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The Virtuous Life

thumbnail image There are two types of virtue: Firstly, there is shallow, inauthentic virtue. Secondly, there is deep, true, authentic virtue. Shallow virtue has an insincere or selfish motive which can spoil even the best good deed. People who practice shallow virtue do so to fit in with society or to improve their standing in people’s eyes; they act out of convention or conformity and with a hidden selfish agenda. On the other hand, true virtue is not superficial but a natural expression of what is inside a person’s heart. This is why Jesus declared, “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus raises the bar and expects his disciples to live as honest, authentic people with real virtue.

As disciples then, we must not be content with outward appearances and a few token gestures to make ourselves feel or look good. God sees into the heart, into the very core of our being; he knows our innermost desires, from which stem all our thoughts and feelings, good and bad, and reveals to Him who we truly are.

As disciples we must have the openness, courage and honesty to search our hearts and know ourselves. We must admit to what is going on inside us regarding our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and desires. The toxic things we think and feel can result in evil actions in our lives. That is why Jesus said that to look at someone lustfully is to commit adultery in your heart. To hate or resent someone may result in our speaking ill of them to others, to ruin their reputation and even cause severe harm to them; in effect we have killed them. Indeed, to harbour hateful thoughts or resentments of any kind can lead someone to eventually kill another person. The sinful thoughts and desires within a person are toxic and poison the mind. Sins of the heart such as resentment, envy, jealousy, pride, anger, lust and hatred are the root cause of the external sins we do.

While claiming to be virtuous, the Pharisees and Scribes were cold hearted and hard of heart. To be cold hearted is to lack kindness, understanding and sympathy towards others; to be hard of heart is to be unable to show pity, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Christ calls us as his followers to be warm hearted, compassionate human beings, who naturally show goodness, kindness, tenderness, pity, compassion and mercy. These are the virtues of the heart. What is found in a person’s heart reveals the true nature of that person and deeply affects how they live. What we strive for as Christians is goodness of heart so that our good deeds will naturally flow from who we are, as naturally as good fruit is found on a healthy tree.

Fr Michael Donaghy

See also: College of Chaplains


thumbnail image The Westminster cathedral interfaith group meet on Wednesday Feb 19th from 4 to 5.15 p.m. in the Hinsley room, Morpeth Terrace. We will again be hearing from our Jewish and Christian Zionist speakers from Stand with us about how we can help the Israeli/Palestinian situation. All are welcome.


thumbnail image ‘… the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully’ 2 Corinthians 9:6

Last week we embarked on a Planned Giving appeal and we are asking everyone in our Cathedral family to reflect prayerfully on their commitment to the Cathedral. The truth is that we need to raise a lot more money on a regular basis simply to keep the Cathedral going and to make sure that it will be here for the generations to come.

We are asking you to think twice; – could you double the amount that you donate to the Cathedral? If that is simply not possible, what amount might you be able to spare? Please consider increasing what you give, mindful of your blessings and of your circumstance.
We are also asking you to sign up for Gift Aid if eligible and to consider setting up a standing order. This enables you to carry on supporting the Cathedral in those weeks when you cannot get to Sunday Mass here and it means we can count – literally – on your support. Please take an appeal leaflet today and find out more about our financial situation and why we really need your help.

Volunteers will be available after Mass today to answer your questions. Thank you


thumbnail image If you have your palms from last year, please bring them to the Information Desk or Clergy House Reception, so that they can be burnt to make ash for Ash Wednesday by Friday 21 February.


thumbnail image Croissants and Christianity: coffee morning with faith and fellowship for those with bumps, babies and toddlers. Join us on Monday morning from 10am to 11.30am in the Hinsley Room off Morpeth Terrace. We have a cup of tea and chat while children play, enjoying an opportunity to pray the rosary together, share common concerns and lend each other spiritual support in an informal and friendly context, often benefiting from input from one of the Cathedral priests. It is free and runs during term time and occasionally during school holidays. The Hinsley Room is on the left as you walk down Morpeth Terrace to Francis St, accessed via an iron gate and up a path alongside the little garden.


thumbnail image The Passage is a Christian Charity working with homeless people. Please support a St David’s Day concert in aid of The Passage at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster on Friday, 28 February at 7pm. The concert features the London Welsh Male Voice Choir with guest soloists Claire Jones (harp) and Aled Wyn Davies (tenor) and Guto Harri (Compère). Please book online through Eventbrite stdavidsday.enventbrite.co.uk. Full details to book are on the website www.passage.org.uk or telephone 020 7592 1856 or email info@passage.org.uk.


thumbnail image 4 May 2020: £649 per person, sharing. Price includes flight with 10kg hand luggage, all transfers, 4 nights’ in Knock House Hotel with breakfast and dinner. All excursions included. Lunches on days out. Single supplement £100. Contact Patricia on 01268 762 278 or 07740 175557 or email knockpilgrimages@gmail.com. Knock Pilgrimages is a member of the Travel Trust Association and is fully protected by ATOL T7613.


thumbnail image The SVP is distributing 11,500 Vinnie Packs containing cold weather essentials to the homeless this winter. Would you be willing to help? To d0nate (£3.50 per pack is suggested), please send cheques payable to SVP to Vinnie Packs, PO Box 72264, London SW1P 9EZ, or to donate by bank transfer to Natwest sort code 60-60-04, account number 4608 8237.


thumbnail image Use your free time to inspire young people to build a fairer world. CAFOD is looking for volunteers who have a passion for, and experience of, working with young people. We need people who have a commitment to CAFOD’s aims and values and an interest in sharing our work in primary and secondary schools through delivering assemblies or workshops. CAFOD will provide training and support, and expenses will be paid.
Volunteering assignments will be in local Catholic schools and you can either work on your own or as part of a team. None of our work is possible without you, so join us and put your faith into action.
If you are interested please email Chris Driscoll at wschools@cafod.org.uk or call 07776 493162.


thumbnail image The Cathedral Café will re-open on 14 September from 10am-4pm for drinks, lunches and snacks. Please do pay a visit the next time you are in the Cathedral. Normal opening days Tuesday-Saturday.


thumbnail image Meditations take place in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St Pauls Bookshop each weekday from 12.30 to 1pm. All are welcome.


thumbnail image The Holy Land
The Guild of the Blessed Sacrament’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by Fr Andrew Gallagher, will be from 18-25 November 2019, cost £1,445. For further details, contact Pax Travel on 020 7485 3003 or info@paxtravel.co.uk.

Passion Play of Oberammergau, Munich and Salzburg
A pilgrimage to see the world famous passion play that takes place every 10 years, combined with discovering the rich cultural history of its surrounding area, led by Fr Andrew Gallagher and Fr Kevin Moule, 14-20 September 2020. More details available from Clergy House Reception or Pax Travel at info@palxtravel.co.uk, or 020 7485 3003.

Related links: Email: Pax Travel


thumbnail image American taxpayers can receive a US income tax deduction for their contributions to support the work and heritage of the Cathedral by directing their contributions to American Friends of Westminster Cathedral, Inc., a non profit 501(c)(3) Organization (EIN # 13-2983174).

They will also enjoy special events and receive newsletters about Cathedral activities. Donations may be made through bequests and charitable trusts.

Contact Ms. Una Chang, President, American Friends of Westminster Cathedral, Inc., P.O. Box 92, New York, New York 10185-0092, e-mail UChang1@aol.com

Related links: Click here for email


thumbnail image This takes place in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel every Monday to Friday following the 1.05pm Mass until 4.45pm.