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Full Version: Feel Virtuous? No. Be Virtuous.
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It's easy to forget that being inclined to virtue, or feeling virtuous, isn't equivalent to being virtuous. One might say that Vito Corleone was good; in other words, virtuous. He may have wanted to be virtuous, or even felt virtuous, but he failed to be virtuous. To confuse the desire to be virtuous or the feeling of being virtuous with being virtuous is a common error, especially in our sentimentalist, Rosseauean age. Join me in guarding against this.

I'm reminded of part of a sermon by St. Francis de Sales, for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 1621:

For do you not see that you do not really desire humility, but only the feeling of humility? You wish to feel that you are humble, and, with that feeling, to know you have it. This must not be done, for to have this virtue it is not necessary to have its feeling. On the contrary, those who are truly humble are not really aware of being so. Likewise, to love God it is not necessary to feel that love, for love of God does not consist in feeling, tasting and enjoying His consolations. You can be very humble and love God very much without feeling so.

"Oh, that I might love God like a St. Catharine of Siena, or a St. Teresa." You are deceiving yourself: say more honestly that you wish to have the ecstasies, the feelings of love and humility of a St. Teresa or a St. Catharine, for it is not love that you want, but its consoling feeling. It is only the lack of feelings of which we complain, for we wishto taste and relish everything. O God, wait a little, my dear souls. Here below is not the place for tastes and feelings. Wait till you are in heaven above, where you will experience humility and enjoy its sweetness. You will see then how much you love God, and will taste the consoling sweetness of His love. But in this life the Lord wills us to live between fear and hope, to be humble and love Him without necessarily feeling either.

St. Francis, pray for us!
Good post. Same goes with love. While feelings of love are always great and a wonderful gift  -- esp. feelings of romantic love -- love is ultimately, like the Catechism says, an act of the will. And sometimes acts of will can bring the desired feelings, always a bonus. But we're commanded to love God and our neighbor, whether we feel it or not. We choose to love -- or not.
I agree with your post. He was virtuous until he turned 25, then he began a life of sin and crime. No argument there.

The discussion we were having is whether people are "good" or not. I contend that man is essentially good, but fallen.
Thanks for a good reminder from my favorite saint.
(01-27-2012, 01:26 AM)Crusader_Philly Wrote: [ -> ]The discussion we were having is whether people are "good" or not. I contend that man is essentially good, but fallen.

We are good inasmuch as we are capable of goodness. We can't just sit back and exude holiness. though. It takes work. First you desire virtue, then you work and pray for it, then you can take joy in it. The cycle creates a feedback loop of goodness. The joy inspires new desires for greater heights, and so it goes. The key in this cycle is acting on the desire and sticking with it through thick and thin.