I came across a superb quote from Chesterton regarding virtue the other day, in Christopher West’s At the Heart of the Gospel- Reclaiming the body for the New Evangelisation. (Which is knocking my socks off, by the way.) I sought the original essay in which it appeared, and found some other things I rather liked. The highlights I reproduce below:
When I saw this detailed array of lists I was rather amused and one of the first things I said was, ‘Why don’t you just go out and buy these things instead of waiting for someone to give them to you’? It dawned on me soon after that my comment said more about my general outlook than Jane’s lists. I realised that the reason I don’t really have a wish list is because if I had wanted a book or a DVD or a paper trimmer I would just go and buy it at that moment – and I mean at that moment – Jane will tell you how I can have an item searched for and purchased via the ebay app before she’s even finished talking about how much she likes it.
The reason Jane tells me she keeps a wish list is because it helps her separate what she actually needs from what she actually wants. I think I have realised then that a properly kept wish list is actually a subliminal sign of patience, it is a list that demonstrates a person’s ability to exist without the ever growing amount of ‘stuff’ that we all seem to compile.
Definitely going to try to live this!
I’m planning to write a bit about the connection between the virtues and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, as it’s not something I’ve thought about in great depth before. For today, the important points from the Catechism, well worth the read:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”62
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 toward 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.63
THE HUMAN VIRTUES
Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.
The virtues and grace
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.
It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.
THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
- Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.110For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.111
- The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”112
I’ll leave you with this thought, which has been the source of much reflection for me of late:
“The virtuous life and the happy life are synonymous.” ~ Fr Emmerich Vogt