VOICES — From Three Kingdoms

By Lenora Grimaud

A million voices clamor for our attention—voices from within us and outside us—many of them false and many of them true. Without our awareness, they make their way into our minds and hearts and become imbedded, or recorded, in the vast computer bank of our personal unconscious. Sometimes without our awareness and sometimes with our awareness, we find ourselves constantly opening them up, like documents on a computer, and printing them out through our emotions, feelings, words and actions. Without our knowing how, these many voices seem to control our lives and our destiny. Where do these voices come from? How do we discern whether they are of the truth or false—good or evil? How can we catch them at the on-set, so that we can delete them instead of filing them? How do we scan them for viruses?
Voices of Reason from the Kingdom of Humanity

The kingdom of humankind is the realm of human nature. In this kingdom, the human intellect is God, and the only voices listened to are the voices of reason. The authorities in this realm are usually Humanists, Agnostics, and Atheists. Anything of a spiritual nature, or outside of the human person, is to be made subject to human reason. The goal of life is to perfect the human person—to make humankind whole in body, mind, and psyche. This kingdom was split off from the kingdom of God due to original sin. The authorities in this kingdom have become so enlightened about the workings of human nature and of the mind that they reject anything having to do with the realm of the Spirit. If they do acknowledge anything of a spiritual nature, it must be conquered and made subservient to human reason. The material world is the only world and everything else is merely illusion.
The first voices we hear in life are written on our hearts—recorded by God within the created soul. These voices are that of Natural Law and Divine Law. They reveal to us that we are good; created by God in his image and likeness; that we have an intellect and a free will; that we can discern good from evil; that we have a desire for union with God; that we have a capacity, desire and need to love and be loved; and that we have a capacity for growth. The soul has knowledge of God and worships him. However, after the soul was infused into our bodies at conception, these first voices became blurred and often indistinguishable from the millions of other voices that rang in our ears. This is due to original sin, rejection of God by humanity, and their separation from the Kingdom of God. The body, soul, and nature of humankind suffered the consequences of sin: loss of the personal relationship with God; defective cells and genes; illness; death; personal sin; and loss of judgment and discernment—making humanity victims of the many voices in the world.

As humans, we usually hear these voices at the level of our senses—with our ears, through the experiences of our life, through observation, and through the teachings and words of others. We hear them from all the “authorities” in life—parents, teachers, heroes, Church, Government, Science, Medicine, Psychology, Philosophy, Society; through books, rules, regulations, laws, and Divine Law (revealed in Scripture). We also hear voices coming from concupiscence: Human appetites or desires which remain disordered due to the temporal consequences of original sin, which remain even after Baptism, and which produce an inclination to sin. 1264, 1426, 2515. (CCC Glossary)

Perhaps some of the authorities in our life have repeatedly told us, in word or action, “You are worthless, no-good, a failure, bad, evil . . . You deserve to be punished . . . You deserve to be dead . . . I wish you were dead . . . I want you dead.” These voices often enter from early childhood and get filed in our personal unconscious. Throughout our lives, they are called up and played over and over again, coming back to haunt us every time we fail to live up to our expectations or the expectations of others. Even when we become adults and our reason rejects these voices, they are still there to affect our emotions and behaviors. They haven’t been deleted. Some of the information enters us in the form of prejudice and false assumptions about the world, life, God, others, and ourselves. Our intellect files them before we can even scan them. We don’t have the truth (an anti-virus program) in order to scan them. Many of these documents have viruses, which affect and distort our emotions and perceptions the rest of our lives. These documents get played out—printed out—through our bodily and mental health, our emotions, feelings, thinking, perceptions and behavior.

Without self-knowledge and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are not conscious of the many viruses, and false and destructive documents that control our lives. Because we no longer could hear the voices that were recorded on our souls—the law written on our hearts—we were in need of divine revelation given through the Law, which serves to tell us what is sinful, and show us our need for salvation through Jesus Christ. The Law—the Commandments—acts as a “spell check” and a way to scan for viruses. The Law does not save us, however—we are saved by grace. It is by grace, not reason, that we over-come sin, false teaching, and the many viruses we have taken in. Scripture says: You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:22-24). The truth will set us free—as scripture says—and the truth is Jesus Christ. Our human reason and perception has become impaired and can only be healed by the Truth that sets us free.

Voices of Creation from the Kingdom of the Cosmos

The voices of creation come to us from a kind of cosmic mind—where all the voices of creation are recorded—both good and evil. Borrowing from the psychology of Jung, these voices are stored in the Collective Unconscious, along with all the myths, legends, heresies, philosophies, ideas and beliefs, knowledge, vices and virtues, experiences—everything that has left a mark on humanity since the beginning of creation. This is the realm of good and evil spirits, who have an intellect, will, and energy or power of their own. Perhaps, this is the realm that scripture alludes to when it says, Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put God’s armour on so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. (Eph. 6:10-12).

The kingdom of this cosmic mind is spiritual, in nature. Esoteric knowledge is their God. The authorities in this realm are Satan, evil spirits, Gnostics, and heretics. Anything of a material nature is seen as evil; only enlightenment, only knowledge and the spiritual realm is real. Everything else, everything material, is an illusion—even the human body is an illusion. The goal of life is to separate the spirit of humans from their earthly bodies through spiritual knowledge. This kingdom is also split off from the kingdom of God, due to original sin. The authorities in this kingdom have become so enlightened about spiritual forces that they reject everything having to do with the human body or the material world. The spiritual world is the only world and everything else is merely illusion.

Voices from this kingdom can come to us through the mediation of dreams and archetypes, visions, psychic experiences, esoteric practices, insights, spiritual voices, and all sorts of psychic phenomena. Many people delve into this realm on their own initiative, through occult practices and divination. Scripture and the teaching of the Church teach us that this is idolatry. Not everything in this realm is evil or false, but we lack the discernment and right judgment to distinguish between good and evil, the truth and a lie, and there are many “angels of light”—evil spirits who appear to be good messengers of God. How do we discern the source of these voices—whether they are good or evil, true or false?

In normal circumstances, we hear these voices through our thoughts, insights, dreams, and the teaching of other humans. We don’t often realize that they are outside of us. They don’t become a part of us until we say “yes” to them and allow them a place within our minds and hearts—until we believe them and give them power to enter. Like files that come into our “inbox” through the internet, we must be careful what we save or download. We can reject them, even after letting them in, with the truth, and by refusing to give them any more of our attention or power; we can delete these files. We can be delivered from them by the truth—Jesus.

Jesus delivered many people that were possessed by evil spirits. The goal of evil spirits is to destroy life. The Church teaches that evil spirits do exist—Satan exists. These spirits are entities who possess a will and an intellect, and specific powers. Many people today do not believe in the existence of evil spirits, of Satan, or of hell. This is very dangerous because it makes them all the more vulnerable to the influence of evil spirits. If we do not know who our enemies are, we cannot protect ourselves from them. Some people believe that evil spirits simply represent our own personal demons within ourselves—our “shadow,” and that we need to integrate them.
This is false. God does not create evil. We are called to over-come evil and be delivered from it, not to integrate it. We do have human weaknesses, frailties and imperfections that we have to accept, but they are very different from evil entities. Evil spirits seek to take control of our will. God created us to have a free will. People who dabble in divination and occult practices, seek illicit mind-altering experiences, or abuse drugs and alcohol, open themselves to oppression and possession of evil spirits, which in some cases may require some form of deliverance or exorcism.

Many people who are diagnosed as having clinical depression or personality disorders experience manifestations that seem to mimic oppression or possession of evil spirits. They hear voices telling them to do terrible things; they hear voices that tell them lies; they see visions and horrible images; they experience all sorts of psychic phenomena; they have night terrors and horrible nightmares; some even have false religious and mystical experiences—seeing angels and Saints. All of us are born with many defective genes that can affect us physically, mentally or emotionally. They can cause a chemical imbalance throughout our whole system.

For some people, this can be very severe and may require medication to give them control over their lives. Many mental and emotional disorders can induce hallucinations, illusions, and a disordered perception of reality. Our environment can also cause a chemical imbalance—the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the chemicals we take into our bodies. This is not the same as possession of evil spirits, although it can mimic many of the manifestations of evil spirits. However, in some instances those who suffer from mental illness, being very vulnerable, may also become possessed or oppressed by evil spirits.

Even those who are of sound mind can be oppressed by evil spirits. There are many accounts of Saints who underwent spiritual warfare, or oppression by evil spirits. Whether these experiences are caused by a clinical imbalance, a mental disorder, or the result of evil spirits, they need to be rejected. Evil spirits come to condemn us, to accuse us, to fill us with guilt, self-condemnation, and self-hatred. They come to rob us of faith, hope and love. Evil spirits come to deceive us—to lead us to sin—to lead us to pride and vanity; to anger, hatred and unforgiveness; to lust and uncontrollable passions; to envy and jealousy; to avarice, covetousness and greed; to laziness and apathy; and to gluttony.

Voices of the Holy Spirit from the Kingdom of God

The third kind of voice comes to us from God—from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, received at Baptism—through material and spiritual sources. Jesus, the Son of God, became human in order to make us whole in body, mind, soul, and spirit, by giving us his spirit to reunite us with the kingdom of God. He did not come to save only our spirit, or only our body and soul, but to transform us—body, mind, soul, and spirit—into the creation God intended us to be, through union with God. God see all of creation as good, the material world of nature and the spiritual world through which he created it. The kingdom of God on earth is Jesus Christ. The Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is God. The authorities in this realm are both, human and divine—the Church and all the saints making up the body of Christ.

Jesus came to bring us into an intimate and personal relationship with God, into a marital covenant with God. Those who are in this relationship with God listen for his voice in everything. They do nothing without first bringing it to the attention of God in prayer. A marital couple who are truly married, know that they are no longer two, but one. They know that every choice and decision they make will also affect their spouse as well as their self. They do nothing without collaborating with their spouse. They want to please each other and are concerned about the well-being of their spouse as much as their own well-being. They share with each other all their wants, needs, hopes, dreams, and desires. They listen to each other. They would never think of taking a trip or making any life choice without conferring with their spouse—or against the wishes of their spouse.

If Jesus is our spouse, and his Father is our Father, and we are in an intimate relationship through the Holy Spirit, we can expect God to speak to us, even in the smallest matters of our life. We seek his will in everything. We bring everything to him in prayer and we listen for his response. God is part of every decision and choice in our life—part of everything we do, think, and say. We go nowhere unless he “sends” us. He “calls” some to religious life, some to the Priesthood, some to marriage, and some to remain single. But, no matter what state of life we are called to, we are all called by name to become Saints—to be his disciples.

If we make our home in the kingdom of God, we can expect to hear the voice of God. Jesus said: I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. (John 10:14-15). Even those who suffer from mental illness and those who are psychologically unbalanced can hear the voice of God, because God hears the cry of the poor. Even if their reason is impaired, and they can’t always articulate, sensibly, what they see and hear, they recognize the voice of God when they hear it. However, the unbalanced and mentally ill are usually judged by others as hallucinating or delusional.

Voices of God can come to us from within and outside of us. They come to us through Scripture, the Sacraments—especially the Eucharist, through prayer and contemplation, through spiritual direction and other people, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and through all of nature. Sometimes the voice of God comes to us through a still, small voice—a kind of “knowing” deep within our heart, or soul. Sometimes, God comes to us through mystical experiences—visions, dreams, locutions (voices), apparitions, angels, Saints, Mary and other supernatural experiences.

God can even speak to us through secular books, movies, songs, and events. There is no end to the ways in which God can communicate with us. God comes to console us when we are grieving or down, to correct us when we are in error, and to warn us when we are in danger. He comes to heal, teach, enlighten, and guide us. Do we recognize the Lord? Do we hear His voice? Or, are we blocked by all the false information and viruses that we’ve taken in? Do we hear his call amidst all the other voices, clamoring for our attention?

It is often difficult to discern between what comes from our own nature, what comes from the cosmic world and evil spirits, and what comes from God, because we are still in the process of being purified. We need to pray for the gift of discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit. We need to know scripture and the teachings of the Church, and of the Saints. We can trust and know that anything that leads us away from God, away from love, is not from God; anything that leads us to sin is not from God; anything that conflicts with natural law, divine law (scripture) and the teaching authority of the Church is not from God. We also need to test these voices by looking at the fruit. Does it bring joy and peace? Is it confirmed for us through other authorities in our life, such as spouse, parents, community, spiritual director, or the Church?

Before we presume that we are hearing the voice of God, we need to take a look at our lives and our relationships to see if we are in need of conversion. Are we living in conformity with the will of God—keeping his commandments, receiving the Sacraments, and praying daily? Have we forgiven everyone who has ever hurt us in any way? Have we made any attempt to make amends or to heal all broken or damaged relationships in our lives?

Nothing is impossible for God, of course. We know that he can speak, or reveal himself, even to those who are not in relationship with him. He can speak to even the most hardened hearts, and even to those who are spiritually dead. When he does, it is a call to conversion. In ordinary circumstances, however, if we do not have a contrite heart—if we do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—if we do not have faith in God—if we do not pray and listen for his voice, we may hear voices, but more than likely, we will not hear the voice of God.

No comments: