Posts Tagged virtue
The past few years when I was teaching second graders in the Christian Formation program the normal pattern was to spend the fall preparing for First (and hopefully not last!!) Reconciliation and then the winter and spring preparing for First Eucharist. It is an exciting year where the material is at the very edge of what the kids are ready to grasp. A few actually seem to get, most go through the motions but it will take another year or two before any of the preparation sinks in. Hopefully, the formation is going on well beyond the classroom.
This year I was asked to step into an older classroom but the curriculum contains a somewhat different view of familiar material, adapted for the minds of kids who have gotten a little taller and lot smarter. Opportunity knocks. We get to talk about stuff with a little meat on the bones and so we get to broach the subject of sins of omission. Oh, it’s easy to pick out the things we do that we ought not be doing. Even in a culture gone haywire with permissiveness, people of good will can largely agree on actions which cross the line.
But somewhere along the line we got lazy. Yes, lazy. I’m sure I was a lazy teenager. Seems to have always gone with the territory to some degree. Here’s the difference. Once upon a time we really did feel accountable for the world around us. We really did feel a need to do something about situations around us that didn’t seem right, didn’t seem fair. Don’t get me wrong, I still see it around me. But it has sadly become a notable exception. When I see young people around me that stand out now, it is with a tinge of regret that I have to wonder when things changed. Remarkable actions today were often just a way of life only a few decades ago. As a culture, as a society, we have largely institutionalized sins of omission. We are instructed in James, chapter 4: “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (RSV). The Old Testament spoke of this as “complacency (Zephaniah). I think those same people of good will I mentioned above can probably agree that complacency crosses a line we ought not cross.
Like so many vices, complacency has a corresponding virtue. So let us open our eyes to the world around us and practice compassion. Parents, look for ways to put your childen in situations where they act with compassion. Young people, I challenge you to look up from that hand held rudeness enablement device and do something about what you see. Little things matter. Little things, done with virtue, set a pattern of behavior that steers us away from vice.
Next week, I’m taking my three oldest children to help serve meals at a shelter for the homeless. A little thing really, but never think that a little thing is of little importance. Many decades ago, I had my first experience with service to those in need. No doubt a little thing. A little thing that was life changing. Find a way today to do those things you can for others.