Each and every one of us are called by Almighty God to be holy. We are called to be saints. To reach such sublime heights, one can say that we are called to be great. This greatness is what is referred to as the virtue of Magnanimity – which translates to ‘greatness of soul’. It was St. Thomas Aquinas who said, in his Summa Theologica, that magnanimity is the virtue that which calls man to strive for honors. However, magnanimity is not about selfish pride seeking out one’s own glory in the damnable use of pride. Quite the contrary, magnanimity cannot exist without humility as its guiding rod. Think of Joseph of the Old Testament, how after he was sold into slavery by his own brothers – God blessed him to excel in everything he did. If Joseph were a slave, he became the head of all slaves; if he were thrown into prison, he would be head of that prison, etc. But Joseph was not an ambitious man rather he was one in complete surrender to God’s will whatever it might be. This is how we must conform ourselves if we wish to be magnanimous!
There are a few things we can practice to not just be blessed with from on high but also put into habitual use so that it becomes second nature to live a magnanimous life.
- Begin by actually praying for the virtue of magnanimity! Jesus told us if we ask Him for anything, he will give it; especially if it is a gift that will serve to guide us toward salvation. Do not just spontaneously pray but rather create a routine where you are to dedicate yourself to just God at specific times in the day or night. Make sure you guard this time jealously as you would with your wife or cherished family member. Meditate on Chief Truths of the faith such as the Glorious Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar – how Christ is truly present there, especially in the Mass.
- Make a concerted effort to accomplish any task (and I mean anything!) with diligence. Working with diligent designs, paying close attention to detail, and actually caring about what you are doing are all excellent ways to grow in magnanimity. You would not pray without thinking of the words and expect this to be a worthy prayer, would you? Similarly, everything you do must also be diligent and thoughtful. Even if you are to sweep the floor in your kitchen, do so as though you do it for Jesus Christ.
- Adjust your attitude positively toward all things. In other words, seek out God’s presence in all things and people. You may not be able to alter what happens to you but you can control how you respond to whatever is happening. Therefore, take everything God sees fit to send you as a gift from His hands. No one said this will be easy and in fact it will take a great deal of practice and prayer. But God did ask us to be perfect and as the saying goes – practice makes perfect!
- Take notice of those around you that you would normally not give a moment of your time. This means the stranger, the beggar, the senior citizen, the good, and the bad; attempt to understand their life and struggles as your own cross to bear. Cultivate a skill of listening rather than speaking as many often say they hear others but do not actually absorb their words. Prayerfully reach out to all people first and foremost with a smile and a ‘God Bless You’.
- DO NOT COMPLAIN! Give no quarter to murmuring against anyone or anything. Remove from you vocabulary curse words and other forms of inappropriate language. How can it be so that from a spout, both fresh and salt water spring forth? It cannot do so; you will either recognize the importance of purity in speech or you will indoctrinate your senses to enjoy lewdness and selfishness.
Therefore, pray and work unceasingly toward satisfying God as the magnanimous saint you have been called to be! Amen.