The Language of Heaven
An American seminarian in Rome was followed for years by
the story that in shopping for a sweater (maglia) he had asked
for a woman (moglie). We laugh at this, but anyone who has
tried to learn a different language knows how daunting and
hopeless it can be. When you finally get some confidence in
the safety of your bedroom you run into reality on the streets,
where you have to push through mistakes and gaffes. But
with persistence, practice, and time, eventually the new language
Cardinal Newman compared preparation for eternal life
with God to learning a new language, the language of heaven.
If we happened to arrive in heaven without knowing the language,
we would always be ill at ease, depending on others
for directions and information, always out of step. It would,
he said, be hell for us.
Tuning our ears to the voice of Christ, our shepherd, in a
world of almost infinite sounds is like learning a new language.
Sometimes Christ’s voice is almost drowned out by
the languages and messages of other shepherds.
How do we train our ears to be sensitive to the voice of
our shepherd? There is really only one way, the sheep’s way,
and it sounds deceptively easy. We stay close to the shepherd,
even within earshot. What this means, of course, is not that
we constantly haunt churches but that we take Christ with
us everywhere, not only in prayer but in everything.
Abbot Jerome Kodell
Jerome Kodell, OSB, is abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.