In The Sound of Music
sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning –
a very good place to start.”
Then she teaches the children to sing starting with “Do – Re -
Mi.” Basically, she is teaching the children that it is best to learn important skills correctly
from the beginning, starting with the basics.
The same is true with virtues. How fortunate are the little children who are
raised with the language and concepts of virtues as if they were part of their native tongue! One
such example is our beloved St. Therese of Lisieux who grew deeply in virtue (even as a little
child) inspired by God and actively encouraged by her family: on her own she used beads to count her
sacrifices and, when outside, she meditated upon the beauty of God’s creation in nature.
There are benefits to starting with good foundations early in life. Here’s an
analogy. At age 3 ½, I began to study classical ballet, moving into figure skating years
later. Skaters who start with ballet have a great advantage over others in terms of flexibility,
grace, and ease with familiar moves.
As an adult convert to Catholicism,
surprises awaited me with Virtues. I learned that our Catechism devotes much attention to them.
Also, one of the most important and beloved books in our Christian literature is the Imitation of
by Thomas à Kempis. The reader is guided in the systematic study and practice of the
virtues of our Christ. Also, I remember being how surprised I was, when I learned that St.
Thomas More had his children learn virtues BEFORE academics. Note – virtues were the first
priority! (unlike in our secular world!)
Here I was, a well-educated
psychologist with advanced training with children, who had sent my own children to the best schools
and helped them to develop many talents and skills – and I learned in my 50s that virtues should
have been the greater and earlier priority for my kids. WOW! I now want parents of little children
to learn what I didn’t know – that the teaching of virtues is the priority AND FOUNDATION for the
education of children.
If we want a definition “virtue,” we are wise to go
right to our Catechism. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, Section 1803), a
is “an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only
to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself.” The section continues with, “The virtuous
person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and
chooses it in concrete actions.” Also included is, “the goal of a virtuous life is to become
like God.” Join Me THIS WEEK as I
read Sections 1803- 1805, and
1812-1815 - of the Catechism, to prepare for the next article, regarding the classification of
Virtues. And I’d suggest: Start to make a list IN YOUR OWN WORDS of what you see as the
VIRTUES in Christ and Our Blessed Mother! What a great way to prepare for the “advent of Advent!”
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