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Posted September 19, 2014

Book: Seven Saints for Seven Virtues
Author: Jean M. Heimann
Servant Books. Cincinnati, OH. 2014. Pp. 125

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

What do you think of when you hear the word saint? Does it conjure up an image of a pious someone who prays without ceasing? The idea of sainthood might seem far removed from the everyday situations you face. While it's true that the saints were holy and virtuous, they struggled to become virtuous. They wrestled with temptations and sins, just like you do. They had problems with their in-laws, worries about finances, and sorrow over wayward children. They were ordinary people who dealt with daily challenges in extraordinary ways.

An Excerpt from the Book:

St. John Paul II demonstrated the virtue of diligence in every area of his life, from the time he was very young until he died. Despite the fact that he had lost all of his immediate family members before he turned twenty-one, he did not give up on God, but instead became more fervent in his spirituality, drawing close to God in prayer.

The virtue of diligence is the decision to fulfill all of the responsibilities of our vocation or state in life. Diligence, or persistence, is the virtue that acts as a counter to the sin of sloth. Sloth, a capital sin, refers to laziness, particularly in matters of faith. Diligence combats spiritual laziness, and this virtue is manifested in suitably zealous attitudes toward living and sharing the faith. In fact, spiritual laziness can only be cured by practicing the virtue of diligence, which is "the habit of keeping focused and paying attention to the work at hand --- be it work of employment or work of God."

Sloth, or acedia, is the rejection of the grace that God provides us to carry out our duties in life. It also refers to the failure to use our talents and gifts as God intended. Archbishop Fulton sheen explained:

Sloth is a malady of the will which causes us to neglect our duties. Sloth may be either physical or spiritual. It is physical when it manifests itself in laziness, procrastination, idleness, indifference, and nonchalance. It is spiritual when it shows itself in an indifference to character betterment, a distaste for the spiritual, a hurried crowding of devotions, a luke-warmness and failure to cultivate new virtue.

Some of the characteristics of sloth include boredom, apathy, confusion, sadness, ingratitude, disorganization, and a lack of wonderment. However, the vice may also manifest itself in excessive busyness and constant activity, providing us with the excuse that we are just too busy for God --- we don't have time to pray or go to Mass. When we refuse to do holy things, but instead do only that which pleases us, we grow sluggish and weakened spiritually. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that sloth is a "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good. . . is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away from good deeds."

Table of Contents:

1. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: model of charity

2. St. Agnes: model of chastity

3. Pope John Paul II: model of diligence

4. St. Joseph: model of humility

5. St. Catherine of Siena: model of kindness

6. St. Monica: model of patience

7. St. Augustine: model of temperance

8. Saints in the making