Abbot Primate Gregory Polan speaks about 'listening' in Benedictine spirituality

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Abbot Gregory Polan OSB during his visit to The Lay Centre community
Abbot Gregory Polan OSB during his visit to The Lay Centre community

Listening with the ear of the heart allows for the possibility of being drawn by the Holy Spirit into something new and unexpected, said the abbot primate of the Benedictine Order during a community evening at The  Lay Centre March 15.

Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, O.S.B., spoke that evening about the spirituality of the Order of St. Benedict and the importance of listening. The abbot primate serves as the elected representative of the Benedictine Confederation of monasteries in the Catholic Church.

He highlighted that the Rule of St. Benedict begins with the exhortation to “Listen carefully … and incline the ear of your heart.” When the saint writes about listening with “the ear of the heart,” he makes a distinction between “listening” and “hearing.” By listening to the Spirit in prayer, one may be pushed toward something new and unexpected, which may have never even come to mind before, said Abbot Polan.

To listen with the ear of the heart means to “play” with the Holy Spirit, presenting all challenges during this honest and attentive “conversation” with God, he continued. If a person pays attention to whom and to what they listen, they can realize that which they do not listen to and understand where the voice of God is in their lives. Abbot Polan invited community members to develop this ability to listen, for it has an impact on how one communicates with the people around them.

The Rule of St. Benedict, written about 1,500 years ago and adapted by hundreds of other religious orders throughout history, is still relevant today, he added.

During the Mass, Abbot Polan reflected on the exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus was always concerned about people’s actions. However, unlike the Pharisees, he looked at people’s hearts, that is, to what gave meaning and direction to their actions, he said. To listen with the ear of heart and to be responsive to the Word of God with faith leads to life and blessing, for Jesus wants not just a person’s actions but also their heart, he said. By opening up to Jesus and his grace, one chooses life in abundance.

Contributed: Filip Veber

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