Pope Francis: Fear and joylessness are signs of bad spiritual health :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

By Ann Schneible

PHOTO:  Pope Francis at the papal ordination of priests in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 26, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, May 15, 2015 / 11:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily on Friday Pope Francis said that Christian communities become “sick” when they live in fear and fail to be joyful – even when times are difficult.

“When the Church is fearful and when the Church does not receive the joy of the Holy Spirit, the Church is sick, the communities are sick, the faithful are sick,” the Pope said during Mass at the Santa Marta residence May 15.

He added that the Christian community grows “sick with worldliness” when “it does not have the joy of Christ.”

“A Christian without joy is not Christian. A Christian who continually lives in sadness is not Christian. And a Christian who, in the moment of trial, of illness, of so many difficulties, loses peace – something is lacking in him.”

These two words – “fear” and “joy” – and what each means for the Christian community, were at the center of the Holy Father’s homily.

Speaking first on fear, Pope Francis explained: “A fearful Christian is a person who has not understood the message of Jesus.”

This kind of fear provokes a self-centered selfishness which leads to a sort of paralysis. It “harms us. It weakens us, it diminishes us. It even paralyzes us,” the Pope said.

Recalling how Jesus told Saint Paul to speak and not be afraid, he said: Fear is not a Christian attitude.”

Rather, it is an attitude of a “caged animal” who lacks the freedom to look forward, create, and do good, being prevented by a sense of danger.

“This fear is a vice,” he added.

Pope Francis said this fear and lack of courage jeopardizes the health of those communities which to forbid everything in an effort to always be safe.

“It seems they have written on the gateway: ‘Forbidden,’” he said. “And you enter into this community and the air is stale, because it is a sick community.”

MORE: via Pope Francis: Fear and joylessness are signs of bad spiritual health :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

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