On Ricochet: Modern Media and Benedict the Humble

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Our modern media, driven by image, loves outward signs of humility. The incongruity of a Pope riding the bus and moving out of the palace creates a spectacle that viewers can instantly digest as “good,” even though these are only external acts. Now, I don’t doubt that these acts are spurred by Francis’ genuine virtue, but they should mean less if humility, as Aquinas and Augustine insisted, is only a virtue as an inward movement of the soul.

In Benedict’s pre-papacy book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, he wrote that the Pope should be a “humble servant” to the “Tradition of the faith” — a deliberately inconspicuous goal that a headline cannot capture, and which those unfamiliar with that tradition cannot fully appreciate.

Again, I do not wish to criticize Pope Francis, but rather to suggest that we, as viewers, keep our idea of “humility” in proper perspective. Humility is not the greatest virtue proposed by Christianity — it is just a prerequisite, an interior attitude of other-worldliness, for receiving the rest of the Faith.

Rest of the article is here.

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  1. Humility is not the propeller pushing the ship along, rather it is the wake that is tangible but soon returns to the stillness of the sea.

  2. I’m not sure that works, either… maybe it’s more like, humility is the prow of the ship, and the stuff folks keep identifying is the wake? Mistaking the evidence for the thing itself?

  3. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been lately disappointed in friends and family who seem to be so impressed with the outward symbols of F1. I think of them as victims of modern media celebrity worship.
    I am hopeful that Francis is not exploiting his celebrity. Let’s hope.

  4. Evidence.
    That’s the illusion.
    That man can adequately know the depths and intent of mens hearts.
    At best we partially see the evidence, and at worst we doubt the intent.
    If a man kisses the leper and a bystander interprets the intent incorrectly, is the man justly scrutinized by the bystander? No.
    Please allow me this. What so ever you do for another, if it is done with perfect intent and selflessly, joyfully gift of self, then the scrutiny of the world is unimportant.
    Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was credited for a poem entitled; Do it Anyway.
    The final analysis states the beauty of our actions of mercy….that being that it was never about those who scrutinized your actions, but it was about your call to serve God regardless of what the doubter would do or say.

  5. Very good article. Francis is showing, I believe, genuine humility in the way he approaches the office. Benedict showed humility in walking away from the papacy.

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