190 Vincent Street, North Perth. WA

A Mission of the Redemptorists

Monastery Reflections

Will you please let me speak ?

During the lockdown I decided to learn the guitar with the help of some YouTube classes. How I had underestimated the importance of fine tuning the guitar! I had no idea how difficult that would be. For a learner at least, it was not easy listening to each plucked note for the purpose of tuning the guitar. It became clear to me that the beauty of playing that instrument was going to depend on my attentively listening to each note.

Further, listening to the notes on the guitar led me to better understand how important listening is for good communication. It’s a skill. Is a person adroit in conversation because he or she is a good speaker? Or does their listening matter too? In a conversation people who appear to be quiet are not necessarily speechless. They could be skilled listeners. In conversation where there is no listening a person’s voice can be turned down, their cry easily muted.

Good communication depends on effective listening and adequate responding. In conversation a person’s speaking may be minimal but their listening may be intense. For fruitful conversation listening is essential.

A friend of mine who was privileged to attend the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” said that he was highly impressed to see Pope Francis listening attentively to each of the young participants. And tellingly, the final document from that Synod quotes the Emmaus Journey in Luke’s gospel - Jesus walking with the disciples and listening to their stories of frustration.

Later, at the Panama World Youth Day, Pope Francis said in his first speech that the Church is walking with the youth. Pope Francis is very much a practitioner of the old saying: “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

For many people the lockdown of recent months meant living at close quarters with family or house mates. For most this would have been a testing time where if all were to get along listening skills would have been important. Households can thrive when the members are skilled listeners. But it does take effort. It takes practice.

Through my life I have found listening to be a wonderful way to communicate with others. I have also found it an effective way to live the Gospel and preach it.

By the end of the lockdown I had hoped to be a super guitarist. I have since realised that I am just a learner and there will be a lot of listening to do if I am to master tuning up that guitar. Nevertheless, I think I am doing quite well!

Manoj Kunnath CSsR