I was just thinking on Saturday that it’s been a while since Pope Francis has given us one of his zingers. And then it came yesterday, at the Sunday Angelus. As Vatican Insider reports:
“We all know in our communities, in our parishes, in our neighborhoods how much hurt they do the church, and give scandal, those persons that call themselves ‘Very Catholic,'” the pontiff said Sunday.
“They go often to church, but after, in their daily life, ignore the family, speak ill of others, and so on,” he continued. “This is that which Jesus condemns because this is a Christian ‘counter-witness.'”
In an off-the-cuff, the pope spoke of the legalism of Pharisees and of Christians today:
“Caution!” Francis exhorted the crowds in the Square. “With these words, Jesus also wants to put us, today, on guard against considering that the exterior observance of the law may be sufficient to be good Christians.”
“As it was for the Pharisees, there also exists for us the danger of considering our place as better than others for the only fact of observing the rules or customs, even if we do not love our neighbor, [even if] we are hard of heart or prideful,” said the pontiff.
“The literal observance of the precepts is something sterile if it does not change the heart and is not translated into concrete attitudes,” he said, giving examples: “Opening yourself to the encounter with God and God’s word in prayer, searching for justice and peace, giving help to the poor, the weak and the oppressed.”
Well hey – I think we monks could be considered “very Catholic,” and I’m sure most all Pray Tell readers could be considered “very Catholic” and “very Christian.” I think the pope’s words apply to all of us.