By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
FAR FROM falling into irrelevance or obsolescence, as some people claim, virtues are actually most needed today. And that’s because with the fast-moving and more complicated developments of the times, virtues actually help us properly tackle the challenges of these new developments.
We are actually in urgent need of these stable qualities. We have to debunk the myth that virtues hinder our reactions to the challenges of the times. It is a piece of pre-historic thinking that would consider the virtues as obstacles in our effort to grapple with the new developments.
It’s amazing some people, even the self-proclaimed highly educated people who are supposed to be very scientific in their outlook, still cling to that fiction. Virtues help us not only to facilitate our reactions to these new developments but also to see to it that our reactions are the right ones.
We need to dismantle the bias against virtues as wrongly understood by some people. In fact, these days we should be into some intense campaign to promote the importance, development, and practice of the virtues. This should start in the family, and always reinforced in parishes, schools, offices and everywhere else. They are always relevant. There is nothing in our life where the virtues would be out of place.
For example, the cardinal virtues under which all the other virtues are grouped and which are the hinges of a virtuous life, a life that would resemble us more and more with God who made us to be his image and likeness.
Given the confusing culture of our times where we not only have to distinguish between what is good and evil, but also between competing good options, we really would need prudence to be able to make the right choice.
Justice enables us to give to others, especially God, their due. (cfr. Compendium 318) This virtue is always necessary since we are not supposed to live simply on our own. We always live with others, and we have duties and responsibilities toward them. This virtue will help us avoid falling into self-indulgence and self-absorption.
Fortitude “assures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.” (Compendium 382) Since our life will always involve moves of conquest and defense, we cannot overemphasize the importance of this virtue.
And again, given the complexities of our times, we have to make sure that we are tough and strong enough to tackle the many challenges of the times. Sad to say, many now have fallen into despair precisely because they lack this virtue that will always include a certain sense of optimism despite all the possible mishaps we can experience.
And then we have the virtue of temperance which “moderates the attraction of pleasures, assures the mastery of the will over instincts and provides balance in the use of created goods.” (Compendium 383)
This is a virtue that I would say is most immediately needed, since we are easily carried away by the movements of the flesh as it interacts with the new, fascinating albeit intoxicating things in today’s environment.
This is where we need to have self-discipline and a good sense of restraint and moderation in the use of the new technologies, for example. If we want to be truly human, let alone, authentically Christian, we need these virtues more than we need food, drink, and air.