In our modern world, it can be extremely challenging to live a virtuous life. “The concept of virtue is often considered outdated and old-fashioned, but for Catholics, becoming virtuous is essential for eternal salvation.” What, then, can we do? Thankfully, we have saints we can look to as role models in virtue as we journey through the difficulties of life.
Put simply, “virtue is the pursuit of good and the avoidance of evil.” Traditionally, there are seven principal sins with seven virtues that oppose them: greed – charity, lust- chastity, sloth – diligence, pride-humilty, envy-kindness, anger-patience, and gluttony-patience. In Seven Saints for Seven Virtues (Servant Books, 2014), Jean Heimann offers the example of seven well-known saints as well as lesser-known examples of people living holy lives in order to help readers grow in these essential virtues.
The saints profiled include Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (charity), St. Agnes (chastity), Pope St. John Paul II (diligence), St. Joseph (humility), St. Catherine of Siena (kindness), St. Monica (patience), and St. Augustine (temperance). Each chapter includes a brief biography of one of these saints, explaining how he or she practiced the selected virtue. Heimann then offers the profile of someone not canonized who also exemplifies that virtue. She also provides suggestions on how to put the selected virtue into practice in our daily lives.
What is to be gained by our increasing in virtue? Everything. “Putting the virtues into practice helps us avoid sin. The heavenly virtues help us to overcome the cardinal sins in our lives, to which we tend to cling like superglue.”
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues is designed to show that all of us are capable of living virtuous lives, provided we are willing to work at it and follow the saints’ holy example. While this book would be helpful for anyone seeking to grow in holiness, it would be especially useful for teens and young adults as they are forming their adult character and choosing how they will live. It is a practical, encouraging book that has the power to change lives.