Saturday, April 7, 2012

Applying the Cardinal Virtues to Motherhood, Cont...

Applying the Cardinal Virtues to Motherhood, Part VIII, Conclusion
A Thesis by Jacquelyn Barten, Guest Blogger

In Conclusion

St. Augustine stated, “To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance).  No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude).  It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).”[1]  Embracing the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, is imperative for successful mothering and the sanctification of the domestic church.  Children emulate what they see and a temperate mother demonstrates how to control her body’s senses, appetites, and emotions.  A courageous mother shows her children how to continue to pick up their crosses in the face of adversity, while a just mother disciplines her children, teaching them to understand that every action has a social consequence.  Finally, the prudent mother is equipped with wisdom in order to respond to the daily unexpected scenarios that arise with children, testing all the facets of the cardinal virtues.  Understanding what the virtues are, however, is a completely separate gift from putting them into practice.  Mothers need to remember what Pope St. Leo the Great once said: “Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.”  Mothers must pray for the gifts of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance because that is just what they are, whether infused or acquired, they are gifts of God’s grace.  As Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families: “Good families—even great families—are off track 90 percent of the time!  The key is that they have a sense of destination.  They know what the ‘track’ looks like.  And they keep coming back to it time and time again.”[2]  The road to acquiring the cardinal virtues in motherhood is a staggering uphill battle, but a virtuous mother never forgets the track, since she is raising little saints that she hopes to spend eternity with in Heaven.

[1] Catechism, 1809.
[2] Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, (New York, NY: St. Martins Griffin, 1997), 9.

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