Thursday, November 17, 2011

virtue inhabited

St. Francis de Sales taught about what he called the “little virtues.”  I look at these today with longing, perhaps as a monastic aspirant might view the habit she hopes to someday wear.  Unlike a dress and veil, however, virtues cannot be thrown on once and for all.  They must be cultivated.  They must come to life as I “wear” them – just as a tunic moves from place to place once a person is within it. 

Perhaps virtues could be said to be “inhabited” by the person practicing them. 

Certainly they can, with practice, become the habits of a cloistered heart. 

“Humility, patience, gentleness, kindness, forbearance, mildness, calmness, good temper, heartiness, pity, ready forgiveness, simplicity, frankness and so on.  These virtues are like violets growing in a shady nook, fed by the dew of heaven and though unseen, they shed forth a sweet and precious odor”  (St. Francis de Sales, quoted in Living Jesus, edited by Gerard Quinlan, p. 405)

(photo copyright N Shuman )