Monday, August 30, 2010

One thing

During my adult life, I have been introduced to so many great and holy people who have been instrumental in my life of faith. From time to time I find myself revisiting these nuggets of good advice. One of these popped into my head as I was planning for the upcoming school year. It came from a mother of ten children... “Just do one thing.”

I think that so many of us try to take upon too much when we get excited about organizing our lives. We like looking forward to the possibility of change that could occur provided we follow our strictly regimented plans. The plans are often developed with an idea about ourselves that we are superheroes, not subject to fatigue, frailty or failure. What happens when our overly ambitious expectations collide with the reality of the unanticipated? We come to a stand-still.

That is why the wise and holy mother of ten suggested that instead of trying to reform our whole existence in a list that would take us hours to write, we should practice one small virtue, something that we know we need to improve. It is marvelously simple but difficult enough to challenge even the most skilled people among us. We all have certain virtues we struggle with.

It reminds me of a book that I read in college by Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue. In it, Kreeft explains how the Cardinal Virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude), the virtues that we practice in our daily lives, prepare our souls to receive the Theological Virtues of faith, hope and love. It is a remarkable book that I highly recommend for anyone who would like to understand more about the Church’s teaching about virtues. Certainly all of the virtues are important, but we all know that there is one in particular that God is calling us to grow in. It is not the same for everybody.

As fall approaches and the kids head back to school, it is a wonderful opportunity to begin to work on my one thing, and I look forward to God’s grace in helping me with it. He knows I am going to need it.


  1. I see that you are a reader, a rare person these days. I also enjoy Mr. Kreeft's works, but I suggest if you seek more insight into the virtues, I found Josef Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues to be of "keeper" value. I also greatly enjoyed the earthy wisdom of Fr. Benedict Groeschel's The Virtue Driven Life, and have given many copies away to friends.

  2. I enjoy Peter Kreefts books, too, and have read Back to Virtue a few times. I can't help but think how much more pleasant the world would be if people took practicing virtues more seriously.