During the past few weeks I’ve been reading the speeches and homilies of Pope Francis in connection with an editorial project. A delightful assignment! As I’ve said here before, I’m struck by his way with words.
A few months ago he lamented “Christians of good manners and bad habits.” I think this phrase captures the essence of a message he delivers consistently. The “good manners” he’d like to see less of are complacency and smugness, a reluctance to take risks, an inclination to settle in comfortably with one’s like-minded friends. At one Mass he prayed for “the grace to be annoying”–“the grace to go out to the outskirts of life.”
The bad habits he dislikes have to do with judgmental attitudes. One example is critical speech, what the old moralists called “sins of the tongue”–defamation, slander, and misinformation (“we tell only the half that suits us and not the other half”). The bad habits are things that we do. It’s a very Ignatian critique.
It’s a critique designed to spur self-searching. Fortunately, another consistent word from Pope Francis is the boundless depth of God’s mercy. That’s something we can’t enough of as we examine our manners and habits.Photo by Catholic Church (England and Wales) under a Creative Commons license.