From today’s Magnificat Morning Prayer for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist:
John is the prophet of hope. He was born, lived, and died to prepare the way for the good news whose fulfillment he himself would not see.
I’ve been despondent. I’ve been stuck in the mire of my own scrupulosity. I’ve been sick in mind and body. And, in time, God has proved himself my hope of healing and transformation.
Perhaps that is why my favorite papal encyclical (not that I’ve read all that many) is Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi.
I suspect that I’m not the only one who is drawn to one virtue or another as “their” virtue. Likewise, particular works of mercy attract me more than others. You would probably never catch me in a soup kitchen (that catch-all act of do-good that everyone names when pressed), but visiting the sick? Definitely. It’s “my” work of mercy.
The Church’s many charisms must spring from our unique affinity for particular virtues or works of mercy. It’s why Dominicans preach and teach whereas Religious Sisters of Mercy heal and comfort. If hope is “my” virtue, then it must be others’ virtue as well. Hope will manifest itself in our lives in unique ways – as unique and individual as we are – and yet we united in our attraction to hope, our need for hope, and our love of hope.
Same goes for charity and faith. Or the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.
Of course, I need to exercise the other virtues as well. I don’t chose hope and negate my need for the others. It’s just that I like hope best of all.
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