… the formation of character … is .. a different task from, a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult … controversies of the day.  First things first … virtue … comes first.

William J. Bennett

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There are many ways to draw closer to God.  Virtue is one such way, much as silence is a path to God’s ever-present presence.

There is a primacy to virtue.  It exceeds ethics – for ethics are but rules, whereas virtues govern the heart, soul and actions of the human person.

One cannot have an ordered life without virtues, one cannot know self or other, have community without virtue being known, integrated and practiced day by day.

But what do we mean by virtue?  Do we know what virtue is?  Does our culture raise it up?  Do our schools teach it?  Do we know the language of virtue?  Do we use it?  Does it enter into our thinking?  Our decisions?  Our daily life?

Virtue is the disposition to do good.  It is the disposition to do good which is habituated in us; not merely doing good when it suits us but rather when life’s circumstances challenge us as to doing good.  It is the firm disposition to do good, doing good as a habit that then becomes who we are: a good person, and then a good society.

Virtue allows us to give the best of who we are.  In virtue the human being excels.

Virtue produces good actions; it gives a concrete presence and, in this, it inspires and encourages others to do the same.

Virtue leads.

There is no leadership without virtue.  One does not follow anyone who lacks virtue, whose actions are devoid of virtue.  Just as there is no “cheap grace,” there is no “cheap virtue.”

Virtue joins reason to faith but is governed by faith.  In uniting reason and virtue, we see the whole human – the unity of natural and supernatural reality, the oneness of heaven and earth, the sacred embrace of God and the human person.

In virtue life becomes easier, contentment is common to us, calm ensures, peace is at hand, we know wisdom.

Virtue is habit-forming.  The more you do good, the more you do good without thinking, without anxiety as to consequences, costs or “inconveniences.”  There is ever-present joy and stability in virtue.

In virtue we touch the Divine.  We are called to life to live in virtue.

Let us not be lost to virtue and its primacy.  Without it we are less than fully human, life is cheapened and full of needless combat.

Shalom.

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