I am making myself write this post.  I don’t even know what I’m writing about, but I know if I don’t start writing more, my brain is going to turn to mush.

It’s hard to be virtuous sometimes.   Okay, a lot of times.  This weekend I was faced with a giant blessing: a free weekend.  After a handful of trips and various other obligations, I was “home” all weekend for the first time in awhile.  Friday evening found me with a few options:

  • one book, into which I needed make a good dent for work
  • another book, I had already started for pleasure reading
  • a few letters that probably should be written
  • some periodicals I needed to catch up on
  • an ever-present, ever-growing mound of books “I want to read before continuing any formal education”
  • emails to respond to
  • friends to call because I haven’t talked to them in the last year/month/week

Saturday morning dawned, and after Mass with the Dominican Sisters to celebrate the feast of Father Dominic, the same options awaited me.

Sunday.  Ditto.

What did I do all weekend?  Sure, I read a little. A little. And I caught up on those periodicals.

And I randomly decided to bake and decorate cookies.

But only because I first consumed hours of the Food Network.

I cringe to think of how much time was wasted this weekend.  I don’t want to think about it.  I can feel my brain turning to mush.

I know why I wasted so much time.  Because it’s easy.  What’s easier to do, open up a book on the liturgy written by a French priest?  Or flip on the TV and watch a Sesame Street cake decorating contest?

It’s difficult thing, that virtuous life.  Perhaps there are people out there who think I’m being too hard on myself.  What’s wrong with watching a few, ahem, hours of the Food Network one weekend?  Shouldn’t I cut myself some slack?

CCC 1803: A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.  The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.

I want to be like God!!  But that doesn’t happen overnight, does it?  We first must build up those habits.

This weekend didn’t make or break whether or not I live a life of virtue.  Virtue is built over time, not after one or two choices.  If I made a good choice to pick up Wellspring of Worship instead of watching “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” on TLC, that would be  a wonderful thing.  But that doesn’t mean I’m a virtuous person.  It means I’m on the right track.

I want to give the best of myself, I really do.  It excites me to think that God is asking me to give the best of myself, the first fruits, and not the leftovers.  Someday, I’ll either give the best of myself to Him through a spouse or I’ll give the best of myself directly to Him in religious life.  But regardless of the vocation He is calling me to in the future, this day He is calling me to give the best of myself to Him.  And that’s where I failed this weekend.

While I don’t think it’s sinful to watch the Food Network, I don’t think I’m building up virtue in concrete actions if I continue to spend my weekends this way.  If I would have taken the heroic high road and turned off the TV after one show (or two), picked up my book and engaged my brain in thoughtful activity, I think I would have built up those dispositions towards the good a little more.

Someday, perhaps I’ll be a virtuous person  (as opposed to a continent, incontinent, or vicious person… read Aristotle.  Or check out the wikipedia entry, haha) who is naturally inclined to the good without dilemmas like this weekend (not that it was neccessarily a moral dilemma.  It’s not like I skipped Mass on Sunday to see if the Big Bird cake won, haha).  But for now, I’ll continue to face conflicts.

Welcome to the Christian life, soldier.  Sometimes we fail.  But that doesn’t stop us from continuing the fight.