A virtue is a constant habit and disposition to do what is good and to give the best of yourself.
A virtuous person tends towards goodness in his soul, body, thoughts and actions.1
The Theological Virtues
The Theological Virtues are virtues that God gives to our souls. If we have the theological virtues, it proves that the Holy Spirit is working within us.
These virtues help us develop our relationship with God, making it possible for us to behave as His children and to merit eternal life. We need them to live a moral life and they give life to the other virtues. The three Theological Virtues are Faith, Hope and Charity.1
This virtue helps us believe in God, believe in everything that He has revealed to us, believe in what the Church has taught us, and commit ourselves entirely to God.
When we pair faith with acts of charity, it is a living faith. But, if we do not, it is dead. When we pair faith with the other two theological virtues, it unites us to Christ and makes us a living member of His Body, the Church.
It is necessary to live in a way that shows we have faith.1
Related to Faith:
A gift of the Holy Spirit that helps us know what should be believed and what should not be believed.1
The virtue that helps us consider the nature of things in a specific subject.1
Filial Fear(aka Fear of the Lord)
Purity of Heart
The effect of us tending towards God rather than the world.1
This virtue helps us yearn for Heaven, happiness and eternal life, trust in Christ’s promises, rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit instead of our own strength, and pray that all mankind be saved.
It comes from the Beatitudes and grows when we pray, especially when we pray the Our Father.
It keeps us from getting discouraged, protects us in our struggles, keeps us going in difficult times, purifies our actions, orders them towards the Kingdom of Heaven, opens our hearts to others, preserves us from selfishness, and leads us to happiness in serving others out of charity.1
Related to Hope:
This virtue helps love God above everything, without limit and for His own sake.1, 2
As per St. Paul, “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. Charity is benevolence, friendship, communion, disinterested, generous and reciprocal; it requires beneficence and fraternal correction; and it produces joy, peace and mercy.
The virtue of charity helps us love in the right order. It helps us:
- Love God first above everything (as we mentioned above).
- Love ourselves so that we serve others better (see the Two Great Commandments).1 When we love ourselves, we can better love our neighbor.2
- Love our neighbors as ourselves and hope for their salvation, out of love for God. This includes our parents, our spouse, our children, those in our home, our blood relatives, our friends, children and the poor. This virtue helps us love children and the poor as if they were Christ Himself, and helps us love those in far away places as if they were our neighbors. To love God means to love our neighbor. We cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor.1, 2, 3
- Love our bodies so that we may serve God, cleanse it of corruption1, love sinners2, love our enemies as Christ loved us3, 4, love and obey our state leaders5, love the Angels6, and deny love to Demons.7
Charity brings our love to supernatural perfection, to the level of divine love. When we live a life of charity, we are responding to God’s love for us and we keep all of God’s commandments. As a result, we can stand before God, not as a fearful slave, and not as a mercenary, but as His child, spiritually free.
Charity is the highest of the virtues and the most important Theological Virtue. It brings all the virtues into “perfect harmony.” To be a Christian means to be a person of charity.
Without it, regardless of our achievements, we are nothing and we gain nothing. But with it, we find rest.1
Related to Charity:
The virtue that helps us consider the nature of the highest causes of everything humans could know, and that helps us judge and order all things correctly; when touched by the Holy Spirit, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that helps us know what should be believed and what should not be believed regarding Divine things.1, 2, 3
The virtue that helps us experience grief at another’s distress and to offer help without causing any injustice.1
The act of delighting in being with God.1
The act of having our interior desires in agreement with one another.1
The act of having the desires between us and others in agreement.1
The act of giving to the needy out of compassion for them and love for God; equivalent to the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.1
The act of correcting a wrongdoer.1
The Human Virtues
These virtues are acquired by human effort. They are perfections of the intellect and will, and they use reason and faith to influence our actions and passions. They come from morally good acts and lead to more of them. They set in order all of our powers for communion with God.
They are hard to achieve because of sin, so we must rely on grace. This grace helps us persevere in achieving them.
By learning, practicing and persevering in virtue, grace purifies and elevates them.
To acquire this grace, we must pray for it, visit the sacraments, work with the Holy Spirit, love good and shun evil.
With God’s help, these virtues build character and make it possible for us easily, masterfully and joyfully live a morally good life. “The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good”.1
The capital of these Human Virtues are the Cardinal Virtues, because every other virtue depends on them. There are four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.
The Human Virtue of Prudence
This virtue helps our reason discern the right thing and the right way to deal with our circumstances.
The prudent man is sane, sober, and “looks where he goes”.1
If we use our reason to discern theoretical things, like philosophy, science or arguments, this is also prudence, but it is not a virtue because it does not involve the right thing to do.2
Related to Prudence:
A gift of the Holy Spirit that helps us research the best actions to take.1
Good Judgement (aka Synesis)
Good Judgement (aka Gnome)
That part of prudence that applies to governing home and family life.1
Regnative Prudence (aka Legislative Prudence)
That part of prudence that helps rulers govern their subjects.1
That part of prudence that applies to governing an army.1
That part of prudence informed by knowledge of the past.1
Understanding (aka Sense, Intelligence)
That part of prudence informed by knowledge of the present.1
That part of prudence informed by knowledge attained by the teaching of others.1
That part of prudence informed by knowledge attained by discovery or conjecture.1
That part of prudence informed by indirect knowledge attained by discovery or conjecture.1
That part of prudence informed by knowledge or judgments on matters we have no direct knowledge of but which have been inferred from what we currently know.1
That part of prudence that helps us make decisions based on the right end.1
That part of prudence that helps us make decisions based on our current circumstances.1
That part of prudence that helps us make decisions in a way that avoids obstacles.1
The part of non-virtuous prudence that helps us attain knowledge of things from actual premises.1
The part of non-virtuous prudence that helps us attain an opinion from probable premises.1
The part of non-virtuous prudence that helps us attain an agreement or suspicion from conjectures.1
This is the virtue that helps our will give what is due to God and neighbor.
Justice towards God is the virtue of “religion”.
Justice towards our neighbor means that we respect their rights and that we establish positive relationships that promote equity for each and every person.
The just man has a habit of thinking rightly and maintaining an upright conduct towards others, showing no partiality between poor and great, master or slave.1 He does what was is good, establishes equality, gives others their due, and declines from evil.1, 2
Related to Justice:
Religion (aka Sanctity, Latria)
The virtue that helps us pay duty and homage to those in positions of dignity.1
The virtue that helps us pay duty and homage to our superiors.1
Obedience (aka Faithfulness)
The virtue that helps us tell, without perversion, the things of the past, present and future.1
Gratitude (aka Thankfulness)
The virtue that helps us defend ourselves, those around us and our rights from everything evil.1
Friendliness (aka Affability)
The virtue that helps us treat others with decency.1
The virtue that helps us give to others more than we give to ourselves, while still taking care of ourselves and those in our care.1
The virtue that, for exceptional cases where following the law would cause an evil to occur, helps us set aside the law and address the matter with justice.1
The virtue that helps us use right reason to produce quality work with good workmanship and to use it well.1
An act of justice where we return to someone what we have that belongs to them.1
The act of reflecting on God’s goodness in a way that leads to devotion.1
An act of religion where we submit ourselves completely to God.1
An act of religion where we confess to God that we need Him, place before Him our petitions temporal and eternal, for us and for others.1
An act of religion where we show reverence to God by devotion and by humbling the body before Him.1
An act of religion; any action that is done to cling to God.1
An act of religion; a form of sacrifice where what we offer to God is destroyed in the process.1
An act of religion where we promise to God to bind ourselves to do or not to do some particular thing.1
An act of religion whereby we justly impose on others (men, demons and animals) an order to be carried out in the name of God.1
An act of religion whereby we use words to bring ourselves and others to reverence of God.1
An act of religion whereby we offer praise through singing.1
An act of religion where we confirm a truth by calling on God to be our witness.1
This virtue helps us stay firm in trials, resolute in resisting temptation, relentless in overcoming obstacles to holiness and constant in pursuing the good.
The man of fortitude conquers fear, even the fear of death. He can face trials and persecutions and is willing to sacrifice his life for a just cause.1 If he has prepared his mind, he can be brave in times of danger; and if fortitude has become a habit, then, even without thinking about it, he is ready to handle sudden situations.2
Related to Fortitude:
A gift of the Holy Spirit whereby, more than enduring all danger, we are confident we can overcome all danger.1
An act of fortitude whereby we stand firmly bearing witness to the Christian faith, to truth and to justice in the face of persecution and especially death; it is the highest degree of perfection, even higher than virginity.1
An act of fortitude where, in the face of danger, we stand unmoved, neither retreating, neither attacking.1
An act of fortitude where, in the face of danger, we attack with anger at the cause of our sorrow.1
When we are pursuing a great and honorable project, our mind must be ready; this is the virtue that helps us prepare our minds for aggression and remain assured and hopeful when pursuing this project.1
The virtue that helps us stretch our minds towards great things, things that deserve honor.1
When we have begun a great and honorable project, we must accomplish it; this is the virtue that, through aggression, helps us discuss, administrate, execute and accomplish this project.1
In the pursuit of a great and honorable project, we must bear with difficulties; this is the virtue that helps us voluntarily endure prolonged difficulties for the sake of accomplishing the project without breaking under sorrow and without giving up because of the stress of any evils we face.1
In the pursuit of a great and honorable project, we must press forward despite external hindrances; this is the virtue that helps us continually persist, not be worn down and not lose courage in accomplishing the project despite any hindrances.1
This is the virtue that helps control our attraction to pleasures and how we use material goods. It keeps our desires within what is honorable, and ensures our will overpowers our instincts. It is also known as moderation, sobriety and self-control.
The temperate man directs the desire of his senses (the sensitive appetites) towards what is good, is careful, and does not walk according to the desires of his heart.1
Related to Temperance:
That part of temperance that has us recoil from anything opposing temperance; it is not a virtue but close to it.1
An act of abstinence where we cut back eating to control our desire to eat; as per St. Augustine, “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.”1
The virtue that helps us control how much alcohol we drink.1
The virtue that helps us moderate the use of our bodies regarding sexual union so that it remains attached to God first of all; spiritual chastity is the virtue that helps us delight in uniting with God over everything else our mind could possibly delight in.1
The virtue that helps us moderate the use of our bodies regarding any behavior that implies sexual union such as impure looks, kisses and touches.1
The virtue that helps us abstain from sexual pleasure for the sake of God; a state in which we are free from any experience of sexual pleasure.1
Continence, if related to chastity, is simply another word for virginity. However, if not related to chastity, it is that part of temperance that helps us resist any evil desires within us; it is not a virtue but close to it.1
The virtue that helps us restrain our minds from immoderately reaching for any great thing that is beyond our capacity without God’s help. It also helps us understand our limitations and our failings, helps us voluntarily take up the lowest place in our state in life (without going below that mode), and helps us subject ourselves to God by subjecting ourselves to others; humility combats pride.
In regards to how we dress, humility refers to dressing in a way that does not seek glory, and helps us avoid spending too much on what we wear.1, 2
The virtue that helps us moderate the punishment we inflict on someone under our charge.1
Meekness (aka Mildness, Gentleness)
The virtue that helps us moderate less important matters that are easier to control, such our pursuit of greatness, our pursuit of knowledge, the way we carry ourselves and the way we dress and adorn ourselves.1
Method (aka Methodicalness)
Refinement (aka Taste)
An effect of modesty where we speak appropriately in conversation.1
Contentment (aka Lowliness)
Simplicity (aka Moderation)
The virtue that helps us match our outward behavior with our inward disposition so that we are not behaving falsely.1
The virtue that helps us moderate our desire for knowledge; it keeps us from being too thirsty for knowledge (curiosity) and helps us apply our cognitive powers in specific matters.1
The virtue that helps us relax our mind from work and delight the soul by playing games or enjoying activities, doing so in a way that is harmless, refined and appropriate to the situation.1
The virtue that helps us be a source of pleasure and rest to others; it also helps us avoid being burdensome, rude, a source of displeasure, or a hindrance to enjoyment to others.1
The virtue that helps us avoid excessive or inordinate pleasures.1
Accomplishing the Virtues
Though the Theological Virtues are given to us by God, we are responsible for developing the Human Virtues within us with the assistance of God’s grace.
Though it is difficult to accomplish these virtues, it is still possible. All we must do is live well by loving God with all our heart, soul and effort. When we do so:
We achieve prudence because our love is careful in discerning things so that it is not surprised by deceit or trickery.
We achieve justice because our love obeys God.
We achieve fortitude because our love is not disturbed by misfortune.
We achieve temperance because our love is whole and without corruption.1