Courtesy of National Catholic Reporter...
In an interview published Sunday in part in the Argentine weekly Viva, the pope listed his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one's life, my comments, blue, bold.
1. "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same." (Unless you are dealing with a serious 'crypto-lefebrevian', or a religious consecrated to the Immaculata, in which case, ignore the above).
2. "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid." ("Look, if the Pope says white is black and black is white, then that's the case, hear me?")
3. "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist -- gaucho Don Segundo Sombra -- looks back on how he lived his life. "He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool" of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water -- to have "the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life." (But don't let that water become stagnant or putrid! You will run the risk of becoming ego-centric!)
4. "A healthy sense of leisure." The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. "Consumerism has brought us anxiety" and stress, causing people to lose a "healthy culture of leisure." Their time is "swallowed up" so people can't share it with anyone. Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it "complicated, but you must do it," he said. Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime "doesn't let you communicate" with each other, the pope said. (But remember, His Holiness doesn't take holidays. He's too busy working - for your salvation and for mine! Deo gratias!)
5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because "Sunday is for family," he said. (And Mass, don't forget to worship God at Mass! After all, we are Catholics!)
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. "We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs" and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said. "It's not enough to give them food," he said. "Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home" from one's own labor. (And God. God's important too. After all, St Francis of Assisi didn't have a job. Nor did St Joseph Benedict Labre. But they did have God. They had nothing, but they did have God).
7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation "is one of the biggest challenges we have," (now that we've moved on from "obsessing" about abortion) he said. "I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'" (In other words, "stop euthanasia and assisted suicide now, before humanity commits suicide!" You tell them, Your Holiness!)
8. Stop being negative. "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'" the pope said. "Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy." ("Did I ever tell you about the self-absorbed neo-promethean pelagian, narcissistic, butterfly, careerist, tycoon priest I met the other day. My! I truly consider him to be a querulous and disillusioned, pessimistic, bat-like Christian the likes of which I have never met before. And I cannot stand old maids!")
9. Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing," the pope said. (But do, feel free, also, to 'go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...)
10. Work for peace. "We are living in a time of many wars," he said, and "the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive" and dynamic. (So, why the war against, and persecution of, the Order of St Francis of Assisi and St Maximilian Kolbe, under the mantle of Our Blessed Lady?)
Our Blessed Lord mentioned God twice in His Beatitudes and these words were delivered by the Son of God! I haven't read the full interview of Pope Francis's 'top ten tips' to happiness and I am sure that within this new 'self-help' guide there is much to recommend, but why no noticeable mention of God and our need for Him in order to obtain that happiness which is eternal?
After all, God alone has the grace to give to make us blessed, or happy, in this life and blessed forever in the next. I suppose that, ultimately, Christianity can sound like Buddhism or self-help if we don't mention our need for Christ. The question is, is that Christianity? I don't know how a Pope has managed to make a ten point plan for happiness without mentioning God but with His Holiness all things, it seems, are possible, for one could be forgiven for thinking that this interview suggests we can find happiness without Him. Whatever has possessed him?