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The virtue of religion

The virtue of religion

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:46 pm

The Messenger. 11.13.08 Written by members of the Obion County Ministerial Association The ancient Greek philosophers spoke of what they called the “virtue of religion” (see Wisdom 4:2; II Timothy 3:5 for the opposite). It was a positive value defined as the practice of offering to God (or to the gods — for the ancients had many of them) what was their due by set ritual or formula of worship (Acts 17:22). An example would be the Temple of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, which was in the Roman Forum at the time of Julius Caesar. About 40 virgins called the Vestal Virgins attended the temple and kept the sacred fire burning day and night. The sacred flame was in honor of the goddess Vesta, who helped the people with the element of fire. Fire was important to the ordinary people of Rome. It helped keep them warm in the winter, and it was important for cooking food and other uses. Of course, we know and believe that Vesta was a false god, but the faithfulness of the people to this false goddess was quite virtuous. In the United States of America most people have traditionally believed in one God Who is the creator and ruler of all things. And religion has continued to be important for most people. However, the virtue of religion seems to be growing less important in people’s lives (Romans 1:20-22). Someone might say: “Well, I believe in God; I’m spiritual; I pray to God.” Yes, that may be true, and it is good, but this is not the virtue of religion. The virtue of religion is actually the practice of gathering together with other believers of religion and worshiping God together. It is giving God His due, as the God of all creation is worthy of (Rev. 4:11; 5:9). Let me define now the word “virtue.” Virtue is a positive characteristic of a person or act of doing something repeatedly that edifies a person or situation and produces something good (Luke 2:37; Job 1:5; Psalm.55:17). If it is not done repeatedly, then it may be a good act, but it is not virtue. Virtue is the continuous quality of doing that which is good. The opposite of virtue is vice — something that destroys or tears down something good (Romans 1:28-32). To practice religion, then, is also to practice virtue. One may be inwardly spiritual but not necessarily have the virtue of religion. As we approach the Day of Thanksgiving, we as a nation will be offering thanks to Almighty God for all He does for us (Ephesians 5:20). We will be gathering together to eat family meals and to feel the good feeling and blessing of being together. Many will be gathering together at church (see I Corinthians 11:17-22 for the opposite). It can be a very spiritual time for us all. Let us also not forget the virtue of religion and gather together with other believers to worship God, to thank Him and praise Him for all He does for us, not only at Thanksgiving and other special holidays, but continuously, throughout the year (Psalm 27:4-7; Psalm 133). Rev. Richard Cortese Immaculate Conception Catholic Church 1303 East Reelfoot Ave., Union City

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