This past weekend, in Owensboro, KY, thousands of people trekked to the riverfront to take part in the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival. There are many tents set up and people are selling their wares, from decorative light switch plates to wind chimes made from glass bottles and everything in between. The main attraction, however, can be found using one’s nose. Those backyard cooks, churches, and organizations have their barbecue grills and pits set up to cook chicken, mutton, and pork over hickory wood to give it that taste of perfection. Wafts of hickory smoke permeate the air and all those in its path. Following the trail of smoke, the hungry seeker has found the haven of good food.
The aroma in the air is a drawing card for many at the festival and this makes me think of a quote from the founder of the Ursuline Sisters, Saint Angela Merici. In her Fifth Counsel, written to her followers, St. Angela says, “Tell them that, wherever they are, they should give good example. And to be to all a good odor of virtue.” That is, be a fragrance of virtue. Note, she wanted us to “be” a fragrance of virtue, not give off the fragrance. When a person is virtuous you know it by their kindness, meekness, mercy, or attentiveness to other people…you don’t have to know the person by name, you will know the presence of virtue because it is recognized by its “aroma”.
May each one of us, regardless of our vocation in life, choose to attract others with a fragrance of virtue. Thus, when another person has encountered us they don’t walk away with the memory of us, but instead a sweet scent of virtue.