Virtue, that is, a habit of doing the right thing according to God, has been offensive since the Garden of Eden. Offensive to the devil, that is. Jealous of our loving obedience and the mercy God has for us, he hates goodness and tries to throw us off track at every step. But with the gift of the Sacraments, God makes it pretty easy to pursue virtues like forgiveness, self-control (temperance), and fortitude (courage).
The culture’s being generally Christian has been a big help to growing in virtue—in growing closer to God because we had support from our friends, neighbors, and leaders. But that’s changing now, more or less depending on where we live.
In a pre-papal interview, Pope Benedict XVI envisioned a future Church much smaller, but stronger in faith and virtue. We seem to be experiencing that now and things are changing fast. Virtue, far from being supported by many large institutions, has become in some cases shameful and even illegal.
What do we do if we have “set our face like flint” to follow the truth, who is Jesus Christ, no matter what? My answer is simple: frequent Communion, Confession, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament keep us in that boat with Jesus as the storm rages around us. They keep us away from anger and resentment. They remind us that we can remain loving to everyone in our thoughts and actions and still remain steadfast in the Truth.
Specifically, I trust only inspirations for thought or action that come in Adoration or other prayer. I do not trust inspirations that come while watching the news or reading inflammatory articles. “Forget your rage…it only leads to evil” (Psalm 37:8). Avoiding rage has become a full-time job!
The Pope’s prophecy of small groups keeping each other’s faith, hope, and love alive is a great way to approach the current cultural crisis. If my life is anchored in my parish and my prayer group, for example, then faith in Divine Providence will remain foremost in my mind and heart. The trust that keeps me afloat will not be overwhelmed by the storm of animosity that rages around me from friend and foe alike.
Below is a take on where we are now and how we can nurture our virtue from F. X. Cronin, who wrote a series of articles for CatholicExchange.com on this subject. His series avoids the tone of anger and alarm that such articles often have. Maybe that’s because he keeps in mind that standing up for the truth also means focusing more on letting Christ heal our own sins than on getting upset that others are still sinning.
“Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Jesus, I trust in You.”
Can Modernity Tolerate a Righteous Catholic Life?
by F.X. Cronin
Top: Image at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/525865693966272706/