One of the greatest compliments given to a baseball player is the phrase “he has a good swing.” This compliment refers to the hitter’s consistency and habit. Fundamentally, the compliment is about something the hitter actually has.

Often in baseball there is a distinction that every player on the field makes. When a hitter comes up to the plate who “has a good swing” the defense buckles up because the hitter has proven over time that they consistently and habitually put a good swing on the ball.

When another hitter steps to the plate who occasionally gets a hit the defense does not buckle up in the same fashion. It is understood that the occasional hitter does not “have a good swing” but rather gets a hit every now and then.

The difference is that one hitter actually possesses a good swing and the other hitter does not. All baseball fans agree with this: a hitter who “has a good swing” has proven this time and again.

So too it is in the spiritual life with virtue. Unfortunately, virtue is a word that has been lost but needs to be recovered in our culture. Virtue is a power within the soul that is perfected to choose the good; like a good swing is a power within the hitter that becomes perfected to hit a baseball well.

The same way baseball fans make a distinction between a hitter with a good swing and one who does not have a good swing, people also make this distinction concerning the virtues.

A person who has the virtue of patience has consistently shown patience. In differing circumstances the patient person displays patience. A person who is impatient and then all of a sudden shows patience one time does not make that person a patient person.

Virtue is acquired by repetitive acts like the way a good swing is acquired over repetitive practice. The good news is that by practice and repetitive acts of virtue one can acquire the virtues such as: prudence, justice, courage, and temperance.

The philosopher, Aristotle, said that “we become builders by building and harpists by playing the harp.” In today’s time, Aristotle would say that a baseball player becomes a good hitter by hitting just like the virtuous person becomes virtuous by acting virtuously.

Every good hitter in baseball asks this question, “where is my weakness that can be strengthened by practice?” In the spiritual life it is very healthy to ask oneself, “where am I weak that can be strengthened by practice?”

Think about the virtues and practice them for Aristotle says that the happy life is found by “virtuous activity of the soul.”

One of the best ways to practice is by imitation. Young baseball players watch good baseball players and imitate their swings. As Christians we must imitate Jesus in a similar fashion. The great theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas, once said, “The cross exemplifies every virtue.” Go to Jesus, at the foot of the cross, and imitate him. Reject what Jesus rejected on the cross and love what Jesus loved on the cross. Ask Jesus for his grace to help grow in the virtues.

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Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie from St. Marys, Pa. He played catcher for the Elk Catholic Crusaders in 2010-2011 and coached SM Little League for 4 years. Luke was a catcher for the 2009 St. Marys Senior League State Championship team. He currently studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates and favorite baseball player is former catcher Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees.

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