Pope Francis Warns Japanese Youth Against Narcissism of ‘Selfie’ Culture

In this Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, Pope Francis poses for selfies with migrants at a regional migrant center, in Bologna, Italy. In a message issued by the Vatican Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, Francis is decrying those whipping up fear of migrants for political gain, and is urging people to …
AP/Luca Bruno

Pope Francis urged young people in Tokyo Monday to be on guard against spiritual narcissism since people never find their true identity by looking in a mirror.

“In order to grow, to discover our identity, our goodness and our inner beauty, we cannot look in the mirror,” the pope told a gathering of youth at Tokyo’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“People have invented so many things, but thank God there are still no ‘soul selfies,’” Francis said. “To be happy, we need to ask others for help, let someone else take the picture, that is, go out of ourselves and go out to others, especially the most needy.”

“Don’t look at yourself too much,” he continued. “Don’t look at yourselves in the mirror too much, because you run the risk of breaking the mirror by looking at yourselves!”

The pontiff told the young people that “loneliness and the feeling of not being loved” is the greatest poverty a person can suffer, but added that the solution to loneliness is found not in self-seeking but in generous service to others.

“Fighting this spiritual poverty is a task to which we are all called, and you young people have a special role to play, because it requires a great change in our priorities, in our choices,” he said. “It implies recognizing that the most important thing is not everything I own or can buy, but with whom I can share it.”

Francis said that people often ask themselves the wrong question about the meaning of life. It is not so important to concentrate on why we live, but rather for whom we live.

“Learn to ask yourself this question: not for what I live, but for whom I live,” he said, “with whom I share my life.”

“Things are important, but people are indispensable,” he said. “Without them we dehumanize ourselves, we lose our face, we lose our name and we become one more object, perhaps the best of all, but always an object, and we are not objects, we are people.”

“You are for God, no doubt,” the pope said. “But he wanted you to be also for others, and he gave you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but for others, to share with others. Not just living life, but sharing life.”

Francis also said that just as air is necessary for the body, the soul needs to breathe as well.

“To keep ourselves physically alive, we must breathe, it is an action that we perform without realizing it, we all breathe automatically,” he said. “To remain alive in the full and broad sense of the word, we must also learn to breathe spiritually, through prayer, meditation, in an internal movement, through which we can listen to God, who speaks to us in the depths of our hearts.”

“We also need an external movement, with which we approach others with acts of love, with acts of service,” he continued. “This double movement allows us to grow and to recognize not only that God loved us, but that he entrusted to each of us a mission, a unique vocation and that we will discover to the extent that we give ourselves to others, to concrete persons.”


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