This past December, Pope Francis offered a reflection on the word “misericordia,” or mercy. The reflection was an acrostic, a device in which each letter in the word is given its own word. The Holy Father gives us “I” for idoneity. What does he mean? Let’s read:
2. Idoneity and sagacity: idoneity, or suitability, entails personal effort aimed at acquiring the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight.
What was that US military recruiting pitch? Be all you can be. A parish minister, or someone who aspires to ministry does well to attend to personal formation. I would see that as developing the skills to serve: listening, counseling, diplomacy–what will serve anyone well regardless of their position in service. It seems Pope Francis is suggesting we attend to the specifics of our craft, be it music, liturgy, pastoral care, social justice, catechesis, spiritual formation, youth ministry …
It does not countenance “recommendations” and payoffs. Sagacity is the readiness to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity. Idoneity and sagacity also represent our human response to divine grace, when we let ourselves follow the famous dictum: “Do everything as if God did not exist and then put it all in God’s hands as if you did not exist”. It is the approach of the disciple who prays to the Lord every day in the words of the beautiful Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI: “Vouchsafe to conduct me by your wisdom, to restrain me by your justice, to comfort me by your mercy, to defend me by your power. To thee I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions and sufferings; that henceforth I may think only of you, speak of you, refer all my actions to your greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever you appoint”.
What do you think of this 18th century prayer? Any applications to family life?