Talk helps students learn how to listen for God’s voice


Photo by: Layna Corbett

Students filled almost every seat in the International Lounge on Thursday, April 4, at 9 p.m. to hear a talk on how to discern God’s voice from their own.

In his talk entitled “Contemplative prayer and prophecy: How to unite charisms and the interior life,” Ryan Mahle, director of new evangelization in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, led the night by breaking down two dimensions of prayer, two “words” in which God speaks to the faithful and three types of communication.

There is no conflict between the dimensions of prayer, said Mahle, introducing the idea of the dimensions. He said the contemplative dimension focuses on personal holiness and “ad intra,” or “inner room,” meaning within the self. The charismatic dimension focuses on evangelization and “ad extra,” or “Go therefore,” meaning sharing the faith with others. The contemplative dimension is the efficient cause of the charismatic and the charismatic dimension is the final cause of the contemplative, said Mahle, who emphasized the importance of the integration of both dimensions.

Mahle elicited laughs when he expressed the typical suspicion that comes with hearing God’s voice: “You’re like ‘wait a second, I thought only Pope Francis could hear God’s voice.’” He explained that God is right in front of the faithful, constantly speaking to them in terms of logos and rhema. Logos words are the doctrinal faith based on Scripture and are universal to everyone, said Mahle, and rhema words are words of private revelation that apply only to the person to whom God is speaking.

Mahle next went into the three types of communication in which God delivers those words. The first was successive locutions in which the person is thinking and the Spirit aids in forming the thoughts beyond human reason, meaning the person will come to a conclusion he or she could not realize on his or her own. The second, formal locutions, is when God speaks to the person by a thought popping into his or her head, such as “Go talk to that person,” which can happen at any time. The final, substantial locution, is God commanding a soul to act and the soul immediately doing so.

Students were inspired by Mahle’s talk. “I really found it powerful what he said about being seen by God and how his gaze is always on us,” said senior Katie Cadigan. Her household sister, junior Kara Shaughnessy, was also touched, reflecting that “God is just knowing and always gentle and … he is loving rather than (inciting) the anxiety.”

This talk was sponsored by Beloved First Truth household.