Maria Luisa Berzosa is nun of the Daughters of Jesus Congregation and a graduate in Educational Sciences with a specialty in youth ministry, she is also one of the first women consultants of the General Secretariat of the Synod.
Currently, the Pope Francisco is carrying out a series of catechesis dedicated to the theme of discernment and for this reason we decided to talk with this expert in the difficult art of knowing and deciphering the alphabet of the heart.
She considers, among other things, that the good humor of the first Jesuit pope in history serves as a model to get out of a rigid, hurried (distracted) gaze without considering the other and, often, in a single direction where only tragedy fits.
«Once in the informal moments of the Synod, we have asked the Pope for his joy and good humor, because with everything he has behind him we have never seen him overwhelmed. Never in a hurry. I think he is also one of intelligent people who can relativize things ». “The Pope stops with each person. She looks you in the eyes ».
Berzosa remembers when she appeared before the Pope: «Pope Francisco, I am María Luisa Berzosa, Sister of the Daughters of Jesus Congregation». And he answered her, looking into her eyes: «But, if Jesus did not have daughters! Maria Luisa, what are you saying?» (laughs).
“And always with that humor that throws you off, because you are speaking seriously and with reverence before the Pope and he comes out with a joke that throws you off completely,” Berzosa assured. «Things are hard sometimes, but there is something more… and keep that relative look that not everything is tragedy. Let’s look at another angle of life », he recommends.
So, we remember together when recently a priest greeted the Pope after the general audience and told him that he was a Spanish priest, for ten years. And the Pope looks at him smiling: «And what fault do I have?» (laughs).
– Why is discernment important, especially in a world in which many people lose the ability to laugh and lament nonsense in their lives, especially on social networks?
«I would like to begin by framing the subject in something broader: What is spirituality? I would say it is the search for meaning.
What is it that moves me in life? What am I passionate about? What are my values? What are my deep questions?
We would say this, within spirituality, that it applies to all kinds of people, believers, non-believers, from one religious tradition or another.
A search for meaning that coexists with today’s technology, with networks, with so many things in the digital world, while we search for answers to life’s profound questions.
The important thing is not to lose the ability to internalize, the ability to look inside ourselves, to listen to ourselves, etc.
This would be spirituality, said synthetically; we are talking about discernment, which is linked, and not only, but from my experience, in the Christian and Ignatian spirituality, of Ignatius of Loyola.
Ignatian spirituality has a series of elements that coexist with others (spiritualities)».
– What makes Ignatian spirituality so specific?
«A first characteristic is that Ignatius invites me to seek and find what God wants for me, not what is objectively more perfect, nor more brilliant, nor more successful, but to seek and find what God wants for me, for my life at this moment. my story, etc.
A second is a universal vision with landing in the local. Think universally, globally, act locally in a fair balance. The third is the incarnation, the landing, the look of the world.
Of course, how do I look at the world, if the world for me is negative, if it is bad, if I have a condemning look or if I have a look with critical lucidity that makes me distinguish that in the world there is good and there is bad, that the tares is mixed with the wheat to remember the Gospel?
The issue of service is also important. I am looking for my place, my place, what God wants, my life in donation, my life in service, my life in dedication that involves giving and receiving, not just giving.
And finally, a very important thing, in my opinion for discernment, is to know the personal reality».
– The question that is worth a treasure: Who am I?
“Who I am? What happens to me, what do I feel? What are my dreams, what are my questions, what are my problems, etc.?
Ignacio insists a lot on wishes and says: ‘the desire to wish’because we also know psychologically that desires impel us, push us, move us.
And then he says: ‘know myself in my inner reality’, in line with affectivity, sexuality, the questions of emotional intelligence; what I feel, my experiences, my sensations.
It is very important to know ourselves as people, accept ourselves, accept ourselves as we are. The issue of self-esteem. So they are personal and environmental (global) traits, we could say within Ignatian spirituality.”
– In light of the above, what is discernment?
“To discern is to distinguish what is all mixed up. We separate the chaff from the wheat, I return to the Gospel. We derive, we separate, we distinguish, we discriminate. We say: ‘This is so. This is another way’.».
– What does discernment help us with?
«To choose well, to make good decisions. In line with what we said before, we are believers towards the path that God wants. If I am not a believer. Well, towards those values that give me harmony, that sustain me as a person.
Well, so that my decisions are coherent, that they are embedded in my being, in my history, in this vital and spiritual moment, etc. And this discernment has an important element in turn, that to help me make those decisions I need to be accompanied, accompany and be accompanied».
– Why be accompanied or accompany in discernment?
«For someone to act as a mirror for me, so said colloquially, to help me objectify, because I myself, I myself cannot be a good judge in my case».
– What characteristics should a spiritual companion have?
«I put a binomial: that the person is empathetic, in addition to the preparation and trust you.
And second, at the same time that it is distant, that is, it is binomial; closeness-distance because if there is a lot of affective or labor bond, that person will not objectify me well.
‘It is that my friend is my spiritual companion’. She does not forgive, she is your friend, she is not your spiritual companion. »
– What is the exam?
«It is what in Ignatian spirituality is called the Ignatian pause, the exam, the review of the day, which is at the end of the day, or every two days, or when everyone wants, but from time to time take your pulse, I say , of what the experience means:
What feeling has prevailed in me? What does that feeling drive me to? What do I have to apologize for? What would I like to thank? What is my plan for tomorrow?
And yes, we are taking notes and we are making our own record, our own diary, rereading later, a posteriori, we see where the common thread of our life is going.»
– Study the alphabet of the heart…
«It is a pause to listen to the heart: if it is facing God in the event that we are believers, if we are not believers, then it is important to know where my emotional world is going, my world of desires, my world of gratitude and asking forgiveness, because we are all touched by good and evil.»
– Sir, you don’t have a WhatsApp…
We also have to discriminate this that is within us. It is to listen to the heart that, among believers, we say, is the direct line of communication from the Lord to our hearts.
The Sir, you don’t have a WhatsApp, you don’t have a direct telephone number, you have our heart where we receive what comes from outside..
Why have I felt this way? Why has this thing that happened to me with this person produced such a roller coaster that I can’t stop? And why did that person tell me the same thing and I didn’t flinch?
All that happens in our person. We must apply those eyes and ears of the heart to take care of ourselves, because that is where we risk our lives.»
– In the West there is a pandemic of depression, low self-esteem and in some cases suicide, especially among young people.
«Well, I believe that discernment can help to review myself: How do I feel about myself? Ask me questions, look inside me, calmly, with peace, not to condemn or judge. No, no, that is not the revision, rather you say: ‘Well, this is me, these are my feelings, my affective world, this happens to me’, and so on.
But that can’t stay with me, because if I have a lot of negative feelings, if I have low self-esteem, if I feel unrecognized, I’ll easily enter an area that I can’t handle on my own.
So that, I insist, goes hand in hand with accompaniment, with confrontation, I find someone who can listen to me».
– It reminds me of V. Frank’s logotherapy…
«In the accompaniment, I insist a lot, if you cannot put words to your feelings, then draw.
Here you have a piece of paper, here you have some colored paintings, express yourself, get out of yourself that which is imprisoning you, because sometimes emotional movements are like heavy backpacks that we can no longer handle and that sometimes we don’t have the vocabulary to express it, no because we don’t want to, but we don’t know.
Because affective language is not the intellectual, intellective language of subject, verb and predicate. »
– Find a person who listens to you…
«Yes, I would say first look for people with whom you can talk from the inside. Yes, call it accompaniment, call it confrontation. Someone who listens to you, who does not judge you, who does not condemn you, obviously, who welcomes you in your being as you are, with what you live, with what you feel.
Being able to speak like this from person to person is a very healing practice. Because when you talk about listening you bring out what is bothering you. How many times do we go to a very emotionally charged meeting? And just talking about it sets us free.
It’s funny, because sometimes the person says to you: ‘Thank you for what you said, it helped me a lot’. And one says: ‘You know I didn’t say anything, I listened to you, I smiled at you and I welcomed you.’ Nothing more and nothing less.
So those things are therapeutic. Without me talking about going to an expert in psychology. Of course, if there is a need, you go. Imagine the number of pending duels during the pandemic because we have not been able to say goodbye, because the pandemic came and swept us like a tsunami.
Antoine Mekary | FLAPPING