For some unknown reason, during the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the 10 principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a reminder, the 10 principal virtues are (1) her profound humility, (2) her lively faith, (3) her blind obedience, (4) her continual mental prayer, (5) her mortification in all things, (6) her surpassing purity, (7) her ardent charity, (8) her heroic patience, (9) her angelic sweetness, and (10) her divine wisdom.
In an article I published in the Adoration Letter seven years ago (September 6, 2006) about the principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I said the following:
How many of these virtues do you possess? If you asked me, here’s how I would match up: (1) Profound Humility – Unfortunately, because of my profound pride, I often resist and/or avoid this virtue; (2) Lively Faith – I have trouble believing without seeing. I would prefer to see Jesus, Mary, and Joseph with my own eyes, hear them with my own ears, and touch them with my own hands, rather than just believe that they are there when I need them; (3) Blind Obedience – I don’t like obeying anybody; (4) Continual Mental Prayer – I have trouble concentrating on any prayer. The only thing I seem to do continually is day-dream; (5) Mortification in All Things – I have perfected the habit of avoiding any kind of mortification or self-sacrifice; (6) Surpassing Purity – I do work on this one. Because of the constant temptations in our culture against purity, I pray every day for the grace to keep my thoughts and actions pure; (7) Ardent Charity – Unfortunately, I’m intolerant and judgmental, both of which are the opposite of charity; (8) Heroic Patience – I constantly struggle with the virtue of patience. I can’t remember the last time I went to confession when I didn’t have to confess impatience; (9) Angelic Sweetness – Sweetness? What’s that? and (10) Divine Wisdom – This is a tough one. I would like to think I have a fair amount of wisdom, but I’m very impulsive and I often say and do very foolish things. These are not characteristics of a wise person.
It’s frustrating looking back at what I wrote seven years ago and realizing that nothing has changed. I hate to admit it, but there hasn’t been any measurable improvement in my behavior.
If I were to choose the three most important of the 10 principal virtues, it would have to be profound humility, continual mental prayer, and mortification in all things. It is those three virtues that provide the foundation, nourishment, and support for the remaining seven virtues.
Even those of us who consider ourselves devout Catholics have trouble practicing profound humility, continual mental prayer, and mortification in all things. Instead of profound humility, we practice selective humility. Instead of continual mental prayer, we only dedicate a small percentage of our time each day to prayer. Instead of mortification in all things, we’re pleased with ourselves if we perform one act of self-denial each day.
What was it that Christ said about those of us who have good intentions but never seem to be able to consistently follow through? Oh, I remember now: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
Welcome to reality, my fellow weakling.