when I followed Him into the Church. But that was relatively easy. It was the obvious sign directly from Scripture itself which identified the Catholic Church as the One, Holy, Apostolic Church Christ had established on Earth in order to guide and protect His sheep in His absence. What I struggle with is confidence in the internal communication between myself and my Savior. Which of my thoughts are a product of my own intellect, and which are inspiration from the Spirit?
I have a friend who is bathed in the Holy Spirit and receives His voice dramatically. But for others, perhaps for most, He comes more quietly, more subtly. I have had one dramatic experience with an undeniable locution from the Lord. In the early stages of my conversion to the Catholic Church, I woke one morning and audibly heard the word, “Vespers.” I had no clue what that was. I was compelled to research and discovered the Liturgy of the Hours.
Now it happens that Vespers is the Evening Office, and the most difficult time of day for me to regularly observe. Everyone is home, homework needs to be done, dinner served, chores accomplished and bed time rituals initiated. Of course, I try to incorporate some sort of prayer time and devotions with my children, but the Divine Office is a little dry for their tastes. So perhaps I have stunted my own growth by choosing the Morning Office over the Evening. Really, who gets an undeniable locution and then chooses to follow it their way instead? My original plan of building a habit by adding in each Hour over time didn’t work out that way. But I have been making a much stronger effort lately to observe all the hours, made much more possible by the good folks at Divineoffice.org, nine years later.
In the last several weeks since prioritizing this regularity of prayer in my day, I have felt as if I am being tuned in, like a radio dial. Through being washed regularly in the sound of the Psalms, homilies of Saints and other readings from Scripture, I’m being opened to the voice of the Shepherd. My confusion remains, but I’m looking for the Lord to lead and teach me to listen. When you have heard His voice in the privacy of your own prayer and meditations, dear Reader, how do you know it?