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.

Cardinal Oneiyekan Abuja

abujaHere is a link to a 5 minute interview with Cardinal Onaiyekan Abuja from Nigeria.  In this interview he spoke with Vatican Radio about what Jesus really meant when He said, “Turn the other cheek.”

I like him. He is one of the six men created Cardinal last November at the Ordinary Public Consistory for the purpose by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Onaiyekan is known for his peace and reconciliation work across the increasingly bitter Christian/Muslim divide. In October 1980, Pope John Paul II gave Onaiyekan a five-year appointment to the Pontifical International Theological Commission. In November, he joined the International Catholic/ Methodist Dialogue Commission.

Below is part of the text of Cardinal Onaiyekan’s speech last October:

Despite the impression often given by the world media, I want to stress that Christians in Nigeria do not see themselves as being under any massive persecution by Muslims. Our population of about 160 million is made up of Christians and Muslims in equal number and influence. We have not done too badly in living peacefully together in the same nation. We believe we have learnt some lessons which may be useful for the rest of the world on Christian-Muslim relations.In this regard, I wish to draw the attention of this synod to the following points:

a) The irreversible process of “globalization” mentioned in the IL 47 means that our New Evangelization will need to take note of the arrival of Islam on the world stage. Since our two religions now embrace a major portion of humanity, we have a shared responsibility to work for peace and harmony with ourselves and in our world of today.

b) The differences between Islam and Christianity are not negligible. But there are also broad areas of common grounds about which Vat. II in Nostrae Aetate 3, reminds us. The new evangelization will entail working together for the promotion of commonly shared values, in a world that is very much in need of such values.

c) Our two religions claim to have a divine mission to embrace all humanity. As we find ourselves in the same “global village”, we have to find ways of reconciling our sense of world mission with our God-given duty to live in peace with our fellow human beings. We must continue to insist on freedom of conscience as a fundamental human right of every citizen of every nation.

d) Our Nigerian experience teaches us that there are many kinds of Muslims. In the new evangelization, we need to know our Muslim neighbours and keep an open mind to those who are friendly, and they are in the majority. We have to work together to make sure that the fanatics do not dictate the agenda of our mutual relations, pushing us to be enemies of one another.

e) There is an ecumenical dimension to interfaith relations. Drawing from the solid principles of our magisterium, we must try to forge a common approach in dealing with our Muslim counterparts. Most of our problems are caused by the reckless utterances and activities of extremist fringe groups on both sides of the divide.