The “red thread” of discernment is “unexpected” events, Pope Francis said during the general audience on September 7, 2022.
The “red thread” of discernment is “unexpected” events, Pope Francis said during the general audience on September 7, 2022. Continuing his catechesis on discernment, the Pope stressed that it is “by listening to one’s heart” that one finds God.
The pontiff was inspired by the story of St. Ignatius of Loyola who, while recovering from an injury, spent his time reading the lives of saints (the only works available in the family library) to deal with boredom. As he kept on reading, the future founder of the Jesuits found himself at a crossroads: he could either choose the life of a soldier, or one consecrated to God. He soon discovered that whenever he thought of the first alternative, he found himself “empty and disappointed.” When thinking of the second, he was “satisfied and joyful.”
The pope also stressed the importance of time in discernment processes. Discernment, he explained, can only take place once one has already “walked some distance,” when one asks oneself “Why am I walking in this direction? What am I looking for?”
Discernment “is not a kind of oracle, or the discovery of one’s fate,” Pope Francis added. It is rather a matter of “listening to one’s own heart.” “We listen to the TV, the radio, our mobile phones … we are the masters of listening,” the pope said, “but I ask you: do you know how to listen to your own heart? Is your heart satisfied, sad, is it looking for something?”
All throughout his catechesis, the pontiff pointed out that “the ways of the world are attractive at first, but soon enough they lose their luster and leave us empty and displeased. The kind of thoughts that God inspires in us, on the other hand, might raise some resistance at first, but then bring us an unknown peace.”
Life, the Lord, or the devil
Pope Francis invited Christians to be particularly attentive “to unexpected events,” since God works “through unforeseeable situations, and even in setbacks.” The Lord “is found unforeseen, even unpleasant situations,” he affirmed.
“This happened to me by chance, I met this person by chance, I saw this film by chance […] I had to go for a walk and then this happened with my foot,” the 85-year-old pope said before adding, jokingly: “I was at peace at home and then my mother-in-law arrived.”
“What is God telling you, what is life telling you here?” the pontiff asked. In this kind of unforeseen situation, either “life speaks to you, the Lord speaks to you, or the devil speaks to you.” Be that as it may, “there is something to be discerned,” the pope concluded,” in “unexpected events.”