Most people have heard of the “seven deadly sins” and may even be able to name
them, but fewer have heard of the seven cardinal virtues: charity, chastity, diligence, humility, kindness, patience and temperance. Jean Heimann’s book “Seven Saints for Seven Virtues” (here at Seven Angels) spends time dwelling on the importance of each of these virtues and then giving examples of them from the lives of the saints.
Each virtue gets a similar treatment: a thorough description of the virtue and how it helps in one’s spiritual life, followed by the life of a saint who embodied that virtue. In some cases, you’ll be relieved to note, the saint had to work pretty hard to achieve that virtue. Next comes a depiction of a modern individual who exemplifies that virtue, not necessarily a saint. Heimann’s examples include an Olympic skiier and her parents in order to show how ordinary individuals can express these virtues in daily life.
Following that are practical tips for practicing the virtue and a prayer for receiving the gift of that virtue.
I found the book to be accessible and drawn in broad strokes. You will not need a Master’s of Divinity to understand the text, and Heimann never gets into such depth that you feel overwhelmed. The book is fairly short but gives plenty of material for you to dwell on in more depth over time.
Heimann’s Seven Saints For Seven Virtues would work well with someone who wants to learn more about her faith without feeling overwhelmed, or for someone who is just beginning her faith journey. Confirmation candidates may find the discussions fruitful as they pertain to the virtues as gifts of the Holy Spirit, plus they can get to know seven saints while choosing their Confirmation names. This book also gives a good introduction to why and how Catholics relate to saints as models of the Christian life.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I have received no other compensation from either the author or the publisher. You can buy it onAmazon or read more reviews on Goodreads. Jean Heimann’s blog, CatholicFire, has links to all the other stops in her book’s blog tour. Enjoy!
This list of virtues is different from the one I am familiar with. But of course that is why I read your blog. You are Different. Your list seems to have come from a poem around 400 AD, which was widely read during the Middle Ages. My list would include the 4 cardinal virtues from the ancient world (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) plus the 3 theological virtues (faith, hope and charity). You could substitute the word love for charity, but then there are all kinds of love.
I think fortitude is a better word than courage. Courage might imply dash. Fortitude is steadier and longer lasting. When you make those lists where you match virtues to sins, fortitude comes up against sloth (acedia). Sloth is not just laziness, but more like despair. Sloth doesn’t just say “I can’t be bothered”, it also says, “It won’t make any difference”. Fortitude is the ability to keep going when you feel like that.
Many writers and film makers attempt the 7 deadly sins. I have yet to see someone attempt the virtues. They probably think virtues are boring, but I think it is because sins are easier.