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Virtue 101: Dignity
| SPIRITUAL LIFE
Practical tips on how to foster a sense of dignity at home.

swan dignity

Dignity is the virtue that helps us to see and treat others as unique beings created in God’s image, with intelligence, will, freedom, and the capacity to love.

GOAL:
To help children discover and understand that every person, by the mere fact of being a person, is worthy of respect from conception to natural death—regardless of their age, sex, education, or culture.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FORM THIS SENSE OF DIGNITY?

• Our society has the mistaken idea that we should follow our own likes and whims, even if it means trampling someone else. In the long run, the “me first” attitude makes it impossible to have true friendships.
• Blindness to others’ dignity can lead to relationships where people use and objectify each other.
• In some cases, people can think that you are worth more and deserve more respect if you have more material goods. This can lead people to strive after material things to the point that they lose sight of spiritual values and of the possibility of finding happiness in higher ideals and goals.
• There are some rights that are based on our innate dignity as persons. A society that is blind to human dignity will be more likely to accept abortion and euthanasia as a matter of convenience.

LIVING THE VIRTUE OF DIGNITY MEANS:

• Treating others with kindness and respect. Greeting them, saying please and thank you, responding with courtesy, etc.
• Obeying parents and teachers, and treating them with respect
• Not mocking others, not ignoring people, not talking trash about others.
• Knowing how to listen to others. Not talking over them or waiting for them to hurry up and finish so that I can say my piece.
• Reaching out to help others when I see that they need a hand.
• Knowing how to give in, not needing to get my way all the time.
• Knowing how to work in a team, supporting others’ ideas and building off of their initiatives.
• Knowing how to wait my turn without having to barge to the front and be first.
• In sports and in games, having the self-control to respect the rules and play fair. Not throwing a tantrum if the referee marks a foul.
• Taking care of my belongings—and those of others.
• Not borrowing without asking, even from a sibling.
• Avoiding TV shows, movies, videos, or music that could hurt my soul.
• Leaving a place in better condition than when I found it. Not leaving a trail of messes behind me.
• Respecting the intimacy and the feelings of others. Not prying into what is not my business, and not revealing personal information that a friend may have confided in me.
• Being joyful, open, generous, and kind to others. Not making others pay for my bad moods, and not weighing others down with a sour face or a bad attitude.

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO LIVE THIS VIRTUE?

• Parents who are afraid to demand respect from their children, or who passively allow their kids to talk back, disobey, and show attitude. The lack of a strong father figure can also make it more difficult for children to learn attitudes of respect.
• Peer groups in which some kids have an attitude of disrespect, and whose example affects the entire group of friends.
• A materialistic society can lead us to value people for what they have. Advertisements and media can reinforce this idea that if you have the latest, biggest, and most expensive things, you are worth more.
• Movies, music, and TV programs that objectify women and portray superficial relationships based on sex or appearances.
• A culture in which people do not have a clear understanding of the value of the soul.

HOW TO PROMOTE RESPECT AND DIGNITY AT HOME

• As a parent, give a daily example of kind and respectful dealings with all people. When it is necessary to correct your children, never lose your self-control. When parents fly off the handle and can’t control their emotions, children lose respect for their decisions. Parents must always be rational and reasonable, especially in disciplinary matters.
• Speak well of others, and teach kids how to respect a person even if he is mistaken in his ideas. Along the same lines, show your children by your example that confidential information about other people is not discussed.
• Encourage participation in activities involving teamwork so that the kids can learn to listen to others, support others’ ideas, work together, and conquer their selfishness for a common good.
• Immediately cut short any mockery, judgments, gossip, or attitudes of superiority in your children.
• Involve your children in acts of service – and participate with them in some service activities—so that they learn how to see others with eyes of compassion and respect.
• Pray with your children, offering up prayers especially for those who most need spiritual and material help. Through prayer, teach your children that the defects, needs, and poverty of others are not to be mocked –they are to be helped.
• Be vigilant over what your kids are watching, listening to, reading. If they encounter a movie or a show with unsavory elements, help them to develop a critical eye and a capacity to judge what goes against the dignity of the characters (and their own dignity).

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:43-45)


PUBLICATION DATE: 2009-12-16


 
 


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