Listen to his voice 


A father recently bemoaned the fact that the iPod had deprived him of his teenage son.

That is the son's fault, but it is also the father's fault.  As Christ is shepherd of our souls, using rod and staff to guide us — the rod to knock us on the head when we are in danger of straying and the staff to gently encourage us — so is a parent a shepherd of the young, and sometimes the rod must smash the iPod, but never without the staff gently urging the youth along the right path.  

This is easier for me to say since I have never been the father of a teenager, and there are those who curiously list this among the sacrifices a priest must make.  A pastor, though, is definitively entrusted with the care of a flock, as the Pope himself has a very large flock, and when the rod must sometimes be used, those who need to be tapped into moral consciousness will object at first, but on the last day they will be thankful that they were saved from going off a cliff. The rod without the staff would certainly be a battle-axe, and the staff without the rod would be a weak crutch.

The Good Shepherd says that "the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his sheep by name" (John 10:3).  Like the father excommunicated from his son by the iPod, God Himself can be blocked out of our consciousness if we hear only our own voice, living in a "virtual reality" sustained by the imaginings of the ego.  Jesus told Peter "Tend my lambs. . . Feed my sheep . . . Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).  The sheep are those who hear God but need encouragement.  The lambs are those who seem to have blocked out God, Who continues to call to them. Once they have been brought to consciousness, sometimes by the shock of crises in life, which can strike like a rod, then God leads them with His shepherd's staff into green pastures and "restores my soul" (Psalm 23:3).

Prayer is conversation with God, and it is often difficult for us because, by misuses of our free will, we can "put Him on hold." When we do not answer, God leaves us a recorded message through the Scriptures, the saints and the Liturgy.  The Latin word for deaf is surdus, and man does become an absurdity to his very self when he willfully listens only to himself.  When the dying St. Stephen said he could see the Son seated at the right hand of the Father, the mob covered their ears, but one of them listened.  When St. Paul was converted, he said: "you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13).




Father George William Rutler. "Listen to his voice." From the Pastor (May 6, 2012).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2012 Father George W. Rutler

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