Cultivating Virtue to Battle Vice

We all have an innate desire for happiness. We all crave and want it. Nobody says they want to be miserable, nor that they want to have a life of pain and suffering. Everybody wants a fulfilling, happy life; but what do we need in order to be happy?

Most people have come to realize that what we need is love. A life without any love would be a life of real drudgery and misery. However, the issue is, to love we need freedom; you have to have the freedom to give yourself in love.

This poses a problem because we find it quite hard in life to give of ourselves. Virtue helps us to overcome that; to overcome the sin and vice in our life. Vice is when we have a pattern or a habit in our lives that undercuts our freedom and our ability to love.  

Vices become like old vinyl records with the needle running along well-formed grooves. Vice is like that needle, going into that groove time and again, playing the same song. It becomes very difficult to change because you become used to that pattern.

Virtue, on the other hand, gets us out of the pattern so that it no longer undercuts our freedom, our ability to love, and, thus, our ability to be happy. Instead, it gives us the freedom to give ourselves in love. Freedom is essential for virtue, and our virtue supports freedom.
Virtue gives us the power to not get stuck in this kind of pattern and ultimately gives us control and possession over ourselves. Since you cannot give something you do not have, you cannot give yourself in love if you do not have possession of yourself.

All of that fight to become virtuous, free, and loving has a wider context. It is not just common wisdom of how to live your life. There is rather a cosmic and theological context because of who Jesus Christ is.

Adam and Eve, through their disobedience by rejecting God’s gifts put a great chasm between God and man. That is the path of Adam and Eve; that disobedience, fear, pride, and inability to give themselves in love.

God did not leave that state of separation between God and man. He immediately worked to restore that union, providing Christ as a bridge between God and man. Like any bridge, Christ is anchored on both sides.

Jesus’ God is in heaven, and Jesus’ man is on earth. He is anchored on both ends of that chasm and forms a bridge. It is passing that bridge from earth to heaven and becoming like Christ. It is a journey to cross the bridge. It is an inner journey.

Learning and living in the virtues is growing to be more and more like Jesus Christ. That is salvation. God gives us the power to transform ourselves – to be truly free, truly loving, and therefore truly happy. In all of that, God is preparing us for Heaven.

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