Sunday, October 1, 2023


For most of us who are deacons or priests, we listen. For most of us, we listen to God in the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels containing the actual words of the Risen Lord. We do this listening as anyone else might, by lectio divina and studying the catechism and other important ecclesial documents.

Most notably, we listen with the Faithful to what God is saying to us in an eternal way, when we gather for the various liturgies and devotions of the Church. 

Often when I listen, I hear God’s whispers about what I should do or not do. Collectively in a communal liturgy or devotion, we listen together.

Often when I preach and someone comes up to me afterward, they will thank me for something I said. When they recount that part, I realize that what they heard may have been from God because I did not say what the person said, but what God might have said was rather brilliant and meant for that person.

When I listen to clergy, religious or laity give testimonies about how God has been a part of their lives and that God loves them and “worries” about their worries, I am moved by their testimonies, especially testimonies of how God delivered them from addictions, dysfunctional situations or enabled them to cope with habitual sins as they rely on God’s grace to see them through, especially through the Sacrament of Penance. 

Often, my listening has enabled me to hear some of the off-the-wall things some Catholics believe and practice. These are those who need to be at Mass the most, even if they can’t receive Holy Communion. The Mass and personal prayer help all of us to examine our conscience and to experience a metanoia or conversion. Sometimes adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can move the sinner or heretic to change their ways because the gaze of God from the Sacred Host in the monstrance moves them by God’s grace.

For those teachings that go directly against the current of today’s ideologies, such as the glorification or self (individualism as opposed to the common good) my listening has helped me to address those controversial  issues in a pastoral way. Many think we don’t need social justice for migrants, the poor, and the homeless because they have caused their desperate situation. A cold, uncharitable heart that enables us to ignore the cry of the poor is a mortal sin, but how do you say that in a way that leads people to the beauty of Catholic truth and the right practice of the faith rather than repels them. 

When there are those who say personal happiness with their sexuality that might include every sinful, disordered lifestyle possible, is what the Church should confirm, I strive for an apologetic that draws people to God’s sexual ethic of chastity rather than repels them, so that they may live in the abundance of life God desires them to experience, but in His truth not their “truth.”

When Catholics employ non-Catholic ideologies to marriage, Holy Orders or any sacrament of the Church with the view to conform the Church to a secular anthropology rather than God’s anthropology, listening to them and correcting them where correction is needed is a joy, not a burden, not just for me, but for them!

How have you heard God as an individual and collectively as a Catholic?

Let us pray: “Not my truth Oh God, but Your truth, for You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen. “


Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald said..."MY 44 YEARS OF ORDINATION..."

Father McDonald, thank you for your wonderful comments in this thread.

Thank you as well for your 44 years as God's holy priest. Through you, God has blessed us — His world — abundantly.

As Pope Francis said last month to priests: "Thank you for what you do and for what you are."


Mark Thomas

Sophia said...

Sophia here: Congratulations and thank you for your 44 years of example and service Father. I give thanks to God for giving you the tremendous gift of a vocation to the Holy Priesthood, the Grace to say "yes", and the ongoing Graces to live it faithfully- on a daily basis. May He bless you with additional years, health and the Graces you need to continue nourishing His lambs and sheep.