The Vatican

Pope Francis: "The voice of God resounds in the calm".

The Pope was in the Paul VI Hall this morning for the Wednesday general audience.

Paloma López Campos-December 21, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
The Pope at the audience with children

The Pope in audience with children last week (CNS Photo / Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters)

The Holy Father began the audience in an effusive manner by expressing that those who have followed the catecheses on discernment may think that discernment is very complicated, but "in reality it is life that is complicated and, if we do not learn to read it, we run the risk of wasting it, carrying it forward with tricks that end up discouraging us".

The Pope explains that we are always making choices, we are always discerning, even in the little things of the day, because "life always puts us in front of choices, and if we do not make them consciously, in the end it is life that chooses for us, taking us where we would not want to go".

Discernment aids

Given the difficulties that can arise during the process, Francis points out today in the audience "some aids that can facilitate this indispensable exercise of the spiritual life".

The first essential element is "confrontation with the Word of God and the doctrine of the Church. These help us to read what is moving in the heart, learning to recognize the voice of God and to distinguish it from other voices, which seem to impose themselves on our attention, but which in the end leave us confused. The Bible warns us that the voice of God resounds in calmness, in attention, in silence". It is important to remember that "the voice of God does not impose itself, it is discreet, respectful, and precisely for this reason it is pacifying".

As for the Word of God, the Pope says that it "is not simply a text to be read; it is a living presence, the work of the Holy Spirit who comforts, instructs, gives light, strength, rest and a zest for life. It is an authentic foretaste of paradise.

"This affective relationship with Scripture leads us to live an affective relationship with the Lord Jesus, and this is another indispensable and not discounted help". Thanks to Scripture, Christ "reveals to us a God full of compassion and tenderness, ready to sacrifice himself in order to meet us, just like the father in the parable of the prodigal son".

This relationship with Jesus Christ is an essential aid to discernment. "It is very beautiful to think of life with the Lord as a relationship of friendship that grows day by day. Friendship with God has the capacity to change the heart; it is one of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit, piety, which makes us capable of recognizing the paternity of God. We have a tender, affectionate Father who loves us, who has always loved us: when this is experienced, the heart melts and doubts, fears and feelings of unworthiness fall away. Nothing can oppose this love.

The Holy Spirit and discernment

The fatherhood of God also leads us to "the gift of the Holy Spirit, present in us, who instructs us, makes alive the Word of God that we read, suggests new meanings, opens doors that seemed closed, points out paths of life where there seemed to be only darkness and confusion. The Holy Spirit is discernment in action, God's presence in us. It is the greatest gift that the Father assures to those who ask for it".

The Pope concluded by recalling the nature of discernment: "Discernment has the goal of recognizing the salvation that the Lord has worked in my life. It reminds me that I am never alone and that, if I am struggling, it is because what is at stake is important. With these aids, which the Lord gives us, we need not fear."

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