“As we can see, this requires knowing what is pleasing to the Lord and what it is that he is asking of us here and now, at this point in our lives,” he said. “And perhaps, if we meet his gracious gaze, he will also help us to show him our idols.”
Allowing the Lord to see our hidden idols takes away their power, Francis said. “The Lord’s gaze makes us see that, through them, we are really glorifying ourselves, for there, in those spaces we mark out as exclusively ours, the devil insinuates himself with his poison.”
Pope Francis described three forms of hidden idolatry that he said Satan uses to draw priests away from the “benevolent and loving presence of Jesus”: spiritual worldliness, a preoccupation with numbers and statistics, and functionalism.
Functionalism, he said, “can be alluring; many people ‘are more enthusiastic about the roadmap than about the road.’ The functionalist mindset has short shrift for mystery; it aims at efficiency. Little by little, this idol replaces the Father’s presence within us.”
“The priest with a functionalist mindset has his own nourishment, which is his ego,” he said, cautioning priests not to rely on a pragmatism that focuses overly on numbers.
“Those who cherish this hidden idol can be recognized by their love for statistics, numbers that can depersonalize every discussion and appeal to the majority as the definitive criterion for discernment.”
“In this fascination with numbers, we are really seeking ourselves, pleased with the control offered us by this way of thinking, unconcerned with individual faces and far from love,” he said.
Spiritual worldliness, Pope Francis went on to explain, is “triumphalism without the cross.”
“Jesus prayed that the Father would defend us against this culture of worldliness,” he said. “This temptation of glory without the cross runs contrary to the very person of the Lord, who humbled himself in the Incarnation and, as a sign of contradiction, is our sole remedy against every idol. Being poor with Christ who was poor and ‘chose to be poor’: this is the mindset of Love; nothing else.”