May 20, 2020frjohnma

Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears,… – Jesus Christ (John 16:12ff).

Before Ascension Thursday, it would be wise for us to quickly pay attention to the very important topic of listening. Listening is not just a skill as it is understood in some academic settings but strictly speaking, listening in the school of the Holy Spirit is a summation of the seven wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit. Listening is an agency if you like where the seven gifts (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord – Isa. 11:2-3) of the Holy Spirit without mixture or confusion, are harnessed to get a message (s) concerning the will of God. Listening is not so much about hearing. Hearing is a physiological act. Listening is about the special ear of the heart as the ancient philosopher Epictetus understood the importance of good listening when he amusingly said: “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Therefore, Scripture says, “Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak” (James 1:19).

We must quickly state that listening to the Holy Spirit is not also about feelings and emotions but about facts and truths; “the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth (John 16:13). The facts and truths are fuelled in us to listen to the Holy Spirit through our special ear of the heart called “Faith ear.” The faith ear draws messages from our educated conscience, the Word of God, the Sacred Traditions of the Church and the Magisterium (teaching office of the Church). Through the faith ear the Spirit inspires, directs, suggests and illumines.

It is very easy for us to talk and listen less or not at all. There are defined reasons that makes listening to the Holy Spirit to be very difficult or not possible at all. It begins with the question of who is the Holy Spirit to you? Most times we get stuck to the descriptive images of the Holy Spirit such as the symbols and never get in touch with the Holy Spirit Himself. For us to listen to the Holy Spirit, we need to understand Him as GOD, A PERSON and A FRIEND. We can connect with a person and friend but not a thing. Therefore, as we listen to the Holy Spirit, who is God, a Person and a Friend, remember that He has a will and a personality. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Isa. 55:8). To listen is not only to welcome the Holy Spirit through mere thoughts, desires, prayers, liturgy and renewal of covenantal relationship with Him, but to allow Him to take absolute control of our wills. Most times it is said that the Holy Spirit can be resident in us without being president.

Action plan

  1. From our previous reflections, identify how the Holy Spirit speaks to you as a person and His friend
  2. How often do you listen to the Holy Spirit?
  3. What are the main obstacles that hinder you from listening to the Holy Spirit? Or what is holding or blocking you from listening to the Holy Spirit?
  4. In order to cultivate the gift and virtue of listening to the Holy Spirit, we need to do thorough inner work by processing hurts, or wounds of the souls and/or strong emotions that have become the directors of our interior life. Matt. 15:19-20 (Read, reflect and discuss the outcome with your spiritual director).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, Lord of life, through the intercession of your spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, please help us to eradicate all barriers that are limiting us from listening to you: prideful self-reliance, worldliness, the desires for others’ approval, faithlessness, prayerlessness, and unconfessed sins. Amen.

Comments (18)

  • Ebele

    May 20, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Thank you Father.God bless.

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:17 pm

      Amen and thanks

  • Juliana-Mary Ukeje

    May 20, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Amen. Thank you very much Father for this very well loaded reflection. I love the term: “ faith ear“, but like you said, I think we often block it by allowing our hurts & strong emotions take over the steering of our interior life. There is also the tendency to be set on our own ways, thereby not able to perceive where the Holy Spirit is leading us. May He help us conquer these shortcomings and be good listeners in His school in order to both receive & harness His gifts during this season of grace & always. Many thanks again Father and happy Ascension Thursday eve.

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:17 pm

      My name is Gratitude

  • Vera

    May 20, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Good day Fr, thanks for all the insightful messages. For me, i have always listened to the Holy spirit. There are however lot’s of distractions here and there, from the family , unlike when i was single.
    For instance, i may be observing my quiet time and my daughter will start calling out for one thing or the other.
    As per being quick to listen and slow to speak, I’ve always been practicing that, and it has helped me even in my career. Thanks Padre.

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      I have listened to you with great appreciation

  • Chinwe

    May 20, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Father, I just don’t know what else to say than to pray that God the Holy Spirit will keep blessing with the grace to keep teaching His children; also to give us the grace to open our mind & hearts to learn and put into practice all you have been teaching us. Amen! Dalu, Chukwu gozie gi nke ukwu.

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Oh my God! Daluuuuu

  • Clifford Yaor

    May 20, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Comment (Required) Thank you Fr for this wonderful reflection and thank you for your prayers. When praying we are communicating with God, but when we listened God is taking to us. Listening is a very difficult or is a problem to some of us. When I go hospital the doctors listen and when we go to a priest for confession he listens. So there for we put ourselves together and allow the Holy Spirit speak to us. That tin voice that is telling us no when we are about committing evil, we should listen to that voice in very quiet place. May the Holy Spirit fall afresh on us and help us to listen to Him when is talking to us. Amen

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Always on point

  • Stanley-Mary Osegbo

    May 20, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Amen! Thanks so much Fr.!

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:15 pm

      Eternally appreciative

  • Francis-Mary

    May 20, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    “…the Holy Spirit can be resident in us without being president”.

    Thank you Fr for these insightful thoughts on the Person of the Holy Spirit as our God, Friend and our responsibility to listening to Him. More grace always🙏

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:15 pm


  • AndyMarie

    May 20, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Padre, this dimension you have explained about the Holy Spirit is where I find very difficult to practice. Listening as you explained is not just hearing from the Holy Spirit but internalizing all I have heard in other for the Holy Spirit to take ‘president’ in my life. Most times wordly distractions during prayers and meditation drifts me from the act of practicing this listening habit to avoid a one sided prayer or communication.
    May God through the Holy Spirit grant me the grace to be attentive to his presence when I pray and meditate through Christ our Lord. Amen
    Thanks for the time spent in this beautiful dimension of the Holy Spirit

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:15 pm

      Great son of Mary, thanks a lot

  • Odeigah Angela Mrs.

    May 21, 2020 at 12:45 am

    Thanks Fr. for the rich and simplified Teaching. I pray for the grace to always recognize when the Holy Spirit is ministering to me.

    1. frjohnma

      May 21, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      “Thanks Fr. for the rich and simplified Teaching. I pray for the grace to always recognize when the Holy Spirit is ministering to me.” I appreciate!

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