Virtues. It’s a word that seems overrated through time,doesn’t it? Or not heard about much these days in the secular world, take your pick! But this last year it was a word that kept appearing in my life all over the place, finally leading up to a fabulous book which I had no idea was about virtue in a very big way. [See: If Aristotle’s Kid had an Ipod by Conor Gallagher in my other blogpost].
I’m pondering this now because in Catholic education the “virtues” come up quite often. And again virtue made it’s way into our very lives through education this year and my book reading. We studied the cardinal virtues [listed below], those main virtues that stand as hinges from which other virtues are hung. My 8th grade son and I just reviewed them, he so anxious to tell me ALL of them, including the seven deadly sins, something else we are covering, along with their opposing virtue: gluttony(temperance), lust(chastity), pride(humility), sloth(diligence), envy(brotherly love), anger(meekness), greed(charity).
However, one thing I learned in such a big way this year in regard to virtue was this:
“Your children can live happily without you, but not without the virtues…..”
Haunting. That’s what stands out in my mind. But after reading the above mentioned book, it makes perfect sense. (Spoiler: it’s a big part of the book, but there is much more in the book to help in other parenting areas.) But the FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES are so very important!!!
The Aristotle book tells me my job as a parent is to “instruct” my children in the ways of virtue [God] so that they can live happy lives without me. In a nutshell, that’s what it comes down to. I don’t know many parents who don’t want their children to be happy, really happy. So if we stand by the ancient wisdom of Aristotle (who was really proposing the wisdom of God, although he likely didn’t realize it at the time), we will give our children the tools they need to find happiness in this life and happiness in the next life because it will lead to God.
To know, love and serve God in this life, and be happy with him in the next.
In a word: virtue leads to happiness.
So what are these virtues that both Aristotle and our Church teach? The main four that set the stage for all others are: [taken from the Wikipedia page]
- Prudence - ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
- Justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one his right
- Temperance or Restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetite
- Fortitude or Courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation
These are the Church’s Cardinal Virtues and came to us originally through Plato (Socrates---->Plato----->Aristotle------>St. Thomas Aquinas).
So, there you have it. My revelation for the year. I still have a lot of homework and instruction to do in this home!
As we further our religion studies at home and I further my parenting studies ….because I’m always up for reading ancient wisdom on proper parenting…it’s the classicism in me…….VIRTUE seems to be our key to happiness, peace, strength and all rightness on this earth.
May God bless you with VIRTUE.