Catholic on purpose

little moments full of grace

Cultivating Virtue

Everyday is a grand opportunity to grow in virtue, strengthen ones soul, and fall more in love with Christ. Everyday is a grand opportunity to love ones neighbor, ones family, and ones self with great patience. There is opportunity all around us, but we often miss it. Why?

The grand opportunity is present in all the unpleasant happenings of everyday life. The virtues one may cultivate on any given day, as St. Francis De Sales says, are not typically strength, magnanimity, or magnificence. They are patience, humility, gentleness and modesty. It is the “lesser” virtues, the ones we aren’t as inclined to desire, that everyday life provides us for practice.

But in these so called lesser virtues lies our greatest gain.

Each one of us is inclined to some sort of vice. Be it impatience, anger, pride, or any other. In “Introduction to the Devout Life,” St. Francis De Sales advises that we choose one or two that we struggle with most and begin practicing its opposing virtue. We can add this to our morning prayer that I talked about here.

So, for example, I must admit that I am very impatient and easily angered at small matters. This is particularly difficult with young children because they aren’t the best listeners and they like to get into trouble. When I pray in the morning, I ask for the grace to grow in patience and gentleness. I ask God to bless my efforts and shower me in his mercy when I fail.

And yes, I do fail quite often.

I have learned so many beautiful lessons from practicing these virtues but especially from failing at them. I have learned that I can say right along with Matthew 26: 40-43, “the soul is willing but the flesh is weak.” I am humbled daily. I am reminded of my need for God. And I am encouraged by the great work he has done within me.

Maybe the most beautiful lesson I have learned is that I don’t have to become perfect for God to love me. In my failings, he is showering me with grace. He is saying, as he did to St. Faustina, “you are depending to much on your own will.” He is showing me that he is always there for me to lean on and trust in completely. And his mercy never fails.

I challenge you to take a close look at the vices you dance with daily. The ones that stand out most presently. Focus on them. Spend the day contemplating the subtle and not so subtle ways they penetrate your life. And resolve to work on the opposing virtue, entrusting them to God.

Let us practice, in all simplicity, humility and devotion, those lowly virtues to the attainment of which our Lord has invited us to practice, I mean patience, cheerfulness, self-mortification, humility, obedience, poverty, chastity, kindness to our neighbor, forbearance towards his failings, diligence, and a holy fervor.

St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

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