Are "Virtues" still relevant? Yes!
Updated: Jan 25
When I was a young man I took a classical philosophy class that focused on studying "The Four Cardinal Virtues" which are of course Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.
I was fascinated by these "new" concepts that I as a fresh new Catholic convert had "discovered".
Along with the "Biggies" of Faith, Hope and Charity, right below them were these 4 above mentioned what I like to call modes of behavior now.
Virtues. To my young and naive self at the time I said, behave in these ways, or practice these concepts, and you will be a saint. You will be perfect.
For me that meant peace and happiness of course.
A confession: At that time, before I was actually diagnosed with a major mental disorder in my mid 20s, I was kind of obsessed with the religious pursuit of perfection.
"Obsessed" mind you which is definitely NOT a good thing, even when directed toward something as good as behaving virtuously.
Why the obsession? Quite frankly I was experiencing a lot of mental and emotional anguish and pain which I hid well from friends and family and for which I just couldn't seem to find any lasting relief.
Psychology and psychiatry were completely out of the question for me due to my own personal fears and biases. My "gut" at the time just told me to handle this as a crisis of religious faith and to go to the "Source" so to speak for a solution to my anguish. God.
Well it turned out to be not that bad of a tactic because not long after that, a couple years into "immersing" myself in this pursuit of perfection, I found myself in a Catholic seminary with the totally delusional idea that God was calling me to the priesthood.
The priests and brothers that were leading us and helping us discern were actually very encouraging to me during my summer "try it out" candidacy program. I was actually invited back at the end of the summer to join the "novitiate". They actually measured me for a cassock.
I had never been in worse shape internally than at the end of that summer. Instead of peace and relief, all I felt was anguish which I did my best to hide from my closest family and friends at the time (which they told me afterwards that they "knew" there was something wrong.)
I just did what I had always done to deal with these negative emotions and feelings, I focused on a goal which was basically "Thy Will be done Lord". Doing God's will. Which I interpreted at the time as meaning become a priest.
(Why a priest? The Eucharist, plain and simple. God's very Flesh and Blood re-presented for us daily here and now for us to consume and transform us into, again, Saints.)
Now if that wouldn't bring relief to mental and emotional anguish then I don't know what would.
Believe me I had the best of intentions but was very naive, not to mention mildly deluded at the time. (I laugh now.)
"I THOUGHT this was about VIRTUES?!" you may be yelling at me after all this rambling.
Christ! Jesus Christ!
He IS all the Virtues you can list (down to even the most obscure) INCARNATE!
You "meet" Him and you "see" them all.
You are so taken aback at the Perfection that you seemingly have "no choice" but to assimilate and absorb this Life into your own self.
They are all facets of the "Most Perfect Diamond" you've ever seen if you've never "met" Him.
My problem in my youth was that in my own pain and anguish, my focus was on how these merely intellectual constructs (the virtues) could help me better know Christ and be like Him and be happy and at peace.
Instead I found out, AFTER I got professional help for my disorder (my "cross" if you prefer to call it) that it was Christ, The Person, (whom I "met" through people just like you and me) that would show me these virtues directly and thus heal and transform my heart after years of hidden anguish and torture.
What is a "virtue"? What is the value of knowing your virtues?
Virtues are Christ and the value of knowing them are are knowing Christ better and in all His Perfection.
That we may be "absorbed", I contend, into the Very Perfection of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
Oh yes and that leads me to the "concept" Sacraments at some point, so you've got that post to look forward to if you decide to tune back in.
In any case, God Bless you and have a great day!