(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis focused on two more of the Spiritual Works of Mercy at his General Audience on Wednesday: “Counseling the Doubtful” and “Instructing the Ignorant”.
Both of these Works can be lived out both individually and in a more organized manner, the Pope said. Instructing the ignorant especially can be the focus of more institutional efforts, as seen by the work of so many sainted men and women throughout the ages. “These ‘pioneers of instruction’,” Pope Francis continued, “fully understood this work of mercy, and found a way of life that was able to transform society itself.” Pope Francis also noted the importance of vocational schools that focus on professional training, without neglecting the importance of teaching students human and Christian values.
Counseling the doubtful, on the other hand, is not so much a question of imparting knowledge, but of “soothing the pain and suffering that comes from the fear and anguish that are the consequences of doubt.” The Pope explained that this work of mercy is “an act of love” that aims at supporting people who are suffering from uncertainty.
At times, the Pope said, everyone has doubts. These can be positive if they lead us to deepening our faith, and coming to understand the mystery of God’s love. But doubts must be overcome. This can be done both by catechesis, when the proclamation of the faith meets us in our daily lives; and by living out the faith fully. “We do not make of the faith an abstract theory where doubts are multiplied,” Pope Francis said. “Rather, we make the faith our very life. We seek to practice it in the service of the brethren, especially the most needy.” Then, he continued, “so many doubts vanish, because we feel the presence of God and the truth of the Gospel in the love which, without merit of our own, dwells within us, and which we share with others.
We see, then, that these two works of mercy can be a part of our daily lives. “Each one of us can commit ourselves to living them,” he said, “in order to put into practice the word of the Lord when He says that the mystery of the love of God has not been revealed to the wise and the understanding, but to the little ones.” And so, Pope Francis concluded, “the most profound teaching we are called to transmit; and the most secure certainty we can offer, to free us from our doubts, is the love of God with which we are loved.”