Passions: are you in control?

1. Passions: are you in control?

We enter into this new set of teachings today on the four cardinal virtues. What’s the motive? It’s quite simple really. This is the overarching point. If we do not prepare the natural terrain, God will not enrich us supernaturally. If we do not have the principle natural virtues, God will not give us the supernatural virtues. Or not enrich us with supernatural virtues which as we studied last year, faith hope and charity. Problem is if we are without the supernatural virtues, we’re without salvation. So it’s very important to prepare the terrain, this is the purpose of the next five weeks of homilies. Today’s an introduction to the topic, in which we will look a little bit of the human being. The different bits of the human being, particularly focusing on the passions, because as we will see in the weeks ahead, the passions are controlled by us or they control us. The controlled by us if we have virtues, virtues are what directs the passions. So basically what I’m doing today is setting the background… For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

Humility: In heaven there is no one who was not humble on earth

2. Virtues: Virtuous people are excellent

We are good people. But we all know, that just as it’s hard to become better, it’s very easy to become worse. We know that we become better by the practise of virtue, God makes us the light of the world the salt of the earth. But we become worse by the practice of vice. Over the last year and a half since I got here, I have had the occasion to talk about sin and vice. I have been very surprised at the reception with which people have accepted this topic. It takes humble people to accept humiliations. Every time we talk about sin and vice, there is an accusation for all of us because none of us are perfect. So frankly I’m a little humbled, that it’s been received so well. Difficult topics. However, as I promised a couple of weeks ago we’re going to turn that over now. Let’s put vice aside for a while and concentrate on that beautiful aspect, which is virtue, virtue. I want us to know more about it, I want us to love it, I want each and everyone of us to be more virtuous. So what will we say about virtue. We’ll say what it is, how we can obtain it, why we should obtain it, why it’s necessary. Not only for salvation in that life, but because it’s very useful in this life. Any virtue, the virtues. But first a little bit of background. All of us have habits, some good and some bad. Habits that we have acquired through routines through the repetition of certain actions. Bad actions form bad habits, and bad habits form vices. A person smokes one or two cigarettes a day, ok it’s not the end of the world. Ten years later, that grows to 10, 20 30 a day… For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

Fortitude: firmness in difficulties, constancy in the pursuit of good

3. Fortitude: firmness in difficulties, constancy in the pursuit of good

We’ve been studying together about virtue. Fair question though, is if we are talking about fortitude, who do we consider strong? Who do we consider courageous? The soldier who defends his country in battle, certainly. Any person who risks their life to save someone else’s life, certainly. There are also examples which are less well known, courage. Take the young lady for example, she’s pregnant. She gets pressured by family friends, boyfriend, partner, whatever, to get rid of the baby, for trivial selfish reasons. But she says no, she insists on no. Take the man in the workplace, he’s offered a promotion, more money, an easy career path if he will go against his principles. But he says no, he insists no, against what everyone else is saying to him. It takes courage, newspapers don’t write about that a lot. But this is written in our conscious and most of all, these acts of courage a written God’s book of our life. Today, I wish to pay tribute to all the unknown courageous people, who have the strength to say no to the bad and yes to the good, even when they have to pay a price. Today I wish to pay tribute to those who love truth, seek justice and righteousness, even when they had to pay the price. I want to pay tribute to all of them today by making an effort to teach about this virtue which animated all of them, Fortitude. We will hear what this virtue is. How to obtain it, how to maintain it. The impediments to it, in other words how we might loose it. But first, I think there is a nice story, a true story which illustrates why it’s such an important virtue... For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

Justice: The firm will to give your due to God and neighbour

4. Justice: The firm will to give your due to God and neighbour

So today we want to focus on the virtue of Justice. But to make it a little bit easier for the younger ones here, a little story that highlights the main elements. There was a young price called Prince Lapio. He was making a lot of mistakes in the kingdom because he didn’t have good judgement. He used to decide cases in favour of the person who was better looking, the best dressed, who was charming. A lot of people complained to the king, so he decided to send his son off Prince Lapio, with one of his councillors to settle various disputes in the kingdom so that the Prince might learn the nature of justice. First they got to this place where there were two tribes. The Minimums and the Maximums, these guys shared with each other food stuffs. The Minimums were hunters, so they provided the meat. The Maximums were the farmers so they provided the fruits and vegetables. But they didn’t know how to make a fair sharing. So the wise men asked the Prince to think about it and then to give his judgement. The Prince said, ‘well I think it’s just that there is equality, so everybody, we divide the food up so everybody gets the same share’. But the Maximums, they were terrified by this, they were very upset, because they were going to starve. Why? The tribe of the Maximums were a small tribe, but they were big men and they used to eat an awful lot. Where as the tribe of the Minimums, they were tiny little fellers, they didn’t eat a lot but there were thousands of them. So the Prince had to think about this again. He had to take counsel from the wise man. Then he came up with this decision ‘Get the food and divide to each person according to their condition’, in other according to as much as each person needs to survive…  For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

Humility: In heaven there is no one who was not humble on earth

5. Temperance – the righteous habit which governs the natural appetite for pleasures

Before we introduce a theme and we talked about virtue we mentioned that virtue is a good habit, which prepares a person, to act, to carry out other actions in accordance with right reason. To act rationally. With all moral virtues, justice, fortitude, prudence, any of these, right reason indicates to the person with regards to their actions, the right measure, the need of moderation. The virtue we focus on today is temperance, this specially measures, moderates and even teaches us to hold back the most animalistic inclinations that we have. I like to talk about today what this virtue is, why it is important and what are those vices which are contrary to it, which will diminish ouch chances of growing the virtue of temperance. So, what is it? In the wider sense, it means moderation in actions and passions – like all the virtues. But in the strict sense – temperance means – moderation in the sensual and the carnal pleasures… For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.... For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

Humility: In heaven there is no one who was not humble on earth

6. Humility: In heaven there is no one who was not humble on earth

There was a parish council, much like our own, made up of characters like Anna and John and company. They decided it would be important if they promoted in the parish the virtue of humility, especially in children. They said lets find an award, a prize for the most humble person in the parish. A committee was formed, names were put forward and finally they came up and agreed upon Mr. Jones, a little wee shy man who never took credit for the things he did. That Sunday, he was given a gold badge, which said – most humble man in the parish. However the same committee the following Sunday had to take the badge off him. Why? Because he turned up in the chapel that Sunday with a badge on the front of his blazer for everybody to see. He missed a little bit of the point of humility; he wanted to stay basking in that glory. I mention this, because most of us have the wrong idea about the virtue of humility. I mention this because it’s the central theme in the readings today. That’s what I want to talk about today, in three brief points first what is the virtue of humility, what is the vice opposed to it and are there any tips or means or ways we can implant the first and irradiate the second. So what is humility?... For Fr. Nicholas’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.