EG 195-196: Avoiding A Pagan Narcissism

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneI wonder if the ultra-defenders of Catholic orthodoxy consider they might be leaning to pagan narcissism in their reaction against the drive for charity and justice?

195. When Saint Paul approached the apostles in Jerusalem to discern whether he was “running or had run in vain” (Gal 2:2), the key criterion of authenticity which they presented was that he should not forget the poor (cf. Gal 2:10). This important principle, namely that the Pauline communities should not succumb to the self-centered lifestyle of the pagans, remains timely today, when a new self-centered paganism is growing. We may not always be able to reflect adequately the beauty of the Gospel, but there is one sign which we should never lack: the option for those who are least, those whom society discards.

There are many reasons why the Church’s concern for the needy is lacking:

196. Sometimes we prove hard of heart and mind; we are forgetful, distracted and carried away by the limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction offered by contemporary society. This leads to a kind of alienation at every level, for “a society becomes alienated when its forms of social organization, production and consumption make it more difficult to offer the gift of self and to establish solidarity between people”.[Centesimus Annus 41]

What the teaching of at least three popes is getting at seems clear: cultivate attitudes and build a society in which it is easy and natural to share material wealth as well as true friendship with a diverse group of people, including those in need.


Evangelii Gaudium is online here. Well worth reading at any time.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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