Last week, I emphasized several virtues related to the cardinal virtue of fortitude. This week, which falls within the great Christmas Octave, I will offer a reflection on two more related virtues: magnificence and magnanimity. I decided to write about them together because I’m often asked to explain their differences. Trust me, the question always comes with a puzzled look from the person inquiring.
Magnificence relates more to undertaking a great thing—using money, time, and talent to the fullest potential. Magnanimity describes more the spirit or the heart behind the undertaking. It takes a magnanimous person to do magnificent things.
Let me explain. A person may have the vision and economic means to undertake a significant endeavor, and using one’s means and talents may come naturally. Yet the vision of magnanimity enables the person to be large-souled and to embrace the other people involved in bringing the project to fruition. The magnanimous person recognizes what others can bring to the initiative and rejoices in their contributions. Dependent upon God’s grace and strength, they can collaborate and lead everyone to the end goal. It is obvious how important the virtue of humility is in this process, too. What wonderful things can be accomplished when these virtues are set in motion for goodness and the betterment of God’s Kingdom on earth!
On a personal level, I’ve witnessed these virtues firsthand for over 25 years in the person of Tom Monaghan, who continues to magnanimously give of himself to the initiatives he has started—for Catholic education and the spiritual formation of Catholic CEOs, to name a few.
This Christmas, as we rejoice in the greatest act ever done—Christ coming among us to save us—let us respond magnanimously and magnificently to God’s grace and His call for our lives. Merry Christmas!