I invite you to look at the Holy Father’s prayer intentions video for this the month of March. He tells us in this short video clip “the time in which we live calls us to develop a deep capacity for discernment.” www.thepopevideo.org
Last year in the process leading up to our Archdiocesan Synod we used a prayerful process of discernment. Time after time people spoke to me about how much they appreciated using this discernment process, and about how they were applying it to other areas of their life, the Parish Council, the Liturgy Committee, their family lives, and for many just the way they lived out their daily lives as disciples of Jesus. So many people appreciated this opportunity and how this “time of discernment” enabled them to make a better and more informed response to daily life situations, a Gospel response.
Later this year there will be a Synod in Rome, the theme of which is “Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” In his message about it, Pope Francis asks young people to reflect on their past and how “the Almighty has done great things” for them. He encourages young people to be aware of the present moment – not to be frightened by it or by their own self-doubts, but to take courage and be open to accepting the Lord’s invitation to engage and to lead in Church and in society.
Discernment is very important for Pope Francis. In this month’s prayer intentions, we see a woman walking through a park with a map in her hand while trying to find the right path. She decides to ask various people for directions. However, each one of them gives her a different answer. Desperate because she can’t find her way, the woman decides to sit down on a bench. She puts the map down and asks God for help. Through her internal reflection, she discovers the answer she was looking for.
The Pope is asking all Catholics “to discern the Lord’s voice among all the voices; which is His voice that drives us to the resurrection, the voice that frees us from falling into the culture of death.”
The Holy Father explains that everyone needs to internally decipher what the Lord asks of him or her to live with love and continue his mission of love. He reminds us that every Christian ought to grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life and to understand where and to what he or she is being called to by the Lord to carry on the mission God has for us.
Pope Francis also asks the Church to recognize the urgent need for formation in spiritual discernment, on an individual level as well as in communities. I have no doubt that this kind of discernment is needed today in a world where there are so many voices clamouring for our attention, where there are so many things distracting and pre-occupying us.
Are we open to learning more about discerning how to listen for the voice of the Lord? Remember “If only you would listen to him today, do not harden your hearts …” Psalm 95:8