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Growing in Virtue - Choosing to Love

A Thought on the Parable of the Ten Virgins

In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 25:1-13) we read the parable of the ten virgins; the story of the the lady’s awaiting the bridegroom, five with plenty of oil in their lamps and five lacking enough oil to take into the wedding feast. I came across a different thought on the oil than I have ever read before.

Do I Have Personal Virtue?

The meditation spoke of the oil as personal virtue. Personal virtue cannot be given or loaned. It is something that must be acquired by our own choice. It is a direct correlation of our love of the Lord. Without it we cannot attend the wedding feast; i.e. Heaven. Personal virtue is gained by an act of the will to rid ourselves of vices (remember the seven deadly ones?) and in their place put virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it much better than I can.

1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

Marriage is a Training Ground for Personal Virtue

Christ showed us by example everything we need to know to be pleasing to the Lord. He taught us how to love. To grow in personal virtue is to grow in love for the Lord and those He has placed in our lives. By learning to love my spouse as Christ loved us we grow in virtue. Here are three ways that Christ showed us to grow in virtue in our marriage.

  1. Focus on the other - When did Christ ever say any of these things? “You’re not taking care of my needs.” “I’m not happy.” “Why don’t you…for me?” No, His entire ministry on earth was always about bringing light and happiness to others. Sometimes it came with a hard message, but it was always for the good of others.

  2. Obedience to the Lord - When did Jesus ever God in the mission that He was given? Think about the Passion and death of Christ. At what time did He say, “You are not worth this” “I just don’t think I love you anymore” “You don’t make me happy anymore.”? NEVER!! When we said our vows at the altar and then consummated them in the marital act (and renew them with each act following) we promised our spouse and God to be faithful to the mission. What’s the mission of marriage? It is to image Christ’s love for the Church? ("Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," … "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church,” (Ephesians 5: 25, 31). When we choose to continue to be faithful to our spouse, in obedience to the Lord, no matter how hard, we grow in virtue.

  3. Sacrifice - Not a loss, but a huge gain - Once again let’s look at the example of Jesus. He sacrificed Himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity, on the cross out of love for us. He gave all for us!! We can grow in virtue through sacrificing our own will sometimes. When I let go of my paradise expectations in marriage and just rest in the reality of the brokenness of my spouse and, quite frankly, myself, virtue will flourish. I lose my selfishness and gain a deeper love with my spouse and with the Lord.

Having Enough Oil to Enter the Wedding Feast

At the end of our lives we will stand before the doorman at the wedding feast. Will we have enough oil, or virtue, to enter. At that moment it’s too late to go to town and get the oil. Marriage is a perfect market to acquire the personal virtue that we need to be worthy to attend the Heavenly Wedding Feast. Remember, practice makes perfect and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13). We’re here for you! Benedicite!

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