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Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Contemplative Prayer
Holy Spirit Interactive: Mother Nadine: Contemplative Prayer: Listening to that Soft Still Voice Within

Listening to that Soft Still Voice Within

by Mother Nadine

In Psalm 46, God says, "Be still and know that I am God" (see verse 10 or 11 depending on your translation). In other words, "Be still and experience Me as God." Jesus said this to His Apostles when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. He said, "Whenever you pray, go to your room (that's that inner room within) and close your door" (Mt 6:6). In other words, shut out the distractions and shut out all the things that you didn't get done and the things that you still have to do. It's not easy to shut the door and leave all those things and concerns outside the door. When we resurface, they might still be there but maybe not. Maybe God will have taken care of them or maybe they're not of that much concern. Jesus said, "Go to your room. Close your door and pray to your Father in private" (Mt 6:6) in that inner solitude. Solitude and silence are extremely important because we're talking about love and intimacy. In Hosea, once again we hear this call to intimacy when God says, "I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and (there, in that silence, in that solitude where no one is around) will speak to her heart" (Hos 2:16).

Jesus prayed in solitary places. Scripture says that He would go out to desert places, to lonely places, and to mountaintop places to pray. In order to pray, Jesus withdrew, even from the Apostles, even if it meant that He had to get up very early in the morning. Scripture tells us that His personal prayer was such that He would be absorbed (see Mk 1:35). Here is the teacher, here is the healer, here is the deliverer, but not when He was at prayer. When He was at prayer, He would be absorbed. He was like a sponge receiving, just soaking in the Father's love, the Father's Word, which is probably why Jesus later said, "I always do what is pleasing to Him" (Jn 8:29) and "I do nothing by myself. I say only what I have heard from Him, the truthful one who sent me" (Jn 8: 28). Jesus received all these insights in prayer. We need to come into God's presence, into the fire with within. Teresa of Avila called that inner room "the cave within her heart."

One of our chapels at Bellwether is designed like a cave to remind us that the presence of God is there and that we are entering into a place of silence, a place of solitude, a place of intimacy so that He can speak to our hearts. Years ago when I knew the Lord was starting to call me out of the cloister after sixteen years, I was getting a little nervous about how I was going to tell my father. I'm an adult convert, and it was very difficult on my father when I entered the Catholic Church and also when I entered the cloister. We were one of the strictest cloisters in the world, and he could only visit for a couple of hours once a year. It's very difficult for even Catholic families to accept let alone non-Catholic families. There had been so many graces where my father had finally accepted my vocation to be a cloistered nun, and now sixteen years later I was getting called out. I thought, "Lord, what am I going to tell Daddy?" That was my first thought.

So I decided, "I'll write a general letter and kind of allude to the fact that there might be some changes coming. It will be casual and not too specific to set the stage." Then I would follow it up with a letter telling him exactly what was happening. A week after receiving my first general letter, he wrote and said, "I can see by your letter that you've been listening to that still soft voice within." I thought, "My goodness, Lord, I didn't know my father knew about the Trinity indwelling within him! He never told me he knew that. He knew from God that I was being called out. He knew that I was hearing from that still, soft voice within."


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