Around half a year ago, I noticed a curious agreement of two classic spiritual books: Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, and The Spiritual Combat by Fr. Lawrence Scupoli. This was the agreement: to grow spiritually, one must have a particular virtue to aim for…a special or favorite virtue to cultivate. According to the books, the reasons for this are
- When someone is just beginning his path to Christian perfection, it is better to focus his still meager spiritual and moral energies on one virtue rather than many.
[D]o not aim at all sorts of virtue-----nor even many-----simultaneously, but cultivate one firmly, then another, if you wish such habits to take deep root in your soul with greater facility. (Source)
- The perfection of one virtue inevitably leads to the improvement, sometimes simultaneously, in the practice of other virtues, and vice versa.
[R]eflect that anyone strenuously engaged in the pursuit of anyone virtue, unconsciously advances in the practice of the rest. Moreover, the attainment of anyone to an eminent degree inevitably introduces a great perfection to the others as they are, like the rays of the sun, almost inseparably united. (Ibid.)
[W]hen a good man endeavors to perfect himself in some virtue which he is conscious of specially needing, he ought to give it edge and point by the aid of other virtues, which will themselves be confirmed and strengthened as he uses them with that object. (Source)
Both works gave instructions on how to choose and practice your special virtue. In the Introduction to the Devout Life, this is tackled in general in Part III, Chapters 1 and 2, then suggestions on practicing particular virtues are tackled in their own chapters.
In the Spiritual Combat, they are tackled in Chapters 34 to 41 and even beyond .
So I am curious, do you have your own special “favorite” virtue? If so, what is it? If not, what do you think it should be? Don’t worry if you cannot think of anything right now, or if you are not sure. In my own experience, picking that particular virtue can be frustrating.
Soon after noting that observation of the two books, I immediately set out trying to find that special virtue. I originally thought it was preaching in the Internet ( I know, that was hilarious), but it did not, well, feel right. I then thought chastity because I had so many bouts of succumbing to Internet pornography and stuff, but I got meager results, if at all. I then thought it was calmness of mind, because I had a short temper and easily depressed. And yet again, I was getting nowhere. I kept on thinking and internally analyzing myself…and I prayed…although I honestly did not pray that much. I was only when I started praying earnestly around three months ago with the novena of my hometown’s patron, Our Lady of Hope, when I then found that special virtue: Hope. And it was so obvious I remember :doh2: 'ing myself a few times.
A few months practicing the virtue of hope has helped me with my feelings of depression and anger, as well as making my prayer life much more fruitful…although I know I have a looooooooooooooong ways to go
So what’s your favorite virtue?