Wednesday, January 29, 2014




Every start of the year we talk about our new year's resolutions. From the simplest to the most complex of lists, we jot down our goals for the year, with much intent to achieve every single one of them.


However, after starting off with a Big Bang of determination, we often fail to sustain it. The resolutions simply become things of the past. We eventually walk away from them.

One man changes that today. As one of the most powerful men in the world, this man shows us what it truly means to be relevant and influential in our present day: to be real, simple, humble, sincere, compassionate and accountable for the things we say and do.

Now, without further ado, I give you, the man who can truly walk his talk, His Holiness, Pope Francis.


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. Read the following homilies by Francis as well as a recent speech:

· “Never speak poorly of others.” March 27

· “The temptation to gossip about others.” April 9

· “No gossip, no fear.” April 13

· “The threat of gossip.” September 2

· “From gossip to love of others.” September 13

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.

Named after a 12th-century saint who lived in poverty, Francis slams a “culture of waste” that neglects the plight of the hungry. (READ: Pope: Wasting food is stealing from the poor)

Nearly 870 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition, says the Food and Agriculture Organization. (VISIT: #HungerProject)

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 make someone feel appreciated, then so can I. So can we.” (READ: Making time for others: the Pope's way)

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.” (READ: Pope hits priests, nuns with brand-new cars )

“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!” (READ: Pope warns youth against materialism)

He calls for a “sober and essential lifestyle.” (READ: Pope: Choose 'sober' lifestyle, share wealth)

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.” (READ: #ReliefPH: Pope Francis on disaster, charity)

Known as pro-poor even when he was archbishop, he explains more in the book On Heaven and Earth, which was published 3 years before he became pontiff. “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.” (READ: Pope Francis and Zamboanga's refugees)

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.” (READ: Pope to 'intolerant' Catholics: Good atheists exist)

He also says of gays: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?" (READ: Pope Francis is gay magazine's Person of the Year)

Francis urges us “to keep watch over ourselves.” “Let us not forget that hatred, envy, and pride defile our lives!” (READ: Pope's 1st clarion call: Protect creation)

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. (READ: Pope: Marriage not 'out of fashion')

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 always, 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. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, in the end he answered: 'Speak, Lord, for I am listening' (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-10). 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.” So important is joy to him that his first apostolic exhortation, the first major document he wrote on his own, is titled "Evangelii Gaudium " (The Joy of the Gospel).

“Sometimes these melancholy Christians' faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life,” 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 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."

Let us pray for him that he may continue to mold the church into the shape of greater things to come and bring our faith closer to all who are in need of it. Pope, exudes great joy. He says keeping this joy to ourselves “will make us sick in the end.” So important is joy to him that his first apostolic exhortation, the first major document he wrote on his own, is titled "Evangelii Gaudium " (The Joy of the Gospel).

Rector / Parish Priest