I recently finished the Rooted study from Blessed Is She. There are several different topics, but the one that stood out most to me was the virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance
To have virtue is to exercise doing good consistently. Even Aristotle emphasizes in Nicomachean Ethics that virtue is practical, that the purpose of ethics is to become good. Developing excellence of character (virtue) will help a man do the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way. Interestingly enough, Aristotle also taught that exercising temperance will lead a man to live well, which ultimately brings happiness, and that should be man’s highest aim.
Studying the virtues from a Biblical perspective felt like a splash of cool water on a hot summer’s day. It was refreshing, energizing, and humbling. Here are a couple of gems I learned:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:21-23
Like any other habit, ‘the choice’ is continuously present with every virtue. Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence.” He’s not wrong. Every human, whether they realize it or not, hopes for happiness. It is in our nature. Our hopes inspire our activities, keeps us from discouragement, and can sustain us during times of abandonment.
When reading about hope I was reminded of The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien beautifully transposed what hope looks like when life is dark and uncertain—hope is like the Phial of Galadriel, which held the light of Eärendil’s star, “a light to use in dark places.”
In Rooted, the writer reminds us that we have hope: it is Jesus—He’s been to hell and back—He will never leave us or abandon us.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints.Proverbs 2:6-8
Prudence—let’s be honest, the word, even phonetically, sounds boring—but it’s my favorite out of all the virtues. Let me explain: according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, prudence is the “right reason in action.” The Catechism calls prudence auriga virtutum—”the charioteer of the virtues.” When we are prudent we are able to make sound judgements in achieving good—prudence guides all the other cardinal virtues by developing our conscience.
Then there’s fortitude:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
Fortitude means we have firmness in the face of hardship. Fortitude helps us withstand temptation, do what is right, and overcome fears. When we have fortitude, we remember Jesus’ words, “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the word you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Okay, the last virtue that stood out to me in this study was temperance. There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3: 2-8). Temperance is basically finding balance with our desires and things we find enjoyment. We’re not naturally inclined to practice any of the virtues, least of all temperance. Temperance doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy life—it means to find balance in everything you do.
This study was a great refresher on the virtues—and it was only a small part of the book. Rooted focuses on Ways to Pray, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and more. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a new Bible study in 2021.
Do you think about the virtues often? I’ll be honest, friend, I don’t, but it is on my to-do list for 2021 ;) And I mean that literally. Every day I pen a to-do list, and before every list, I jot down these seven virtues to remind myself! As silly as that sounds, it is helpful.