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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Virtues

Today is the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, another of one of my favorite Saints, and one whose work "Interior Castle" I'll be reading following this next weekend.

However, given that thus far I've been reading St. Catherine of Siena and have yet to finish "Dialogue", well, let's just say that her words currently have far more impact to date.

To the uninitiated, "Dialogue" is exactly what it claims to be; an earnest conversation between the Holy Soul of St. Catherine and God the Father; a work of approved Private Revelation considered to be one of the greatest and most astounding works in the history of the Church. It is solid doctrine, provided to a Saint who had no means of having acquired such knowledge, and as I am reading it, I have no doubt whatsoever that God himself spoke in His own words.

Virtues

The work often speaks of the Virtues, and in fact, this topic comes up early and is woven throughout. What struck me, though, was this: we are all given virtues. No, that's not news. But we all have, as a gift at Confirmation, a dominant virtue, and this virtue, fueled by charity (Divine Love, another virtue) is what brings us to all the other virtues. Each of us has a dominant Virtue; Humility, Patience, Faith, Perseverence, Fortitude, Charity, Temperance...it is a gift. Can you understand this? EACH of us, as a GIFT has a dominant virtue...and that is the tool God uses to help us utilize the others.

When I first began reading this, I wondered at my Virtue; what could it be? It was so easy to eliminate them, but then, I realized, even going way back, that God has given me the virtue of Faith. Even if I would doubt this, a couple years ago, a new priest assigned to my parish made note of it in a way I can't deny. I came to know him through Theology on Tap, and he offered to meet with me, seeing my nervousness upon the first presentations I gave to the RCIA class. He was a priest who gave me a certain confidence as I sought to pass on this great Faith we have been given.

He was moved, very suddenly, to cover a parish that was about to lose its priest, and as I said my goodbye to him and wished him well, he placed his hand on my shoulder and thanked me for my witness of faith to him. I was shocked...what had I done or said that was helpful to HIM?

He had the Mass the next evening, which I did not attend, but did get to the church in time for Confession. I'd sent him an email, and as he passed me he thanked me for it, and I headed into the Confession line.

It has been my practice for a long time to go to anonymous Confession, for otherwise I'm tempted to "sugar coat" my sins. And that night was no exception, and I had a particularly difficult sin to confess.

The priests I know have often spoke of the action of the Holy Spirit when they hear Confessions, and when they give their advice. That evening, I confessed what I had to confess, and from the other side of the screen, Father spoke very clearly about the Gift of Faith I had been given, how important it was, and to never stop listening to God through this Gift. I'll never forget his voice or his words as I knelt, surprised, knowing what I deserved for my sin...and yet hearing not just mercy, but receiving edification.

A part of me wonders if Father had seen me get in line and recognized my voice; and if he did, I'm not embarassed, worried, or offended. He said something that resonated, and that went to the heart of what I was doing that day and am doing now. He reminded me that God's mercy does not rest on our wrongs, but rather who He created us to be, and that He gave us Virtues to assist us in reaching Him.

Maybe Faith is my main Virtue...and it's the one that, through Charity, will help me develop all of the others, just as God the Father revealed to St. Catherine of Siena.

Consider the gifts you have been given, and if you don't know your foundational virtue...pray about it. Ask God what He has given you, and once that is revealed, focus on that to help you grow in all the other virtues.

We are given all we need to achieve Sainthood; the only problem is that we lack self-knowledge. If we pray for that, God will be gracious in His blessings; and we can become closer to Him through the very key He provides even before He gives us the rest of the keyring.

What is YOUR Virtue? What is your key?

Turn one...find all the others.

"Wherefore, learn, that, in many cases I give one virtue, to be as it were the chief of the others, that is to say, to one I will give principally love, to another justice, to another humility, to one a lively faith, to another prudence or temperance, or patience, to another fortitude. These, and many other virtues I place, indifferently, in the soul of many creatures; it happens, therefore, that the particular one so placed in the soul becomes the principal object of its virtue; the soul disposing herself, for her chief conversation, to this rather than to the other virtues, and, by the effect of this virtue, the soul draws to herself all the other virtues, which, as has been said, are all bound together in the affection of love....I have not placed them all in one soul, in order that man should perforce, have material love for his fellow."

~ St. Catherine of Siena, "Dialogue", A Treatise on Divine Providence

3 comments:

Jim Gerl said...

Hi,

I just voted for your excellent blog for the Bloggers Choice Awards.

Could you please return the favor at:
http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.
com/blogs/show/21620



Thanks,



SpEdLaw2
http://specialeducationlawblog.blogspot.com

ignorant redneck said...

Ummm...OK, now I feel small.

I don't like to post off topic, but that's what I came here to do--to ask you a favor. But then, I realize I gotta read St. Catherine of Sienna. Well, the favor is in mind, and I'll have to order the book, so here goes:

I'm trying to get people to commit to prayer and fasting for three days prior to the National Elections this year--the US ones.

If you could put up a short post about this project, it would be appriciated. There are, as of today 38 people commited to this project that I know of.

There are explicatory posts and updates at my place.

Adoro te Devote said...

Jim ~ Thank you - I had no idea I was even nominated! I'll check out your blog and the others as I have otherwise not checked out the awards thus far.

IR ~ Why do you feel small? And I am finally caught up and posted for you! :-) (And you'd better be careful or you'll blow your cover, you non-ignorant person, you!)