Thursday, June 2, 2016


We have spoken a lot of the desire for virtue, but what is virtue?

First we must define a few topics to give us the viewpoint for the actions we must take.

Fr. Hardon writes in his Catholic Dictionary :
A good habit that enables a person to act according to right reason enlightened by faith. Also called an operative good habit, it makes its possessor a good person and his or her actions also good. (Etym. Latin virtus, virility, strength of character, manliness.) "

There are two types of virtues:

1. Theological-- given by the infusion of Sanctifying Grace at Baptism: Faith, Hope, and Charity.

2. Moral-- the Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance.

The theological virtues furnish a basis for all other virtues.

The Cardinal Virtues are the foundation of all moral virtues. These can be practiced by Christians or non-believers. They are acquired by human effort. Catholics in addition to acquiring them by the  exercise of their will to good, are aided by the sacraments and prayer.

The theological virtues define our relations with God.

The moral virtues define our relations with ourselves and others.

Virtue is a habit that inclines us to whatever is good. Our duty is the strengthening of all the virtues, by exercising, or acquiring them as HABITS, i.e. in co-operation with Grace. Not only making us more worthy instruments for the salvation of souls, but it is a happier way of life, and life eternal.

A thing is good in so far as it fulfills its purpose. A knife is good if it cuts. A man is good if he fulfills his purpose : to know God, to love God, and to serve him in this world and eternally happy with Him in the next.

The Moral Virtues are also  "The Golden Means" the midway point between two extremes. Aristotle describes a virtue as a “mean” or “intermediate” between two extremes: one of excess and one of deficiency.

Bravery is "the mean" between cowardliness and rashness.

"The mean" between buffoonery and prudishness, is wit.

Virtues must be learned through practice; they cannot be learned purely intellectually.

Theological Virtues do not absolutely consist in a "mean", because their goal is infinite, i.e. God Himself. We can never love God excessively.

The supernatural, Theological Virtues, enter the soul with sanctifying grace, in the Sacrament of Baptism. These virtues make us capable of being good and doing good for the love, and service of God; to act for, instead of against Him. They also strengthen all the Moral Virtues.

Sanctifying grace  does NOT makes us perfect in the practice of virtue, in itself.

Sanctifying grace gives us the power and the inclination to be good and do good, but to have perfection, we must frequently exercise our virtues. We have the power, but if we do not use it, it remains dormant.

We cannot treat fully all the definitions and language concerned with virtue and sanctifying grace here. But if you want more in explanation,
click on these links below. ( BTW "Holy Ghost" is the old term for "Holy Spirit" in the links below.):

Sanctifying Grace

Actual Grace
The Theological Virtues
Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Moral Virtues
Humility, Liberality, Chastity
Meekness, Abstinence, Zeal, Brotherly Love

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