Vatican City, August 12, 2015
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address at the general audience held this morning at Paul VI Hall.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we begin a short course of reflection on three dimensions that beat the time, so to speak, of the rhythm of family life: celebration, work and prayer. …
The beatitudes lead us to the virtues. They lead us to the four cardinal virtues; prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance as well as the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Every time we sin, we sin against one of these virtues. So what we want to do is practice these virtues.
Words are good when giving instruction, but as people, we need to know what it looks like. I always find it easier to follow instructions in putting some new toy together if I have illustrations. Pictures can teach us much. The lives of the saints can help us get a picture of what it is like to live the virtues. In their lives, we see the struggles they had and how they dealt with them in virtue. The saints were people with all sorts of personalities. St Jerome was very hot tempered, yet he dealt with that and still became a saint. Some were quieter; others were outspoken. Some were very smart; others were not well educated. Some were well to do and gave their lives to the poor; others were poor themselves. Some had lots of talent; others were considered inept. No matter what your capacity or personality, there is a saint for you. Who do you identify with?
St Monica is the patron saint of those with alcohol addictions. Before she gave birth to St Augustine, she had quite the drinking problem. But then she changed her life by entering the struggle of the faith life. She became a great role model for St Augustine and died not only sober, but a model of fortitude in prayer. St Maria Goretti is the patron saint for purity. She died praying for the guy who was trying to rape her. She fought to keep her purity because she wanted to reserve herself for Jesus. She had the virtues of courage, love for her enemy and forgiveness. St Augustine was rebellious against his mother St Monica. He got into just about every sin. He had children out of wedlock, only to see his son die before he was ordained. He is a great model for repentance, faith, hope and temperance.
The saints did not necessarily always have these virtues. They developed them over time and after many confessions. Virtue is not a one-time deal. For an act to become a virtue, it must be repeated often. Exercising the virtue of patience must become a habit. Playing the piano well has to become a habit in order for it to become a virtue. This takes practice ad nausium. Many musicians are willing to practice good music till they are filled with it. So should it be with practicing virtue. The beautiful music is only a foreshadowing of the reality of heaven. All the more should we be dutiful in virtue.