The Virtue That Takes Virtue to the Next Level

Fr. Mike introduces us to the virtue that makes other virtues excellent: magnanimity.

If someone asked you what the most essential virtues are, you might say humility, faith, hope, or love. But have you ever heard of the virtue of magnanimity? What this virtue does is it magnifies—or makes greater—other virtues within someone. In other words, it’s to strive for excellence.

This is not to be confused with the vice of pride, which relies on the gifts of oneself without acknowledging any help that may come from another person or even God. Instead, a magnanimous person sees the gifts God has given them and chooses to emphasize them in their life as a way to honor him. 

Consequently, every saint must be magnanimous; they must be great for the Lord. Even saints who have the most different and opposite lifestyles become one in the same, purely through their desire to be excellent, not for the sake of themselves, but as a “thank you” to the Lord. 

One way to strive for magnanimity is to avoid the temptation to it’s opposing vice, which is pusillanimity. Pusillanimity is the direct opposite of magnanimity: it’s to shy away from the gifts God has given you, out of timidity. This is different from humility, because where humility is acknowledging that your gifts are not your own, pusillanimity is refraining from using those gifts in the first place.

By embracing the gifts God has given us and using them to glorify him, we are being magnanimous. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in, how old you are, or what your gifts consist of. All of us have the opportunity to be magnanimous, and all of us have the opportunity to be saints.


Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz

Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

He is a presenter in Ascension’s ChosenAltaration, and The 99 programs, and has a channel on Ascension Presents. He is also the host of the Ascension podcasts The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year.

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