How to know the “passwords” of the heart

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

We continue our reflection on the theme of discernment. The last time we considered prayer as its indispensable element, considered as familiarity and trust in God. Prayer, not like parrots. No: prayer as familiarity and trust in God; the children’s prayer to their Father; prayer with an open heart. We saw this in the last catechesis. Today I would like, in an almost complementary way, to emphasize that good discernment also requires the self-knowledge. Know yourself. And that is not easy. Indeed, discernment involves our human faculties: memory, intellect, will, affectivity. Often we don’t know how to discern because we don’t know ourselves well enough, nor do we know what we really want. You have often heard: “But this person, why doesn’t he order his life? She never knew what she wanted…”. Without reaching this extreme, it also happens to us that we do not know what we want, we do not know ourselves well.

Spiritual doubts and vocational crises are often underpinned by insufficient dialogue between religious life and our human, cognitive and affective dimension. An author of spirituality noted how many difficulties on the subject of discernment refer to problems of another nature, which must be recognized and explored. This author writes, “I have come to believe that the greatest obstacle to true discernment (and real growth in prayer) is not the intangible nature of God, but the fact that we do not know each other. enough, and we don’t want not even know us as we really are. Almost all of us hide behind a mask, not only in front of others, but also when we look in the mirror” (Th. Green, The wheat and the chaff, Rome, 1992, 25). We all have the temptation to be masked, even in front of ourselves.

Forgetting the presence of God in our life goes hand in hand with ignorance about ourselves — ignoring God and ignoring ourselves — ignorance of the characteristics of our personality and of our deepest desires.

Knowing yourself is not difficult, but it is tiring: it involves a patient work of introspection. It requires the ability to stop, to “turn off the autopilot”, to become aware of our way of doing things, of the feelings that inhabit us, of the recurring thoughts that condition us and often without our knowledge. It also requires us to distinguish between emotions and spiritual faculties. “I feel” is not the same as “I am convinced”; “I feel” is not the same as “I want”. This is how it is possible to realize to what extent the vision we have of ourselves and of reality is sometimes erroneous. Realizing this is a grace! Indeed, it often happens that erroneous beliefs about reality, based on past experiences, strongly influence us, limiting our freedom to bet on what really matters in our lives.

Living in the age of information technology, we know how important it is to know the password to access the programs where the most personal and valuable information resides. But the spiritual life also has its Passwords: there are words that touch the heart because they refer to what we are most sensitive to. The tempter, that is to say the devil, knows these key words well, and it is important that we know them too, so that we do not end up where we do not want to be. Temptation does not necessarily suggest bad things, but often messy things, presented with excessive importance. In this way he hypnotizes us through the attraction that these things arouse in us, beautiful but illusory things, which cannot fulfill their promises, and thus leave us in the end with a feeling of emptiness and sadness. This feeling of emptiness and sadness is the sign that we have “taken” a wrong path, which has confused us. It can be, for example, a diploma, a career, relationships, all of which are laudable in themselves, but towards which, if we are not free, we risk harboring unreal expectations, such as the confirmation of our value. You, for example, when you think of the studies you undertake, do you think of them only to promote yourself, for your own interest, or also to serve the community? There, we can see what is the intentionality of each of us. The greatest suffering often comes from this misunderstanding, because none of these things can guarantee our dignity.

For this, dear brothers and sisters, it is important to know ourselves, to know each other, to know the Passwords from our heart, what we are most sensitive to, to protect us from those who come forward with persuasive words to manipulate us, but also to recognize what is really important to us, distinguishing it from current fads or slogans flashy and superficial. Often, what is said in a program on television, in certain advertisements, touches our hearts and makes us take this direction without freedom. Pay attention to this: am I free or am I giving in to the feelings of the moment, or the provocations of the moment?

A help in this regard is theexamination of conscience, but I’m not talking about the examination of conscience that we all do when we go to confession, no. That is, “But I have sinned in this, that…” No. General examination of conscience of the day: what happened in my heart today? “So many things have happened…”. Which? Why? What traces have they left in the heart? Make an examination of conscience, that is to say the good habit of calmly rereading what is happening in our day, learning to note in our evaluations and our choices what we attach the most importance to, what we are looking for and why, and what we finally found. And above all, by learning to recognize what satisfies my heart. Because only the Lord can give us the confirmation of what we are worth. He tells us this every day from the cross: he died for us, to show us how precious we are in his eyes. No obstacle or failure can prevent its tender embrace. The examination of conscience helps a lot, because then we see that our heart is not a road where everything passes without our knowledge. No. See: What happened today? What happened? What made me react? What made me sad? What made me happy? What was wrong and if I hurt others. It’s about seeing the course of the feelings, of the attractions in my heart during the day. Do not forget! The other day we talked about prayer; today we are talking about self-knowledge.

Prayer and self-knowledge allow us to grow in freedom. It’s about growing in freedom! They are fundamental elements of Christian existence, precious elements in finding one’s place in life. Thanks.

At the end of the general audience, the Pope recalled the tragedy that Ukraine is currently experiencing, during the greeting to Italian pilgrims:

And let us not forget to pray for martyred Ukraine, always asking the Lord for the gift of peace.

Among the pilgrims who attended the general audience on October 5 were the following French-speaking groups:

Of France: Group of pilgrims from the diocese of Metz; Saint-Joseph College, Romilly-sur-Seine.

I cordially greet the French-speaking pilgrims, in particular the faithful of the diocese of Metz and the young people of the College Saint Joseph.

Brothers and sisters, in this month of prayer for the missions, let us learn to cultivate moments of silence and encounter with the Lord so that he may inspire us with the ways and means to be always faithful to our vocation as missionary disciples. God bless you !

How to know the “passwords” of the heart – L’Osservatore Romano