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Posted October 30, 2006

Book: A Sacred Voice is Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience
Author: Johh Neafsey
Orbis Books. Maryknoll, New York. 2006. Pp. 210

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

How do we distinguish between an authentic calling and the competing, counterfeit voices in our culture? How can we balance the inward listening to our hearts and listening with our hearts to the needs of our world? Drawing widely on the wisdom of saints and sags, John Neafsey describes a path to living in the place, as Frederick Buechner has put it, “where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

An Excerpt from the Book:

It takes practice and hard work to develop “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.” To do so, we must commit ourselves to cultivating the art and skill of what William Least Heat Moon has called “the god-awful difficulty of just paying attention.” It is not easy to overcome our inclinations toward dullness and numbness and complacency, to cultivate a heart that is open and responsive to calls when they come to us. Saint Ignatius Loyola likened this process of learning new ways of seeing and hearing and feeling to an education or “schooling” of the heart.

To make progress at all in this kind of education, we must possess an appropriate sense of humility, which is only fitting for those who have a lot to learn. In the Zen Buddhist tradition, the recommended attitude is referred to as “beginner’s mind.” In the words of Isaiah, we must learn to “listen as those who are taught.”

Morning by morning he wakens —
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction: Personal vocation and social conscience

2. Sacred voices: listen, so that you may live

3. Discernment: the inner compass of the heart

4. Authenticity: to live as though the truth were true

5. Passion and compassion: the heart’s calling

6. Vision: the quest for a worthy dream

7. Suffering: the call of the wounded heart

8. Conscience: the morality of the heart

9. Social conscience: awakening from the sleep of inhumanity

10. Conclusion: a still and quiet conscience