Is there a healthy Catholic sense of competition?
#1
Just curious to see if anyone knows of any sources to answer this question. 

I was wondering if there is a Catholic perspective on competition that is moral and even healthy. 

We tend to think of competition as an ego-driven, narcissistic phenomenom to be avoided and most of the time it is. 

But I was wondering if there is a virtuous side of it where a person strives to utilize their gifts and  measures their progress in something objective whether it be athletics, the arts, economics or what have you.  And that measure is against the accomplishments of a peer or a model.

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#2
No source, but competition is awesome.  Anyone involved with sports knows the good aspect of it.  Even if you play a close game, and lose, you will say the game was worth it.

Competition overcomes laziness and mediocrity.  It gives you objective information on your performance.  It is a link to prudence and justice.

Competition in government (subsidiarity) keeps a check on tyranical government, allowing you to vote with your feet. 

Competition in the economic sphere puts the customer in charge, and keeps a check on Original Sin.

Everytime we have eliminated competition, by greatly reducing subsidiarity, destroying the 10th amendment, instituting a Central Government income tax, and putting in place a Central Bankers guild (the Federal Reserve), a lawyers guild (ABA) or a doctor's guild (AMA), we have seen the horrible damage.  In fact, eliminating competition in government has bankrupted the USA.  Same with the EU.
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#3
(02-01-2011, 11:17 AM)Gerard Wrote: Just curious to see if anyone knows of any sources to answer this question. 

I was wondering if there is a Catholic perspective on competition that is moral and even healthy.   

We tend to think of competition as an ego-driven, narcissistic phenomenom to be avoided and most of the time it is. 

But I was wondering if there is a virtuous side of it where a person strives to utilize their gifts and  measures their progress in something objective whether it be athletics, the arts, economics or what have you.  And that measure is against the accomplishments of a peer or a model.


One outcropping of this in the Roman world is the fact that we do NOT engage in the sickness of false collegiality (traditionally)...collegiality is in the DNA of the Orthodox...it is why Communism was run right up stream in Russia.
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#4
Good arguments all and I"m tempted to add my own.  But has any theologian or mystic ever treated this subject?  Anything from a Doctor of the Church or part of the Rule of some monastic order?
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#5
There is a patron saint of athletes - St. Sebastian.  That implies a recognition of virtues involved in sports.

ETA:  I found this quote:

"Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration, and steels the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator."  (Pope Pius XII, "Sport at the Service of the Spirit," July 29, 1945)
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#6
Gerard,
How about the virtue of magnanimity?  I think it might relate to what you're talking about: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3129.htm

On the other side of the spectrum, it might be helpful to read what St. Thomas said about envy: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3036.htm

"Regret at another's success is not always jealousy. The motive has to be scrutinized. If, for instance, I feel sorrow at the news of another's promotion or rise to wealth, either because I know that he does not deserve his accession of good fortune, or because I have founded reason to fear he will use it to injure me or others, my attitude, provided that there is no excess in my sentiment, is entirely rational. Then, too, it may happen that I do not, properly speaking, begrudge my neighbour his happier condition, but simply am grieved that I have not imitated him. Thus if the subject-matter be praiseworthy, I shall be not jealous but rather laudably emulous."

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08326b.htm

"Magnanimity, which implies a reaching out of the soul to great things, is the virtue which regulates man with regard to honours. The magnanimous man aims at great works in every line of virtue, making it his purpose to do things worthy of great honour. Nor is magnanimity incompatible with true humility. 'Magnanimity', says St. Thomas, 'makes a man deem himself worthy of great honours in consideration of the Divine gifts he possesses; whilst humility makes him think little of himself in consideration of his own short-comings'."

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15472a.htm

I have a couple of moral theology books, and I'll take a look at those to see if they treat the subject in a more direct manner.

Great find, Jayne!  :)

Edit: Grammar.
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#7
It seems avoiding actual envy and pride is what keeps competition virtuous.

(02-03-2011, 03:23 PM)JayneK Wrote: There is a patron saint of athletes - St. Sebastian.  That implies a recognition of virtues involved in sports.

Beat me to it!  ;)

Nice quote from Pope Pius XII too! St. Pius X actually presided over a bunch of athletic competitions in Rome in 1908 as part of his sacerdotal jubilee celebrations. I remember Pope Benedict XVI addressing athletes recently. I can't find the address itself, but this article quotes him praising athletics as teaching a "healthy competitiveness."
http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/...ur_bodies/

Here's a related question though. The litany of humility, from St. Pius X's Secratary of State (Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val) seems to go against competition and maybe even magnanimity. Is it a good prayer?
See here:

http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/humility.htm

I hope so, since I've always liked that prayer (it speaks to a lot of things I need to deal with, especially the list "fears" to be delivered from). I've also always done a lot of competitive things.
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#8
:duel:

Maybe Saint Francis of Sales (My most beloved FATHER) have something to say about this, but I'm not sure  ???
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