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VIRTUE The power to do good 1. 2 Activity 1. List 5 qualities you want in a future spouse, but… 2. …Three of the qualities have to be non-physical. 3.

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Presentation on theme: "VIRTUE The power to do good 1. 2 Activity 1. List 5 qualities you want in a future spouse, but… 2. …Three of the qualities have to be non-physical. 3."— Presentation transcript:

1 VIRTUE The power to do good 1

2 2 Activity 1. List 5 qualities you want in a future spouse, but… 2. …Three of the qualities have to be non-physical. 3. Put lists on the board. 4. Circle those qualities most likely to last, or increase with time 5. The lesson: much of what you value now will fade; virtue endures

3 3 Analogy of “Play the Game” 1. Get out of the stands: Pascal’s wager 2. Know the equipment: human nature/happiness 3. Know the rules: natural law 4. Have the skills: have virtues 5. Play for real: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”—St. Irenaeus

4 4 What are virtues? List some examples:

5 Honesty, courage, kindness, patience, hope… Virtue basically comes down to the choice to live big or live small. It is the choice to have your mind and will perfected, or not

6 6 The Demise of Virtue (“Demise”=downfall, collapse, death) People don’t talk about virtue much: forgotten or scoffed at

7 7 Virtue vs. Rules American is a “Rules Society” “Rule of law” is good--Ask people under chaotic, corrupt governments But, we Americans tend to say: 1. “Only wrong if you get caught” 2. If I follow the rule, I’m good 3. If I break the rule, there are consequences 4. Look for the very edge. 5. Look for loopholes.

8 8 Demise of Virtue But, when push comes to shove, we want virtue and virtuous people! Sept 11, 2001 On the Titanic, men who gave up seats Gladiator, Braveheart, Batman Parents who are stable and guide us

9 9 Virtue vs. Rules We need stories to inspire our hearts to WANT to be honest, brave, generous Virtue avoids the “Everything’s a Sin” mentality Virtue avoids the “how far can I go” mentality Virtue helps us to do what’s good when it’s the hardest Virtue brings balance to your moral life.

10 10 Definition of Virtue: Virtue: a morally good habit Habit: not a single good action, but many (like an un-virtuous man who stops to help a stranded motorist, once)

11 Good: not bad. A morally good habit is a virtue, and the person who does it is virtuous A morally bad habit is a vice, and the person who does it is “vicious”. Etymology: Virtue is from Latin virtus, = strength Greek equivalent is arete’, = excellence

12 12 Virtue as Strength Virtus comes from vir, which is “man” In the Roman mind, this meant courage, strength Virtue is like weightlifting a) Hard at first, easier as you get stronger b) “We become brave by doing brave deeds” –Aristotle c) Average person doesn’t jump on a grenade, but combat personnel have done many little things to make the braver choices easier and more automatic

13 13 Growing in Virtue You need lots of small, tough, deliberate choices and actions It’s like turning around a tanker at full speed in the ocean: hard to stop, slow to turn, and slow to get back up to speed. Eg: Wake up and hit toe on something: The next day, same, but “sorry”. The next day, catch half-way through word. The next, a struggle but no sounds. Finally “Owww! I gotta stop doing that!”

14 14 Growing in Virtue It’s like muscle-memory: (Cogitative Power) You don’t want to think about each free throw; you want it automatic Did you think to tie your shoes today? To speak English? No. But at some point, you had to learn it, and then make it a habit Practice makes ___________. Nope, not perfect! Practice makes Permanent. Practice bad golf swing, at it’s permanently wrong. Bad swing, bad shots, off key, etc. You can get habitual at good or at evil.

15 15 When is it really virtue? Pleasure, Promptness and Ease Pleasure: Is it wrong to say, “I serve at the soup kitchen because it makes me feel good?” No, because virtue is its own reward. What perfects us also makes us joyful. If you are really doing a good thing, it’s okay to enjoy it. God made us to enjoy the good

16 16 When is it really virtue? Promptness. Who has the greatest virtue when they see a $50 bill on Sister’s desk? Al chooses no, because he might get caught Bob chooses no, because Susie’s his friend Cory chooses no; doesn’t want to go to Hell Dawn chooses no, it’d be wrong to take it Ed walks by, thinks about what he could do, but then immediately keeps going Flo walks on, thinking, “how silly to leave money out?” Gill looks around, takes it. All did right except Gill. But rank them by promptness of doing good (i.e., most virtuous)

17 17 When is it really virtue? Ease. Ease? Isn’t it more virtuous when it’s hard for you to do the right thing? Didn’t the ones who struggled about the $50 show more virtue? Objectively, no. They have some growing to do. One is strongest in virtue when it becomes “second nature”. Think of CIA agent who (1) quickly, or (2) reluctantly, turns away from bribe Subjectively: there is merit in taking on the effort, so that you can grow!

18 18 Virtue is an excellence We did Latin idea of virtus = strength Try Greek arete’ = excellence Can a person be too strong? Too pretty? Too rich? Or have too much fun? Is it that he’s too smart, or that he’s a know-it-all? (lacks humility) Is it that she’s too pretty, or that she’s vain and judgmental? Is it that he is too strong, or that he hasn’t kept up his flexibility and speed?

19 19 Virtue is an excellence You can’t have too much excellence. It keeps extending up, to infinity We hear Lord Acton’s famous quote: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He has a point in fallen human nature. But it’s not true: God has absolute power, but not corrupt Corruption happens with pride and self-will, but these are vices in themselves

20 20 Virtue is an excellence Aristotle: “All men live; not all men live well.” To live well = to live big = excellence! Virtue is about perfecting our faculties of mind, will and emotions That’s why virtue is its own reward The Lord Jesus takes it to the supernatural level by his gift of Grace

21 21 What are a few key virtues? Theological Virtues---our relationship with “Theos” (Greek word for “God”) Faith: good habit of believing God Hope: good habit of relying on God to provide heaven and the means to attain it Love: good habit of desiring God first, and choosing what is good for others (Simplified defs here: will be studied in more detail under the 1 st comm.)

22 22 What are a few key virtues? The Cardinal Virtues, or “hinge” virtues, which summarize many others Know these: Prudence: right judgment (including counsel, judgment and decisiveness) Justice: giving God and others their due Fortitude: strength to overcome difficulties Temperance: strength to moderate desires according to reason

23 23 What are a few key virtues? Prudence has a central role. It “steers” the other virtues with reason. Virtues tend to rise and fall together. “In media stat virtus” – virtue stands in the middle. Aristotle argued that virtues often form the mean between extremes. For example, the virtue of courage forms the mean between the vices of cowardice and brashness.

24 24 Character: Character: the summation of virtues and vices in a person To judge character is not the same as “judging a person”. You are judging how they are likely to choose, based on how they have been choosing. You are judging their habits, not them. Still: Acts lead to virtues/vices, which lead to character, which does lead to your ultimate destiny…

25 25 How to develop a strong character: 1. Hard work: you must will it 2. God’s grace 3. Practice virtue, every chance you get, so it becomes pleasurable, prompt, and easy. …So you become strong and excellent and happy! It has been said: your character is how you act when you think no one is looking… Integrity: Is doing what is right even when no one else is watching you.


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