A Spiritual Hearing Aid

I was recently watching the Netflix movie Two Popes, which documents the relationship (in an apparently very fictional form) between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI. While the movie makes for an interesting fantasy-based excursion into their relationship, that is not really the purpose of this reflection.

During the script, Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) describes a spiritual disposition that resonated with me. When we are in a place when we require a “Spiritual Hearing Aid.”

Our theme for the year describes God is Doing Something New in Us, but what if we cannot hear that message? There is nothing worse than being told something is visible, but we cannot see it. Having a passage read to us, and we don’t “get it.” Being told something, but we cannot hear the intention.

When this happens, we have several options. One is to vilify the messenger, perhaps even commenting on their lack of clarity or communication skills. Effectively “shooting the messenger,” a tendency more popular than we might like to admit. Another is to listen more attentively, to reexamine what is being presented and reflect on it for a deeper understanding. Many of us resort to prayer in this second path, involving God in a desire to discern what is being communicated.

Finally, if that comes up short, then we also have the opportunity to go deep into the woods. To search in that divine darkness where the mystery of God invites us to enter into the cave of the heart. The places where God dwells inside of us all.

As we age, our hearing ability begins to decline, starting in our early teen years we gradually lose our ability to hear the upper-frequency range, until the age of 75, where more than ½ of us will suffer from some significant hearing loss. Of course, with many physical ailments, there are solutions. We recognize (or others do) the problem is there, and off we go to the doctor for help and treatment.

What happens when we suffer from spiritual deafness? When we cannot see, hear or, feel what God is Doing in Us? It is then we need to find our own Spiritual Hearing Aid.

This week, perhaps we can consider some of the places where we might have some Spiritual deafness in our lives. Is call calling out to us, and we cannot hear His voice?

The Spiritual Hearing Aid may be a prayer, a friend, scripture, a poem, music, an image, a movie that touches us. All we need to do is turn it on, become more aware of the presence of God in our world. In the movie, Pope Francis is scripted with the words “there are no coincidences, only God’s action.” I have not been able to find a quote which verifies these are actually the words of Pope Francis, but I get the sense of how he lets God lead his life’s path, as resisting will only create separation and pain.

By recognizing our own complaints in this area, we may find our own Spiritual Hearing Aids and discover that God really is Doing Something New in Us after all.



Here I am perfectly situated here on the beach.

Broken away from my colleagues on the reef offshore,

Caressed for years by seas,

In an ocean of love.


Now, I have landed.

The cliché which is now me,

Mounted in the shifting sands of time,

I can rest at last,

Showing breadths taken over decades.


I am situated and encased in joy.

Reflection, Poem and Photograph Copyright 2020 by Michael J. Cunningham OFS


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