EDITORIAL

Listening With Our Heart

Little John was watching the television and the sight of the African children being shown in utter poverty made him cry, and after sobbing in desperation he got up and pulled out a few slices of bread and went near the television and started pushing those slices in every small little hole on the back of the television. In his simplicity, he thought he was offering a little bread to those hungry children. The little boy expresses best what it means to listen with the heart.

The attentive gaze of a mother by the side of her child, and the slightest cry or movement of the child makes her respond immediately with a gentle touch or a caress, and this too is perhaps another example of what it means to listen with the heart. The mother feels what the child needs.

Listening with the heart is the experience of a noble, loving, compassionate person. Looking around, we see millions of people who suffer in silence every day. Everyone longs to be heard and listened to. But the raging fire and chaos, noise and humdrums have caused so much of deafness within, and we only listen to some sounds. We have lost the quality to empathize, to listen and to feel.

The call to listen with the ear of one’s heart, is the invitation of Pope Francis in light of the 56th World Communications Day, that is popularly celebrated on the Ascension Sunday every year. Are we really truly listening? Why do we struggle to listen? How can we listen with our heart? These can be some areas of introspection as we ponder on this theme of the World Communications Day – “Listening with the ear of the heart”.

We would spend hours, as children, with eyes that searched the dark sky to catch and surprise falling stars. They said to us, "When you see a falling star, make a wish." But it is always sad to see a star that detaches itself from the sky and falls. Where do falling stars go?

One of the most beautiful experiences we live as educators is when a young person approaches us during the day and asks us for a minute because he must confide something important to us: “Father, I'm in love, I'm the happiest person in the world. I really wanted to tell you because you are an important person for me.” His face has a strange luminosity, the words overlap, there is agitation and then silence. They await our reply. Sometimes they just wait until we tell them that we are happy and that we share their joy, a word of encouragement. The magic of the moment is felt. And heard.

What a teenager needs most is being “listened to, heard”.

In general, we hear that young people are: passionate, fearless, idealistic, reckless. Young people are indeed like this, sometimes it could be an advantage or a danger. But, on a cold December 1859, in the silence of the outskirts of Turin, in a modest room, 19 young people listened attentively to the words of a dreamer priest and made a covenant: they promised to give themselves entirely to God and to help young people throughout their lives. And to be like Don Bosco, that priest who above all loved them.

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