Pope Francis and “The Virtue of Vigilance”

Vatican Media's 'Pope Francis speaking to the Roman Curia at the Vatican.' (December 22, 2022)
Pope Francis addressing the Roman Curia at the Vatican. (December 22, 2022)

When I saw “Vatican” and “elegant demon” in my news feeds, I cringed. Just a little.

But not because I feared that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were saddling up and the Antichrist was running rampant.

Lurking Demons in the News, and a Pleasant Surprise

H.E. Fowler's 'Papal Octopus,' featured in Jeremiah J. Crowley's (1913) 'The Pope: Chief of White Slavers High Priest of Intrigue,' p. 430. (1913)The self-described “Christian” radio of my youth left me with low expectations.

And some sympathy for folks who apparently believe that religion is a psychiatric disorder, and that Christians are ignorant and easily led — which is almost another topic.

So, between youthful experience and more recent encounters with clueless reporting of “religious news,” I was pleasantly surprised.

The AP and a couple other secular news media sources apparently understood what Pope Francis had said. So did Vatican News, but that wasn’t unexpected.

I checked, and Holy See > Pope Francis > Speeches > December 2022 has his “To the employees of Vatican City State for the exchange of Christmas greetings (22 December 2022)” — in Italian.

Previous experience suggests that an English translation will be available in a few days or maybe a week or two. The Vatican isn’t nearly as massively-staffed as my culture’s folklore suggests, and that’s yet another topic.

Meanwhile, CNA, Catholic News Agency, did a pretty good summary of today’s speech. Yesterday’s, actually, by the time I post this.

“Elegant Demons” and a Lurking Evil

Vatican Media's photo: video camera during Pope Francis' address to cardinals. December 22, 2022)
Video at the Vatican, Pope Francis reminding that evil is still a problem. (December 22, 2022)

Pope Francis to Roman Curia: Be vigilant against ‘the evil that quietly lurks among us’
Courtney Mares, Rome Newsroom, CNA (December 22, 2022)

“Pope Francis warned the Roman Curia on Thursday that they need to be vigilant in the face of temptation by elegant demons and ‘the evil that quietly lurks among us.’

“In his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 22, the pope said that there is a temptation for those who serve ‘at the heart of the Church’ to think that they are ‘better than others, no longer in need of conversion.’

“‘Yet we are in greater danger than all others, because we are beset by the “elegant demon,” who does not make a loud entrance, but comes with flowers in his hand,’ Pope Francis said.

“The pope underlined that ‘it is not enough to condemn evil, including the evil that quietly lurks among us.’

“‘We need to respond by choosing to be converted,’ he said.

“‘Mere condemnation can give the illusion that we have solved the problem, whereas what really counts is making the changes that will ensure that we no longer allow ourselves to be imprisoned by evil ways of thinking, which are often those of this world.’

“Pope Francis added that one of the most helpful virtues to aid in temptation is ‘the virtue of vigilance.’…”

There’s more of what Pope Francis said in that CNA article. It’s a tad under 500 words, maybe a two-minute read, and worth the time. My opinion.

Part of “the virtue of vigilance,” the Pope said, is a daily examination of conscience.

That sounds like a good idea to me, but not one that I actually follow through on. So looks like that’s something I should add to my daily schedule.

A parish priest gave me, along with the rest of the household, an “Examination of Conscience for Adults and Teens” from The Fathers of Mercy (www.fathersofmercy.com).

It’s been sitting near my keyboard and mouse pad, so all that’s left is for me to actually start going through the thing. Which, again, strikes me as a good idea.

This particular “Examination of Conscience” is the first one that ‘clicked’ for me, probably because it had a modestly extensive checklist. And included short explanations of what specific virtues and vices are, in operational terms.

I’d suggest getting a copy from The Fathers of Mercy (Home > Store > Examinations) but they sell them in lots of 100, 500 and 1,000 — as a parish resource, I gather. So I don’t know if you’d think doing so made sense, or even if you’d be interested.

That’s about all I’ve got for the moment, apart from a list of allegedly-related posts.

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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2 Responses to Pope Francis and “The Virtue of Vigilance”

  1. You highlighted the Pope well there, Mr. Gill. Thinking about God’s combination of condemnation and conversation time and time again, I find myself thinking that He’s taking care of our more infamous but still fellow fools in not just both the Old and New Testaments but also such folks beyond the Biblical stories and even our own religion way better than we like to think with our swinging between unforgiving condemnation and watered-down conversion. And again, I find myself appreciating obscurity, truth by prudence and humility rather than lies by omission and exaggeration. Thank you very much for this refresher, then, Mr. Gill, and may God Almighty keep on challenging and guiding us all.

Thanks for taking time to comment!