I’ve been wanting to write for a while now; however, within the last month, I’ve witnessed such a gamut of hate, rejection, accusations, and bullying within my State and Country, I’ve just been at a loss for words. I’ve prayed for and sought guidance to understand what is happening to our society and it was finally revealed to me: we have lost or rejected God’s virtues.
So many people in our society “claim” to be Christian. As a matter of fact, in a 2017 Pew Research report, “80% of Americans say they believe in God or some higher force, while 99% of Christians say they believe in the God of the Bible.” Interestingly, the same study shows that only, “49% of those under the age of 50, and 43% of those under 30 believe in God.” This is a startling fact, especially when you consider our Country was based on the freedom to express our religious beliefs in God. Now, basically, half of our children do not believe in God and they are raising their children without any sort of belief in God, and we wonder what is happening to our Country.
So many of our separated brothers and sisters ( those who do not believe in the Catholic faith) believe they are “saved” by “Faith Alone.” For them, reciting the “Sinner’s Prayer” and accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior will “Guarantee” their salvation, no matter what they do with the rest of their life. It seems so un-fulfilling to me, that someone who makes this claim, will have nothing to work toward, other than a sort of “pyramid scheme,” of making sure they get another soul to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” and on and on it goes. According to Dr. David Anders, ” Life is a rich, textured, many faceted thing with enormous beauty, pain, horror and amazing panoply of experiences. What meaning and value are these, if the only thing that I can do of eternal value, is to convert another soul or myself to be converted? Faith alone falls apart because it doesn’t take into account the essentials to living out our faith through Virtues.”
We are so fortunate, as our Catholic faith explains, to have the 7 Virtues which affect human beings in the material and spiritual aspects of life. All human beings can acquire the 4 Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. With these 4 Cardinal Virtues, humans can use their intellect and free will to live a moral life. This opens the door to accepting God’s love; thus, receiving the Theological Virtues which helps to prepare us to live as children of God and prepare us for eternal life.
The first Cardinal Virtue of Prudence gives people the ability of reason to see what is good and evil. In today’s world, we are definitely seeing a lack of prudence due to the lack of moral choices. The Virtue of Justice allows humans to respect others rights, equality and to serve the common good. This has been twisted and perverted in our society, so much so, that if you don’t agree with a side purporting someone’s “rights” you are called evil, close-minded, and hateful.
We are called to use the Virtue of Fortitude almost on a daily basis as we need courage to stand-up for what is right and good. Often we find ourselves confronted by those who have been deceived by the evil one, thinking they are standing up for what they consider to be right – oftentimes, what is left out of their consciousness is the fact “It Is Not Good.”
The last Cardinal Virtue is Temperance. Our culture, especially in America, is a “more, more, more,” society. No longer do we moderate our desires for goods or pleasures. “If it feels good, do it” was a slogan that infiltrated past generations and has become “my right”, or “the norm,” in today’s world. Temperance is something we all need to start implementing and we can do so in our lives by doing such simple things as, decreasing our need for shopping, watching how we speak to others or holding our tongue when we really want to speak out. Skipping a favorite snack or dessert and/or denying ourselves a certain pleasure, every now and then, can be a small way we show our children and Our Lord how much we love Him for all the sacrifices He made for us.
I have often wondered how people can be so heartless, cruel, ruthless or just plain evil. The lack of Theological Virtues, especially Charity, explains this well.
When the Theological virtues are bestowed upon people, they will be drawn toward God. The first Theological Virtue of Faith allows people to commit themselves entirely to God and live out the Christian values and works He expects of us; however, without the gift of Charity (Love), the believer cannot increase in the Virtue of Faith and draw himself completely to Christ. I have personally experienced this. When you have hate in your soul, you are kind of spiritually “blocked” from drawing closer to The Lord. Think about it, if God IS love, why would He want someone who has hate in their heart to be near Him? Once the hate in my heart was gone, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer, forgiveness, and a miraculous blessing, I finally felt the burden of hate lifted from me and a peace filled my heart and soul and I was more able to receive the Theological Virtues.
The Theological Virtue of Hope is the trusting that Heaven is real, desiring eternal life with God, as well as, trusting in love that the promises of Christ are true and we will have eternal happiness with Him. Imagine, so many people have no Hope. They cannot trust or love because they have not been able to experience the Virtue of Hope. God designed us to progress through the Cardinal Virtues and develop those habits in order to open our hearts to the gifts of the Theological Virtues, through the most important Virtue which unites them all, Charity.
God IS love and the Theological Virtue of Charity is what gives all the other Virtues life! When we have the Virtue of Charity (Love) we Christians are able to experience the love for God and the love for others. Saint Paul teaches us that the greatest of the Virtues is Love. When we are applying Charity to the fullest in our lives, we are able to experience true joy, peace and mercy, as we start to see things through the eyes/perspective of God.
It is interesting how this has manifested in my life. All my life, I have been one who has to be constantly “moving” a part of my body in one way or another. Even as an infant, I rocked my crib so hard it moved it across the wooden floor of my bedroom. I often remember sitting quietly and having to move my leg or foot for some strange reason. Before going to sleep, I’d have to “wiggle” my leg or foot in order to put myself to sleep, to the unfortunate displeasure of my husband who would often ask me to stop moving. I never considered it to be an “issue;” however, when I received the gift of charity and the profound peace that entered my soul, I noticed the “moving” I’ve done my whole life, quite literally stopped. I often wondered if I had some interior anxiety that I was repressing but expressing with my movements. All I know is that now, I rarely “wiggle” unless I’m engrossed in a knuckle-biting sporting event, and for that, I’m thankful.
Humanity was designed by our Creator to incorporate the 7 Virtues of the Catholic faith; unfortunately, we are witnessing, at this very moment, a culture devoid of Virtues.
Regrettably, the badly Catechized lay Catholics have reproduced and ignored their faith and responsibility to grow/learn and teach the faith to themselves and their children. No longer do we see Churches filled, Parochial schools with waiting lists, or parents taking on their roles as primary educators of the faith to their children.
If we want Society to make an about-face rather quickly, we must instill Cardinal Virtues and call upon the Holy Spirit to infuse within us and our children, the Theological Virtues we receive by being true followers of Christ and the Holy Catholic Church that He founded. We know that we, and those who are in positions of leadership, are not perfect – just as Saint Peter was not perfect; however, he was chosen by Jesus to lead his sheep. Through the Graces we receive in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, we can strive to be like Jesus in all we do, with love for Him and our neighbor.