As summer begins to wind down, it’s important for everyone who is involved in a parish to take a little time for personal reflection. Start by thinking back on how you got involved in the first place.

  • Maybe someone invited you.
  • Maybe you remember feeling a deep desire to do something.
  • Maybe a strange series of events, coincidences or changes in your life lead you to the place in the parish where you are today.

No matter how you ended up in a leadership position, it’s important to understand that the Holy Spirit called you and lead you to where you are today.

  • Sometimes, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in something we read.
  • Sometimes the message is transmitted through comments, advice or insights offered by someone else.
  • Sometimes images, ideas and inspirations sometimes pop into our heads and we find ourselves captivated.

Thomas Merton described it as “something quite new and strange, this voice that seemed to prompt me, this firm, growing inner conviction of what I needed to do.”

When you became involved in your parish, you said yes to the Holy Spirit. But it’s important to understand that saying “yes” was only the beginning. God continues to call you in various ways.

  • A chance meeting or a fleeting thought about someone might be God’s way of saying, "You need to spend some time with this person."
  • A new suggestion or a different way of doing something might be God’s way of infusing new life into the parish.
  • A dream about a difficult situation might be God’s way of encouraging you to find a new solution to the problem.
  • A question or a comment from someone in the parish might be God’s way of developing a new parish ministry.

Sometimes you may not notice God’s little nudges because you are distracted by something else. Sometimes, you may not like what you hear and try to ignore it. Sometimes, you are just not listening.

One of the biggest problems faced by people in parishes is that we get so busy with what we are doing that we don’t take the time they need for quiet prayer and reflection. Listening to the Holy Spirit is not something that comes naturally, but it is a skill that is essential for anyone involved in parish life.

Now is the perfect time to practice your listening skills. Set aside a specific time every day for listening. If you’re just getting started, try to set aside at least 10 or 20 minutes in the morning and another 10 or 20 minutes before you go to bed.

Start with some deep breathing. Then simply repeat the words, “Here I am, Lord….Here I am, Lord…Here I am, Lord…

Listening will open you to an exciting new awareness of God. And you may be surprised where the Holy Spirit will lead you.