1. Don't gossip.
It's one of our hobbies. For Francis, it's also one of the most evil activities. The Catholic leader denounces gossip as “murder.”
He feels so strongly about it that in less than a year as pontiff, Francis has preached against gossip in at least 6 different instances.
He says when we gossip, we “are doing what Judas did,” and “begin to tear the other person to pieces.”
“Every time we judge our brother in our hearts or worse when we speak badly of them with others, we are murdering Christians,” Francis says. “There is no such thing as innocent slander.”
2. Finish your meals.
No leftovers, please.
Nearly 870 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition. The Pope says: “We should all remember... that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.”
3. Make time for others.
Tending to 1.2 billion members, Francis seems too busy for anything else.
That is, until he calls up strangers. Or entertains a random biker Or sends a handwritten letter to a Jesuit he has never met.
The Jesuit who got the letter, Fr James Martin, says Francis inspires him “to be more generous in my own life with my time.”
Martin says: “If the Pope can find time to be kind to others, if he can pause to say thank you, if he can take a moment to make someone feel appreciated, then so can I. So can we.”
4. Choose the 'more humble' purchase.
Take it from the head of state who rides a 29-year-old Renault.
In July, he warns against luxurious lives that seek “the joy of the world in the latest smartphone, the fastest car.” “Cars are necessary,” he says, “but take a more humble one. Think of how many children die of hunger and dedicate the savings to them.”
The Pope preaches against materialism. “Certainly, possessions, money, and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. ‘Put on Christ’ in your life, place your trust in him, and you will never be disappointed!”
5. Meet the poor 'in the flesh.'
Sure, we donate to charity. But this is not enough for Francis. Commitment to the poor, he says, must be “person to person, in the flesh.” “It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from our establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited.”
He calls for long-term commitment. “Hospitality in itself isn't enough. It's not enough to give a sandwich if it isn't accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn't enough.”
6. Stop judging others.
In the same way he denounces gossip, Francis condemns prejudice.
He reminds “intolerant” Catholics, for one, to respect atheists. “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”
He also says of gays: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” Francis urges us “to keep watch over ourselves.” “Let us not forget that hatred, envy, and pride defile our lives!”
7. Befriend those who disagree.
What can we do to our worst critics? We can take our cue from Francis.
In November, Francis surprises Mario Palmaro, a traditionalist who wrote the article, 'The Reason Why We Don't Like This Pope.'” “He just wanted to tell me that he is praying for me,” says Palmaro who is gravely ill, in an article by the Catholic News Agency.
Francis does this in line with what he calls a “culture of encounter.”
He says in July: “When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice.”
8. Make commitments, such as marriage.
Don't be afraid to say “forever.” Francis advises the youth, for instance, not to fear marriage. The Pope says: “Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever,’ because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
“I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide.’ Have the courage to be happy,” he says.
9. Make it a habit to 'ask the Lord.'
Bothered about the future? Pray, the Pope urges us especially the youth.
“Dear young people,” he says, “some of you may not yet know what you will do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. You too can ask the Lord: What do you want me to do? What path am I to follow?”
10. Be happy.
The true Christian, says the Pope, exudes great joy. He says keeping this joy to ourselves “will make us sick in the end. Francis says in a homily. “Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path.”
Francis says, “The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy." This joy, he reminds us, should translate to love of neighbor...
BE YOURSELF... Nobody is better qualified!