Pope Francis reminds us of the wisdom of saints who were well aware of the potential problems of those feelings of superiority, and the strain to consider oneself more-Catholic-than …
A balance between head and heart:
46. When Saint Francis of Assisi saw that some of his disciples were engaged in teaching, he wanted to avoid the temptation to gnosticism. He wrote to Saint Anthony of Padua: “I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, provided that… you do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion during study of this kind”. [Letter to Brother Anthony, 2] Francis recognized the temptation to turn the Christian experience into a set of intellectual exercises that distance us from the freshness of the Gospel.
A balance between wisdom and mercy, between study and service:
Saint Bonaventure, on the other hand, pointed out that true Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbor: “The greatest possible wisdom is to share fruitfully what we have to give… Even as mercy is the companion of wisdom, avarice is its enemy”. [De septem donis, 9, 15] “There are activities that, united to contemplation, do not prevent the latter, but rather facilitate it, such as works of mercy and devotion”. [In IV Sent. 37, 1, 3, ad 6]
As Pope Francis advocates, these saints endorsed the well-rounded believer. How can we tell if we are leaning too far into one direction or another? Discernment with trusted friends, companions, and directors. Are people feeding us what we want to hear? Maybe it’s time to consult more widely.