6. Divine Wisdom: Always begging for God’s Spirit to guide us
For as long as I’ve been in the Harry Potter fandom, I’ve had what they call “Sorting Angst.” I have had major issues sorting myself into one particular house in Hogwarts. I loved Ravenclaw because I saw myself as a smart person, but like a Hufflepuff, I am fair-minded and like a Gryffindor, I value courage. Basically, the only house I feel like I’m not is Slytherin. After a lot of researching, I’ve come to learn that Hogwarts sorting is based on what a person values most, not necessarily what they are. I may be a dedicated and hard-working person who is just learning how to be brave, but I value and cherish wisdom and knowledge more than anything. (Not to mention I see a lot of myself in Luna Lovegood.)
I’ve mentioned before that there is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the desire to know things. Wisdom is understanding and accepting the limits of your intelligence and being open to learning more. The virtue of wisdom requires asking others for guidance. And for me, I’ve gained so much from learning from what I’ve done before and asking God to help me through everything.
7. Surpassing Purity: Having a heart immaculately clean and unstained by sin
This is not an easy virtue to follow. We are constantly bombarded with over-the-top sexual images. I recall walking down Times Square in New York City and seeing a giant ad for Gossip Girl which showed two characters in the heat of passion. We live in a time in which little girls watch supermodels strut down a runway in nothing but underwear and over-the-top costumes in the hopes of watching Taylor Swift perform live. (No offense to Taylor Swift and her supermodel girl squad.)
Just remember, though, that nothing is impossible with God. Although St. Therese was not born in the 21st century, I’ve learned so much from her on what it means to be pure of heart. Therese embodied the idea of having the heart of a child. While she initially acted selfish and spoiled, she eventually let her love expand to everyone, even to those she didn’t like. She also knew that God would help her whenever she experienced an emotional trial.
It calls to mind something St. Therese said towards the end of her life:
Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our father’s love – difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul’s miseries, her burdens, her needs – everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness. Everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events – to the heart that loves, all is well.
I feel like this quote explains what purity really is more than anything else. Purity isn’t weakness. Purity is strength.
8. Angelic Sweetness: Radiating joy and peace to everyone she encountered
I can probably hear my co-worker Katrina growling at her desk if she ever finds herself reading this. I imagine there are other sour-faced Catholics as well who aren’t exactly what you would call sweet. But as “Into the Woods” says, “Nice is different than good,” and being sweet does not mean always being nice.
Mother Teresa is the best example of this virtue because she displayed kindness and radiated peace by everything she did. She wasn’t always nice, as evidence by a story about her giving sass to a baker who spat on her and refused to give her or a child in need any bread. But she was always good, even to those who didn’t understand her or felt threatened by her. As Mother Teresa says “Peace begins with a smile.”
It’s not easy to show happiness to everyone. We may not always like whom we encounter. I know for me, having Asperger’s Syndrome, I have problems caring about other people’s problems unless I can picture myself in their shoes. I always assume or wish that people were feeling whatever I was feeling. And yet, I approach people about my faith and take risks knowing I could be condemned. In spite of whatever harsh comments I get, I’m happy doing what I’m doing now.
9. Lively Faith: Constantly seeking God’s will and never settling for complacency
The last two virtues are for those who are still figuring out their vocation. Some of my friends, as of now, have found their vocation and are living it through marriage or religious life. Other friends, however, are in the same boat as me. Our lives are basically like this poem from JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
We all had ideas on what our lives would be after college and yet God has led us in a different direction. Maybe it will take us longer to find what we are looking for, but we all have faith that we will get there eventually. Sometimes, it just starts with taking small steps, with God being the lamp at our feet and the light in our path. Step by step, we get to where we need to be.
10. Heroic Patience: Always trusting that God was on the move; having more faith in His plans than her own
Until we finally find our vocation, though, my wandering friends and I are constantly put into situations that ask us to be patient. Sometimes they come in the form of false starts or failed job interviews. Sometimes it’s just waiting for change to come and making the most of what we have not. But as Tolkien said:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king
Patience is not an easy virtue, but it’s something we do every day. To call to mind another epic series “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” And we have to go on living in spite of our fears of getting nowhere because somehow, God will suddenly take us somewhere and that somewhere is that place we need to be, the right place and the right time. But until then, we make the most of what we have. And that is how we practice patience.