Sunday, March 11, 2007

Girl/Guy Retreat

Amazing Girl/Guy retreat this weekend. We concentrated on the four Cardinal Virtues this year. It was the usual suspects, with a few additions. One always hopes more will attend and am always surprised by the unexpected attendee.
So the Four Cardinal Virtues:Temperance, Prudence, Justice and Fortitude.
As in many things some of the best examples of the Cardinal Virtues can be found by looking at the lives of the saints. Just look at the saints whose commemoration have been celebrated in the last week.

“A saint is a sworn enemy of the world, the flesh, and the devil. He is locked in mortal combat with principalities and powers. A saint is a friend and lover of the world. He kisses this sin-cancered world with the tender lips of the God of John 3:16. A saint declared God’s war on this world, sinking the Cross into the enemy-occupied earth like a sword, hilt held by heaven. At the same time he stretches his arms out on the very Cross as if to say, “See? This is how wide my love is for you! A saint is higher than anyone else in the world. A saint is a real mountain climber. A saint is also lower than anyone else in the world. Like water, he flows to the lowest places, like Calcutta. – Peter Kreeft

Perpetua and Felicity suffered martyrdom at Carthage in 203. Read the story of Perpetua, she wrote in a journal during her captivity, so we are fortunate to have much of her story in her own words. She and her companions showed Fortitude.
John of God founded the Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God. His charity to the poor and sick was the virtue of Justice in action.
Frances of Rome was both a wife and mother and a religious. After raising a family as a widow she gave her goods to the poor and started the Congregation of Oblates under the rule of Saint Benedict. She cultivated the virtues of humility and patience. As a mother she almost certainly practiced Prudence and taught Temperance to her children.
So what are the gifts of these virtues?
Temperance is discipline. The ability to restrain your desires and set your appetite on God and what is good.
Prudence is wisdom, which comes from God. The word prudence comes from the Latin prudent, to foresee. Prudence means acting with thoughtfulness and wisdom. So if someone calls you a "prude" thank them, they've just given you an compliment, whether they know so or not!
Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give to others their due. Secular justice is concerned with retribution and fairness. Not so God's Justice. It consists of giving others their due as creatures of God. It deals not so much with worth, because who of us is worthy, but with service to others.
Fortitude is spiritual strength. In the face of obstacles Fortitude allows one to remain firm and pursue good. It resists temptations. It conquers fear.
So how do we cultivate the four Cardinal Virtues? As one of the participants of our retreat said, "Prayer is always the right answer." And so it is. Cultivate friendships with those you know who exhibit the Cardinal Virtues.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.
Sirach 6:15
Another way is to read about the saints, or even better read what the saints have written. Just as we often learn by emulating our older siblings so we can learn by emulating our elder breathren, the saints.

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