Verso L’alto – You Were Made For Greatness

What is Magnanimity?

  • From the Latin: great-souled or greatness of soul (magna anima) or the soul tending to great things (animus magna)
  • Josef Pieper, one the twentieth century’s most knowledgeable Thomist philosophers, describes it as follows:
    • “Magnanimity, a much forgotten virtue, is the aspiration of the spirit to great things, ‘extensio animi as magna.’ A person is magnanimous if he has the courage to seek what is great and become worthy of it…Magnanimity, as both Thomas and Aristotle tell us, is ‘the jewel of all the virtues’, since it always – and particularly in ethical matters – decides in favor of what is, at any given moment, the greater possibility of the human potentiality for being.”
  • St. Thomas Aquinas: Magnanimity is a “stretching forth of the mind to great things.” The magnanimous person seeks to do great acts, “things as are deserving of honor.” “Magnanimity strives for what is greatest, but in proportion to a man’s own capacity…”
  • Magnanimity is the virtue or the habit of the soul striving for great things

 and Mission

  • Pope Benedict: “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”
  • Pope Francis: “Another trait of the Christian is magnanimity, because he is the child of a magnanimous father, of great heart. … The Christian heart is magnanimous. … when you enter into Jesus’ friendship, when you let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit, the heart becomes open, magnanimous…” (Morning Homily – Jan 28, 2016)

Magnanimous Dreams

At World Youth Day in Poland, Pope Francis invited the youth of the world to dream big and make their mark on history:

    • “…  Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to “vegetate”, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on.  No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark.  It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.  But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom.  …My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal “more”.  Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease.  Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.  To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, the joy that is born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy.  …

      That is the secret, dear friends, and all of us are called to share in it.  God expects something from you.  Have you understood this?  God expects something from you, God wants something from you.  God hopes in you.  God comes to break down all our fences.  He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things.  God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in.  He is encouraging you to dream.  He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different.  For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.  This is the challenge.    …

      Today Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, is calling you, you, and you to leave your mark on history.  He, who is life, is asking each of you to leave a mark that brings life to your own history and that of many others.  He, who is truth, is asking you to abandon the paths of rejection, division and emptiness.  Are you up to this?  [Yes!]  Are you up to this?  [Yes!]  What answer will you give, and I’d like to see it, with your hands and with your feet, to the Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life?  Are you up to this?  [Yes!]  May the Lord bless your dreams.”

  1. What are your dreams for your personal life?
  2. What are your dreams for community?
  3. What are your dreams for your nation?


BONUS MATERIAL – How can you cultivate Magnanimity?

  1. Cultivate Magnanimity Friendships – Seek the company of magnanimous people and choose magnanimous friends
  2. Expand Your World – read inspiring biographies of magnanimous people, books by great thinkers, the lives of the Saints; watch inspiring movies of magnanimous people; encounter beauty; dream; travel, experience new cultures, plan an adventure
  3. Serve With Your Talents – identify your strengths (through inventories, feedback analysis, etc.) then work to improve your strengths and talents; Do not compare yourself to anyone
  4. See and Seize Opportunities – don’t let opportunity pass; don’t be afraid of failure; seek greatness in ordinary life
  5. Dream and Do!

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