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Pope Francis’ Own Listicle of “Needed Virtues”


Pope Francis opens a "Holy Door" at St Peter's basilica to mark the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on December 8, 2015 in Vatican. In Catholic tradition, the opening of "Holy Doors" in Rome symbolises an invitation from the Church to believers to enter into a renewed relationship with God. / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

John Burger - published on 12/22/15

Year of Mercy gives pontiff jumping off point for recommendations in spiritual improvement

How can a Christian live the lessons of the Jubilee Year of Mercy? How can an ordinary person translate preaching from the pulpit into realistic and practical action?

Pope Francis had some words of advice on this for his collaborators in the Vatican, and while his audience was made up of priests and bishops, his counsel can be helpful for any Christian serious about improving his spiritual life.

Taking the initials of the Latin word for mercy, misericordia, Francis identified 12 virtues one can live out during the Year of Mercy.

But the pontiff gives us a two-fer in that each virtue is linked to a second, so altogether he presents 24 qualities to work on in the New Year.

Think of this as Year of Mercy New Year’s Resolutions.

Here then is a summary of his speech to the Roman Curia, the various departments in the Vatican bureaucracy that help the pope carry out his mission.

  1. Missionary and pastoral spirit. “All baptized persons are missionaries of the Good News, above all by their lives, their work and their witness of joy and conviction.”
  2. Suitability and sagacity. Make the effort to acquire the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight. Be ready to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity.
  3. Spirituality and humanity. “Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily, we have begun our decline and the process of turning from humans into something else.”
  4. Example and fidelity: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Luke 16:10).
  5. Rationality and gentleness: “Rationality helps avoid emotional excesses, while gentleness helps avoid an excess of bureaucracy, programs and planning.”
  6. Innocuousness and determination.Innocuousness “is the ability to bring out the best in ourselves, in others and in all kinds of situations by acting carefully and attentively.”
  7. Charity and truth. “Charity without truth becomes a destructive ideology of complaisance and truth without charity becomes myopic legalism.”
  8. Honesty and maturity. “Honest persons have no fear of being caught, since they never betray the trust of others.”
  9. Respectfulness and humility. “Humility is the virtue of the saints and those godly persons who become all the more important as they come to realize that they are nothing, and can do nothing, apart from God’s grace.”
  10. Diligence and attentiveness. “What good would it do to open all the Holy Doors of all the basilicas in the world if the doors of our own heart are closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our homes are closed to hospitality and our churches to welcome and acceptance?”
  11. Intrepidness and alertness. Never be burdened by the accumulation of needless things, caught up in our own concerns and driven by ambition.
  12. Trustworthiness and sobriety. Honor commitments with seriousness and responsibility. Renounce what is superfluous and resist the dominant consumerist mentality. See the world through God’s eyes and from the side of the poor.

Pope FrancisYear of Mercy
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