The Nature and Goal of VIRTUE: Be Positive

In  an anthropology of Personalism derived from the Trinity and through the Christology of priesthood (self-gift), virtue is understood as the burgeoning of the person in ontological “density” and “weight.” Virtue, then, has less to do with doing than in wanting.  Once one steps into the world of the person, one steps into the divine world of the “I” of the Father, Son and Spirit where “I” is the acting person. That is, the Father is the action engendering Son, Son is the act of glorifying and obeying Father, Spirit is the Personification of the act of Father and Son, or Love. The Persons don’t act. They are actions, and it is as such that they are one God since there could not be “Father” without Son engendered, nor Son and Father obeyed or Spirit without the reciprocal self-gift that the Other Two are.

And so, virtue in us as created in the image and likeness of the above, is the growth and propensity in ua for God and others.  We grow in hungering, longing, yearning, tending toward. Hence, when speaking about formation in virtue, it doesn’t primarily mean, formation in knowledge. “To reach the person in all of his or her integrity requires viewing formation as a way of being. Good professionals know the body of information and techniques required by their profession, but they have acquired something else as well. They have developed habits – ways of being – that enable them to apply that knowledge and techniques successfully: habits of attention to others, concentration in work, punctuality, coping with successes and failures, perseverance, etc.

“Similarly, being a good Christian doesn’t simply mean knowing… the Church’s teaching on the sacraments or on prayer, or on general and professional moral norms. The goal is much  higher: immersing ourselves in the mystery of Christ so as to grasp it in all its breadth and depth, let his Life enter into ours, and being able to say with St. Paul, it is no longer I who ive, but Christ who lives in me (Ga. 2. 20). Thus it means being alter Christus, ipse Christus allowing grace to transform us gradually so as to configure us to Him.”

This action and propensity that we are is voiced again in the following:  “For paradise we long. For perfection we were made…. This longing is the source of the hunger and dissatisfaction that mark our lives… This longing makes our loves and friendships possible, and so very unsatisfactory. The hunger is for… nothing less than perfect communion with the… one in whom all the fragments of our scattered existence come together… l we must not stifle this longing. It is a holy dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction is not a sickness to be healed, but the seed of a promise to be fulfilled… The only death to fear is the death of settling for something less  (R.J. Newhaus).

Virtue, then, is not simply inhibit evil action, but to enhance and increase the enthusiasm of the acting person. The goal is to drown evil in an abundance of good, not simply to avoid evil.  


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