The month of November kicks off with a very important feast day in the Church's liturgical calendar. The Solemnity (or high feast) of All Saints is the day that we commemorate all of our brothers and sisters who have "fought the good fight, and finished the race" and now behold the face of God in Heaven (2Timothy 4:7).
These witnesses who now give unending praise and glory to God are presented to us as models or heroes for our own daily lives. As St. Bernard tells us, "[c]alling the saints to mind inspires... a longing to enjoy their company... We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints." Yet, with such a burning desire in our hearts, how do we achieve this lofty goal?
The answer is virtuous living.
is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The person who lives virtuously not only performs good acts, but in doing so he gives the very best of himself. "The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions" (
). This form of living requires firmness of purpose and true self-mastery - the two qualities necessary for mastering any skill (for example becoming an NBA star or a concert pianist). When we live virtuously, we are acting in a way that brings the freedom of living life to the full at every moment. For this reason, St. Gregory of Nyssa tells us that "the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God." Virtue frees us for a life of excellence, a life of authentic happiness, and a life directed toward Heaven.
So how do we begin living a life of virtue here and now? We begin with knowing ourselves. The ancient philosopher Socrates said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." If we do not take the time to reflect upon ourselves and see our faults and failings, we will not know where we need to grow. As we come to know ourselves, we can see what virtues we are lacking in and begin to develop concrete "action plans" for growing in that virtue TODAY. We begin to cooperate with God's plan, as He molds us into the saints He desires us to be.
Over the course of the month, we will be discussing different ways in which we can live out the virtues in our daily lives. I encourage you to continue these conversations at home. Discuss as a family what virtues you individually need to practice, and what virtues you can work on together as a family. Pray together for virtue, begging God's help, and share your progress with one another - celebrate each other's victories, encourage one another when the going gets tough, and help to come up with new strategies when the original plan fails. We must remember that we are all on this journey together, and that even the Saints in Heaven are rooting us on at every step.
Know of my prayers for you and your pursuit of holiness!
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)