Monday, August 02, 2010

What is your principal virtue?

When I was in the novitiate, we were told about trying to find out what our "principal defect" was, that particular sin that caused us the most difficulty. The idea was to then work out ways to combat that defect and grow in virtue. It's certainly a valid approach especially for those just beginning in the spiritual life.

I recently read something from St Catherine of Siena where she talks about finding our "principal virtue." It's part of her Dialogue, where God is speaking to her. I like this idea of the principal virtue, because it's a good corrective to a perhaps overly negative approach of only looking at defects. One's principal virtue is the main one that God gives to the soul, and in practicing it, the other virtues grow too. It would be worthwhile to reflect on your special virtue and how you practice it.
Here's St Catherine:

"But among the many [virtues], there will be one that is like the head of the others. In other words, to one person I will give principally charity, and to another justice, and to another humility, to another lively faith, to others prudence, temperance, or patience, and to others fortitude. These virtues, and many others, I have put in my creature in different degrees. And so, that particular virtue which is placed in a soul can be identified as its principal virtue, and the soul makes it the center of everything, through it all other virtues are attained."


Ruth Ann said...

My strongest virtue is faith, and a strong second is fidelity. The two are certainly related.

My worst defect is pride.

Yes, Sister Lorraine, I agree that we need to emphasize the positive without losing sight of the negative.

Anonymous said...

You know, I guess I have never really focused on the virtues that I am good at.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Ruth Ann, faith and fidelity are such beautiful virtues, one of the foundation stones of our life of faith.

Opey, I'm sure you have many virtues!

Anonymous said...

You inspired me to discuss this with the children during supper. It was interesting what we each thought was the predominant virtue of the other and what were our weaknesses. But the fact that we are working on virtues is a good thing in my book!