Catholic Company / Magazine

7 Practical Life Lessons From Pope Francis

Oct 15, 2017 by

Pope Francis is a wellspring of practical and spiritual instruction in ways perhaps surprising and unlikely. Reading his words in The Name of God Is Mercy and The Church of Mercy (which you can find here) is helpful in illuminating the Pope as a man we can all relate to and learn from.

Here is a list of quotes from these books that can help us take a second look at some of our spiritual and mental practices.

1) On first reactions

"I am inclined never to trust my first reaction to an idea or to a proposal that is made to me. I never trust myself in part because my first reaction is usually wrong. I have learned to wait, to trust in the Lord, to ask for his help, so I can discern better and receive guidance." —Pope Francis

2) On envy

"Put aside envy. Talk with one another so that this desire to protect each other might grow in your hearts." —Pope Francis

3) On deepening your examination of conscience

"Shame is one of the graces that Saint Ignatius asks for during his confession of his sins before Christ crucified." —Pope Francis

4) On corrupt hearts (which are worse than sinful ones!)

"We do not become corrupt people overnight; it is a long slippery slope that cannot be identified simply as a series of sins. One can be a great sinner and never fall into corruption. I think for example of the figures of Zacchaeus, of Matthew, of the Samaritan women, of Nicodemus and of the good thief: their sinful hearts all had something that saved them from corruption. They were open to forgiveness, their hearts felt their own weakness, and that small opening allowed the strength of God to enter." —Pope Francis

5) On picking a virtue and getting to work

"The most striking fruit of Bergoglio’s conversion was his humility. Humility, as a religious virtue, is not some kind of personality trait. It was a mode of a behavior which Bergoglio chose to adopt, after prayerful reflection that this is what God required of him. That is not to suggest that it was fake but it was thought-through." —Paul Vallely talking about Pope Francis in the book Untying the Knots

6) On understanding mercy

"The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this is a visceral love. It gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy." —Pope Francis

7) On speaking simply in confession

"I greatly enjoy hearing children confess, because they are not abstract; they say what really happened. They make you smile. They are simple: they say what happened and they know what they did was wrong." —Pope Francis

What do you think of these words of Pope Francis?

Did it surprise you to hear shame spoken of as a grace—one that we can and should ask for in our examinations of conscience?