10/05/2022, 20.18
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Pope: examining one’s conscience can teach us the passwords to a spiritual life

In today’s general audience, the pontiff continued his catechesis on discernment, urging the faithful to rediscover this daily practice as handed down by Christian tradition. On the feast day of Saint Faustina Kowalska, he urged people to seek salvation in mercy even in the face Ukraine’s tragic war. Saint Francis is an example of consecration to God, service to men and fraternity with creatures.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square during  today’s General Audience. In his address, the pontiff said that truly knowing oneself is an indispensable step in welcoming God's will into our lives.

As he continued his catechesis on discernment, he explained how this dimension of Christian life, together with prayer, also requires "Self-knowledge. And this is not easy, eh! Indeed, it involves our human faculties: memory, intellect, will, affections. Often, we do not know how to discern because we do not know ourselves well enough, and so we do not know what we really want.”

“Underlying spiritual doubts and vocational crises, there is not infrequently an insufficient dialogue between religious life and our human, cognitive and affective dimension. [. . .] Forgetfulness of God’s presence in our life goes hand in hand with ignorance of ourselves”.

“Knowing oneself is not difficult, but it is laborious: it implies patient soul-searching. It requires the capacity to stop, to “deactivate the autopilot”, to acquire awareness of our way of acting, of the feelings that dwell within us, of the recurrent thoughts that condition us, and often unconsciously. It also requires that we distinguish between emotions and spiritual faculties. ‘I feel’ is not the same as ‘I am convinced’; ‘I feel like’ is not the same as ‘I want’.”

In describing this search, the pontiff cited what all computer users do to access personal or important data. “[S]piritual life, too, has its “passwords”,” he said. “[T]here are words that touch the heart because they refer to what we are most sensitive too. The tempter, that is, the devil, knows these passwords well, and its important that we know them too, so as not to find ourselves where we do not want to be.”

“It is important to know ourselves, to know the passwords of our heart, what we are most sensitive to, in order to protect ourselves from those who present themselves with persuasive words to manipulate us, but also to recognise what is truly important for us, distinguishing it from current fads or flashy, superficial slogans.”

To his end, Francis noted that great help comes from the practice of examining one’s  conscience at the end of each day, something that Christian tradition has always recommended.

“Carrying out an examination of conscience, that is, the good habit of calmly rereading what happens in our day, learning to learning to note in our evaluations and choices what we give most importance to, what we are looking for and why, and what we eventually find.

“Above all, learning to recognise what satiates the heart. What satiates my heart? For only the Lord can give us 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. There is no obstacle or failure that can prevent his tender embrace.” 

In greeting pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Francis spoke again about the Ukrainian tragedy citing Saint Faustina Kowalska whose feast day is today.

"Through her,” he said addressing her Polish compatriots, “God told the world to seek salvation in his mercy. Let us remember this especially today, thinking especially of the war in Ukraine.

"As I said last Sunday at the Angelus, let us put our trust in the mercy of God, who can change hearts, and in the maternal intercession of the Queen of Peace".

Turning to Italian pilgrims, the pontiff mentioned the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy’s Patron saint, which was celebrated yesterday.

“I invite everyone to imitate him,” he said; “may his example of consecration to God, of service to men, and of fraternity with creatures, guide your journey.”

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