Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Virtues

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 -- Week of 4 Easter
Christina Rossetti, Poet, 1894

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 961)
Psalms 45 (morning)       47, 48 (evening)
Exodus 32:21-34
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 5:11-16

First, a note about the new observance from our proposed calendar Holy Women, Holy Men
Christina Rossetti [1830-December 29, 1894] One of the most celebrated poets of her day, she was the most talented member of an artistic Anglo-Italian family. A devout Anglican, she also wrote books on spirituality. Author of the hymn In the bleak midwinter. (April 27)
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"We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

It is a good thing to remember one another in our prayers.  Like many people I carry a prayer list with me.  It includes people who are ill or living with challenges that I am drawn to pray for.  I offer to God my care and concern for them and ask God's presence and goodness for them.  I also mention and remember my family and close friends and ask God's blessing for them.  As we draw closer to God, we are simultaneously drawing closer to one another.

I also regularly "give thanks to God" for St. Paul's congregation and "remember before our God and Father" the work and worship, the service and relationships that ground our community.  Note how Paul phrases his prayer for the church in Thessoliniki:  "constantly remembering ...your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."  That trio of faith, hope and love appears often in Paul.  Traditional theology calls these three the "theological virtues."  Faith, as active trust in God; Hope, grounding our trust in God's presence and power; Love or Charity, unlimited loving-kindness toward God and others.

Classical Catholic theology combines these three theological virtues with the four "cardinal virtues" to create a list of seven cardinal virtues.  Faith, Hope and Love are thus combined with Prudence, Justice, Restraint/Temperance, and Courage/Fortitude to create a classical list of qualities that Christians are invited to practice.  St. Augustine said this of the four cardinal virtues:  "For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths!), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it."  As Augustine related these four to love, so Paul closes his famous essay in 1 Corinthians 13 with the words, "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."  Thus, we are reminded of Jesus' summary of the law and prophets in the single commandment to love:  Love God, neighbor and self.

In addition to a prayer list, it might not be a bad thing to also keep a virtue list.  Just as we remember those for whom we are called to pray, it is not a bad idea to remember the ideals and virtues that we are called to live by:

Faith
Hope
Love
Prudence
Justice
Restraint
Courage

Concluding with Paul's prayer:  "For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; ...so that you became an example to all the believers..."  Living under the seven virtues is a way to become an example to all the believers.

Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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