EG 96: Better To Serve Well, Than To Lead A Hopeless Cause

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis delivers some military imagery, though I was thinking more of Dante with the challenge to those who might prefer to lead a lost cause than serve in a lowly spot in a good one:

96. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight. How often we dream up vast apostolic projects, meticulously planned, just like defeated generals! But this is to deny our history as a Church, which is glorious precisely because it is a history of sacrifice, of hopes and daily struggles, of lives spent in service and fidelity to work, tiring as it may be, for all work is “the sweat of our brow”.

This imagery of serving as a solider for Christ was one of Ignatius of Loyola’s–not surprising considering his secular career as a soldier.

Instead, we waste time talking about “what needs to be done” – in Spanish we call this the sin of “habriaqueísmo” – like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high. We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.

Evangelii Gaudium criticizes plans just for their own sake, and challenges church leaders to reconsider their situation in this long sub-chapter devoted to those who serve, or who should be serving.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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