A Catholic Monthly Magazine

We grow by giving

An extract from Pope Francis’ homily on the Solemnity of Pentecost, 31.05.2020:

The secret of unity in the Church, the secret of the Spirit is gift. For the Spirit himself is gift. He lives by giving himself and in this way he keeps us together, making us sharers in the same gift. It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving. Why is this important? Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and who imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves -- occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realise that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God. The Spirit, the living memory of the Church, reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving -- not by holding on but by giving of ourselves.

Enemies of the gift

Let us look within and ask ourselves what prevents us from giving ourselves. There are three main enemies of the gift, always lurking at the door of our hearts: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism.

Narcissism makes us idolise ourselves, makes us concerned only with what is good for us. The narcissist thinks, “Life is good if I profit from it.” So he or she ends up saying, “Why should I give myself to others?” In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is, the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others, and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes.

But the second enemy, victimhood, is equally dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbour. “No one understands me, no one helps me, no one loves me, everyone has it in for me!” How many times have we not heard these complaints! The victim’s heart is closed, as he or she asks, “Why aren’t others concerned about me?” In the crisis we are experiencing, how ugly victimhood is! Thinking that no one understands us and experiences what we experience. This is victimhood.

Finally, there is pessimism. Here the unending complaint is, “Nothing is going well, society, politics, the Church…” The pessimist gets angry with the world, but sits back and does nothing, thinking, “What good is giving? That is useless.” At this moment, in the great effort of beginning anew, how damaging is pessimism, the tendency to see everything in the worst light and to keep saying that nothing will return as before! When someone thinks this way, the one thing that certainly does not return is hope. In these three – the narcissist idol of the mirror, the mirror-god; the complaint-god -- “I feel human only when I complain” -- and the negativity-god -- “everything is dark, the future is bleak” -- we experience a famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. He heals us from the mirror, from complaints and from darkness.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit. You are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help one another, in order to become one family. Amen.

An extract from the Pope’s address to the Iraqi Qaraqosh Community in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 7.03.2021:

Mother of tenderness

As I arrived by helicopter, I saw the statue of the Virgin Mary on this church of the Immaculate Conception, and I entrusted the rebirth of this city to her. Our Lady not only protects us from above, but with maternal tenderness she descends towards us. Her effigy here was even wounded and trampled on, but the face of the Mother of God continues to look at us with tenderness. Because that's what mothers do: they console, comfort, give life. And I would like to say heartfelt thanks to all the mothers and women of this country, courageous women who continue to give life despite the abuses and wounds. May women be respected and protected! May they be given attention and opportunities! And now let's pray together with our Mother, invoking her intercession for your needs and your projects.

Sources: vatican.va

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