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Pope at Santa Marta: We Are Not Animals, But God’s Children

Calls for a Daily Examination of Conscience

We are not animals, but God’s children, and as such, we ought to make an examination of conscience every day.

According to Vatican News, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday, the second since resuming after his summer break, Pope Francis highlighted that in each person’s heart there are two spirits that confront each other daily: “the spirit of the world” and the “Spirit of God.”

The Holy Father compared this conflict in the heart between the two, to a battlefield.

The Roman Pontiff drew his inspiration today from the day’s first reading where St. Paul teaches the Corinthians the way to think like Christ,” namely an act that requires abandonment to the Holy Spirit. Francis pointed out that the Holy Spirit is Who leads us to “know Jesus,” understand His heart and share His “sentiments.”

“Man left to his own strength,” Francis observed, “does not understand the things of the Spirit.”

“The Spirit of God, which leads us to good works, to charity, to fraternity, to adore God, to know Jesus, to do many good works of charity, to pray.” On the other hand, he noted, there is “the other spirit,” that “of the world, which leads us to vanity, pride, sufficiency, gossip – a completely different path,” he said, adding: “Our heart, a saint once said, is like a battlefield, a field of war where these two spirits struggle.”

Each Christian daily, the Pope reminded, “must fight in order to make room for the Spirit of God,” and “drive away the spirit of the world.”

To “identify temptations, to clarify how these opposing forces work,” the Pope suggested, a daily “examination of conscience” would help.

“It is very simple: We have this great gift, which is the Spirit of God, but we are weak, we are sinners, and we still have the temptation of the spirit of the world. In this spiritual combat, in this war of the spirit, we need to be victors like Jesus.”

Each evening, Pope Francis said, a Christian should reflect on whether they succeeded in imitating Jesus or whether they let pride and vanity prevail. We ought to recognize, he said, what occurs in the heart.

“If we do not do this, if we do not know what happens in our heart – and I don’t say this, the Bible does – we are like ‘animals that understand nothing,’ that move along through instinct.”

“But we are not animals,” Pope Francis said, “we are children of God, baptized with the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, it is important to understand what has happened each day in my heart.

The Pope concluded, praying, “May the Lord teach us always, every day, to make an examination of conscience.”

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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