Heroic ambition

Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45

I want the best for my students. That’s why I love talking to them about the virtue of magnanimity and its corresponding vice of pusillanimity, a word that is hard to spell and even harder to pronounce, but important to understand. Magnanimous people consistently set their sights high. In everything they do, they aspire to what is best. Not fearing the cost of heroic ambitions, they strive for excellence and hunger for greatness. Magnanimity literally means to be of great soul or spirit, and it characterizes persons who remain resolutely focused on the utmost possibilities for life. By contrast, pusillanimous men and women lower their sights and regularly opt for whatever is easier, more pleasurable or quickly attainable. Not willing to devote themselves to discipline and sacrifice, they foster puny ambitions and thus deny themselves the joy and meaning and satisfaction that come from transcending themselves in love.


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