Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the theme of discernment and invites the faithful to accept desolation and healthy sadness, indispensable for progression through life.
Addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for his weekly General Audience on 16 November, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the theme of discernment, noting how from the reading of the day “we have seen how important it is to read what stirs within us, so as not to make hasty decisions, spurred by the emotion of the moment, only to regret them when it is too late”.
The importance of desolation
In this sense, the Pope explained, “even the spiritual state we call desolation can be an occasion for growth”. Pope Francis noted that “desolation causes ‘a rousing of the soul’ and keeps us alert”, because without this healthy sadness “we risk always remaining on the surface of things and never making contact with the centre of our existence”.
The Holy Father then went on to note that desolation is also an invitation to gratuitousness, “to not acting always and solely with a view to emotional gratification”. In fact, he continued, “being desolate offers us the opportunity for growth”. He then asked those present to think back to their childhood, as it often happens, as children to “look for our parents to obtain something from them”. “We look for them not for themselves, but for gain”, said the Pope, adding “and yet, the greatest gift is them, our parents, and we understand this gradually as we grow up”.
Converse in prayer
Pope Francis recalled that many of our prayers are also somewhat like this: “they are requests for favours addressed to the Lord, without any real interest in Him”, he said.
It may seem strange, to ask the Lord how he is, said the Pope, but it is actually “a beautiful way to enter into a true, sincere relationship with Him, He who wanted to share His life with us to the full”, stressed the Pope.
Enter a relationship with the Living One
Bringing his catechesis to an end, Pope Francis reminded those present that “the spiritual life is not a technique at our disposal, it is not a programme for inner “wellbeing” that it is up to us to plan”.
Instead, he continued, it is the relationship with the Living One, who cannot be reduced to our categories”.
Desolation, he reminded everyone once again, “is the clearest response to the objection that the experience of God is a form of suggestion, a simple projection of our desires”.
“Those who pray realize that the outcomes are unpredictable: experiences and passages from the Bible that have often enthralled us, today, strangely, do not move us.
And, equally unexpectedly, experiences, encounters and readings that we have never pain much attention to or preferred to avoid – such as the experience of the cross – bring unexpected peace”, stressed the Pope.
Finally, Pope Francis urged all the faithful to never be discouraged, even when faced with difficulties. “Confront the test with determination”, stressed the Pope, “with the help of the grace of God, which is never lacking”.
With thanks to Vatican News and Francesca Merlo, where this article originally appeared.