During the time young Samuel was minister to the LORD under Eli, a revelation of the LORD was uncommon and vision infrequent.
One day Eli was asleep in his usual place.
His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see.
The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am."
Samuel ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. You called me."
"I did not call you," Eli said. "Go back to sleep."
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
"Here I am," he said. "You called me."
But Eli answered, "I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep."
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am.
You called me."
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So Eli said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'"
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!"
Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
1 Sm 3:1-10.
This text is today's First Reading, and it has a special meaning for this blog page. VOICES began under the inspiration of this passage of scripture. VOICES is all about prayer, and supporting those who wish to make prayer a major part of their lives.
One might be inclined to think of prayer as getting the right words together to address to God. Actually, prayer starts with learning to listen to the words God is speaking to us. Samuel is about to learn how to pray, and his mentor and teacher, Eli, starts him off with lesson no. 1 - listening.
We might not expect to receive an audible locution from God, but to take up the Sacred Scripture in prayer and listen to its words speak to us, is near the same. VOICES has directed its efforts on learning to pray the scriptures; first on the scripture found in the Sacred Liturgy, then as taught by the Church's great masters of prayer.
There is a very worrisome trend developing today in the matter of religion and spirituality. This trend wants to separate spirituality from religion, and take it down an independent path; often adding voices that are not of the Lord, the consequence of which will cause serious harm to those seeking to learn to prayer.
It was in God's sanctuary that Samuel learns to listen in prayer for God's Voice. It is in the sanctuary of the Church that VOICES seeks to do the same.
Bishop Robert Barron focused on this trend to separate religion and spirituality in a recent homily he gave. Here is the [ . . . LINK . . . ]