Today's Term: LOCUTIONS
A voice from heaven was heard to say: "You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests." Luke 3:22
This scripture passage concerning the baptism of Jesus describes an audible locution that was pronounced by the Father, about the Son, for all those present to hear.
Although we may pray earnestly many times for God to speak to us, to reveal his will to us, it usually does not take place in this grand manner. We, in the spiritual life, are seeking to listen to his still small voice in the quiet of our heats, to listen to the Father speak to us concerning his will for us.
St. John of the Cross teaches us that God communicates spiritual goods to us by way of the senses. He says:
When these senses are somewhat disposed, he is wont to perfect them more by granting some supernatural favors and gifts to confirm them further in good. These supernatural communications are, for example, corporeal visions of saints or holy things, very sweet odors, locutions, and extreme delight in the sense of touch. The senses are greatly confirmed in virtue through these communications and the appetites withdrawn from evil objects.1
St. Teresa says this about locutions and cautions us concerning these manifestations:
He does this by means of words addressed to the soul in many different ways; sometimes they appear to come from without;at other times from the inner depths of the soul;or again, from its superior part;while other speeches are so exterior as to be heard by the ears as a real voice.2
She warns us that false locutions may be caused by:
#1- Melancholy (depression, emotional problems)
#2- A lively imagination
Here are her three signs of a divine locution:
#1-The words carry power and authority. The words immediately calm or encourage the soul.
#2-The soul experiences a calmness of spirit and quiet recollection, which produces great love and praise of God.
#3-The words of the locution are never forgotten. In fact, many years may pass and the memory of the words are still fresh in one's heart and mind.
St. Teresa continues her teaching and tells us to resist locutions. However, when one resists and they are true locutions they will sometimes increase, because the soul is not seeking the divine favor.
There is another type of locution that flows from the depths of the soul. St. Teresa calls this type of locution an intellectual vision, which will be the subject of a future post.
As secular Carmelites, we are called to a life of quiet prayer. This prayer gives us the gift of waiting and being attentive to the Lord at all times. Let us pray that we be ready to respond in charity to God and our neighbor. When the Lord wishes to speak, let us be ready to hear and obey his word as did our Blessed Mother who responded with her "yes" to the will of God.
Let us echo Samuel's reply:"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."I Samuel 3:9
Peace be with you!
1Ascent of Mount Carmel,Chapter 17, #4. (collected works of St. John of the Cross, Kieran Kavanugh,O.C.D. 1979).
2Interior Castle, mans. 6,chap. 3, pp. 116-118 (Revised by Very Rev. Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., 2006).