The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
Read more.

The Life of Virtue - Magnanimity

Friday, August 14, 2009
 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Martyrdom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Deus tuorum militumIn the same way, those disciples of Jesus who look to Jesus, and who listen to his voice, are also given the courage, or fortitude, to endure all things, even death and the scandal of the Cross. Thus, the Acts of the Apostles recounts the death of the Church's first martyr in this way: "Full of the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God", and so he endured being stoned to death. It was the Spirit who enabled St Stephen to see Christ, and it was by fixing his gaze on the Lord (an act of faith and love), that St Stephen had the fortitude to endure martyrdom for Christ's sake.

Why does this gazing on the Lord cause one to endure martyrdom? St Thomas Aquinas explains that "charity inclines one to the act of martyrdom, as its first and chief motive cause, being the virtue commanding it". This means that the martyr is able to endure pains and torments because he or she loves Jesus Christ above all other good things, even his or her own life. However, one might love Christ immensely, and desire to die for him (as St Peter said he would), and yet in the moment of peril, one might flee because of fear. Fear, after all, is a good and natural response, but it is an instinctive response. Fear, as St Thomas sees it, is a passion, a feeling that acts upon us. In order to counteract this instinct and to act according to what we know by the light of faith and reason to be truly good and right, we need more than just the commanding virtue of charity. We also need the virtue of fortitude which helps us to act courageously in the face of suffering and death. This virtue "regards the preparation of the mind, so that in such and such a case a person should act according to reason. And this observation would seem very much to the point in the case of martyrdom, which consists in the right endurance of sufferings unjustly inflicted".

How do we acquire the virtue of fortitude? Through those practices and daily penances that are acts of endurance, patience, perseverance, and so on, but always with the right objective in sight, which is for the love of God and the good of our neighbour. The death endured by the martyr is thus the most perfect of heroic acts, for it is motivated by great faith and perfect charity. As St Thomas says, "endurance of death is not praiseworthy in itself, but only in so far as it is directed to some good consisting in an act of virtue, such as faith or the love of God". Therefore, St John says: "greater love has no man than this: that he should die for his friends" (John 15:13). So, it is with one's eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the king of martyrs, and by listening to his voice, that one is able to bravely suffer martyrdom for his sake, and so win the crown of unending glory.

 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Fortitude

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
In normal, everyday situations, the process of deciding how to act involves our emotions, the use of reason and the will. Making good decisions means making sure that our emotions do not run away with us. This means that we need to make sure that they are tempered by the will and reason, so that decisions are made in a balanced and sound way. This can be hard enough at the best of times, but what about extraordinary situations, extreme situations, where the emotions are likely to be very strong, say in the face of extreme danger or death? The virtue of fortitude is one which we require in such situations. In most situations where we face possible death, we obey our emotions and take flight. If we are in the middle of a road, and a large lorry comes around the corner at speed, we are clear as to what we should do. But what if there was a small child standing in the middle of the road a few meters away? Clearly, leaving her to be run over by the lorry would not be in accord with the good; it would not be in accord with preserving life. Running towards the danger momentarily to save her is then making a decision to act in accordance with the good, even though it involves an increased risk of death for us.  Read more

The Life of Virtue - A Look Back at Justice

Sunday, August 09, 2009

 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Epieikeia

Saturday, August 08, 2009
Metaphysics III.4 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Liberality

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The first important thing to note about this virtue, then, is that it is precisely concerned with the right use of money: money is a means which we acquire and keep in order to expend in the pursuit of various ends (i.e. providing for our needs and those of others). If money ever becomes an end in itself, something we seek just for the pleasure of acquiring it or having it, then we are no longer using it in the right way. Read more

The Life of Virtue - Affability

Saturday, August 01, 2009
 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Truth

Thursday, July 30, 2009
 Read more

The Life of Virtue - Vindication

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
When we hear the word Vindication, or Vengeance, virtue is probably not the first thing we would think of to describe it. We tend to think of vindication as something undesirable at best and sinful at worst, the desire to see oneself triumph over another, to demonstrate that we are right and to show the world that they are wrong. Most of the connotations that the word vindication has in popular usage we would not normally regard as particularly Christian. Read more

The Life of Virtue - Gratitude

Monday, July 27, 2009

 Read more
Follow us
Meet the Student Brothers

Meet the Student Brothers



Featured Series

Featured Series

Recent posts


Liturgical index

All tags & authors


Upcoming events

View the full calendar