Francis said at the General Audience that “authentic consolation is a kind of confirmation that we have fulfilled what God wants of us, that we have walked his paths, that is, on the roads of life, of joy, of peace”.
Mariangela Jaguraba – Vatican News
“Authentic consolation” was the theme of Pope Francis’ catechesis at the General Audience this Wednesday (11/30), held in St. Peter’s Square.
Continuing his reflection on discernment, the Pope recalled the following passage from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It reads like this: “If in the thoughts everything is good, the beginning, the middle and the end, and if everything is oriented towards good, this is a sign of the good angel. On the other hand, it may be that in the course of the thoughts something bad appears, or something that is distracting, or less good than what the soul had set out to do before, or something that weakens the soul, that makes it restless, that puts it in turmoil. agitation and take away the peace, tranquility and calm that he had before: then this is a clear sign that such thoughts come from the evil spirit».
be oriented towards good
“There is true consolation, but there are consolations that are not true. Therefore, it is necessary to understand well the path of consolation, where it goes, and where it takes me, if it leads me to something that is not good, it is not consolation good, it is not true consolation, it is false”, the Pope underlined.
What does it mean that the principle is oriented toward good? For example, I have the thought of praying, and I observe that it goes hand in hand with affection for the Lord and for others, it invites us to perform acts of generosity, of charity: it is a good principle. However, it can happen that that thought arises to avoid a job or a task entrusted to me: whenever I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I have a great desire to start praying! Prayer is not an escape from our duties; on the contrary, it helps us to do the good we are called to do, here and now. This is about the beginning.
“Saint Ignatius said that the beginning, the middle and the end must be good. The beginning is this: I feel like praying so I don’t wash the dishes. So, first, wash the dishes and then go pray”, stressed the Pope.
Take a good look at the path of your own feelings
“Then there is the middle, that is, what comes after, what follows such a thought”, Francis underlined. “Continuing with the previous example, if I begin to pray and, as the Pharisee in the parable does tend to please myself and despise others, perhaps with a resentful and sour mood, then these are signs that the evil spirit has used that thought as an access key to enter my heart and to convey your feelings to me.” According to the Pope, this type of “prayer ends badly”, as it is “a consolation of praying to feel like a peacock before God. This is a means that does not work”.
“Then there is the end. The end is an aspect that we have already encountered, that is: where does that thought take me?” Francis asked, saying that “it may happen that I work hard for a good and meritorious work, but this impels me I stop praying, I find myself more and more aggressive and angry, I consider that everything depends on me, to the point of losing trust in God. Evidently, here is the action of the evil spirit. I start to pray and in prayer I feel omnipotent. Therefore, carefully examine the path of one’s feelings, and the path of good feelings, of consolation from the moment I want to do something”.
learn from experiences
According to the Pope, “the style of the enemy”, of the devil, is the style that “consists of presenting oneself in a surreptitious and disguised way: starting from what is most dear to us and then, little by little, attracting us to itself: evil sneaks in secretly, without the person realizing it. And, with the passage of time, softness becomes hardness: that thought reveals itself for what it really is”.
The more we know each other, the more we feel where the evil spirit enters, its “passwords”, the entrance doors of our heart, which are the points where we are most sensitive, in order to pay attention to them in the future. Each of us has the most sensitive points, the most fragile points of our own personality and from there the evil one enters and takes us down the wrong road, or takes us off the right road. I want to pray, but he distances me from prayer.
It is important to understand what happened
The Pope stressed that it is important to do “the daily examination of conscience: before the end of the day, stop. Ask yourself, what happened in my heart? Did it grow or was it a road on which everything passed? What happened in my heart. It is a precious effort to re-read the experience from a particular point of view. It is important to understand what happened, it is a sign that God’s grace is at work in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness. We are not alone, the Holy Spirit is with us”.
Authentic consolation is a kind of confirmation that we have fulfilled what God wants of us, that we have walked his paths, that is, the paths of life, joy, peace. Indeed, discernment is not simply about what is good, nor about the greatest possible good, but about what is good for me here and now: it is in this that I am called to grow, putting limits on other proposals, attractive but unrealistic. , not to be deceived in the pursuit of true good.
It’s needed “learn to read in the book of the heart what happened during the day. Do it. It’s only two minutes, but I assure you it will do you good.”