“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) So ends the beautiful reflection of St. Paul on the gift of love in his first letter to the church in Corinth. This idea of love is most perfectly embodied in the life of Christ. What does it mean to love? Look at Jesus Christ. Learn from Him. He “made visible the invisible mystery hidden in God beyond all ages” (John Paul II, General Audience, 1980) through His life. Now we are called to do the same.
Love is a gift, freely given to the one who is loved. It does not ask for something from the beloved but gives of itself. The act of loving requires freedom. The very word ‘free’ is rooted in and derives its meaning from the concept of ‘gift’. When testifying to the salvation offered by Jesus it is often phrased in the familiar line “He gave His life as ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) All who believe in Him and follow Him are called to do the same. Ransomed from what? From the bondage of sin. True freedom, true love must be liberated from sin. This is only possible through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. But how is it made manifest in the life of the believer? This is where virtue enters the story.
Acting on the grace freely given by God, the one who loves is liberated from sin by the practice of virtue. The word virtue means moral strength and vigor. Strength comes through exercise. Virtue must be acquired through the deliberate activity of choosing good and forsaking evil. Just as athletes and artists must acquire mastery through trial and failure, so too the follower of Christ must train himself through trial and failure to acquire the firm disposition of the will to choose the good. Living in virtue is living in Christ.
This effort must be rooted in love. It is only through authentic love for the beloved that one can truly see the good and choose it. There is no limit to this love. This is the love that draws one into the infinite love of God that existed before all ages in the inscrutable mystery of the Trinity. This is the love that Jesus Christ incarnated into the visible world, culminating in His brutal execution on a cross. Those who see this crucified man and understand who He is and what He did are so utterly enthralled and captivated by this act of love that they embark on the same journey. Why? Because it is the pathway to freedom. Evil and its most profound effect, death, were defeated by Jesus Christ! “O Death, where is your victory? Where is your sting?” By loving Jesus in return as He loved, we are liberated to participate in that very love that exists eternally in God. It is a total self-giving love that is poured out in superabundance forever. This is what the pursuit of virtue as a disciple of Christ is oriented towards. This is why we uphold the life of virtue at Mount Royal Academy every year.
This year we will highlight each of the virtues listed below in the corresponding month so that the faculty and families of our school can find freedom in the service of the good, which is God Himself.
September- Courtesy (justice)
October- Sincerity (justice)
November- Moderation (temperance)
December- Charity (theological)
January- Industriousness (fortitude)
February- Patience (fortitude)
March- Docility (prudence)
April- Good Counsel (prudence)
May- Humility (Temperance)