"If a man wants to be always in God's company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us." -- St. Isidore of Seville
I've asked many people where they get their information from when they're facing serious decisions in their lives. They've respond with, "I just know these things!" I usually respond by saying, "Really, not me anymore, because I need daily reflections to guide me!" Whenever I'm in turmoil, I find that reading helps me to examine my consciences, pray with patience, and trust that things are in better hands than mine. I also explain that I don't always trust myself and that sometimes my feelings deceive me. That's why I depend on scripture and words of wisdom. They bring me confirmation, support, and encouragement, which is really comforting when I'm not sure how to handle things.
I once read somewhere that even if we can't read or write, we're all wonderfully made and guided by our body's natural senses and how our bodies react while making serious decisions: our hearts beat faster, or the heat rises within us, or we tremble. This is as a blessed indication from God to turn away from something or a warning that there's danger ahead, and I believe this is true. Perhaps some of us are more in tune with these senses and solely put their trust in them. Perhaps that's how they just know things. But not me. Even though some of these feelings have truly protected us, others of us need more guidance because we might have experienced something that instead misled us.
I believe that talking over our mistakes with others in a diplomatic way, not only teaches us, but frees us to create miracles. We might even have the opportunity of hearing from trusted role models who amended a mistake and be inspired by their story that was intended to guide us in the right way. These are gifts to treasure that bring us to hope. But I also believe there is a greater difference in how things will turn out for us that is influenced by the people we trust, whose company we keep; that's a great way to receive the right pardon and for miracles to happen. Is your adviser a sound role model? Is your adviser of God? This is the most important question we can ask ourselves, before taking advice into our affairs. For me, this daily routine of examination usually opens a path to speak and even write more confidently.
There seem to be too many people these days advising others without experience or knowledge, and sadly many lives are affected, with potentially serious consequences later on. Counseling others can't be taken too lightly and must be examined carefully before saying anything to anyone! Just because some people bear influence, it doesn't give them a license to teach others, especially on the sacred bond of marriage, children, or relationships. Unless we have a qualified professional title along with years of experiences of actual encounters that have proven successful for all involved, we must be careful about doling out advice. If we're well qualified, only then we can teach what is beneficial for everyone.
I have witnessed many lives torn apart by inexperienced people giving advice when the advisees have trusted their advisors more than the soft whisper of God who is calling out to us. Like many of you, I am just beginning to understand who's to bless or blame when we're the ones who might have ignored or silenced our blessed call from God. It is only in my older years, after mistakes of my own, that I can see and understand that there is no one else to blame. Instead, it's important to have only gratitude to those few who have either spoken out through stories, readings, or wise counsel and were not afraid to speak the truth for the love of us, even if it hurt us to hear, because that is where God is.
Sometimes, we're like the blind leading the blind, even with every good intention of helping others. Not everyone feels the need to examine their conscience because they think they did nothing wrong, instead blaming someone else. And sometimes, sadly, out of misguided love, we'd rather not disturb or contradict those whose company we share, for fear of distressing them further. But whatever we do, we must listen within to the whispered guidance that comes from God.
I wonder if any one of us can truly advise anyone else, or if we should trust an impostor who "just knows things?" I firmly believe without examination, prayer, reading, or reflection, it's almost impossible for anyone of us to understand who we really are just by relying upon our senses. Through my mistakes and hearing about those of other people, I've learned more about our innocence and our need for forgiveness. I've learned not to assume anything, for it is most important to understand with a loving heart that we're all essentially the same.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom, and a contributor to Anne Born's These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.