To be prophetic in our world today
DiscernmentFr Giuseppe Trotta SJ
Another prophetic aspect of Ignatian spirituality is discernment.
Pope Francis as a good Jesuit has indicated precisely in discernment the possibility and the ability to proclaim the Gospel nowadays in the personal accompaniment of those who turn to the Church in search of an orientation for their lives.
For example, in Amoris Laetitia he speaks of the need to evaluate the single situations of couples, starting from a general principle, which, however, cannot be applied to everybody automatically.
This approach is more generally part of that “discernment of the signs of the times” of which the Second Vatican Council already spoke in the constitution Gaudium et Spes: it is the Church’s permanent duty to examine the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel, so that, in a manner suited to each generation, it may respond to the perennial questions of the human beings about the meaning of present and future life and their mutual relations (GS 4).
This discernment of objective, social and cultural situations, finds in Ignatian spirituality and in the practice of Spiritual Exercises the possibility of learning and practising it starting from the personal experience of the subject who practices following the path traced out by the Lord.
At this personal level, it is a task of developing the ability to listen to the inner movements of the heart, and to be able to recognise whether they are caused by the good spirit or the bad spirit, as St Ignatius teaches us, so as to ‘welcome the good [inspirations] and reject the bad’ (SP 313ff).
Developing through spiritual practice a good critical capacity, even towards oneself, which consists in being able to recognise the motivations behind our actions and choices, is an essential part of a sapiential and prophetic attitude towards life, especially today, in the time of fake news.