Catechesis on discernment: Pope Francis says to “take stock” of life to see God's plans

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In his General Audience, Pope Francis recommended “taking stock of our personal history” in order to discern “the thread of God's grace running through our lives.” In this way, Christians can discover “the Lord's loving plan for our eternal happiness.”

The Pope then suggested drawing from the lives of the saints to learn how to identify God's plans at work in life, citing the “Confessions” of Saint Augustine, and the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Dear brothers and sisters,

In our continuing catechesis on spiritual discernment, we now consider the importance of interpreting, in the light of God’s provident care, our own life story.

Through prayer and spiritual insight, we can learn to discern the thread of God’s grace running through our lives. Taking stock of our personal history in this way can make us aware of negative attitudes harmful for our spiritual growth, but also open our eyes to the often hidden events and encounters that quietly reveal the Lord’s loving plan for our eternal happiness.

The lives of the saints also shed light upon our personal path to holiness. In the Confessions, Saint Augustine shared his gradual understanding of how God mysteriously led him to discover and embrace the truth that alone satisfies the deepest desires of our heart.

Saint Ignatius Loyola, another great spiritual guide, drew upon his own journey of conversion in order to teach us how to discern God’s voice speaking deep within us, guiding our steps through life, and calling us to ever deeper union with himself.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America, including the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College.

In greeting the pilgrims present from Nigeria, I think of the violent rains that have fallen on their country in these days, causing flooding, numerous deaths and tremendous damage. Let us pray for all who have lost their lives and for everyone affected by this devastating natural disaster. May these, our brothers and sisters, experience our solidarity and the support of the international community.

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