On Monday Pope Francis told youth to steer clear of modern society’s narcissistic tendencies, which he referred to as a vain “illness.” He said they should instead concentrate on helping others and on developing a healthy ability to laugh at oneself.
“This culture that we live in, which is very selfish, (always) looking at yourself, has a very strong dose of narcissism, (of) contemplating oneself and ignoring others,” the Pope said Sept. 4.
In turn, narcissism “produces sadness, because you live worried about ‘dressing up’ your soul everyday to appear better than you are, contemplating to see if you are more beautiful than others.”
This is called “the sickness of the mirror,” he said, and told young people to “break the mirror; don’t look in the mirror, because the mirror deceives!”
Instead, “look outside, look at others. And if one day you want to look at yourself in the mirror, I will give you a mirror: look in the mirror to laugh at yourself.” Doing this, he said, “will refresh your soul.”
To know how to laugh at ourselves, he added, “gives us joy and saves us from the temptation of narcissism.”
Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff in Spanish to members of the Catholic Shalom Community during an audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
The Community is an ecclesial movement founded in 1982 with a charism focused on contemplation, unity and evangelizaiton. The group is on a Sept. 3-9 pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their foundation.
As usual, Pope Francis was careful to take notes as he listened to various testimonies from the group, including from three youth who spoke about their experiences of loneliness, drugs, their search for God and their process of conversion.
Juan, 26, from Santiago, Chile, shared his story about how he went from living without God and without hope as a youth, to finding meaning through prayer, evangelization and a sense of community. In light of his experience, he asked the Pope how youth can “radiate” mercy to a world marked by desperation and indifference.
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