Continuing with the address of Pope Francis to the curia this past December. Letter #4, e, suggests not just a good example, but also fidelity to Christ.
4. Example and fidelity: Blessed Paul VI reminded the Curia of “its calling to set an example”. An example of avoiding scandals which harm souls and impair the credibility of our witness. Fidelity to our consecration, to our vocation, always mindful of the words of Christ, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Lk 16:10) and “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes” (Mt 18:6-7).
Family is where giving good example is key. As a parent I’m aware of the importance of fidelity in small things. One might think that it is less vital when young adult children live in the home. But I hope attention to the details of fidelity are still with me.
Still, it is difficult to maintain the discipline of faithfulness in small things. I find that living with a spouse is often a corrective to other instincts. This was true in parenting, as we often struggled to discern the best for our daughter. Another set of ears to hear things, and another voice–this was routinely indispensable for us.
I recognize that Catholic clergy rarely have that live-in voice. (Monastics not so.) Not that I would advocate for universal marriage for clerics, but it’s undeniable that people go adrift more easily, especially on the small things, when there’s not a human corrective as part of the equation. Perhaps priests could pay more attention to their staffs.
What do you think about the importance of giving good example in daily, small, and routine matters?