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A Portrait

Every catechism that I have ever seen lists the “twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit”… it is seldom that the twelve fruits get more than a passing mention in religious instruction classes.

Perhaps the simplest procedure would be to see what that portrait [of a truly Christian man or woman] looks like.

First of all he is an unselfish person. He sees Christ in his neighbor and is considerate of others and helpful to others, even at the cost of inconvenience and hardship to himself. This is charity.

Then he is a cheerful and pleasant sort of person. He seems to radiate an inner glow which makes itself felt in any group of which he is a part. When he is around, the sun seems to shine a little brighter. People smile more easily, speak more gently. This is joy.

He is a quiet and relaxed person. Psychologist would call him “well-adjusted.” His brow may be puckered with thought, but seldom with worry. He is a steady sort of person, a wonderful man to have around in an emergency. This is peace.

He is not easily angered, he is not resentful of slights. He is not upset or frustrated when things go wrong or people are stupid. He can fail six times and still start over the seventh time without grinding his teeth and cursing his luck. This is patience.

He is a kind person. People come to him with their troubles, and find in him a sympathetic listener; they go away feeling better just for having talked with him. He is interested in the enthusiasms and the problems of others; he is especially considerate of children and the aged, of the unhappy and the unfortunate. This is benignity.

He stands solidly for what is right, even when it means standing alone. He is not self-righteous; he does not judge others; he is slow to criticize and still slower to condemn; he is forbearing with the ignorance and weakness of others. But he will not compromise principle, he will not temporize with evil. In his own religious life  he is invariably generous with God, never seeking the easiest way out. This is goodness.

He is uncomplaining under pain and disappointment, in sickness and in sorrow. Self-pity is unknown to him. He will raise his tear-stained eyes to heaven in prayer but never in rebellion. This is long-suffering.

He is a gentle person, a restful sort of person to have around. He gives of his best to whatever task comes to hand, but without any of the aggressiveness of the “go-getter.” He does not seek to dominate others. He will reason persuasively, but he is never argumentative. This is mildness.

He is proud of his membership in Christ’s mystical body. He does not try to ram his religion down anyone’s throat, but neither is he apologetic for what he believes. He does not try to conceal his religion in public; he is quick to defend the truth when it is attacked in his presence; his religion is the most important thing in life to him. This is faith.

His love for Jesus Christ makes him recoil from the thought of being an ally of the devil, from the thought of occasioning sin to another. In dress and deportment and speech, there is a decency about him—or her—which fortifies rather than weakens others in their virtue. This is modesty.

He is a temperate person, with his passions firmly ruled by reason and by grace. He is not up in the clouds today and down in the depths tomorrow. Whether in eating or drinking, whether at work or at play, he manifests an admirable self-control in all that he does. This is continency.

He has a great reverence for the procreative power that God has given him, a holy awe that God should have so shared his creative power with humankind. He sees sex as something precious and sacred, a bond of union to be used only within the limits of wedlock and for the purpose established by God; never as a plaything, as a source of self-gratification. This is chastity.

And there we have the portrait of the Christian man—or woman.

—from The Faith Explained by Leo J. Trese, pp. 137-140

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