The World’s Greatest Dad

Elizabeth Lev explores the virtues of fatherhood as depicted in the works of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682). Famous for his Madonnas, Murillo was a pioneer in the depiction of the greatest earthly father, St. Joseph. In order to convey the character of the man Christ chose to educate him in the virtuous of manhood, “MurilloContinue reading “The World’s Greatest Dad”

A Living Gift of the Living God

This is the day which the Lord has made: Let us be glad and rejoice therein! Psalm 117:24 Poverty of spirit, or detachment from worldly goods, may strike us as a fundamentally negative stance. As noted here, the blessing this beatitude bestows is founded on a willingness to relinquish certain things we may otherwise desireContinue reading “A Living Gift of the Living God”

Accepting the Gift of Happiness

The lawgiver shall give a blessing, They shall go from virtue to virtue: The God of gods shall be seen in Sion. Psalm 83:8 In Plato’s Gorgias, the ambitious Callicles accuses Socrates of turning human life upside down with his teaching that happiness consists in a life of virtue. To our fallen, grasping souls, itContinue reading “Accepting the Gift of Happiness”

Doing the Truth

A sure sign that a given regime is despotic is its hostility or indifference to what is good, true, and beautiful. The science of despotism consists in discouraging virtues such as (genuine, active) charity, and instilling vices, such as deception, or compliance with the web of lies in which despotism seeks to entangle us. HowContinue reading “Doing the Truth”

The Test of True Virtue

St. Catherine of Sienna recounts to us how Christ explained the nature of virtue to her. Every virtue, he stresses, no matter how private it seems, is practiced in relation to others. First, every true virtue is given by God, and performed for love of him. Next, every virtue redounds in some way to theContinue reading “The Test of True Virtue”

Do and Teach

Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 Christ our Lord is “meek, and humble of heart” (Mt. 11:29), but he is not a “nice guy.” Nowhere is this more evident than in his treatment of the Scribes and Pharisees,Continue reading “Do and Teach”

Fruitful and Unfruitful Fears

Fear is a natural response to the possibility of losing something good. When it prompts us to act in defense of the many fragile blessings entrusted to our care, fear is a healthy part of the divine order. As with any passion, the trouble comes when fear overpowers reason, rather than following its governance. InContinue reading “Fruitful and Unfruitful Fears”

The Slothful Tyrant

In the first volume of Democracy in America, Tocqueville warns us about a new and sinister form of oppression to which modern democratic peoples are susceptible: “the tyranny of the majority.” In olden times, abusive rulers used harsh punishments to coerce their subjects, and even just rulers were surrounded by flatterers seeking to harness publicContinue reading “The Slothful Tyrant”

Seeing the Beauty of Courage

A characteristic feature of virtue is its beauty. The habitual capacity to grasp what is good, to relish it, and to act upon it, is an invisible quality that inspires admiration and love, when we perceive it in others. When we find it in ourselves, it offers peace of soul. One apparent exception to thisContinue reading “Seeing the Beauty of Courage”

The Wonderous Potency of Practice

Assume a virtue, if you have it not. For use almost can change the stamp of nature, And either curb the devil, or throw him out, With wondrous potency. Thus speaks Hamlet, in an attempt to reform the character of his mother, the compromised Queen of Denmark. Alas, Hamlet ignores his own advice. Rather thanContinue reading “The Wonderous Potency of Practice”