Forgetful Listeners

One thing that happens to us all–more so as we get older–is we forget. We forget where we put things, what we’re supposed to do –even what day it is. We are forgetful people.

There are many degrees of forgetfulness. There’s a natural forgetfulness, but also there’s a spiritual forgetfulness.

They tell a story about one of the early desert saints– John the Short. John had a good spiritual guide to whom he went for advice; he listened carefully to everything he was told, but then as soon as he went out the front door he forgot everything that was said. It happened again and again. Finally, John gave up and stopped going.

One day his spiritual guide met him and asked where he’d been. John said it’s no use. “I don’t remember what you tell me.”

His guide told him to come into his house and he took him into the room where they prayed. There was one candle lit in the room, but all around were other candles unlit. “Take the light from the one candle and light all the others,” he tells John. Soon the room was filled with light. “Now take a look at the candle that lit all the rest; is it’s light in any way diminished because it keeps giving its light away?”

“No, it isn’t, and neither am I by giving light to you again and again. That’s what we all have to do here in the desert: to remind each other, because we forget.

That’s what God does for all of us. He reminds us, again and again. “Remember the deeds of the Lord,” the psalms say. How often we hear that word “remember.” How many times does God repeat. “Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.” How many times do we hear words like that. How many times does Jesus take a child and put him in our midst and remind us to be children? How many times does he say “Do this in memory of me.”

Some people say prayers are only routine. They’re not. We say them because we forget. We’re “forgetful listeners.”

6 thoughts on “Forgetful Listeners

  1. Susan

    Perfect! Fits right in with today’s lesson on prayer: “Battling to Pray & the HIgh Priestly Pray of Jesus,” CCC 2725-2758.


  2. Gloria

    The story of John the Short will be a great consolation when I forget something. I will pray that God will light candles to remind me.


  3. Gloria

    Remember Me

    Do not forget me.
    Remember who I AM.
    I do not forget you.
    I am with you at every moment.
    I am every breath you breathe.
    I am every beat of your heart.
    Do not forget that I love you beyond words.
    Remember me
    as I remember you.

    Gloria Ziemienski 4/13/07


  4. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, Sometimes it’s how we say something that helps or makes people remember what we say. The tone of or inflection in our voice can sear a path into someone’s memory. That’s why words of anger and of hate are sometimes remembered. Let’s never forget to speak our words with love, passion, and conviction so that others can remember and listen to what we have to say. And may our words always bring us and others closer to Jesus. Thank you, Father Victor, for doing just that with your audio reflection today.


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