Virtues are absolutely essential for marriages to thrive. A virtue is the habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The Latin root of the word is virtus, which means “strength” or “power.” Growing in virtue is a lifelong task to strengthen your willpower to choose what is best and right even in the most difficult of circumstances.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) our efforts will be fortified by grace:
Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them. It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil. CCC, 1810-1811
The Catechism further says…
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity (Cf. 1 Cor 13:13). CCC, 1813
Let’s see how these virtues are tantamount in living out the vocation to married life, especially in times of strife.
Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
Are you having difficulties with your spouse? Do your prayers for change seem to go unanswered? This is when you need to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Faith is not waiting for God to do something; faith is waiting while God IS doing something. In spite of circumstances and appearances to the contrary, God is working behind the scenes to soften hardened hearts of spouses that have emotionally or physically abandoned home and family in pursuit of selfish desires. Jesus is your advocate with the Father, pleading your case before Him. Faith involves submitting your life to the Father: all your cares, concerns, worries, and fears. Faith is demonstrated through acts of obedience to God, honoring Him in your thoughts, words, and actions. If you lack faith, ask the Father to give you more faith. He willingly gives to those whom seek Him with an earnest heart.
…stand firm in your faith. 2 Corinthians 1:24
Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
In the story of the blind beggar in the gospel of Luke (Lk 18:35-42), we see a man that, in spite of his blindness, saw hope for his healing in the Messiah. Most beggars at the time of Jesus had disabilities that could not be cured through medical help. People ignored the infirm, violating the command given by God to care for the needy (Lev 25:35-38). Stepping out in hope and faith, the blind beggar cried out to Jesus to heal him. This poor beggar demonstrates that no matter how bleak our situations may be, we need to reach out in hope to Jesus for healing.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
Our love for God should be the basis of our dealings with every person we encounter in life. All our thoughts, words and actions should give witness to our love for the Father. It is far too easy to direct our pain and anger at a spouse when we are experiencing difficulties in our marriages. Instead, God commands us to do everything in love. If you cannot treat your spouse with love due to pain they may have caused you, do it anyway out of love for God. In humility, we need to sacrifice our selfish desire and “right” to be angry, allowing God’s love to flow through us.
In times of strife and family conflict, your spouse is so in need of God’s love. Let God use you as His channel. May His bountiful love flow through you so that He may bless your spouse. “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4:8). Jesus’ love for the Father and His children took Him to Calvary where He conquered sin and death.
Never stop believing; never stop hoping; never stop loving. Great things are in store for those who believe!
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13