What resolution would you like to make for a more enjoyable and peaceful 2015? A lot of people say they are trying to find ways to cope with a hectic life. It might just be a great resolution.
They would do well to read St. Benedict, who said it’s important to learn to listen with what he called "the ear of the heart." Listening with the ear of the heart means more intently opening up our hearts to another person so as to let the other person’s concerns become ours. It means putting aside "my" concerns to be more fully aware of the other person’s concerns.
The "other" of which we speak may be our spouse, children, friends or a stranger we meet on the street. Most important, the "other" may be God’s graces speaking to us.
Listening with the ear of the heart is not an easy resolution to practice. And why is this so? The old saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt," is one reason. When we are with another person all the time, it is easy to predict what the person will say before he or she says it. Life has a monotonous side in which we begin to see others as one-dimensional and overlook them. The eyes and ears need to appreciate the other person’s fascinating distinctiveness, which seems to dim over time.
Spiritual writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade encourages us to live the "sacrament of the moment." To achieve this means to put aside the concerns we have about what we will do next and to focus our mind and heart solely on the moment: to concentrate on God’s momentary graces that are showering us.
One of the adverse effects of the times we live in is distraction. Our senses are constantly bombarded with images and sounds — from television, phones, Internet — that leave us little time to digest them. We quickly move from one thing to another as if it’s normal.
But is our life — lived so quickly with little time to think or absorb what is happening — normal? Are we able to really find true joy in it? Does it allow us peace of mind? And most important, does it draw us closer to God?
If you answer no to any the above, I would say that a good New Year’s resolution is to work on listening with the ear of your heart.
Father Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service.