Diversity in Virtue by analogy of diversity in the Church and the Human Body

January 29, 2022 • 4 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 475
By Venerable Louis of Granada

God has willed that the order and beauty which we admire in nature should exist in the works of grace.

For this reason He has endowed His Church with that variety of virtues which form a most symmetrical body, a most beautiful world, the most perfect harmony.

Hence some of the members of this great body give themselves to a life of contemplation; others to an active life, to obedience or penance, to religious studies, to the service of the sick and the poor, or to other works of mercy.

We find the same variety in the religious orders of the Church; all aspire to the same end but pursue different paths.

Some follow the way of penance; others that of poverty. Some choose a contemplative life; others an active life. Some labor in the midst of the world; others seek obscurity and solitude. The rules of one prescribe a certain revenue; those of another the strictest poverty. Nevertheless they are all animated by the same spirit, all pursue the same end.

This variety extends even to the members of the same order; for while certain religious are engaged in the choir, others study in their cells; others devote themselves to manual labor; others hear confessions; while others are engaged in the temporal affairs of the community.

What, then, are all these but the several members of one body, the different notes of one grand harmony, the various elements which contribute to the beauty and perfection of the Church? Why has the lute several chords, the organ numerous pipes, but to produce greater variety and harmony?

For this reason the patriarch Jacob gave his son Joseph the coat of many colors, [Gen. xxxvii. 3.] and God commanded that the curtains of the tabernacle should be of violet, purple, and scarlet twice dyed, diversified with embroidery. [Exod. xxvi. 1.] In both of these objects we behold an image of that beautiful variety which prevails in the Church.

Let us, then, beware of judging others because their virtues are not ours, or of expecting all to follow the same path. This would be destroying the body of the Church, rending the coat of Joseph.

It would be exacting the duty of the eyes, or the hands, or the feet from all the members of the body.

In the words of the Apostle if the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing; or if it were the ear, where would be the eyes?

Can the eyes reproach the feet for being blind, or the feet reproach the eyes for not bearing the burden of the body?

No; it is necessary that the feet toil on the ground, and that the eyes be above them, protected from all that could fatigue or sully them. Nor is the duty of the eyes, notwithstanding their repose, less important than that of the feet.

The work of the pilot who stands at the helm is no less necessary than that of the sailors who manage the ropes and sails.

We must not judge of an action by the labor it requires, but by its value and the effects it produces. Thus, you would not say that the work of a laborer is more important in a commonwealth than that of the statesman who wisely directs the government.

If we seriously weigh these considerations we shall learn to respect all vocations. We shall not reproach the hand for not being the foot, nor the foot for not being the hand. We shall understand the truth of the Apostle’s words when he tells us that the beauty and perfection of the body result from the diversity of its members.

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