Thursday, January 6, 2022

Planting Virtue

Yesterday I wrote about seeing ourselves as God sees us, by doing an Examination of Conscience.  The second part of that is inspired by the Imitation of Christ which is a classic book attributed to Thomas á Kempis.

In Book 1, Chapter 2, we learn that when you know yourself well, that leads to humility.  How is that?  Because if you intimately know your own faults, it leads to a genuine dislike of praise.  This is another benefit to us, because we cannot love and serve each other if we are prideful or arrogant, and the best remedy for either of those is humility, and the best way to acquire humility is to know yourself, especially in relation to God.

Through this process of self-assessment, we come nearer to being who God calls us to be.

The author warns us to be care if we have an "excessive desire of knowing."  Not because learning is a bad thing, but because, for example, it can lead us to become "puffed up" and think of ourselves as wise, which causes "much distraction and deceit."

He puts it this way, in Chapter 3:

"Learning is not to be blamed, nor the mere knowledge of anything which is good in itself and ordained by God; but a good conscience and a virtuous life are always to be preferred before it."

He says that there would be less evil committed, less scandal among us, if we would spend as much time rooting out our vices as we would planting virtues.

We have to be careful, of course, because if we obsess too much over our imperfections, that can lead to greater trouble.  As in all things, balance is called for.  Know your sins and your faults and work on becoming virtuous.  Trust in the mercy of God with all things.

In doing so, you can contribute to making the world a better place.

Janet Cassidy

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