Pope Francis explains how affections can help or hinder discernment

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In Wednesday's General Audience, Pope Francis returned to his catechesis on discernment. He focused on 'one of its fundamental elements, which is prayer.' He said it is essential to enter into intimacy with God and 'drive away the fears and doubts that can trouble our hearts.'

He explained that affections can facilitate or hinder the relationship with God, as in the case of the rich young man, attached to his wealth. Pope Francis proposed devoting efforts to 'enter into intimacy with the Lord, to be His friends, and thus be able to recognize what pleases Him.'

Dear brothers and sisters:
In our continuing catechesis on discernment, the process of making sound decisions about the God-given meaning and direction of our lives, we now consider the importance of prayer. Praying is never a purely intellectual exercise; it also engages the heart and the emotions. Through prayer, we deepen our friendship with the Lord; we grow in trust as we realize that, in coming to understand and embrace his holy will, we find our true happiness. One of the great temptations in the spiritual life is the fear that fidelity to God’s will can make us sad or unfulfilled.

Prayer helps us to overcome such empty fears, and brings instead a deep spiritual joy, even in the midst of trials and tribulations. As the fruit of prayer, discernment makes us sensitive to God’s “kindly light”, illuminating our minds and warming our hearts. Drawing each day closer to the Lord, we come, by a certain “connaturality”, to recognize more fully his will for our lives, and in that will to find our peace and our authentic fulfilment.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Denmark, Ghana, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America. I offer a cordial greeting to the numerous student groups present, and in particular the diaconate class of the Pontifical North American College and their families. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of Christ our Lord. God bless you!

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