Not Alone Series: Habits and Virtues

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Virtue is a habit of choosing good over evil. How do you cultivate virtue in your life as a single? How do you grow in faith, hope, and love? How do you promote justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude? How do you spread kindness and champion chastity? On a practical level, what are some good habits you’ve developed for your single life? And on the flip side, what bad habits and vices have you overcome? (It’s okay if you’re still working on some of them!)

I know you probably didn’t even realize it, since it’s always such a secret, but Lent is coming. Now is a great time to take stock of your spiritual life and your pursuit of holiness. What needs to be whipped into shape? Where are you just coasting along instead of striving for excellence? What bad habits have you been avoiding that you need to confront?

Clearly, due to my state in life, I hear a lot of chastity messages. That’s kind of a thing. It’s a thing I enjoy. Sometimes I even blog about it. Jason Evert’s If You Really Loved Me was my gateway drug, and I’ve stayed hooked as he’s grown older, wiser, and a little more mellow. (He just talks so fast!) Arleen Spenceley is in the trenches with us single girls. It’s always a little frustrating when my favorite single speakers get married, because then they can’t identify anymore. I’m happy for them, really, but it still stings. I even discovered More Than Don’t Have Sex, a blog by Justin M. Campbell, who has the most Catholic-friendly Christian angle on chastity that I’ve ever seen. It’s a good time to be single, Christian, chaste, and a blog reader. There are so many people who have my back.

I also hear (and talk) a lot about growing in holiness. I can’t see the future, so I don’t know if I will ever actually get married despite my desire to do so. I do, however, know without a doubt that God wants me to grow in holiness and closeness to him. (He wants that for you, too. FYI.) That gives me something I don’t have to wait before I can do. I can get holy now.

Get holy or die tryin'.

Word.
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I hear rather less about growing in virtue, which is a shame. Virtues are much more concrete than “holiness.” I helped run a retreat back in undergrad that had “Faith, Hope, and Love” as the theme, so I’ve had a soft spot for virtues since then. I even remember the general area the Catechism starts talking about them; it’s around paragraph 1810. I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I had ever really thought about what hope meant as a virtue and not just literal wishful thinking.

Now, my favorite virtue is hope. Faith and love are much more straightforward. Hope takes some work; I like a challenge. In a nutshell, hope is about trust. It’s trusting that God is in charge and that he will fulfill his promises, which include our salvation and his constant care for us. Hope is what fends off the despair that says God has forgotten about me, that he doesn’t really care about me personally and individually, or that I’m not good enough to be blessed. Do I always remember that? Nope. But do I know that hope is a virtue that I, personally, need to intentionally strive for? Absolutely.

I also have a soft spot for the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. They have my back when I’m tempted to just throw this whole life away and do whatever I want. Chastity is hard. It seems like a life free of the chains of virtue would be easier. It would probably be more fun. However, I chose these chains. I have staked my claim upon the Lord. My life was okay before, but I don’t want to go back to okay. I want to be a saint. That means living with heroic virtue. Conveniently, life in the Spirit means I don’t have to do it alone.


Next week’s topic: Parish and Community Involvement

As a single lady, how do you find your niche in your parish, church, and community? How do you hope to expand your community this year? What are some suggestions for those of us looking for a way to find a community? Lent might just be the perfect time to try something new—what do you recommend?

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Lindsay, you are so wise! Thanks for sharing the blog links; I always enjoy reading bloggers who challenge and encourage growth as a single. :)

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