The life of faith requires not only that I am attentive to my own process of discernment, but that I trust that others are similarly attentive. The election of Pope Francis has been a real surprise and delight to me. The word which is repeated over and over again in news reports is humble. He began with asking for the prayers of the crowd who gathered to greet him.
I confess, that the fact he is Jesuit makes a substantial difference to me. This is because I trust in his willingness to pray and to discern. I am sure that he will make decisions that I will disagree with, or find incomprehensible. But because I trust that he is a man of prayer and discernment, I trust that the Holy Spirit will be operating. This is not to say that he will not make poor decisions occasionally, rather that I trust in the power of redemption. By this I mean that everything can be used for the greater glory of God, through the grace of God.
It isn’t a simple thing to trust in another person’s discernment, and to trust that all will be well. I have certainly only recognised that challenge fairly recently. And it was only revealed because someone I deeply respect as person of prayer and discernment made a choice that surprised me. If I had had to make the same choice I would have chosen differently. In this particular case, there wasn’t a clear right or wrong, it was a choice between two objectively good options.
The tough choices, the choices which require discernment are always those kind of choices – which is the better of two good options. It is this, that most choices will be made between two good options, I will need to hold onto as I watch the unfolding of the new papacy. I am sure that sooner or later I will find myself disappointed. At those time, I need to hold onto the sense that I have that he is a man of prayer, discernment and integrity. I need to trust that, regardless of how I feel, that the grace of God will continue to operate in and through the Church. This is not to say that I will simply swallow all that is proclaimed and decided. No, I need to pay attention to the movements within myself, to continue to be discerning and to make my own choices on the basis of prayer and discernment.
This will require a generosity of spirit which fails me far too often!