The Inner Voice

as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy.

There are moments in all our lives when something kicks inside us and just seems to say, “Pay attention here, this is the truth.” We might pay attention or we might rationalize and/or ignore it. We have free choice, that most gracious gift from the One who Is.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke about the inner voice, a sacred place within each human being – some Christians call it conscience – but an inner sanctuary in which God calls to and speaks to each human being –  every human being. Free will is to hear this voice and to follow its call. We can sense it when something is right, a call into the light, a call to work for peace in the world, in our lives, in the lives of others.

But we live in a world that values competition, material wealth, displays of power and strength. It respects and rewards the arrogant, the self – promoting, the successful. The inner voice is not promoted and it can easily be drowned out and forgotten. This begins early in people’s lives. Depending on where and when we are born, the social programming begins, unconsciously, consciously, nurses, doctors, parents, nursery school, school and so it continues through work, the media, the company we keep. People forget the voice, the call, the peace at the centre of human being. Spiritual stirrings are set aside and rational, material perception more readily trusted. The inner voice is drowned in the noise of the world and people get fat and tired and depressed. It’s like you try and do what everyone seems to tell you have to do. You follow the programme. You succeed or you fail or both. But just nothing makes sense and nothing seems to make you happy. The more you get, the less you feel. And it pulls you down till you just don’t even want to get out of bed anymore. So you might take drugs or drink or find some other way to blot out the pain. Some turn to violence and lash out in a desperate attempt to change things. For terrorists, for example, there is an instinctive realization that things are not fair and the world is off course but they think they can force change by destroying the structures of oppression through the bombing of its lifestyle. This is not the inner voice. It is desperation and madness. It is dualistic thinking. Wrong thinking. Similarly, the social programming is dualistic thinking and wrong.

But the gospel news, good news, is that the inner voice is in every single human being. And it is the voice of salvation. It is the voice of God. The voice offers life inside each human being. Each human being is made in God’s image and is of the deepest value. Jean Vanier told me a few weeks ago, even just days after the Paris bombings, “People are beautiful.” We each have the capacity, because we are made in the image of God, to live in communion with God – the Father in me, I in you, you in the Father at – one with the creator, one with the created. The inner voice tells us this is true. The inner voice leads us to work for peace. Free will allows us to listen. Free will allows us to respond. But it needs work and nurturing. Our free will is easily seduced by the noise of politics, education, social programming, advertising, consumerism, competition…

Gandhi again: “The inner voice is something which cannot be described in words. But sometimes we have a positive feeling that something in us prompts us to do a certain thing. The time when I learnt to recognise this voice was, I may say, the time when I started praying regularly.”

Surely, part of our calling in this time, in this place, is to nurture our own listening to the inner voice, to give witness to it and so enable others to perceive the voice within them. This morning we said together Mary’s song recorded by Luke, Magnificat. Why not use it in your own prayer rhythm this Christmas and on into the New Year. Recite it when you wake up, giving thanks for your waking, and again before sleep, giving thanks for the day gone and asking blessing through the night ahead. Let the words descend into your heart and then observe them as they flow from your heart and out through your lips. Be conscious of the prayer of a young girl in the heat and the dust who heard the voice of an angel 2000 years ago and said, “Yes, your will be done.” 2000 years on, her “Yes” remains and it has the power to heal and to give us hope. Pray the words. Be conscious as Mary’s prayer becomes your prayer and then listen, as the voice within you whispers your name.

Tangnefedd. The Christ Mass is near.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on December 19, 2015.

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