Tag Archives: Bill Bowman

Suggestions for the Year of Mercy

We are in the early stages of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, in which we are being asked to receive the Father’s mercy so we can bestow it upon others.

Bill Bowman

As well as being purposeful ourselves in living many acts of mercy this year, we in business have additional opportunities to reach people to let them know of the extraordinary gifts of this Jubilee Year. One of the best ways to receive God’s mercy is to make a good Confession — and to commit to a regular Confession schedule going forward.

What can we and our companies do to direct the mercy of the Father to others? Here are some suggestions. Pick three or four and live them well — and enlist members of your family to join you!

Pray and offer a small sacrifice so that a particular family member or friend will return to the Church. That usually only requires them to go to Confession. Invite and then go to Confession with them.

Find the churches that offer adoration and get into the habit of stopping for five or 10 minutes to pray for the spiritual health of your family and those in your company.

Tell a friend how important they are in God’s eyes — that if they were the only person on earth, Christ would have suffered and died for them. Show them the incredible dignity they have before God!

Identify the Jubilee Holy Doors in your diocese (every diocese has
at least one). Take your children or grandchildren with you, and explain to them what it is. You can each obtain a plenary indulgence by walking through the door and fulfilling the other conditions (detachment from all sin, Holy Communion, Confession, and prayers for the Pope) within a few days of the visit.

Establish the habit of praying the family rosary, perhaps after the dinner dishes are done. Have the family agree on a merciful intention for each night’s rosary.

Remember those in the hospital or at home who should receive the Anointing of the Sick. Get involved and make it happen! Others close to that person may not realize the importance of this sacrament.

Spread the faith by starting a group to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church or by teaching CCD to those difficult middle school students.

Remember your friends who need a gentle “fraternal correction” to get them back on track. Don’t assume someone else will do it.

Pray for a mother you know who has had an abortion. Remind her that any priest can forgive that sin in the Jubilee Year.

Tell people in your company or business unit that we’re in a Year of Mercy. Most everyone likes Pope Francis so they’ll probably accept the idea. Encourage small groups to come up with ideas for living mercy in your organization. Then ask each to commit to doing a small number per day.

When you’re interrupted at work, welcome it. Give that person your full attention until the matter is presented or resolved.

Ask yourself several times a day: “How can I help this or that person succeed at work?”

Praise a colleague’s comment during a meeting. Bite your tongue so as not to criticize another’s comment.

Ask those who report to you how things are at home. Then give them the time to explain, and see if giving them some time off or letting them work from home would help ease the pressure.

Ask the spouses of your employees what changes in the work environment would improve their family life. Pick and implement two or three and let them know they were heard.

Simply pray for people at work two or three times during the work day. Pray that God’s will for them be accomplished.

Don’t interrupt a colleague. Listen to the whole answer before offering a comment.

Remember that to direct God’s mercy to others, we first have to receive that mercy ourselves. Ask God for his mercy and then for help to extend it to those in need.

BILL BOWMAN is a member of the advisory board at the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. He is president and CEO of Core Values Group LLC in Boston.

What is Pope Francis saying to business leaders?

BILL BOWMAN writes that Pope Francis made some business leaders uncomfortable with Evangelii Gaudium last fall. The Pope wants us to focus on people, on their dignity, on their need for a “leg up,” on their rights to make decisions on their own. Bowman says the best way to do that is to incorporate the four pillars of Catholic social doctrine . . .

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Pope Francis has made many business leaders uncomfortable since the publication of his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium last November. It was followed in mid-May by his comments to the heads of United Nations agencies gathered in Rome.

His language was certainly designed to get our attention: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories;” “the excluded are still waiting;” “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

The reaction from the right was immediate. “That’s Marxism. That’s socialism. That’s not charity.” Other critics were more polite and reasoned. And the left denounced capitalism and joyously proclaimed that the Pope had endorsed income redistribution.

In trying to align these statements with those of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, commentators have pointed out that an exhortation does not carry the same weight as an encyclical, that Catholics are free to disagree on secular issues such as preferred economic structures, that laypeople are supposed to take the lead in political efforts to build a better society, and that his Argentinean experience has somehow colored his views.

But we can’t be too quick to dismiss a Pope’s point of view. Saint John XXIII made this point in Mater et Magistra in 1961: “The Church has the right and obligation not only to guard ethical and religious principles, but also to declare its authoritative judgment in the matter of putting these principles into practice” (#239).

Very few of us can influence macroeconomic policy, so I think the Pope’s point is not to have us debate but to have us act. He has moved out of the apostolic palace. When will we move out of ours?

We have 125 years of Catholic social doctrine that provide a map for us. There are four well-developed principles that can be incorporated in our businesses: 1) The dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all social doctrine. 2) Solidarity, where “all are responsible for all.” 3) Subsidiarity, requiring that decisions be made at the lowest level where the capability exists. 4) Universal destination of goods.

The dignity of the human person. Do we see our employees’ growth in dignity as our primary responsibility? Do we really believe that this is the purpose of our business? How might we measure this?

Promoting solidarity. “All are responsible for all” means that we have to be looking outside the immediate confines of our business to see if we really feel responsibility for others. Is there a way to include our customers and suppliers in a common effort to improve others’ situation?

Promoting subsidiarity. Are we a top-down organization where too many decisions have to “go up the chain” and be approved by senior management? If these decisions can be made at lower levels, subsidiarity demands that we trust others (where it’s been earned) with the decision-making process. Living subsidiarity should reduce our costs. We’ll need fewer layers of management if we empower employees to make decisions on their own.

Universal destination of goods. Everything we were taught in business says that the goods are destined for the owners. Sure, we pay our employees fairly and treat our suppliers with respect. That’s just good business. But the profits belong to the owners. However, the “owner” of the goods is God. We are merely stewards.

Pope Francis takes an example from scripture to show us how we should act. Jesus encounters the rich tax collector Zacchaeus. After his warm encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus announces: “I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody, I will pay back four times the amount.” Francis holds Zacchaeus as a model for us: “Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions?”

The Pope wants us to focus on people, on their dignity, on their need for a “leg up,” on their rights to make decisions on their own. The best way we can respond to Pope Francis is to incorporate the four pillars of Catholic social doctrine. Then we will be doing our part, and if repeated by millions of others, we will help the poor and the marginalized improve their lives.

BILL BOWMAN is CEO of CatholicCEO.net and a consultant with over 25 years’ experience as president and CEO of various companies.