Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
May 31, 2022 // Bishop

Men spurred to virtuous lives at Armor of God talk

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

The Armor of God movement, which was born out of a desire to lead men toward deeper holiness, ascetism and fraternity, strives to respond to the crisis of sanctity in the world today. In addition to bi-annual retreats, they also offer monthly Spiritual Briefings to educate and inspire men to become better leaders and Catholics.  

Rob Gregory, Chairman of the Armor of God Board of Directors, shared his enthusiasm for their most recent guest speaker, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. Gregory exclaimed, “When I met with Bishop and updated him on our movement, he immediately got up, grabbed his calendar and asked when he could come to be a part of our next spiritual briefing. The topic of ‘Arming Men on the Power of Virtue’ quickly arose from our discussion.” Over 115 men from parishes across the diocese gathered to listen to Bishop’s presentation at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne, on May 18. 

In his talk, Bishop emphasized that “to be an authentic man of God is to be a man of virtue. A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good and to give the best of oneself. The virtuous person pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” 

He reminded those present that living with virtue is more than simply having “right values” or correct thinking, but also choosing and acting in accordance with the good. Following through on these actions requires commitment, courage and perseverance, which is why it is so important to be immersed in Scripture and frequently reflect upon the lives of the saints. He said, “I am especially inspired in my vocation by saints who were bishops. You can be inspired by saints who were lay men, husbands, fathers or those who were in your line of work or had similar passions.” He said the secret behind the saints’ sanctity was that they willingly chose and lived out holiness daily, and that the same must be true for those who hope to become saints today. 

The action plan Bishop presented for walking the way of holiness was founded on the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. However, he first highlighted the importance of humility, which he called “the foundational virtue of the Christian life.” He stressed that “there is no holiness without humility because humility is the way of God. Our Lord humbled Himself in the Incarnation to become man, He accepted death on the Cross, He gave us Himself in the Eucharist. When St. Francis of Assisi would speak about the Eucharist, he would say ‘behold the humility of God!’ You can’t name a saint who didn’t have humility.”  

He then defined the virtue of prudence as “right reason in action.” He continued, “it disposes us to discern our true good and choose the right means of achieving it. Prudence is the charioteer of the other virtues, it is responsible for determining how to be just, how to be courageous, how to be temperate; it gives knowledge of what must be done, when and how. It is not to be timid or fearful, but how to apply love for our neighbor in a particular situation. For example, it is not imprudent for a soldier to dive on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers, because prudence is about making right judgments and acting upon them.” 

He elaborated further, “making these judgements and taking appropriate action requires deliberation to find and follow the truth by seeking counsel from wise people, especially from God in prayer. Failure in this regard leads to rash decisions. Simply trusting one’s feelings or acting upon emotion can seriously cloud one’s judgment. Remember, prudence is not in us by nature, but comes through teaching and experience. I ask each of you to prayerfully consider whether you are acting prudently in how you use both your money and your time.” 

Speaking next about justice, Bishop explained that this involves maintaining “a right relationship between God and neighbor, giving each their due.” He reminded that “it is right and just”, as we pray at Mass, to give God our worship and strive to live in harmony with others. He encouraged looking to the example of St. Joseph, who Scripture calls the “just man”, as a model for holiness and virtue especially as husbands, fathers, and workers. 

Thirdly, he emphasized the importance of fortitude, which ensures firmness and constancy in the pursuit of good. Bishop Rhoades recounted that when he faced difficulties during his seminarian studies in Rome, the Italians would say “coraggio!”, meaning to have strength and to stay firm. Fortitude gives us the strength of will to conquer fear. Jesus often said, “be not afraid” and St. John Paul II frequently repeated those words. Fortitude is not recklessness, but the strength of spirit to overcome obstacles and courageously do what is right.  

Finally, he spoke on temperance as the moderation of pleasure and balanced use of created goods. “Temperance controls our passions and desires, particularly for food, drink and sex. Just as fortitude moderates inordinate fear of pain, temperance moderates the attraction to pleasure. Both are necessary for self-control. Once one has mastery over their passions, the giving of oneself in love becomes possible. One who is weak will be overcome by their passions and surrender to them, whereas a virtuous man has the strength to rule them. The virtues give us the strength to endure the storms of life!” 

Photo by Chris Lushis

After the talk, Gregory shared, “Bishop coming to speak to these men from his heart and fulfilling one of his roles as a teacher in the faith is an incredible testimony of his commitment to walking with men in our diocese and empowering them to reclaim the priestly authority of their homes and arm them to be the spiritual leaders that God has called them to be.” 

Dennis Wiegmann, parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul, Huntington, and Principal of Queen of Angels School, Fort Wayne, shared the inspiration he gained from the bishop’s talk. He said, “it immediately made me think of how I should be incorporating the virtues into all of our decision making, especially with student discipline.”  

Additionally, a 66-year-old who recently moved to Fort Wayne shared his gratitude for Bishop Rhoades’ presentation. He remarked that although he has been a lifelong Catholic and attends Mass daily, he had never heard of the cardinal virtues before, or if he had, they never truly left an impact. However, he said, “Bishop Rhoades was thought-provoking, easy to understand and inspiring. It is a joy to be part of this diocesan family.”  

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