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The Pope Speaks on… DISCERNMENT


In this experience we note two aspects, above all. The first is time : that is, the thoughts of the world are attractive at the beginning, but then they lose their luster and leave emptiness and discontent; they leave you that way, empty. Thoughts of God, on the contrary, rouse first a certain resistance but when they are welcomed, they bring an unknown peace that lasts for a long time.

Here, then, is the other aspect: the end point of thoughts. At first the situation does not seem so clear. There is a development of discernment: for example, we understand what is good for us not in an abstract, general way, but in the journey of our life.

Discernment is not a sort of oracle or fatalism, or something from a laboratory, like casting one’s lot on two possibilities. The great questions arise when we have already travelled a stretch of the road in life, and it is to that journey that we must return in order to understand what we are looking for.

There is an apparent randomness in life’s events: everything seems to arise from a banal setback… a setback that nonetheless held a possible turning point… God works through un-plannable events that happen by chance, but by chance this happened to me, and by chance I met this person, by chance I saw this film. It was not planned but God works through un-plannable events, and also through setbacks.

Discernment is the aid in recognizing the signals with which the Lord makes himself known in unexpected, even unpleasant situations…May the Lord help us listen to our hearts and see when it is He who acts, and when it is not and it is something else.