3rd of Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Chastity

10 evangelica virtues of maryHere is the third article in a series I’ve been writing for Catholic Mom about the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  This piece is on “chastity.”

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue 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?

The first Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Chastity.

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?” Luke 1:34

The word “chastity” is difficult to pronounce in the modern world, hardly evident except within religious circles.  Our children are exposed to all sorts of immodest dress and behaviors through media and through their companions. How can we teach our children the importance of being chaste? Why is this important?

Instilling the virtue of chastity in our children must start first with taking a look at it in ourselves.

Are we chaste? Do we follow the Church teachings on artificial birth control? Are we careful with the way we dress? Do we “like” immodest posts on Facebook? Do we “share” celebrity relationship gossip through our social media channels? Did we read Shades of Grey and recommend it to others?

You can read the rest of the article over at CatholicMom.com here.  Enjoy!

Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Prudence

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

This is my article that ran on CatholicMom.com this week. I like to post them here, too. To view it over there, click on this link and voila!  Happy Holy Saturday!

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue 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?

The second Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Prudence.                                           

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

And he descended with them and went to Nazareth. And he was subordinate to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. Luke 2:51

Mary “ponders” these things in her heart. She discerns. She doesn’t react, debate or take any action right away. She simply ponders things first.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us (1806), “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”

The prudent woman looks where she is going. Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas. The prudent woman determines and directs her conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles without error and overcome doubts about good and evil in our everyday circumstances.

Prudence is also one of the four cardinal virtues, which means it can be practiced by anyone. The cardinal virtues are not, in themselves, the gifts of God through grace but the outgrowth of habit.

Prudence, as explained by Fr. John A. Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is “Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided.”

So how do we know when we’re exercising prudence and when we’re simply giving in to our own desires?

How do we know if we are acting prudently or not?  As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct my actions accordingly.

When faced with a dilemma, we first pray, ask God to direct our thinking.  Next we ask for advice from someone of good character, someone we can trust, of good moral character. We look at all the evidence at hand, the facts in front of us. We never rush. We ask God for his will for us. Then, finally we make a decision and act upon it.

And we must always keep in mind that the definition of prudence requires us to judge correctly. If our judgment is proved after the fact to have been incorrect, then we did not make a “prudential judgment” but an imprudent one, for which we may need to make amends.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.

Discovering the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary

10 evangelica virtues of mary

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.