The Pattern of a Virtuous Life

05. August 2016 Liturgical Life 2

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Wisdom.  The Word of God is replete with the concept.  The Old Testament contains a book bearing that title.  King Solomon treasured wisdom above all other divine blessings.   Salvation history teaches us that the pursuit of wisdom is continually pleasing to God.

Yet, a great divide exists between the desire for wisdom and its acquisition.  Our hearts are stirred towards the goal, but life interrupts the process.

 

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In the last 5, almost 6, years, I’ve become a mother twice over and in rapid succession.  I’ve moved three times.  I felt the call to homeschool my children and found my head swimming with requirements and responsibilities.  Our family has struggled through difficult years with not enough family-time, not enough daddy-time, and not enough couple-time.  I have spent seasons…years even…in a checklist-driven, frenetic survival-mode, determined to keep the Good Ship Jones afloat without giving much thought to where we (or I) were going.

As I prepared for my entrance into the Catholic Church last fall, I struggled to choose my confirmation Saint. I read stories of Catholic converts whose patron Saint chose them in an obvious and inspirational manner. My life at the time was too busy, too full, and too chaotic to listen, much less hear the Holy Spirit’s direction.

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Or so I thought.  I chose St. Margaret of Scotland because she is known as a patron of mothers, large families and learning.   My choice seemed logical and rational, although not particularly inspired by the heart.  In fact, I found it even more difficult to form an emotional connection when I read the biography written by her confessor, Turgot.

 

“When [Margaret] spoke, her conversation was seasoned with the salt of wisdom. When she was silent, her silence was filled with good thoughts. So thoroughly did her outward bearing correspond with the staidness of her character that it seemed as if she had been born the pattern of a virtuous life.

 

This was NOT me.  I could find no scrap of my genuine self in this description.  My conversation typically flies off my tongue with little consideration to its wisdom.  I am rarely silent under any circumstances.  If forced into silence, my mind is full of anything but good thoughts.  No one will describe my life as the pattern of virtuousness.

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But the call towards sanctification remains.  How do I reconcile the difference between my reality and my heavenly goal? Just as God calls me to take care of my body (which rebels against the idea of exercise in most forms and loves the taste of butter and cheese), I believe all of us are called to renew our mind and grow in wisdom.  We stand at the bottom of a mountain and cannot fathom the climb.

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Thankfully, we can read about the victorious members of the Church Triumphant for motivation and inspiration.  St. Margaret is described as having “the salt of wisdom.”  Salt is used in small quantities.  It is mixed throughout the entire dish to flavor every bit.  It only takes a little.  Its minute presence is transformational.

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Every little bit counts.  Don’t focus on the discrepancies, take the next step.  Don’t worry about what you don’t know, commit to learning something each day (or each week…or each month).  The point is to keep learning, keep reading, keep renewing your mind.  Just like exercising your body, wake up every day with a resolve to exercise your mind.  Beyond that, trust your growth in wisdom and virtue to the One who made you in His image.

 

Small Changes for Today

 

  • Join a book club with others who share your faith.  This packs the one-two punch of providing a social outlet and allowing you to bounce ideas off others.

 

  • Model the pursuit of wisdom by reading aloud to your family.  You can grow in wisdom, build connections and develop your children all at the same time! 10 minutes a day adds up to 5 hours per month and 60 hours per year!

 

  • You can find wisdom in fiction.  One night a week, replace your Netflix-fix with a good story to light a love of reading and ignite your imagination. (A great book list for all ages can be found here.)

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  • Keep reading one page at a time. Cultivate contemplation.

2 thoughts on “The Pattern of a Virtuous Life”

  • 1
    Sue Woody on August 21, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for a great blog post, Heidi! I love the tip of 10 minutes a day and the quick math for us. It can be easy at bedtime (after a long day with 4 littles) to want to skip the Bible time and just pray, smooch, and send them off to dreamland. Yet, we have found the Holy Spirit often guides that time more than we could plan for. The Bible passages somehow miraculously match up with a lesson that is much needed that day for one child or another. Our kids are just now outgrowing The Bible for Little Eyes and we’ve started the Catholic Children’s Bible by St. Mary’s Press. Both are great additions and thought I’d share. Thanks again!

    • 2
      Heidi on August 22, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for the resource tips! We’re reading from “My Baptism Bible” for homeschool right now. It’s very simplistic, but we have to start somewhere! Thank you for the reminder of how the Holy Spirit can work…in our kids’ lives too!

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