In the Courtyard of San Damaso yesterday, Pope Francis addressed his audience about the importance of seeking the common good. He lamented that this pandemic has exposed the emergence of partisan interests, which threaten to widen the gap between the haves and the have nots.
In seeking the common good, the Pontiff mentioned that: “the Christian response to the pandemic and to the consequent socio-economic crisis is based on love, above all, love of God who always precedes us1. And the highest point of holiness, let’s put it that way, is to love one’s enemies which is not easy. I would say it is even an art! But an art that can be learned and improved.”
Pope Francis: Seek the Common Good
In essence, Pope Francis’ message was a clarion call for one and all to seek the common good in order to put an end to this crisis. To attain it, a “bottom up” approach is necessary. It would have to start from the individual level, that is, one by one, each one learning to give love to the other. Then, gradually, the love among individuals shall flourish into love for the community, growing eventually into love for the common good of the nation.
The bottom line, therefore, is upon each and everyone’s choice: to correspond or not to the call to love. This, in fact, is the essence of holiness: the struggle to be a saint. On a practical note, I would like to share with you a point in the book, The Way, authored by St. Josemaria, as follows:
Point no. 20
“You have clashes of character with other people . . . That kind of thing is inevitable: you’re not a gold coin that everyone likes.
Besides, without those clashes produced by your contact with your neighbor, how would you lose the rough edges and jagged points – the imperfections and defects – of your temper, so as to acquire the regular, polished and firmly gentle form of charity, of perfection?
If your character and the characters of those who live with you were soft and sweet like meringues, you would not become a saint.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Clashes of Character
Based on Point no. 20 above, expect clashes of character to emerge, specially, during this time of enforced home isolation. Certainly, couples or family members living together for long periods of quarantine may experience higher incidence of frictions. Tight living quarters may even exacerbate physical conflicts . Nonetheless, it is precisely in this battlefront that holiness awaits us.
Occasions for Growth
Precisely, such harsh living conditions should be looked upon not as problems but rather as occasions for growing in charity. Instead of complaining about the meals, one could complement instead the efforts of the spouse in taking time out to prepare and cook the meal. Instead of being irritated with the other person’s actuations, one could practice being more patient and understanding with the other. Indeed, it may be difficult but one can always start by sacrificing or practicing self-restraint.
Little Acts of Love
Whilst practicing charity in small things may seem trivial, one will be pleasantly surprised that those little acts of love and kindness which were done little by little and day by day shall blossom into solid virtues in time. This is why it is important to practice the good acts frequently in order that the same may become habits, which, in the long run, become embedded in one’s heart.
Of course, as human beings are not perfect, there will be times when one will fail or overlook to act charitably. In such a case, the best thing to do is to begin and begin again.
Finally, I would like to share with you some inspiring words of St. Josemaria, as follows:
Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again – in new situations – the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we’ll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there’s no other way.St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 58