B: Hello! Are you with me?
A: Oh sorry. Yes, of course. I just thought of something.
B: Something or someone? You seem to be quite absent-minded these days. You have also been quite pensive or prone to day-dreaming. What’s up?
A: Have you ever seen a pretty face?
B: Yes, of course, I wasn’t born yesterday!
A: I mean, a very pretty face that you can’t resist looking at.
B: Of course! I am not blind. But there you have it. Is that what has been going on in your mind?
A: Frankly, yes. There’s this new girl in school. I saw her pass by my classroom one day and I have been always looking for an opportunity to see her again and again. I do not seem to have enough of seeing her.
B: She must be very pretty.
A: You bet.
B: You know what attracts you to her?
A: Everything! Her face. The way she walks. I have not heard her speak yet but I guess that one, too.
B: You must really be infatuated by her.
A: How could you say that?
B: You see everything rosy about her. She is like the most beautiful woman in the world.
A: Well, I guess she is… at least for now.
B: And when she is not pretty anymore?
A: I guess I will think about that when it comes.
B: No. You can use your imagination for that. Will you still like her as much if you see her plump, with some wrinkles and white hair?
A: Are you describing my mom?
B: But don’t you love your mom?
A: Yes, of course I do, and no one can outdo me in my love for her. But why do you start describing this girl with the physical features of my mom?
B: That’s what I am precisely trying to drive at. The physical characteristics appeal to our senses first but if you want to go deeper in your love, you go to the level of the virtues.
A: You are at it again? I mean, virtues!
B: Because that’s the truth. Think about it. You told me that nobody could outdo you in your love for your mom. I guess your dad could say that too. But look at her physically, she is far less attractive than that girl you mentioned.
A: Oh, well, yes.
B: But why do you say that you love your mom so much? Is it not because she has been so loving and caring for you all these years? That in spite of all the troubles you have been giving her, she still cares for and loves you?
A: Of course!
B: Then you understand that what makes us really attractive and lovable is virtue. I am not saying that we should not try to tidy ourselves up. We should. In fact, that’s also a virtue—it’s part of cleanliness and order. Together with those, we also have to cultivate all the other virtues like amiability, patience, hard work, holy purity, meekness, fortitude, and so on and so forth.
A: How about beauty?
B: Beauty is actually a transcendental.
A: Transcend what?
B: Trans-cen-den-tal. It is metaphysical term which refers to those properties that are shared by all beings. Among these are unity, truth, goodness and beauty. They are aspects of everything that exists.
A: And so?
B: It means that in so far as a human being is, he is good. It also means that he has beauty.
A: Is that what you mean when you said that beauty will change the world?
B: Yes. But that is not original. The philosophers have been saying that since time immemorial. And part of the beauty that attracts is a virtuous life.
B: Because virtues perfect human nature. They enhance all our natural qualities and make them perfect. The more you live the virtues, the more attractive you become because you continue to develop your human potentials to the full.
A: It’s all human?
B: Well, these human virtues become the foundation of what are called the supernatural virtues?
A: There’s such thing as supernatural virtues?
B: Yes, of course! But it is rather hard to attain them unless we work on their foundation, the human virtues.
A: Can you give some examples?
B: Take for example the supernatural virtue of sanctifying one’s work, which means transforming one’s work as a means to personal holiness. It would be hard for you to reach that point if in the first place, you do not work on the human virtues of industriousness, hard work and diligence.
A: Another example please?
B: Like love for the poor—not merely giving help to the poor, but loving them like the sisters of Mother Teresa who spend their entire lives serving the poorest of the poor. You won’t reach that supernatural virtue unless you work on the human virtue of generosity—unless you cut off your selfishness and easygoing ways.
A: Okay I am getting it. So you are trying to say that what makes a person truly attractive is the interplay of human and supernatural virtues in his life?
B: Yes, until such a point that they become his—that there is unity among the human and supernatural virtues and are no longer distinguishable. Have you experienced meeting such people?
A: I am not sure. How about you?
B: Yes. It is one of those moments when you begin to realize that there are saints in this world—that Mother Teresa was not the only living saint that our generation has produced. There are still many more living this super-attractive life in this world. But it is not easy to detect them, unless you try living the virtues yourself.
A: That’s why perhaps it all sounds new to me.
B: In fact, what may happen is that the bad guys hate those who try to live good lives. The book of Wisdom records the hatred of the unrighteous men against the just men—those who live the virtues. The virtuous man is considered “inconvenient” to those who want to do bad things and “the very sight of him is a burden” to them, up to the point of wanting to put him to death.
A: Oh, that’s persecution.
B: Yes, and it is a paradox. Those who want to have true happiness in this world—that is, living a virtuous life—should be prepared to be persecuted because there will always be people who will hate them for being so good. They are too good to be true, they may say. That is just what I said the first time I met the kindest people I have every met. Perhaps I have ‘persecuted’ them in a way for doubting their intentions for being so kind.
A: They were for real?
B: Very much so. Because I had to eat my pride and start accepting their friendship. And then I realized it is real and authentic. I began to understand what Cicero said on true friendship—that it can only happen among good people.
A: So you have been friends with them since?
B: Yes. And they have been the inspiration for all the friendships that I have been building since then. Like the one we have now.
A: Oh, I have to be thankful to them then.
B: Do you now see the beauty of living a virtuous life, of building true friendships as a consequence of that, and ultimately living our life as God wants? Then that beauty of a life lived in virtue, service and love will truly change the world, as St. Catherine of Siena wrote, quoted by the Lord Bishop of London during the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
A: Can’t express that any better!