When I was in the seminary, we subscribed to a very good publication of our French province of the Order; it was entitled “La Vie Spirituelle,” (The Spiritual Life) and often had articles having to do with meditation on passages from the Bible.
I remember one of them which was, to my way of thinking, particularly good. It was called, in French, “A Heart That Listens.” And it was a meditation by a very fine French scripture scholar, Sr. Jeanne d’Arc, on the request made by Solomon to the Lord. As Solomon succeeded his father David as king, God told him to ask for whatever he wished to prepare himself to rule well. The very young Solomon thought about it, and then replied to God: “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” The First Book of Kings, where this passage is found, goes on to say, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
In her article, Sr. Jeanne d’Arc pointed out that in the original Hebrew, what Solomon actually asks for is “a heart that listens.” And she goes on very nicely to talk about a listening, understanding heart as a prerequisite to the contemplative life, the life of the spirit. This is a very important element in the life of our cloistered nuns, as well as of every Christian who wishes to really lead a spiritual life as he or she should.
We can “listen” to many things: the conversations of others, the sacred liturgy at Mass, the Bible, the teachings of the Church, ideas that occur to us, things that happen to us and affect us either superficially or very profoundly, etc. Through all of them, God speaks to us and if we will use them as we should, they will make us wise.
Let us try always to have hearts that listen, hearts that are attentive and attuned to God’s speaking to us, hearts that react as they should to all the events of our lives. Let us imitate the most holy Mother of God who “kept all these things in her heart, pondering over them.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.