Tag Archives: Virtue

Virtue

Many desire virtue, but fear to go forward in the way that leads to it, while others consider that virtue does not even exist. So it is necessary to persuade the former to give up their laziness and to teach the others what virtue really is.

—-Abba Isadore of the Desert

Virtue-Ghandi

Virtue is behavior, particularly moral, that conforms to a very high standard. Today’s Christian, just like the desert monastics of the past, seek to live a life of high standards. Today’s world gives mixed signals about what this world should look like. On the one hand, we preach freedom of expression without any limits. Others would tell us that we must exercise restraint in all our relationships and dealings with others. I believe that in order to reach the highest standards that are possible for a man who lives on this earth, we must believe that God’s grace guides us every day.

The wise Monk advises us that there are many around us that do not believe that there is any such thing as exemplary Virtue-1behavior. With that negative approach, we are destined for failure. We must take the high ground, so to speak, and allow ourselves to be open to the wonderful reality that God can and does make virtue possible for each of us. Let us not live in the state of discouragement, defeat, and despair. The Apostle Paul in his writings tells us to “press on to the mark.” Abba Isadore gives us some sound advice and a mission.

The Abba tells us that our role is to persuade others that marching on to a life of higher standards is not only possible but doable. Let me tell you a story about virtue. There was once a man who felt very defeated. He felt that God had abandoned him and indeed the entire world seem to be against him. That is really a bad place to be, so he prayed and prayed but seemed to get no results. Through fate, he found himself in the presence of a young boy possessing the virtue that only a child can have. He was encouraged by the young boy who told him that life was good and there was hope and this changed his life. That boy, without knowing it, modeled virtue to this man who was discouraged and defeated. The man began to think, if he could do it, we can all do it. We can achieve through God virtue and excellence and move on with our lives.

Our calling is not only to live with high standards and virtue but to persuade others that God wants them to live in the same way. I am not talking about being self-righteous but just being a person who expresses the love of God and the purity of God in every way possible. That’s our challenge and mission to show God to other people and to do so absent of self-righteousness. If we can achieve that, then others will see the virtue of God in us and strive to make it so for themselves.


Prayer

Oh Lord, give me the determination to muster up all the strength in my being and discover that virtue does exist. I cannot, on my own, live life up to such a standard but with you, I can reach that high goal. Help me not only to reach it but to have the courage and determination to share that discovery with others.

Amen

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Why Am I Worthy?

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Abba Peter said, ‘We must not be puffed up when the Lord does something through our meditation, but we must rather thank Him for making us worthy to be called by Him.’ He used to say it is good to think about each virtue in this way.

—–Abba Peter of the Desert

Clearly, the wise Abba articulates to us that all virtues come from our relationship with the Almighty. This point of view eludes so many people today, because we live as though virtues are man-made. How many times have you heard the expression, “I am a self-made man?” Granted, there are many people who have worked and studied diligently to accomplish their goals. In the midst of such thinking we are called to look higher and outside of ourselves for the source of our success. By taking this approach we do not limit our potential, but it explodes because God is the center of our lives.

 What would the world really be like if God were always the core of our plans? Perhaps we would find it easier to forgive, to say I’m sorry, to turn the other cheek, to give credit to others, and to suddenly discover that the Spirit of God truly dwells with man. This sort of acknowledgement would make for a much kinder and gentler world. Our world would be free of vicious competition and jealousy, because it would no longer be about our ability but about God’s gift expressed through us.

You are worthy because the worthy God is living in you.

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Theory and Work

Someone said to blessed Arsenius, ‘How is it that we, with all our education and our wide knowledge get no- where, while these Egyptian peasants acquire so many virtues?’ Abba Arsenius said to him, ‘We indeed get nothing from our secular education, but these Egyptian peasants acquire the virtues by hard work.’

—sayings of the Desert Fathers

This lesson from the desert takes us to the crossroad of learning and doing. Theory of life can only take us so far, but doing (work) is where we truly learn. Every follower of Christ wants to live a virtuous life, and many spend a great deal of time studying about such a life. Sadly, a life of virtue is never lived out in isolation. We must be workers in the world and flesh out our virtues as we interact with the world. For in the interaction we find the need to turn to God, and in our turning He gives us virtues that can never be attained by learning.

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Virtues and Hard Work

Someone said to blessed Arsenius, ‘How is it that we, with all our education and our wide knowledge get no- where, while these Egyptian peasants acquire so many virtues?’ Abba Arsenius said to him, ‘We indeed get nothing from our secular education, but these Egyptian peasants acquire the virtues by hard work.’

 ——Abba Arsenius 

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

It would do us all well to learn the lesson of humble work. Such work is the prayer of the desert Monk. In our world we tend to devalue the work of our hands, hard work that builds our character and spirit. We replace it by such sayings as,”Work smarter, not harder.” While I would be the first to advise smart work, I must add that true work builds virtue, the kind of virtue that stands against the temptations of the evil one.

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