Benjamin Franklin was a polymath. If you look it up in the dictionary, it means that he was a man of great and varied learning. He was a scientist, inventor, writer, political expert and many other talents and skills. He was one of the founders of the United States of America.
One of the things he was also known for was his passion to cultivate virtues in his life. He took it very seriously. He had a list of 13 virtues that he committed to continuously work on each week. These virtues included temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. Each week he would work on a particular virtue. The following week, another virtue and on and on and on. All with the hope and goal of it becoming second nature to him. He was not entirely successful, of course, but the important thing was his passionate effort to do so.
This Lenten season reminds me of the need for the same passion to cultivate virtues in our life. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus is asking us to do? To be virtuous people? To be holy? To strive for perfection as we do his will?
But first, let’s define what a virtue is. A virtue is a good habit developed over time through consistent practice of what is good and desirable. Good habits practiced consistently will define our fundamental character. Saints are good examples of virtuous people but they pale in comparison to Jesus Christ, of course, who is our perfect model. Jesus was compassionate, gentle, patient, steadfast, faithful, pure of heart, forgiving, generous, firm and resolute, persevering, obedient even to the point of death, and of course perfectly loving.
Let us look then at ourselves in the mirror today and see what we need to change during this Lenten season if we are to imitate Jesus Christ. Is it our uncontrollable anger when provoked? Are we too impatient? Or perhaps, it is our failure to do more for our neighbor. Or maybe, we still harbor a lot of insecurities and fear of the future. Are we stingy with our money and are not generous? Do we reach out to others in love? Are we gentle to those around us? Are we compassionate and put the interest of other people ahead of ourselves? Whatever it is, let us focus on a virtue (or virtues) that we can commit to work on during this Lenten season.
Consider this Lent as a great opportunity to work on a particular virtue. In addition to the normal fasting and abstinence we practice, let us together focus on a virtue that we can develop into a habit. Let us reflect and look inward into our hearts and work on it so as to bring us closer to God. Lent is the springboard for transformation.
Let us remind ourselves of the countless blessings that our generous Father in heaven has showered upon us. Is it not time to respond to his love by emulating His Son? Is it not about time that we take God seriously and follow his footsteps? Let us abandon ourselves therefore from our inconsequential pursuits and empty ourselves of all desires except the desire to honor and please God this Lent.
Let us face it squarely. Lent is much much more than just giving up something as a sacrifice. More than self-denial, we need to be transformed so that we can draw nearer to God and be more Christ-like. This Lent let us pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be more serious and nurture Christ-like virtues in our lives.
AND SO JUST MAYBE, THIS LENT WILL BE DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER TIMES. LET US ALL BECOME VIRTUOUS BCBP MEMBERS. SO THAT COME EASTER, WE WILL ALL REJOICE AND CELEBRATE THE VICTORY THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST HAS WON FOR US. MAY BCBP BECOME A HOLY COMMUNITY!
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL BCBP MEMBERS!