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What’s your strongest virtue?

What’s your strongest virtue?

Now there’s a question!  It might not seem exactly Lenten in character to spend time considering our virtues – but read on then reconsider… Years ago, the priest who most often heard my confessions used a little book that contained short passages of scripture, which he’d look up and quote from as necessary.

I remember one day – there must have been a particularly long queue – I caught myself trying to guess  which little passage he’d be reading to me.  I guessed correctly (he had, after all, had cause to read me that passage more than once before…) but more significantly, I noticed that his little book was indexed not according to vice, but according to virtue.

So say, for example, he had a penitent who was struggling against pride, he’d look up humility. That discovery brought home to me the fact that in spiritual combat, we need to fight vice with virtue.  But how can we win the battle if we don’t even know which weapons we possess?  That’s why we need to consider seriously which virtues we already hold in fair measure; which swords, as it were, are strong and true.  There will be other virtues that are not so strong in us.

They’re like weapons that we’re not used to handling, possibly because we aren’t troubled much by their opposing vice.  There may even be virtues that are rather alien to us, or about which we have all but forgotten.  They are the rusty weapons which, in all honesty, cannot be relied upon in battle and if we need to use them, we’ve lost.

It’s a little exercise that ‘s worth a few moments’ thought, especially as we come towards Passiontide.  Have a look at your own virtues (in a spirit of humility, of course, giving thanks to God for its presence) and see: what’s strong in you?  Can you see your strongest virtue straight away?  Why do you think it’s strong in you?  How do you use it to fight its opposing vice? Consider other virtues, especially ones you need for ‘battle’ and could perhaps sharpen a little.  Prayer and practice are the whetting stones for the swords of virtue.  God gives us what we need, if only we ask it of Him.

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