Thursday, December 29, 2011


SoulSense is an occasional feature here at Sensus Fidelium that acknowledges our desire to marry action and activism with contemplation. Listening and responding to our soul hunger strengthens our witness in a world waiting for justice.


There’s been a lot of advice lately for Cardinal Francis George of Chicago to listen. In the wake of his demeaning and demonizing suggestion that the gay community might be morphing into another KKK, folks within the Catholic church have been calling him to task: Cardinal, listen to the voices of LGBT Catholics in Chicagoland. Listen to their stories of exclusion. Listen to their stories of love. Listen, also, to voices from afar, like that of Frank Mugisha in Uganda, who gives the world courageous account of the violent, oppressive actions against LGBT persons in that country.

Will the Cardinal listen to the clarion call to listen? Some of us have a pretty cynical answer to that question, but any of us can only hope. In the meantime, we have every opportunity to practice what we preach. While we go about the crucial work of speaking our truth to power, we commit also to the work of fine-tuning our own ability to listen well – to the still, small voice of the Spirit within, to the voice of God as she speaks through the natural creation, to that same voice spoken through other persons.

It’s an art, listening. And most of us are pretty sloppy artists. But here’s a quick refresher, gleaned from a TED talk by author Julian Treasure. He offers a simple acronym for our daily challenge to listen well to persons with whom we're in conversation:

RASA – the Sanskrit word for “essence,” as in “the essence of good communication and relationship is the ability to truly listen.”

R = RECEIVE, as in ‘pay attention to the person’
A = APPRECIATE, as in ‘making little noises such as “mm, oh, ok, uh huh....”
S = SUMMARIZE: as in using the word ‘So, ...‘ Understanding is crucial.
A = ASK, as in ‘ask questions afterwards’

We ask our fellow Catholics to listen to the stories of their LGBT sisters and brothers.

We ask church leaders to listen.

And, hopefully, we’re asking ourselves to listen consciously, intentionally. To listen consciously is to begin living fully.

--Jim Smith, Coordinator of parish inreach, C4ME

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