Pope Francis on Wednesday, August 31, launched a new catechesis series on discernment with a message that learning to choose what is best for one’s life requires a close relationship with God.
“What does it mean to discern?” asked the pope. He said discernment is a process that everyone must learn to master to be able to live well.
“One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship,” he said. “In all of these, a life project is realized, and so is our relationship with God.”
In his weekly general audience, the pope said Jesus often spoke about discernment by employing images from ordinary life, such as choosing the better fish, or the best pearl, or even knowing what to do when one finds a treasure.
“Discernment presents itself as an exercise of intelligence, of skill, and also of will, to seize the opportune moment: these are conditions for making a good choice,” said the pontiff.
He said that making the best choice between a set of options also involves emotions because a well-made choice can bring great joy.
Pope Francis said Jesus uses everyday images to describe discernment because the Kingdom of God “manifests itself in the ordinary actions of life, which require us to take a stand.”
“This is why it is so important to be able to discern,” he said, because “great choices can arise from circumstances that at first sight seem secondary, but turn out to be decisive.”
Discernment requires several indispensable elements, including “knowledge, experience, emotion, and will,” said Pope Francis, adding that it also involves hard work.
“God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding,” he said.
The pope noted that most people have had the experience of choosing something they thought was good for them, but later turned out to be the wrong choice.
“If you want to live, if you want to enjoy life, remember that you are a creature, that you are not the criterion of good and evil, and that the choices you make will have a consequence, for you, for others and for the world; you can make the earth a magnificent garden or you can make it a desert of death,” said Pope Francis.
He said discernment is “indispensable for living” and requires everyone to know oneself and “what is good for me in the here and now.”
“Above all, [discernment] requires a filial relationship with God. God is Father and He does not leave us alone, He is always willing to advise us, to encourage us, to welcome us. But He never imposes His will,” said the pope.
He concluded his catechesis by reminding everyone that God wants them to love Him and not fear Him.
“Love can only be lived in freedom,” he said. “To learn to live one must learn to love, and for this it is necessary to discern.” – from a Vatican News report