Remember to check Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site. Chapter Nine covers the topic of “Discernment.” What does that mean? We’ll need to read the next few dozen paragraphs to get the Holy Father’s full interpretation. We might as well begin with him:
278. In the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, I spoke in rather general terms about discernment. I would now like to take up some of those reflections and apply them to the way we discern our own vocation in the world.
Many aspects of modern culture lend themselves poorly to an attitude of discernment.
279. I mentioned there that all of us, but “especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend”.[Gaudete et Exsultate 167]
Trends are one thing. But there are other types of over-stimulation that just involve the human condition: addictions, pressure from peers or work. The fast pace of modern life accelerates trends and indulgences alike.
Indeed, “this is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by the spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil”.[Ibid. 168]
280. Such discernment, “even though it includes reason and prudence, goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique and mysterious plan that God has for each of us… It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, and with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he”.[Ibid. 170]
The revelation of that plan is grace. God’s knowledge and love passed to a quiet and listening self.
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