The Gentle Virtues | Lenten Series 2019 | Week 6

“The qualities to be fostered in a human formation program are freedom, openness, honesty and flexibility, joy and inner peace, generosity and justice, personal maturity, interpersonal skills, common sense, aptitude for ministry, and growth “in moral sensibility and character.””[1]

As we near the end of our Lenten focus on building a virtuous life, we might become overwhelmed by the sheer number of virtues which we can apply. While the theological and cardinal virtues are essential to focus on, we need to recognize that we are not learning virtue in a vacuum. We were created to live in society, interacting daily with our family and coworkers. Many of the more humble virtues help us to be a better friend, spouse, sibling, parent, parishioner, or pastor.

As a place which strives to form men to be like Christ, the seminary aims to develop men who have grown in these virtues of character. “A person of solid moral character with a finely developed moral conscience, a man open to and capable of conversion: a man who demonstrates the human virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice, humility, constancy, sincerity, patience, good manners, truthfulness, and keeping his word, and who also manifests growth in the practice of these virtues.”[2]

All of us are called to be Christ for our neighbors. Most of us will not get to heaven through some grand gesture, but instead through patiently loving those around us in everyday moments. How can we grow in authenticity, humility, patience, gentleness, and good manners? What daily relationships and interactions can we examine and improve upon? You do not need to attempt all these virtues at once. Examining your conscience should help identify the virtue that you need most right now.

“Growth in self-awareness and sound personal identity are the hallmarks of a healthy personality that establishes a secure basis for the spiritual life.”[3] These little virtues are especially important for our seminarians to learn as they will be called upon in a unique and public way to demonstrate Christ to others. Each of us should take seriously our identity as Catholics, and strive to perfect our power through gentle virtues as well. Do not neglect these little stepping stones.

Take Action this Week:

  • Read through a list of human virtues. Does a particular one stand out to you? God gives us a natural propensity towards certain virtues. Developing and practicing it is a talent is one way to glorify God.
  • St. Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, is a wonderful of example of living little virtues every day. Read more about her, or meditate on her writings.
  • Pray for our seminarians as they perfect their capacity as holy men through consistent habits of little virtues.
[14] USCCB Program of Priestly Formation, 85
[15] USCCB Program of Priestly Formation, 79
[16] USCCB Program of Priestly Formation, 86