According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character. What are the evangelical virtues?
I first discovered the them when reading about one of my favorite saints, Teresa of Avila. I googled the term “evangelical virtues,” and there was very little information out there. However, in a transcript on Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict XVI mentions Teresa’s intense program of the contemplative life...which at its heart were the evangelical virtues and prayer.”
In this year of faith, efforts to increase in these virtues is a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ. Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son? How does Mary evangelize?
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…1Peter 3:15
These ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actually qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization.
The Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary is a wonderful synopsis of Mary’s character:
1. Chastity (Mt 1:18, 20, 23; Lk 1:24,34)
2. Prudence (Lk 2:19; 51)
3. Humility (Lk 1 :48)
4. Faith ( Lk 1:45; Jn 2:5)
5. Devotion (Lk 1:46-47; Acts 1:14)
6. Obedience (Lk 1:38; 2:21-22; 27)
7. Poverty (Lk 2:7)
8. Patience (Jn 19:25)
9. Mercy (Lk 1:39, 56)
10. Sorrow (Lk 2:35)
We notice in this list, there is no mention of being obnoxious when we evangelize others. Quite the contrary, evangelical Catholics are to remain humble, be patient, prudent. Evangelizing to others is as simple as happily proclaiming our love and support for the Faith and the church. This is sometimes tough for cradle Catholics who grew up thinking “evangelism” was a sales tactic, associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Fundamentalist Christians.
The Catechism tells us, “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows us not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of ourselves.”
As Catholic mothers, we’re called to instill these virtues first in our children. We don’t keep our love of the Faith to ourselves. We bring it into everyday activities. We direct our focus into our own homes, become evangelizers in the midst of our work, the laundry, the dishes, diaper changes, the cooking, carpool, the cleaning and paying bills, our marriage. By pro-actively instilling these virtues in ourselves and in our children, we develop the character of Mary, rather than the character of the world—isn’t that our objective?
“It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Saint Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life.” Pope Benedict XVI
On the ceiling of the 18th century Marian Church of Gozlin, Poland, there is a ten-pointed star symbolizing Mary’s evangelical virtues dear to the Marians. Mary’s virtues are like the rays of a star enlightening our path and inspiring our behavior.
One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary. Let’s get started.
- Pope Benedict’s tips for evangelizing online (brandonvogt.com)
- Probing the enduring legacy of Benedict XVI, good and bad (hughosb.wordpress.com)
- Benedict’s faith encyclical could appear in different form (catholicnewsagency.com)
- Pope Benedict 16th and the Virtues of Humility and Patience (1catholicsalmon.com)
- St. Teresa of Avila, “a woman extraordinarily gifted, both naturally and supernaturally…” (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- “We’re Looking For An Awful Lot” – As Pope Resigns, The Electors Speak (whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com)
- Fr. Broom: This Year, Make a Plan of Life! (catholicexchange.com)
- The Virtue of Blind Obedience (integratedcatholiclife.org)
- To The Conservative Christian Leadership, Hate Is A Virtue (AUDIO) (addictinginfo.org)