Pope calls for rereading one's own life to discover God’s small miracles

Francis continued his catechesis on discernment in today’s general audience in St Peter's Square. In his address, he mentioned World Mission Sunday, urging the faithful to pray for those who, “write with their lives a love story at the service of the Gospel.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis continued today his catechesis series on discernment which he delivers during the Wednesday General Audience.

In his address to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, the pontiff focused on the importance of knowing well one's own history in order to make decisions.

“Getting used to rereading one’s own life educates the outlook, it sharpens it, enables it to note the small miracles that good God works for us every day,” he said.

“Our life is the most precious ‘book’ that is given to us, a book that unfortunately many do not read, or rather they do so too late, before dying. And yet, precisely in that book that one finds what one pointlessly seeks elsewhere.”

To make his point, Francis cited the example of Saint Augustine, who, in his Confessions, wrote: “You were within, and I without, and there I did seek you; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty you made. You were with me, but I was not with you”.

The great philosopher’s call to “Return within yourself” is equally valid today for each of us.

“Many times, we too have had Augustine’s experience, of finding ourselves imprisoned by thoughts that lead us away from ourselves, stereotypical messages that harm us: for example, “I am worthless” – and it gets you down; ‘everything goes wrong for me’ – and it gets you down; ‘I will never achieve anything worthwhile’ - and it gets you down, and this becomes your life.”

“Reading one’s own history also means recognizing the presence of these ‘toxic’ elements, but then broadening our narrative, learning to notice other things, making it richer, more respectful of complexity, succeeding also in grasping the discreet ways in which God acts in our life.”

“[A] reading, a service, an encounter, at first sight considered to be of little importance, over time transmit inner peace; they transmit the joy of living and suggest further good initiatives. Stopping and acknowledging this is essential.”

“Goodness is hidden, always,” Francis explained, for “God’s style is discreet: God likes to go unseen, with discretion, he does not impose; he is like the air we breathe - we do not see it but it allows us to live, and we realize this only when it is missing.”

Speaking to others about one’s life can be an interesting exercise. “This is a beautiful experience of engaged couples [. . .]. It is one of the most beautiful and intimate forms of communication, recounting one’s own life. It allows us to discover hitherto unknown things, small and simple but, as the Gospel says, it is precisely from the little things that the great things are born.”

For the pope, the practice of examining one’s conscience does not mean counting one’s “sins – and we commit many – but it is also about asking oneself, ‘What happened within me, did I experience joy? What brought me joy? Was I sad? What brought me sadness?’ And in this way, we learn to discern what happens within us.”

In his greetings to the groups present in the square, Pope Francis’s thoughts were for Ukraine. He urged the faithful to pray for an end to the “horrible things that are happening there, the torture, the deaths, the destruction”. He also prayed for Nigeria’s flood victims, and mentioned that World Mission Sunday will  be celebrated next Sunday.

With respect to the latter, the pope urged the faithful to pray, “especially for missionaries who, sent to different parts of the world, write with their lives a love story at the service of the Gospel.

“In this missionary month of October, let us seek to ever better understand the mission that the Lord has entrusted to each one of us. Let us ask him to accompany and accomplish all our activities with his grace.”