The Church commonly calls someone in this role a “spiritual director,” but Pope Francis said he prefers the name “spiritual companion.”
“Discernment is an art, an art that can be learned and which has its own rules,” he said. “If learned well, it enables spiritual experience to be lived in an ever more beautiful and orderly manner. Above all, discernment is a gift from God, which must always be asked for, without ever presuming to be expert and self-sufficient.”
The pope said the act of recounting our life, experiences, and spiritual searching in front of someone else can bring clarity.
It can also, he added, bring to light “the many thoughts that dwell within us, and which often unsettle us with their insistent refrains — how often, in dark times, have these thoughts come to us: ‘I have done everything wrong, I am worthless, no one understands me, I will never succeed, I am destined for failure,’ and so on.”
“False and poisonous thoughts, that the exchange with another helps to unmask, so we can feel we are loved and valued by the Lord for what we are, capable of doing good things for him,” he said.
Let us pray, Francis concluded: “Lord, give me the grace to discern. In life’s moments, help me to know what I should do. And send me the people who can help me discern.”
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.