Pope: Understanding sadness in order to do good

At the general audience, Francis continued his catechesis on discernment with a reflection on the feeling of desolation. Appeal for an end to the violence in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a nun was also killed.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - We should not avoid sadness, but read in depth. Because often - just like physical pain - it is an alarm bell about what is wrong in our lives, said Pope Francis today addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for the Wednesday general audience.

Continuing the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the theme of discernment, the pontiff dwelt on the first of the affective modes that accompany it and that the Ignatian tradition defines as desolation.

"No one," Francis observed, "would want to be desolate, sad. We would all like a life that is always joyful, cheerful and fulfilled. Yet this, besides not being possible, would not be good for us either. In fact, the change from a vice-oriented life can start from a situation of sadness, of remorse for what one has done'.

Citing in this regard a well-known page of Italian literature - the conversion of the Innominato from the novel "I promessi sposi" by Alessandro Manzoni - the Pope explained that  "it is important to learn to read sadness. In our time, it is mostly considered negatively, as an evil to be escaped at all costs, and instead it can be an indispensable wake-up call for life, inviting us to explore richer and more fertile landscapes that transience and evasion do not allow. It is indispensable for our health, protecting us from harming ourselves and others. It would be much more serious and dangerous not to experience this feeling.

But sadness can also become an obstacle with which the tempter wants to discourage us from doing good. "Unfortunately, some people decide to abandon the life of prayer, or the choice they have made, marriage or religious life, driven by desolation, without first pausing to consider this state of mind, and especially without the help of a guide. A wise rule says not to make changes when you are desolate. It will be the time afterwards, rather than the mood of the moment, that will show the goodness or otherwise of our choices'.

In the Gospel, Jesus rejects temptations with an attitude of firm resolve. "In the spiritual life," the pope concluded his meditation, "the trial is an important moment. If we know how to go through loneliness and desolation with openness and awareness, we can come out of it strengthened in human and spiritual terms. No trial is beyond our reach. St Paul reminds us that no one is tempted beyond his ability, because the Lord never abandons us and, with Him near, we can overcome every temptation" (cf. 1 Cor 10:13).

In his greetings to the pilgrims, the Pontiff then returned to exhorting prayer for peace, associating the drama of the war in Ukraine with the news of violence that has come in recent days from the North Kivu region in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has resulted in the death of at least seven people, including a nun working in health care, Sr. Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki.

"We are horrified by these events," said Pope Francis. "I express my firm deploration for the unacceptable assault that took place in recent days in Maboya. We pray for the victims and their families, as well as for that Christian community and the inhabitants of that region who have been exhausted by violence for too long".