We continue to review Pope Francis’ address to the curia from this past December. This reflection on the word “misericordia,” or mercy proceeds today with a look at #3, two important qualities sometimes viewed with suspicion in some quarters.
3. Spirituality and humanity: spirituality is the backbone of all service in the Church and in the Christian life. It is what nourishes all our activity, sustaining and protecting it from human frailty and daily temptation.
The “spiritual-not-religious” folk get a lot of criticism. With way too many believers willing to cede the spiritual to those in religious life, I have a harder time mustering disdain for the meme.
Curial bureaucrat, parish priest, religious sister or brother, or lay person: what nourishes your daily activities and protects you from temptation? Willing to rely on the prayers of others? That’s not a bad piece–and its likely an effective, though unseen one. Service in the Christian life needs some measure of intent from any believer who considers herself or himself a true and fruitful servant of Jesus.
Read carefully, we are not called to renounce our very nature:
Humanity is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith; those who renounce their humanity renounce everything. Humanity is what makes us different from machines and robots which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily, we have begun our decline and the process of turning from “humans” into something else. Humanity is knowing how to show tenderness and fidelity and courtesy to all (cf. Phil 4:5).
A check on those three qualities: I have to consider it when my humanity is tested: people arriving late for choir practice and not paying attention, family members who don’t listen, and others I encounter in daily life. Tenderness I see as a quality that shows care in considering the position of the other person. Fidelity is simply following through on commitments I have made. Courtesy: a struggle for nearly all of us online.
A matter of daily vigilance:
Spirituality and humanity, while innate qualities, are a potential needing to be activated fully, attained completely and demonstrated daily.