The Virtue of Dying to Self

I attended Mass earlier and it suddenly dawned on me that all virtues have one common theme – dying to self.

I realize how very difficult it is to be virtuous all the time because it requires – more like forces us to die to self, over and over again.

Patience – dying from our anger

Humility – dying from the need to be recognized

Kindness – dying from just thinking about the self

Forgiveness – dying to the need to prove we are right

Generosity – dying from greed

Selfcontrol – dying from our desires

Love – dying from selfishness

Hope – dying from irrational fear

Faith – dying from human pride and logic

It requires an outward giving of self. It requires denying what is comfortable, what is easy. It requires us to go against our desires to make way for others. To put ourselves in a lower position or stature to make way for others.

It curtails our egos and forces us to shed off rather than take in.

On the other hand, mortal sins constitute an excessive giving in to hedonistic desires and magnifies our wants without respect for God and others.

Gluttony – excessive want for food

Pride – excessive need to be right or better than others

Lust – excessive sexual desire

Wrath – excessive need for outward show of power

Vanity – excessive love for self appearance

Sloth – excessive desire for rest and comfort

Greed – excessive desire to hoard things for oneself

God made it very simple:

“Live for others and die to self.” 

Jesus is the perfect example.

Aim for a life lived with a force that goes outward – a giving of self, our talents, money, time, energy, for good and always for good.

On the other hand, deny our compulsion to feed our desires excessively, the desire for material things, food, money, power and fame.

That is why during Lent – two sacrificial actions come to mind, fasting and almsgiving, both denying our human nature to satisfy our appetite and to keep wealth.

For in the end, life’s purpose and success is measured not by how we succumbed to our own desires but by how we gave up these desires for the good of others.


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