Pope: the devil relies on what we care about, so let us learn to read life
During the general audience, Francis urged the faithful to experience Advent with prayers, penance and works of charity. He also sent his greeting to Patriarch Bartholomew on the feast day of Saint Andrew. May the intercession of the Apostles grant the Church the chance to fully enjoy unity and peace to the whole world.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis stressed the importance of the practice of examining one’s conscience every day in today’s general audience. “Learn to read in the book of our hearts what happened during the day. Do it. Just two minutes, but it will do you good,” he said.
As he continues the cycle of catechises dedicated to discernment, the pontiff focused on how to distinguish the true from the false in the consolations of the spirit. Citing a passage from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, he called to scrutinise "the beginning, the middle and the end" of our thoughts to understand "if everything is oriented towards the good".
"What does it mean that the beginning is oriented towards the good? For example, I am thinking of praying, and I notice that it is accompanied by affection for the Lord and one’s neighbours; this urges us to show generosity, charity; this is a good beginning.
“However, the idea might arise to avoid a task or an assignment entrusted to me. Every time I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I greatly feel the need to start praying... But praying is not an escape from one's tasks; on the contrary, it is an aid to achieve the good that we are called to accomplish, here and now.”
Then there is the middle, that is, the use of a certain thought, "like the Pharisee in the parable (cf. Lk 18:9-14), I tend to be pleased with myself and despise others, perhaps with a resentful and sour spirit.”
These, the pope explained, "are signs that the evil spirit used that thought to enter my heart and pass his feelings to me."
As for the end, where does a thought lead me? “I might get thoroughly involved in a beautiful and worthy task, but this pushes me not to pray anymore because I am busy with so many things. I find myself increasingly aggressive and embittered. I believe that everything depends on me, to the point of losing trust in God. Evidently, the evil spirit is at work here.”
The devil’s style is to offer false consolations. “Presenting himself in a subtle, disguised way. It starts from what is most dear to us and then attracts us to itself, little by little; evil enters secretly, without the person noticing it. Over time, sweetness becomes hardness; that thought reveals itself as it really is.”
"This is why it is so important to examine one’s conscience every day. Before the day is over, stop for a while. What happened? Not what is in the papers, not in life. What happened in my heart? This is the precious effort of rereading what happened from a particular point of view. Noticing what happens is important; it is a sign that God's grace is working in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness.”
“In fact, discernment is not simply about the good or the greatest possible good, but it is about what is good for me here and now. On this, I am called to grow, putting limits on other proposals, attractive but unreal, so as not to be deceived in the search for the true good.”
After the catechesis, Francis greeted Italian-speaking pilgrims, urging them to experience the Advent that has just begun "with prayers, penance and works of charity. Prepare yourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus, assiduously listening to the Word of God and a generous response to His grace.”
Noting that today is the feast day of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Church of Constantinople, the pontiff expressed "special affection for his dear brother Patriarch Bartholomew and his Church".
“May the intercession of the holy brother apostles Peter and Andrew soon grant the Church to fully enjoy her unity and bring peace to the whole world, especially at this time in dear and tormented Ukraine, always in our hearts and prayers.”
On the occasion of the feast of St Andrew, as every year, a Vatican delegation led by Card. Leonardo Sandri, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches travelled to in Constantinople.
In a message delivered by the delegation to Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis writes: “We can be thankful to God that our Churches are not resigned to past and current experiences of division, but, on the contrary, through prayer and fraternal charity are seeking instead to achieve full communion that will enable us one day, in God’s time, to gather together at the same Eucharistic table.”