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May 28, 2020
May 29, 2020

Pssssst…you, yes, you. Don’t look around. I am inside your head. Do you have time? Let’s talk.
You are not imagining things. Someone is really trying to talk to you. It’s not because you are mentally ill or emotionally unstable. It happens to everyone especially to people who are attuned to their inner selves.
Whose voice do you hear?
My most profound experience with voice hearing occurred during the jubilee year of mercy. A voice began talking to me about a book —a collection of real-life stories that would make people understand the meaning of mercy. The voice was persistent. I started jotting down what it said. Out of it came a concept and a title. I mentioned it to two friends – one a poet and anthropologist, the other a bible scholar and a storyteller par excellence. That was in July 2015.We discussed it a couple of times to refine the concept. The poet begged off; the bible scholar began telling his stories.
The voice did not stop talking to me. It continually fed me with thoughts and ideas that I had to put down into writing even during unholy hours and in unlikely places. Our comfort room at the ground floor became my enclave. I would spend more than an hour inside, half of it spent typing fragments of ideas in my cellphone while my family wondered what was taking me so long to finish my business in the comfort room. I wrote on scratch paper, table napkin, used envelopes, and whatever was available while waiting in banks, in the doctor’s clinic, in restaurants, etc. A year after I first heard the voice, “The Gospel of Mercy According to Juan/a” was born with Bp. Ambo David as my co-author. I am quite sure he heard a voice in his head, too. It guided him in writing those beautiful stories he had stored in his “treasure chest” through the years.
All along, there was another voice that was trying to talk to me. It was telling me that the project could not be done. It was giving me a thousand and one reasons to stop. It couldn’t be the same voice because this one was threatening and unsettling. There was only one way of stopping it—by calling on St. Michael, the Archangel.
Whenever I am writing a story or working on faith-related projects, my husband who is a prayerful man never fails to caution me about the voices that I hear in my head. “Be careful. The voice that you are hearing may not be of divine nature but from the one pretending to be divine,” he says. He is right about it—the evil one loves to play God but it gives itself away in the end. How?
On May 3, 2020, before praying the mid-day Regina Coeli, Pope Francis gave some pointers on how to distinguish between the “voice of God, who speaks kindly to the conscience” and “the tempting voice that leads to evil.”
“They speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on the door of our hearts,” says Pope Francis. One can ponder on the answers to the following questions when confronted with doubt about the source of the voice within:
  1. Am I still free?
  2. Am I being flattered?
  3. Am I looking forward?
  4. Am I in the present moment?
  5. Is it about my ego?
  6. What aftertaste does it leave?
  7. Am I seeking light or hiding?
  8. Am I led to trust?
Full text of the Pope’s message can be read here:
Let me add that the voice has no physical characteristics; it communicates through thoughts that seek to move you into action. It is in the nature of these urgings that one gets a clue where the voice is coming from. One would know it is a voice of divine nature (which I referred to as Gentle Voice in The Gospel According to Juan/a series of books) when it leads him/her to:
  • think of the common good which characterizes selflessness; the evil one would goad you towards an attitude of selfishness and self-entitlement;
  • establish meaningful connections of the self with the Divine, self with the family, and self with the community; it is a voice that reminds you that you are but part of a greater whole. The evil one would want you to disconnect and focus on self and self alone;
  • act with compassion rather than condescension
Religion teachers have taught us that conscience is the voice of God within. Temptation is the voice of the evil one within. There is a third voice—your own. It speaks of the choices and decisions you’ve made after listening to the voices in your head. To whom are you saying “Yes” to?
Let me end this piece with a personal experience that happened at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France in 2011. It was the last leg of a Marian pilgrimage that began in Fatima. I was emotional because I lost my youngest son to rabies three years prior to that trip. Something happened to me on our first night in Lourdes.
I had a sensory overload throughout the day. I listened to people of various ethnic origins pray the rosary in their native tongues; I watched volunteers push wheelchairs carrying the sick and disabled who came in the hope of receiving a miracle; I savored the cold, crystal clear water flowing from water fountain stations scattered around the compound. I lighted candles while praying silently with strangers who came to connect with the Divine. The multi- sensory experience must have set the stage for my third epiphany.
I took out my camera hoping to take a good shot of the Lady in White with the trademark blue sash. I had an unobstructed view but I failed to take a nice shot because my hands trembled as I heard the sound of a tiny voice saying, “Yes.”
“I do not know what your Son asks of me, but I say ‘Yes’.” It was almost a whisper. Tears began to well up in my eyes. As the image of our Lady passed by, I recalled her fiat and I realized that the tiny voice was mine. I was making a commitment to something that I was totally clueless about. I knew that there was nothing to fear. At that moment, I silently made a pact with the Divine not knowing where it would take me.

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