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Cardinal Virtues


The Northern Cardinal stands out in my garden even in the midst of summer's flowers, but against the white backdrop of winter the brilliant colour of this bird will stop you in your tracks.  The Europeans who named it upon their arrival in the Americas did so because of the similarity of its colour to the vestments of Rome's senior clergy, but it was only in 2016 that another clue towards the bird's true claim on holiness was discovered.  

Last year an Emory University study was released which identified the Northern Cardinal as a supersuppresser of the West Nile Virus.  It seems a cardinal can absorb countless infection ridden mosquito bites without becoming infected or passing on the infection.  The presence of this bird in the urban forests helps protect us from this debilitating virus.   

As followers of Christ we too should be supersuppressers.  We should be able to absorb gossip and unfair criticism of others without having our opinions of them affected and without ever giving into the urge to pass it on and infect others.  When we are as saintly as the bird, not even winter can remove us from the wonder of summer, nor hate suppress the victory of love.   Often in the summer before I even see the bird, it is the cardinal's song which penetrates the ambient noise of the city with a long true note.  In the winter of this world let us offer nothing less than the true note of love and kindness.   

Grace & Peace,



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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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