Permeating the Congregation

When the first small group completes its training in discernment, those trained often feel lonely. They have something they want to share with others, but it is intangible and hard to explain. They can easily feel like voices crying in the wilderness. Yet, if they persevere and do what they can to spread the ideas and give others an opportunity to drink of the water they have found, in time the land can seem less barren and the desert may come to life. Particularly if others go through the discernment training, a critical mass begins to develop and momentum builds so that things start to happen on their own.

To help make the soil fertile, the Listening Hearts Songbook along with the music accompaniment files, both available for download from, can be made available to groups and gatherings to foster a prayerful tone through singing. Those who have been trained can suggest that the meetings they attend begin with a centering silence. The ministry team may want to propose that the “Discernment Listening Guidelines” (Grounded in God, Appendix 1, or downloaded from be considered as a norm for parish groups. The Thomas Merton Prayer (on the last page of Listening Hearts, 20th Anniversary Edition) can be introduced to the congregation. Parishioners can be urged to read Listening Hearts and Grounded in God. Books can be kept available for borrowing or purchasing. Over time, as more and more lives are touched, the spirit of discernment may permeate the parish.

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