Without an awareness of Jesus’ invitations, we cannot choose them. That leaves us living life on our own, never fully realizing his purpose and possibilities for our lives.
Paying attention to the inner life is like laying our ear on the roof of a many-storied house. At first, we hear nothing. Before long, we begin to notice muffled voices and thuds, though unsure about where they come from or what they mean.
As our “hearing” develops, we detect doors closing, water rushing through pipes, a doorbell, even footsteps on the stairs. In time we can map the location and source of each sound: first-floor TV, second-floor shower, third-floor dresser drawer. We become awakened to a world of activity within and what it means. The spiritual life is similar.
It is challenging to sort out the invitations of Jesus from a chorus of competing inner voices fueled by busyness, distraction, anxiety, insecurity, competition, lust, and fear. Unless we slow down and learn to recognize Jesus’ invitations, we will live self-directed lives.
Many inner motions which are more powerful for spiritual good in our lives, more significant for showing us what God is doing in us, fade into the unreflected and eventually forgotten flux of consciousness. They are never brought to the scrutiny of a faith-enlightened intelligence and integrated into our Christian life of free choice and love. On the other hand, we let ourselves be moved about and badly harmed or impeded by evil or destructive forces without understanding what is happening, much less doing anything about it.
Ask Jesus to show you his invitations for this season of your life. What word or words arise here?
Jules J. Toner, A Commentary on Saint Ignatius’ Rules or the Discernment of Spirits (1982), 42.