‘Listening for God’ Conference Aims to Help Catholics Recognize ‘Godcidences’ in Life

Organized by EWTN's personality Teresa Tomeo, the free, virtual conference kicks off this weekend.

The ‘Listening for God’  virtual conference kicks off Friday with many Register contributors taking part, including Matthew Bunson, Amy Smith, Marge Fenelon and Patti Armstrong.
The ‘Listening for God’ virtual conference kicks off Friday with many Register contributors taking part, including Matthew Bunson, Amy Smith, Marge Fenelon and Patti Armstrong. (photo: Teresa Tomeo)

As many EWTN personalities and Register writers take part this weekend in discussing “Listening for God” at a free, virtual conference by the same name, I’m reminded of a quote from the beloved Cardinal Robert Sarah in his deeply moving book The Power of Silence:

“Christ lived for thirty years in silence. Then, during his public life, he withdrew to the desert to listen to and speak with his Father. The world vitally needs those who go off into the desert. Because God speaks in silence.” 

In the noise and pandemonium of our daily lives, it becomes difficult at times to hear our own voices, let alone quiet ourselves to listen closely to God himself, always there, waiting for us to recognize and be still. But that's exactly what EWTN Radio’s own Teresa Tomeo set out to do in inviting more than 70 Catholic thought leaders, writers, deacons and priests to delve into the topic for three days this weekend. 

“We’re hoping this virtual conference will help people not only recognize how God ‘speaks’ to each of us, but also to anticipate his ‘voice’ and his outreach in our daily lives.”

Tomeo, author and host of Catholic Connection, a co-production of Ave Maria Radio, says the conference was inspired by her recent book of the same name, Listening for God: Discovering the Incredible Ways God Speaks to Us.

“Regardless of where one is in their faith journey, I think everyone has had those moments — whether they’re driving down the street thinking about someone and that someone’s favorite song comes on the radio, or when they go to Mass and the readings or prayers of that day speak directly and exactly to what you’re dealing with. That’s God’s loving ‘voice‘ reaching out to us in that ‘godcidence.’”

As Tomeo points out, God, in his omniscience and omnipotent ways, can reach us where we are in our lives. 

“For many, they might assume when we reference God’s ‘voice’ we’re talking about an audible voice; but in fact, this conference based on my latest book with the same name, Listening for God, is actually referring to God’s ‘voice’ being made known to us through so many different ways — including prayer, Scripture, silence, sacraments, suffering, through other people, the saints, beauty and in the world around us, and much, much more.”

Conference participant and EWTN personality Dr. Ray Guarendi was moved by Tomeo’s book and is excited to take part in the event. The Catholic psychologist, author and host of EWTN’s The Doctor Is In, will speak on the topic of “Listening for God in Building Your Family.” 

“It is said, ‘Coincidence is God’s way of speaking in our lives.’ Amid the clatter and distractions surrounding modern living, it’s so easy to ignore his planned coincidences. Teresa Tomeo gives us a powerful faith-lifting message from God: ‘I am here. You must but look and listen,’” Guarendi explained. 

Register blogger Marge Fenelon is taking part in the three-day conference beginning Friday evening, offering three talks plus participating in one of the live panel discussions. Moderated by Tomeo, Fenelon will join EWTN Radio’s Al Kresta and Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle on Sunday to discuss “Listening for God in Our Everyday Lives.”

“So many of us yearn to hear God’s voice to answer our questions, give us direction or console us. What we seldom realize is that God is speaking to us all the time! We miss it because we’re expecting him to speak to us in the way we prefer and not the way he intends,” Fenelon told the Register. 

Father Mitch Pacwa, EWTN’s resident priest who has thousands of stories about the network’s foundress, Mother Angelica, will offer a keynote Friday evening to kick off the event. Father Pacwa will tackle “How to Listen When God Is Speaking: St. Ignatius’ Rules for Discernment.”

The conference boasts a long list of other EWTN personalities and Register writers, including Marcus Grodi, Mike Aquilina, Steve Ray, Damon Owens, Joan Lewis, Matthew Bunson, Crystalina Evert, Patti Armstrong, Edward Sri, Father Leo Patalinghug, and Father John Trigilio. 

The Register’s associate editor, Amy Smith, is also speaking at the conference. Out last year with her first book, The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women, Smith is looking forward to sharing how saints can lead us closer to the voice of God.

“I am blessed to talk about the saints because I want to encourage conferencegoers to take to heart the words of wisdom that inspire me and aid me in my own faith journey. Through discussion of the wise advice and life lessons of St. Faustina, Padre Pio, St. John Paul II and St. Therese, to St. Zelie, St. Francis de Sales and St. Gianna, as well as St. Joseph and Mother Mary, Queen of All Saints, I hope listeners understand in a deeper way that these holy men and women are indeed our friends who show us how to listen for God,” Smith told the Register. 

Conference organizer Tomeo also pointed out that “those attending this conference will hear from many different speakers from all walks in life — including business owners, artists, musicians, marketing executives, stay-at-home moms, parents caring for a special-needs child, a Ph.D. college student studying mathematical physics, as well as many priests and deacons.”

With several parishes taking part across the country offering the 70-plus talks to their families, Tomeo hopes attendees of the free, virtual conference will never look at coincidences the same again. 

“At the end of the day, I really hope and pray that this conference will help attendees recognize the ‘godcidences’ in their own lives: those moments that deep down we know that are too coincidental to be a mere coincidence.”

Each talk will be available for free on-demand throughout the April 16-18 conference weekend. For those who want continued access to the content after Sunday, there’s a registration option available that extends the online viewing time until Dec. 31.

Learn more here

Below are some excerpts from two featured Register writers, Patti Armstrong and Amy Smith.

Register correspondent and blogger Patti Armstrong talks about the importance of walking closely with God if we want to hear him. 

I’ve never felt God has communicated directly with me. I have heard that sentiment from several people. But isn’t that just the way it’s supposed to be?

I had answers to prayers and inspirations that I attributed to God, but I avoided claiming that he specifically told me anything. Until one morning. The question crossed my mind about what a childhood friend I had not seen in decades was doing. I considered I could look her up but then realized she was likely married and I didn’t know her married name. Later that day, the question was completely answered in a newspaper clipping I received in the mail from my sister. It was a photo of the old friend receiving a teaching award. My sister had circled the last name and wrote that it was the friend’s married name. 

I realized there were no odds. None. The question posed to me earlier that morning was answered in the newspaper clipping. I reprocessed the earlier moment and realized the question had come from outside of me. “So that is you, God,” I said, thinking of other times when heavenly messages had arrived seemingly from outside of myself. One example was in a college social-work class. The topic was child abuse. I contemplated how I could possibly feel a shred of Christian love for anyone depraved enough to intentionally harm a child. The command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” seemed unreasonable in that context. 

Those adults you have contempt for were once the children you have so much love for. That realization came to me from outside of my own thoughts. Child abuse tends to be cyclical, so the damage done to a child is frequently repeated in their adult life. Of course it can never be condoned, but I suddenly had a perspective that enabled me to love them as a child of God — albeit damaged and in need of help and legal measures. I could at least now pray for them and feel some level of Christian love. 

There were other such moments that I recalled with new insight. I have come to understand that the closer we walk with God, the better we hear him. It’s about talking with God often, especially in prayer, listening to his word through Scripture, and sincerely desiring to do his will, even when it’s difficult. 

I also shared how my husband and I were able to discern God’s voice 16 years ago when we accepted an AIDS orphan into our family of 10 and then, two years later, took in his younger brother.  

It is not about seeking the supernatural but, rather, about being open to it, which was the inspiration behind my own book,  Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. By walking with the Lord in everyday life, we go deeper into our faith and actually expand our capacity for hearing God speak to us. 

Register Associate Editor Amy Smith’s talk is titled “The Holy Wisdom of Our Friends the Saints, Who Knew How to Listen for God.” 

Our friends the saints — I love calling them that. Because they are our friends, our heavenly helpers who are ever ready to come to our aid, no matter what is on our hearts.

There are patrons for every occupation, need and concern.

I know many people find the saints intimidating — but I truly see them as friends because they accompany me with whatever I am going through. And our friends the saints are eager to intercede for you, too!

I am so grateful for their holy help and feel close to them, for they truly understand life, with all of its joy and sorrow, stresses and surprises.

They prayed. They worked. They discerned. They were sad. They rejoiced. They cared for family and friends. They sometimes wondered why God allowed this or that to happen. They were grateful when God showed them the way. They were like us.

And they are ever ready to assist us when we need encouragement or help. They come to our aid when we seek their support for difficulties and prayers for loved ones and ourselves. They are happy for us when we recognize God’s blessings in our lives.

They show us the way to heaven — and, along the way, they show us how to listen for God.

The beautiful witness of our friends the saints is a blessing. It’s a blessed reminder that to reach our ultimate goal — heaven — we need to live many present moments in a holy way. The saints did just that! Think of how many present moments they collectively lived in a holy way, just where God put them, whether they were a wife, mom and doctor like St. Gianna or living in a Carmelite convent like St. Thérèse or bringing the Gospel to the world like Pope St. John Paul II. I love sharing my heart with these holy friends, turning to Gianna for encouragement with family, work and health matters, Thérèse for inspiration to love in the little things, and to John Paul when I need a dose of hope. I often chat with them, and seek their intercession, over coffee. These and so many other holy lives keep me looking up.