that voice inside

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 12, 2007

The folks who brought you Brokeback Lent in 2006 are at it again, helping the faithful orient themselves spiritually for the season ahead. You'll want to take careful notes from this year's Ash Wednesday Sermon, which includes learning of a sort you're unlikely to find, e.g., in the papal preacher's Lenten meditations:

Can you let the silence be itself a kind of prayer? John Veltri, a Jesuit spiritual director in Canada, once wrote down this prayer: "Teach me to listen, O God my mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside -- in the deepest part of me."

Odd. I'm almost certain that, when his disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray," he left out the part about his mother and the voice inside. To be fair, though, he lacked the benefit of a Jesuit education.

Pray, perhaps, the kind of simple prayer with Anthony DeMello, S.J., suggests. He says to just take one of these short sentences place it in your heart and ponder on its inner meaning. Let an inner truth grow. Do not force it open with your mind. That will only kill the seed. Sow it in your heart and give it time. Here are the sentences: "You do not have to change for God to love you." "Be grateful for your sins. They are carriers of grace." "Say goodbye to golden yesterdays -- or your heart will never learn to love the present."

DeMello was said to have a wonderful smile.

Instead of begging God's forgiveness for our sins, the real metanoia might find you asking God to help you forgive God. That's exactly what someone found when he wrote this prayer: "Lord, help me find it in my heart to forgive you for making me the way I am. Blasphemy? Perhaps. Honesty? For lack of a better word, yes. ... in this one repeated blinding moment of clarity, I honestly need to forgive you, Lord. ...There is so much I cannot understand. There is so much I cannot thank you for...You whose heart is poured out in creation and found in forgiveness. ...Teach me to forgive your constant kindnesses to me."

Thank you, Father. If I've caught your gist, I am to pray to my heavenly Mother -- obedient to the voice within -- in gratitude for my sins, asking God to help me forgive God for making me the way I am.

Isn't there a technical term for spiritual counsel of this kind?

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 21 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2007 2:34 AM ET USA

    I've learned four prayers that come immediately to mind: "Blessed be the Name of God." "Get back, Satan." "Arise O Lord! and scatter Thine enemies. Let those that hate Thee flee from before Thy Holy Face." "O my Jesus, have mercy. Save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2007 9:52 PM ET USA

    I think you're supposed to say this while looking into a hand-held mirror.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2007 5:50 PM ET USA

    My "inner voice," which is insistent whenever the Society of Judas is the topic, tells me that these self-indulgent, spineless dimwits represent fin de siecle Jesuitism, which, I'm coming to understand, has little to do with Jesus and everything to do with massage, couples therapy (Jesuits only), and meditation on self. "Honest? For lack of a better word, yes...." Lack of a better word than "yes"? Or lack of a better word than "honesty"? If the former, there is a better word for it: BS.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 7:03 PM ET USA

    If I think that I need to forgive God, then what I really need is forgiveness for my misperception of the "God-event." Why would I need to forgive the one who created, redeemed and sanctified me, unless I object to that threefold action? In other words, unless I want to be miserable forever?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 6:49 PM ET USA

    It's called malpractice.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 5:44 PM ET USA

    " me to be less afraid of the well-formed conscience my parents and teachers drilled into me ..."?!?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 5:34 PM ET USA

    "Isn't there a technical term for spiritual counsel of this kind?" The Defendant's Closing Statement.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 5:14 PM ET USA

    Lisieux states the point I find so hard to work with: people spouting this sort of tripe (another technical term) often start with perfectly valid ideas, take them out of context, twist them, and change the meaning completely. When you challenge them, they say, "Well, St. So-and-so said it." It takes an in depth knowledge and understanding of Church history and spirituality to counter some of the assertions.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 4:56 PM ET USA

    It is funny to see in the main area of the Jesuit site that in their "Urban Center" forermly know as Church, confessions (pennance) are by appointment only; there are no set times for it. Wonder why.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 3:50 PM ET USA

    How come no inner or outer voices are moving Church authority to deal with the corruption in the Society of Jesus? It's not like it's a secret or that it's just happened. Corruptio optimorum pessima. A friend asked me what can be done? Well the Pope could remove the current leadership. provincials etc and replace them with his hand-picked men. That would be a start. Then deal with the homosexual cabal. Impose canonical penalties. It has to be done sooner or later.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 3:27 PM ET USA

    It worries me that most of this advice isn't off the wall, coming from nowhere, but is a sort of perversion of classic spiritual direction. For instance, the idea that sins are 'carriers of grace' comes, I'd guess, from the perfectly sound, indeed, vital point that we learn humility from our stumbles, faults and sins: that we realise we can't depend on our own strength, but need God's grace for every good deed and the avoidance of further sin. The way this guy expresses it reverses the meaning.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 2:37 PM ET USA

    Wait just a minute here! If God is our "Mother", wouldn't "She" be a "Lady"? You don't call your mother your lord. Everything else seems to be in wonderful order...

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:56 PM ET USA

    I find it hard to believe the Jesuits are the same Order I had in the late 1940's. One of the old Jesuits always says the "INMATES ARE NOW RUNNING THE ASYLUM'. Sadly he is correct. We should pray for them; there are still some good ones in the Order.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:45 PM ET USA

    ...oh, I forgot to add that the Latin word, from the New Vulgate, is stercora. "...usque dum fodiam circa illam et mittam stercora...."

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:38 PM ET USA

    I work in a school "in the Jesuit tradition", and it seems that this is the sort of thing they're teaching in their seminaries these days. I often call upon St. Ignatius to intercede for his wayward sons . . .

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:24 PM ET USA

    I think patriot6908 has in mind the same technical term I do. It appears in yesterday's Gospel, though not in the new NAB version read from the ambo, in which the vinedresser says of the fig tree, "I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it...." The old NAB version had him speak more simply: "Sir, leave it another year while I hoe it and manure it...." By the way, the KJV speaks more plainly still: "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it...."

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:22 PM ET USA

    Yet another intance that illustrate's the devil's most effective tactic: the appeal to human pride. It also goes to show that the most pernicious lies are often the most audacious. This kind of garbage comes from the pit of hell.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 12:11 PM ET USA

    This "sermon" by "Father" JA Loftus, SJ, is filled with more serious/grave error than I thought possible for just a few paragraphs of text. I think that the "voice inside" that "Father" Loftus is hearing is Satan... and Loftus might be in need of an exorcism... For, indeed, his spiritual counsel is demonic. Jesus, help Father Loftus turn away from Satan... help him to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel and return to You, Lord Jesus.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 11:50 AM ET USA

    "...There is so much I cannot understand." - You got that right! This sermon needs to come with a warning label:

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 11:25 AM ET USA

    Sir William, you are much, much too kind. My "inner voice" tells me that spiritual counsel of this kind can be best described with things found in cow pastures and stable floors.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2007 10:36 AM ET USA

    Yes, Uncle Di. the 'technical term' you are looking for is "twaddle".