REFLECTION: Patristic Readings On Virtues

From Witness of the Saints: Patristic Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, by Milton Walsh

Anthony of Padua

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages.  These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience, and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others.  Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.  It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.  Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. (Sermon 1)

Baldwin of Canterbury

Love is as strong as death because Christ’s love is the very death of death.  Our love for Christ is also as strong as death, because it is itself a kind of death: destroying the old life, rooting out vice, and laying aside dead works. (Treatise 10)


The spirit of a strong and stable character strengthened by meditation endures; this unshaken spirit, which is strengthened by a certain and solid faith in the future will be enlivened against all the terrors of the devil and threats of this world. (Fortunatus)

Gregory of Nyssa

When we consider that Christ is the true light, we learn that our own life also must shine with the rays of that true light.  Now these rays of the Sun of Justice are the virtues which pour out to enlighten us.  If we truly think of Christ as our source of holiness, we shall refrain from anything wicked or impure in thought or act and thus show ourselves to be worthy bearers of his name.  For the quality of holiness is shown not by what we say but by what we do in life. (Christian Perfection)

Ignatius of Antioch

These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end.  When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them.  No one professing faith sins; no one possessing love hates.  A tree is known by its fruit.  So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do.  For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.  It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. (Ephesians)

Margaret Mary Alacoque

But above all preserve peace of heart.  This is more valuable than any treasure.  In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the divine heart.  In this way his will can carry out for us whatever contributes to his glory, and we will be happy to be his subjects and to trust entirely in him. (Letter)

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