Tag Archives: virtue

The Fourth of July: looking to live in a freedom for excellence

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God of justice, Father of truth, who guide creation in wisdom and goodness to fulfillment in Christ your Son, open our hearts to the truth of the Gospel, that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives.

Our prayer today ought to be for the citizens and the government of the USA. As the Collect for today’s Mass asks God who is justice and truth: to open our hearts to recognize divine truth and to be rule by His justice. We are not creators of our own destiny as Mr. Obama said today. God has given us our destiny. Our work is to recognize the path laid before us to walk to Him.

Faith and good public order linked graces. 237 years ago the Declaration of Independence was signed; but we are still looking for a good definition of freedom. Let me offer one: freedom for excellence.
What does freedom for excellence mean? One aspect of this type of freedom is that what is expressed in the universal call to holiness. My “I”, that is, my whole person, is a gift from God. In this notion of personhood there is a fundamental openness to the Divine Mystery who created all things, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this life, and in the next. From a Pauline point of view, we live in Christ. And if I live in Christ who is excellence to perfection, then I need not have the disordered attachments of money, power and fame; not be seduced by accomplishments, possessions, interpersonal competition, and reducing my intellect, sexuality and my will to base desires.

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Gratitude is a sincere gift of self

The saints
(Augustine, Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Ignatius and Philip Neri) remind us of
something crucial in the spiritual life, indeed, our life right now: we need to
exercise the virtue of gratitude because of our dependence on God. Gratitude reminds that we are in need of grace but also to give of ourselves to another. Saint Thomas
Aquinas teaches that gratitude is closely connected to the cardinal virtue of
justice, by which we give what is due to others. But with gratitude there is actually a
holy exchange between two people. One person benefits from a good act of another but
also wants to repay the benefaction. Rahner spoke of giving alms at Mass as a way of being involved in the good works of the Church when giving personal time is not possible but no less important because while there is some sort of a bond among the pastor, the benefactor and beneficiary it is only made stronger because real faces are behind the dollar. Think of the times when we write a thank
you note, make a promise of a deeper connection in friendship, or even the
promise spiritual works of mercy. I frequently write, “know that you are in my
prayers” to remind me and the person I am writing that I may not be able to
give something material in return, but I can make a sacrifice of gratitude
before God on behalf of another because of friendship. Gratitude and justice is
rooted in charity, in love for another, because of the Other. I think of Blessed John Paul II’s  insistence that we ought to make “a sincere gift of self.”

Saint Ignatius tells us that to be ungrateful is a sin. Imagine if we account for acts of ingratitude in our daily examination of conscience even in Confession. How is it that today I can make a sincere gift of myself? Lent is a time to recall the concrete times we’ve been grateful and made a promise to pray for another.

Preparing for (real) Christian life

Good question: how does one prepare one self for Christian living? I’d suggest 

  • look for ways to grow in virtue by practice and asking for the grace from Jesus;
  • reduce time sitting in front of the TV, vedging-out; drinking, and eating bad food;
  • be aware of the ways in which self-ish behavior is the norm and make changes;
  • spend time doing lectio divina, praying the rosary and praying for enemies one’s conversion;
  • seek ways to be generous, self-sacrificing by offer a sincere gift of self, self mastery relationship with the Lord.
Many come to a conversion of life from within marriage (and some through religious vows and priesthood) but how we live our life right now is the question; it is also a matter of formation that will bear fruit later in life. Ask for the grace to live a real Christian life.

England has lived according to Christian virtue

Pope Benedict XVI began his State and Pastoral visit to the UK today. Addressing Queen Elizabeth and all Britons in Scotland,  His Holiness said:

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The name of
Holyroodhouse recalls the ‘Holy Cross’ and points to the deep Christian roots
that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England
and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding
saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. … Many of them
consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in
this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. As a result, the
Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and
culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your
forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you
from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great
benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Today, the United Kingdom
strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging
enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and
cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or
even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its
freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well,
constantly inform the example your government and people set before the two
billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking
nations throughout the world.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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