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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Pope Francis holds up 24 practical virtues for us to follow

Pope Francis holds up 24 practical virtues for us to follow

Pope Francis, in his address to the Vatican administration, delineated 24 practical virtues he wanted to see incorporated into their daily practices and protocol.

Since these virtues can apply to anyone, I have listed a summary of Pope Francis’ practical guide to these virtues. The parentheses are my own commentary.

1. Missionary and pastoral spirit: Faith is a gift, yet the measure of our faith is also seen by the extent to which we communicate it. All baptized persons are missionaries of the Good News, above all by their lives, their work and their witness of joy and conviction.

2. Appropriate and wise: Work hard, be creative and smart to be good at what you do; don’t rely on “connections” and “bribes” to get ahead or face situations.

3. Spiritual and human: Let the Spirit protect you from human frailty, but don’t become a robot. If you can no longer laugh or cry with sincerity, you have begun to decline. Show tenderness, kindness and courtesy to everyone.

4. Good example and faithfulness: Avoid scandals that harm souls and hurt the church’s credibility. “Woe to the world because of things that cause sin.” (Lead by example.)

5. Reasonable and gentle: Avoid being too bureaucratic or too lenient. Find balance between rationality and kindness. (An old Latin proverb says, “In the middle stands virtue.”)

6. Harmless and determined: Don’t be hasty or impulsive; be cautious in your judgments; act carefully, but with determination and clear vision; be obedient to God and for the spiritual welfare of the faithful.

7. Charitable and truthful: Speak the truth with charity and practice charity in truth, otherwise charity without truth is a destructive ideology of do-goodism and truth without charity becomes blind legalism.

8. Open, honest and mature: Don’t be good only when you know people are watching. Don’t lord over people, never deceive. Honesty is the foundation on which all other qualities rest.

9. Respectful and humble: Show respect to everyone as well as for documents, dossiers, confidentiality and privacy. Listen carefully, speak politely. You are and can do nothing without God and his grace.

10. Be generous and stand guard: What good is it to open all the Holy Doors around the world if our hearts, homes and hands are closed to others? Do your best and never let your guard down with vices and weaknesses. (We can never give or receive with fists closed.)

11. Fearless and ready: Be proactive; face troubles boldly with determination and resolve. Don’t get bogged down by ambition and material things; be ready and free to pick up and go where God calls.

12. Accountable, trustworthy and sober: Honor your commitments, renounce the superfluous. Practice prudence, simplicity, balance, temperance, and live the essentials. Put God and others first; cut back, salvage, recycle, repair, and live a life of moderation.

Pope Francis concluded by reading a prayer by Cardinal John Dearden, former archbishop of Detroit. The second part of that prayer captures what Pope Francis trying to do:

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”