Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fortitude: Firmness of the Mind

This is Part 3 of a series of 4 talk outlines on the cardinal virtues

'I will take the Ring,' he said, 'though I do not know the way.'  
Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. 'If I understand alright all that I have heard,' he said, 'I think this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will.'  
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  • Society has always admired and exalted people who have overcome great difficulties to achieve an ideal or goal
    • Roselle Ambubuyug, blind student who graduated BS Math summa cum laude in Ateneo de Manila University
    • Filipina pilot without hands
    • Manny Pacquiao
    • Martyrs
    • Frodo and the quest to destroy the One Ring
  • These are examples of the virtue of fortitude.

What is Fortitude?
  • Fortitude is the capacity to pursue an ideal despite the difficulties
  • Fortitude strengthens the will in its search for the good whatever obstacles a person may encounter
  • Latin saying: "Militia est vita hominis super terram.
    • Man's life on earth is warfare. 
    • We have enemies/obstacles before we could reach our goals
  • What are these obstacles?
    • From outside
      • difficulties, challenges, delays: Irascible appetite
    • From inside
      • comfort, attractions, distractions: Concupiscible appetite
Fortitude on comfortable/attractive things (concupiscible appetite)
  • We first tackle the obstacles from inside
    • Man's life is warfare, and the more important war is the war within ourselves
    • There is a need to conquer ourselves on things that could prevent, hamper, or delay us from reaching our goals
    • I'm referring to laziness, love of comfort, hedonism, consumerism
  • Availability of consumer goods and widespread comfort: defined by adjectives like "instant", "automatic",  "wireless", "pain-free", "unlimited"
    • These are not bad in themselves, but if we are not careful, it could lead to hedonism, a practical materialism defined by
      • Love for comfort and ease
      • Horror for all renunciation and sacrifice
  • In Physics, we know that everything, light, wave, matter, travels through the path of least resistance. 
    • That's okay for them because they are material
    • But we, on the other hand, are not solely composed of matter- we also have a soul.
    • Thus, this should not necessarily apply to us. Because, as we will see below, the "resistance," or difficulties, could be something helpful for our development. 
  • What will happen if we always say "Yes" to our cravings?
    • We will be like marshmallows, soft, unable to stand to our principles
    • We will be slaves to our own bodies
Fortitude on difficulties (irascible appetite)
  • The Value of Difficulties
    • Without pressure, carbon can't be formed into diamond
    • Without chiseling, a block of marble can't be formed into the Pietà
  • Sayings
    • Spanish saying: "Todo lo que vale, cuesta." : Everything worthwhile will cost something
    • Other sayings: "No guts, no glory", "No pain, no gain."
  • All these points out to one thing: Worthwhile things require effort, constant, persevering effort, not once, or twice, but may times. 
    • cf. athletes: runner, body builder
  • Difficulties are like chisels which refine our rough character to make us better
  • But we should also reject all forms of machismo- the vanity of a male animal:
    • A machismo that thinks that the more one drinks, flirt, wreck havoc, the more manly he is.

How could we live Fortitude?
  • It must be governed by prudence 
    • First, one must see clearly what he has to do
    • To face what we have to do, our responsibility
    • "Don't succumb to that disease of character whose symptoms are inconstancy in everything, thoughtlessness in action and speech scatter-brained ideas: superficiality, in short."  - St.Josemaría Escrivá, The Way No.17
  • Face the difficulties
    • After seeing what you have to do, get ready to fulfill them
    • Spanish has a special term for this: "reciedumbre"
    • Without running away (escapism through drinking, movies, anime, games)
    • "You say that you can't do more? Could it not be that... you can't do less?" - St.Josemaría Escrivá, The Way No.23
  • Learn to say "No!"
    • You will have friction with other people
    • Fortitude demands that we refuse things which can lead us to sin
    • Fortitude demands that we stand up for principles, for what is right
      • G.K. Chesterton: 'A dead thing goes with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.'
  • 4. Deny yourself
    • Cold shower
    • Getting out of bed
    • Eat what is served
    • Smile if you have a headache
    • Bear the differences of character in the office or at home

Christian Fortitude
  • We have discussed fortitude from a merely human point of view
  • Virtues were not original Christian ideas, they were popularized by ancient Greek philosophers
  • But the Christians have improved our understanding of the virtues, giving them a Christian tone
  • St. Augustine : Fortitude is the love that bears everything for the sake of the object of one’s love 
    • Thus, Christian fortitude is not just one borne of will power
    • It's main source is love
    • St.Augustine's quotation: "Love and do what you please."
      • Amor vincit omnia: Love conquers all
      • Amor suffert omnia:  Love endures all
  • Since our highest goal is God, the ultimate object of our love, Christian fortitude enables us to endure all things, to suffer all things without sadness, with our heart firmly set on God
    • Explanation for martyrdom and many other "crazy" things that people do for God
    • We need natural fortitude to live our commitments to God
  • Applications
    • Fulfillment of our duties before God
      • Prayer and the sacraments
      • Doing good
      • Bearing evil and hurts
      • Defending the Church's principles

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Order, Self-mastery, Virility, and Beauty in Temperance

This is Part 2 of a series of 4 talk outlines on the cardinal virtues 

'Puzzle' by Olga Shevchenko*

First impression and misconceptions about the virtue
  • Usually it is associated with control, restrain, resistance. 
    • This is not incorrect. 
    • However, this is not the most important thing about this virtue. 
    • It is only an aspect, or we could even say, a consequence of the deeper meaning of the virtue.
  • Worse is the virtue’s being associated with prohibition, ban, prevention, bawal(Tagalog), guinadili (Bisaya).
  • This is one of the reasons why this virtue may seem unpopular to some people.
    • People could even look at this virtue as unmanly.
  • Temperance is the order and integration of the appetites to the person
  • Temperance is the proper integration of the bodily appetites to the person.
  • In Latin, temperance means having to dispose various parts into one unified and ordered whole.
  • Thus temperance has something to do with order, with integration: of the appetites with respect to the person
The Appetites

  • Man’s 2 strongest appetites come from his instinct for survival.
    • Survival in the Individual level : Appetite for food and drink
    • Survival in the Social level : Appetite for the sexual act
  • De Marco, a philosopher says “The appetites, because they are associated with the desire for self-preservation are deeply rooted in the human nature, and consequently [because of original sin] can be very dangerous.”
  • For this reason, these appetites have to be properly ordered, integrated to the person.

Reason and order in our Appetites
  • What does it mean for the appetites to be properly ordered, integrated to the person?
    • It means that they have their right place, and that is, that they have to be properly guided by reason, meaning, according to the purpose that they were intended for.
    • And what are those?
      • Food and drink
        • for self-preservation, bodily sustenance, we may add as a bonus, social interaction with others.
      • Sexual act 
        • Good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. 
        • Plus : the proper conditions under which this is carried out according to God’s plan 
          • Between man and woman, within marriage, and open to life.
  • When these appetites observe this proper order — the reason and purpose behind their existence, they become good actions.  
  • The appetites are not bad in themselves.
  • To eat food is not evil, the sexual act is not evil, but to do them outside reason, outside their purpose, would be wrong
  • Thus, temperance allows man to maintain his balance when the force of bodily appetites threatens to violate the order of reason. 
  • It allows him to have self-mastery self mastery over his appetites, ordering them according to reason.

Temperance is: manly, self-mastery,  perfection. It prepares Man to make a commitment
  • Thus, temperance is actually not childish, but is actually mature and manly.
  • It is the temperate man who has dominion over his own self, and for this reason, he will be able to
    • Give himself to the others (in marriage, in a vocation, in a commitment)
  • Since he is able to govern himself, the temperate man can then he can begin to govern the others

Quote from Pieper on Beauty and Manliness in Temperance
"To the virtue of temperance as the preserving and defending realization of man's inner order, the gift of beauty is particularly co-ordinated. Not only is temperance beautiful in itself, it also renders men beautiful. Beauty, however, must here be understood in its original meaning: as the glow of the true and the good irradiating from every ordered state of being, and not in the patent significance of immediate sensual appeal. The beauty of temperance has a more spiritual, more austere, more virile aspect. It is of the essence of this beauty that it does not conflict with true virility, but rather has an affinity to it. Temperance, as the wellspring and premise of fortitude, is the virtue of mature manliness.
The infantile disorder of intemperance, on the other hand, not only destroys beauty, it also makes man cowardly; intemperance more than any other thing renders man unable and unwilling to 'take heart' against the wounding power of evil in the world."

Suggestions on how to practice temperance
Food and drink
  • Eat what is served; take more of what you don’t like, less of what you like
  • Be concerned about the others at table first; before you serve yourself
  • Delay a glass of water, taking your favorite dish (cf. Marshmallow Experiment)
  • When your choice will not go unnoticed, choose the worst for yourself

  • Use of internet
    • we can’t be naive; filter; pop-ups; certain sites
  • Entertainment
    • movies : best to check out first
    • music : some can be pornographic
  • Guarding eyes
    •  street: billboards, magazine stands, people of opposite sex
  • Dealings with the opposite sex  – avoiding over familiarity, being in imprudent in situations and places
For Catholics
  • Form  you conscience. Seek advice in spiritual direction
  • Frequent the sacraments, especially confession
  • Devotion to our Lady
  • For Christians, chastity (the virtue of temperance in everything that refers to sexuality) is  taken a higher order: the order of love.
    • Chastity, or holy purity, is the virtue that governs man's love for God and the others in everything that refers to his sexuality
    • Thus, the essence of chastity is love, and not restraint and control

* Photo credit: 'Puzzle' by Olga Shevchenko at http://www.freeimages.com/photo/puzzle-4-1498303

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Prudence: Doing what is right

This is Part 1 of a series of 4 talk outlines on the cardinal virtues.

Photo credit: justice_SRB 2 by SRBichara in freeimages.com


Review of Human Virtues
  • Man has body and soul
  • Body has faculties of senses and passions. They are blind to what is true and good.
  • Soul has faculties of intellect and will. These are able to know what is true and good.
  • Human virtues enable a man to train the faculties of his soul to govern the faculties of the body so that man can direct himself freely (i.e., without obstacles) towards his ultimate goal, which is Infinite Truth, Good and Beauty, that many people identify with a Supreme Being or God.
The Cardinal Virtues
  • There is a group of virtues, that, due to their significance, are called cardinal virtues.
  • "Cardinal" comes from cardo, which is Latin for hinge. 
  • The belief is that, the perfect man lives his life around these cardinal virtues.
  • There are 4 cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude.
  • We will tackle them one by one.  
  • In this talk, we will tackle prudence.

Description of Prudence
  • Aristotle defined prudence as recta ratio agibilium, "right reason in action."
  • Prudence, in a simple way of saying, is acting correctly, or doing what is right given a set of circumstances. 

3 "Stages" of Prudence

A prudent person considers things in 3 stages:
  • 1. He has the habit of considering if what he is doing is right or wrong
    • Therefore, he is mature and reflective.
    • Problems
      • One acts only according to what he feels, according to his moods.
      • One acts according to the what the majority believes.
      • One rationalizes his action by saying that most people are doing it anyway.
    • We have to practice a healthy critical thinking. 
      • It is alright to ask questions about the faith, if we are also humble and are sincerely seeking for answers.  This will help us mature.
  • 2. He makes judgments (on whether something is right or wrong)
    • He considers things as they are
    • Practice of the intellect, to gather the necessary inputs and consider them 
    • Problems
      • Indecision; delaying decision
      • Not seeing things as they are.
      • Person rationalizing his actions (because of his inclinations to them)
  • 3. He acts according to the judgments he has made.
    • He reasons thus
      • This is right, I'll do it.
      • This is wrong, I won't do it; I'll avoid it.
      • This is right ... but it's difficult... I'll still do it!
      • This is wrong ... but it's pleasurable... I won't do it!
    • Practice of the will to do what the intellect has seen
    • Problems
      • Inaction (freezing); delaying action
      • Person being overwhelmed by fear, difficulty
Although we call these 3 stages, in reality, we may not be able to distinguish them in one action.


What is right?
  • We have learned that prudence means doing the right thing, considering things whether they are right or wrong, then doing what is right. But, how do we know what is right?
    • Is something right only if it makes us feel good?
      • Adultery certainly feels good at the moment of committing it, but we can't say it is right
    • Is something right only if it is easy?
      • It's easy to bully someone weaker than you. But it's not right.
    • Is something right only if it is spontaneous?
      • If you are angry and you unjustly hurt someone in frustration, it's still not right.
    • Is something right only if we understand it?
      • If you didn't study, and you didn't get the correct answer in an exam, the teacher won't tell you, "It's okay. You didn't understand the lesson anyway."
    • Is something right if most people say it's right?
      • What is right is not determined by votation or propaganda
      • Related quotes:
        • William Penn: Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. 
        • St. Augustine: Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.
        • GK Chesterton: Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.
  • So how do we know what is right?
    • First, we have to distinguish among what is right scientifically, legally, and morally.
      • Scientific correctness is the conformance of an observation or model to actual physical laws
      • Legal correctness is the conformance of an action with the civil law.
      • Moral correctness is the conformance of a human action with natural moral law.
  • So we see that there are different levels here.
    • Regarding scientific correctness, physical laws validate observations and models. Many times it happens that a model undergoes changes as better observations are made (such as what happened, and will perhaps continue to happen, with the atomic model).
    • Regarding legal correctness, civil law is man-made and could be mistaken.
    • Regarding moral correctness, it is only the Natural Moral Law which could direct man to his ultimate end. (More on this below.)
  • Thus, what is right, in the last analysis, is determined by the conformance of man's actions to the Natural Moral Law.

  • Man does not determine what is right 
    • We can't determine the truth for ourselves.
    • Yes,  we have to judge for ourselves if something is right or wrong, but we don't make something right or wrong. We could be mistaken in our judgment.
    • In a similar way, a lawyer has to decide if something is in keeping with the law or not, but he is only an interpreter. He does not create the law. He only interprets it. He could be mistaken in his interpretation.
  • What is right is determined by the Natural Moral Law
    • This is the User's Manual that the Divine Creator has left us, and He has written it in our hearts.
    • Each one of us has a conscience, which makes judgments over our actions.  Perceived bad actions result in remorse while perceived good actions result in joy and encouragement.
    • We are obliged to always follow our conscience. However, we also have an obligation to form it.  We could have an erroneous conscience.
    • Our conscience only makes judgments on the correctness of our actions. It does not determine their correctness.  Thus, even if we believe that something is right, it could actually be objectively wrong if we interpret it against the Natural Moral Law.

Practical Tips to Live Prudence
  • Know more about the Natural Moral Law and, if you're Catholic, augment it with the knowledge of the Faith and teachings of the Catholic Church.
    • Remember how faith widens our perspectives (See Part 2 of Essentials of Leadership: Creed and Charm)
  • Form your conscience through mentoring or spiritual direction
    • Find a mentor who could help you navigate through moral intricacies
      • Ask questions
      • Resolve doubts
      • Get advice 
  • Self knowledge and examination
    • Daily examination of conscience
    • Attend recollections and retreats
  • Learn from prudent persons
    • Read the lives of the saints; choose a specific saint.
    • Read good books. Ask your mentor or spiritual director for advice on this.

Vices against prudence
  • Lack of it:  Recklessness, laziness, indecision, fickleness
  • "Lots" of it:  Cunning, being segurista
    • We also have to take justifiable risks

Sunday, May 31, 2015

4 Cs of Leadership Part 2: Creed and Charm

This is meant to be a talk outline instead of a developed article.
Read part 1 here: Character and Competence.

Photo credit: "Light through the forest" by honti at freeimages.com

3rd C: Creed
  • The 3rd C of Leadership is Creed (belief or faith)
  • Man is body and soul
    • Not just body
      • Sex is not just a biological action (for animals, yes, but not for men)
    • Man has a soul
      • Everything that we talked about so far concerns the philosophical perfection of a  man, i.e., man from a natural point of view
  • But man has a soul, and thus have a spiritual aspect
    • We saw this when we discussed the asymptotes: infinite longing for Truth, Beauty and Goodness
    • Nothing this world has to offer could fully satisfy us
    • Why? Answer comes from St.Teresa
“Nada te turbe,
nada te espante;
Quien a Dios tiene nada la falta:
solo Dios basta.”

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
  • Our Creed… 
    • Far from disconnecting us in this world...
    • Far from making us live our lives blindly in this world...
    • Far from preventing us to do our duties in the world...
    • Our Creed, in fact, gives the us and the world a greater understanding of the realities of things
      • our understanding of man
        • God as our purpose; natural law; conscience
        • human nature as affected by original sin
      • our understanding of the world
        • common good, divine providence, final judgement
    • The Catholic Church tackles key issues and her stand on these issues has remained firm
      • In all key issues, the Church has made a stand and has been firm in her stand
      • This gives us a better position to change the world for the better
    • If leadership is to be practiced to its highest degree, it should lead to the highest good, the highest objective of man
      • Many people call this God
      • The Elves of Tolkien call it Eru (The One) or Iluvatar (the Father of All)
    • Existence of God through different proofs (see peterkreeft.org)
    • Therefore, there is a need for faith in order to deliver what is best for everyone

  • What you can do
    • Attend classes on your faith,
    • Whatever your faith is
      • Know what you believe so that you can believe more
      • St.Anselm:
        • Credo ut intelligam; intelligo ut credam
I believe so that I may understand; 
I think so that I may believe.
        • Fides querens intellectum
Faith seeking understanding
      • My only advice
        • Sincerely seek what is True...
        • ...et veritas liberabit vos:  
        • and the truth will set you free
    • You cannot be stunted in your knowledge of the faith

4th C: Charm  
(you could call this C+, since it is a supplement to the 3Cs)
  • Charm is how well person a can relate or connect with people
  • It clearly is a plus factor
    • We need Character and Competence first, then add Charm
    • Without the first 2 Cs,  we will just be:
      • Pure form - not because we're angelic, but because we are puro forma
      • Like Gilderoy Lockhart- all form, no substance
  • But Character and Competence PLUS Charm, makes you much more effective
    • E.g. Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II

Very Last C: Conclusion
  • A good leader tries to develop: Competence, Character, Creed, Charm
  • Among the 4Cs, only Competence is taught in the classroom
    • Even then, you could still get more help on developing competence
  • The other 3 Cs, you have to develop outside the classroom
    • In your dealings with others
    • Look for support groups which can help you develop them
      • Family, organizations, institutions
  • Conclusion
    • Hugo Grotius:
“A man cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city.
He cannot govern a city if he cannot govern a family.
He cannot govern a family unless he govern himself.
He cannot govern himself unless his passions are subject to reason.”
        • This is clearly covered by Human Virtues
    • I would add:
      • Man could govern himself much better if his reason is enlightened by faith, i.e., by his Creed
    • Thus if you want to govern your org, later on your family, later on the city, later on the nation, you have to start now
    • You do it by developing the 3Cs : Character, Competence & Creed
    • Then add the 4th C, Charm, for an extra kick.

The very, very last C: