What is the significance of the signs of the times? We are reminded Christ cautioned his disciples to be aware of them, and adapt to them. We don’t change the Gospel message, or its trinitarian grounding, but we are urged to plan for the sowing of the field and ensure every possibility for a fruitful harvest.
More than that, the GDC cautions those in the apostolates of evangelism and catechesis to detect how God is at work in circles outside the Church, or outside of the enlightenment of faith.
31. Having tested the ground, the sower sends out his workers to proclaim the Gospel through all the world and to that end shares with them the power of his Spirit. At the same time he shows them how to read the signs of the times and asks of them that special preparation which is necessary to carry out the sowing.
32. The voice of the Spirit, which Jesus, on behalf of the Father, has communicated to his disciples “resounds in the very events of history”.(Familaris Consortio 4b; cf. Christifedeles Laici 3e) Behind the changing data of present situations and in the deep motives of evangelization, it is necessary to discover “what may be genuine signs of the presence or the purpose of God”.(Gaudium et Spes 11; cf. Gaudium et Spes 4)
Such analysis, however, must always be done in the light of faith. Availing herself of the human sciences, (Cf. Gaudium et Spes 62; Familaris Consortio 5) which are always necessary, the Church seeks to discover the meaning of the present situation within the perspective of the history of salvation. Her judgements on reality are always a diagnosis of the need for mission.
The regard for the human sciences is not just a foundation of Vatican II (see Gaudium et Spes) but something to be found in the documents of Pope John Paul II.