Virtues for a Pandemic
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
Growth in holiness only happens in the actual circumstances of our lives. We may long for different circumstances believing that our virtue would be better if some things were different about our lives (“I would be more generous/kinder/more prayerful if only…”). However, none of us is called to holiness in theoretical circumstances. 
Our particular circumstances form the arena for the virtues that God wants us to develop at this time in our lives. A change in circumstances can mean God is calling us to focus on other virtues, or other ways to learn holiness. This is good to keep in mind as we continue to find ourselves in the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
For example, health care workers may be challenged to grow in courage and resolve even more than they were just a few weeks ago. Parents may be called to even greater patience than they were previously, especially if they’re spending more time with their children than usual. 
Others may have to learn greater frugality if their normal income is affected. Whatever the particulars, there is opportunity to strengthen virtues we already have, or experience new growth in ones we now find necessary to cultivate. 
Given the experience of the pandemic, there seem to be three virtues that many of us are being challenged to grow in: prudence, temperance and diligence. There are certainly others as well, but for now, reflecting on these three will suffice.
Prudence is knowing the right way or the best way to do the right thing. As such it’s really connected to all the other virtues. In the current situation, we see how important it becomes. 
Prudence can help guide the decisions we make and how we go about our day. It challenges us to examine the things we’re choosing to do and how we’re going about doing them. It poses questions to us like, “How am I going to best use the time I have on my hands?” or “Do I really need to go to the store right now, and if so, what precautions should I take?”
Temperance is about balance and self-control. It’s concerned with the appropriate and balanced use of the good things we have or need. As such, it is often linked to our habits of eating and drinking. But it can certainly be seen in other areas of our lives as well. 
Growth in temperance will always help us to be more in control of the competing desires that we each must face at times. It really gives us greater control of our lives. As in the case of prudence, temperance will cause us to reflect on some of our daily habits. It will likely pose questions to us like, “Do I really need to have that snack now or have that second helping at dinner?” or perhaps, “How much TV should I watch today? Is there something else I should be doing instead?” 
Finally, diligence, among other things, helps us to stay on task. It’s the virtue which counteracts the vice of sloth. It helps us to stay committed and focused on the things we should be doing or have a responsibility to do. 
We can see how important this virtue might be at this time. Whether it means a student completing online assignments they don’t feel like doing, or someone completing the responsibilities of their job when now working from home, the value of diligence cannot be overstated in the current situation.
Naturally, we can probably see how all of these virtues work together and to some degree, overlap each other. Growth in one may help the others grow as well. 
Perhaps this week we choose one of them and really focus on practicing it — either to keep it strong, or make it stronger — and thereby use the challenge of our circumstances as a springboard for our growth in virtue.