Introduction to Magnanimity and Nobility

Introduction to Magnanimity and Nobility

 

Perhaps the greatest of men are those who never seek greatness at all, but who personify the virtues which posterity calls great.[1] Magnanimity is the expansion of the spirit towards great things; one who expects great things of himself and makes himself worthy of it is magnanimous.[2] In a Christian sense, magnanimity is a greatness of spirit that is derived not from a man’s estimation of his person, but rather from his confidence and esteem in God, and subsequently of his Faith, his family, his patriarchal office, and his dedication to these great causes.[3] Magnanimity, which trusts not in oneself for its greatness, but in God for His glory, is the key virtue in restoring the idea of nobility in men.

 

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.[4] Magnanimity is therefore a gift, and yet it is a gift that must be cooperated with. A man receives the gift of faith from God, and yet he must live this faith boldly.  He does not live it, however, for personal glory, but that through him, as an instrument, the glory of God might be seen by all.

Such a man bears himself in a manner suited for the nobility of his office or cause. The magnanimous man’s noble bearing demands that others treat him accordingly. But he does not derive his nobility from human respect, rather from a cause espoused.[5]

 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.[6] It is by the objective good that a man does, in the following of God’s will, that he is what he is. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.[7] Whether or not other men acknowledge this is secondary, although it is certainly hoped that they not only acknowledge it, but recognize it for what it is; the work of God. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.[8] As Mother Teresa has told us, we are not called to be successful, but faithful.

 

I venture to say that our attitude, however, must be more than to merely follow our calling and let the world see it. We should rather become what we are meant to be, and let the world deal with it.


[1] Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, Preface

[2] J. Pieper, A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart, pp. 37

[3] G.C. Dilsaver, The Three Marks of Manhood, pp. 39

[4] Luke 8:15-16

[5] Dilsaver, pp.39

[6] Matt 5:14

[7] 1 John 3:7

[8] Matt 5:16

 

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