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3 March 2013
Living a Virtuous Life—The Importance of Patience
What are Virtues? You have probably heard the word ‘virtue’ before; such as, ‘Patience is a virtue’ or ‘Virtues and Vices’. But, can you explain what it means? Do you know what a virtue is? Or, why patience is a virtue? Don’t worry, many people can’t. We know ‘virtuous’ is something that we should be, but can’t explain what it is or how to get there. Well, today is the day we straighten some of this ‘virtue stuff’ out! Let’s start with what a virtue is – ‘a habitual and firm disposition to do the good’ (CCC 1803). Now, what does it mean? ‘A habitual and firm disposition’ means that we have a habit of doing something, that we do it easily, and every time. We have lots of habits, such as chewing with our mouths closed (hopefully), waving hello when we see someone we know, and saying ‘God Bless You’ when someone sneezes. These, and many others, are things that we do consistently. They are our habits. A virtue is when the habit is a good thing, like telling the truth (honesty) or standing up for others (fortitude). The Virtue of Patience So, virtue is a good habit. We may want to say we are all set, and living a virtuous life. However, if we are honest with ourselves, it is probably more true to say that we are trying to do good, but don’t have a habit of it yet. We want to be patient, but can snap at people; we want to be honest, but will tell ‘little white lies’; we want to have self-control, but sometimes eat a little more than we should. The first step in growing in virtue is self-knowledge—”Christian, know thyself.” Know what your strengths are, but also what your weaknesses are so that you can begin or continue to grow in those areas. The second step is prayer! Don’t try and do it on your own or you will fail! Guaranteed! Ask for help from the people around you, and especially the Father, who will send the Holy Spirit to guide you. Finally, step three, be patient! Building habits and growing in virtue is not a quick process. You must be patient with yourself and with those around you. As you grow in the virtue of patience, you will also grow in the other virtues as well. A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends towards the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God. CCC 1803
Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them. CCC 1810
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
C H A L L E N G E
This week, make a list of your strengths and your weaknesses. The list should be balanced with 5 of each—not more strengths or you may be prideful and not more weaknesses or you may be too hard on yourself. You DO have strengths, and you DO have weaknesses. What are they? Simply choose one. Don’t take on too much and try and change everything at once. Remember, be patient! Be reasonable! In order to accomplish this challenge you will need help. So, remember to ask God for help in prayer, and talk with someone close to you who you can confide in.