“Effort in great things,” as someone has said, “is itself great.” Hence it is the mark of a virtuous mind to reflect continually upon sublime and noble thoughts, that it may either attain the desired object or understand more clearly and gain knowledge of what ought to be desired. Thus, too, he must be supposed to have advanced not a little who has learned, by a knowledge of virtue, how far he is from virtue itself. ~ Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship, I.26
The concept of virtue is terribly important–it is the objective and goal of a human life properly lived. Those who reject virtue are not liberated so much as they are dehumanized. Now, if someone wishes to grow in virtue–which is itself a great a noble task–that person must willingly cultivate thoughts about great things, to understand the pathways that lead to great things, to know the ins and outs of what will and will not lead to those great things. But what happens when we study virtue is that we discover, quickly, how far short we fall from virtue–“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, ironically, the person who has learned, through his study of virtue, how far he still has to travel toward virtue, that man, woman, or child, has grown greatly in virtue.