Posted by: wordofthevine | November 14, 2012

Virtues: the Active Principles of our Baptism

I sat down in my sister, Pat’s car and looked up to see a beautiful crystal heart dangling from the mirror of her car. This crystal heart, with its many facets of cut glass, caught the light that streamed through the car window and reflected many different brilliant colors, depending on how the gleaming rays of sunlight hit it.My sister, Pat, had come into the family through adoption. Pat shared that Arlene, her birth mother, had given her this heart. Sitting there hearing this, I felt the unseen sense of Arlene and her love that had made possible the gift of my sister. Virtues are like this. They make us deeply beautiful and able to reflect the light of God’s presence to others. Virtues give life!

Virtues are active principles, that we are predisposed to follow because of our human hearts, that are ignited through Baptism. According to Ven. Father Felix Rougier, M.Sp.S., more than just a good habit,virtues are particular spiritual strengths or forces in the soul.  The activating essence of virtues comes from God, but we each must augment these overtures of God’s tenderness with decisions of our will. We learn to be virtuous, to be life-giving to others, by learning about the good habits that we’re capable of and by applying them generously in our lives. We also grow by removing the obstacles that try to minimize or block our good action: the vices.

Think about yourself. Isn’t it the practical everyday choices in the midst of caring for and working with people that bring you down? We often forget that a simple, everyday yes,to delay our own needs sometimes, to love others well, helps us grow more like God. A primary virtue is love, an active love that transforms self and brings life to others. All the different virtues are just different aspects of love.

Ven. Father Felix Rougier’s spiritual friend, Ven. Concepción described virtues as flowers in a field. “This garden of the virtues is as if it were nighttime and although the beauty of all the virtues is there, nothing is visible until the light of charity comes and illumines all beauty and gives value, growth and life to the other virtues.”

Think practically about how you interact and what you think and feel about others.Growing intentionally holy requires us to also grow in self-knowledge. This week, just for five minutes before you retire at night, review the ups and downs of your day. Invite Jesus into your successes and also into your glitch points and melt downs, when you shire away from the demands of love. Notice any patterns to this, and learn to lean into His grace and provision for you as you glance towards Him and take your cues for living from your growing intimacy with Him. Along with continuing to explore Loving Attention to Godwe also will take one virtue at a time and explore how to live it more fully, so we can give life as Christian disciples. ~Mary

Mary Gannon Kaufmann

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