Saints’ lives bring importance of virtues to light

“Seven Saints for Seven Virtues” by Jean M. Heimann (Servant Books, 114 pages, $13.99)

Samuel Johnson, 18th-century English essayist and literary historian, once said “wickedness is always easier than virtue, for it takes a short cut to everything.” Of wickedness, his observation is evident. Just match up your life with one or more of the seven deadly sins – pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. That’s easy.

When it comes to virtue, however, godliness is a more challenging path to follow, and most of us neither aspire to nor are able to achieve such rectitude. That doesn’t discourage Jean Heimann, author, psychologist and parish minister, from promoting their worth. She outlines seven key virtues on the basis of seven notable saints.

Written for Roman Catholics, the book presents the lives of these saints and how each emulates a specific virtue: Mother Teresa, charity; St. Agnes, chastity; St. John Paul II, diligence; St. Joseph; humility; St. Catherine of Siena, kindness; St. Monica, patience; and St. Augustine, temperance.

Each virtue is defined and each saint’s life is described to show how he or she lives that virtue. Finally, Heinemann explains how she has tried to follow the example herself and offers suggestions for the reader to practice the benefits, spiritually and practically, in their own lives.

While the book will resonate primarily with Catholics, it offers plenty of spiritual insights for readers of various Christian traditions.

Tom Schaefer is a former columnist and religion editor for The Eagle. He lives in Wichita.