Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
This week we will continue our study of the virtues by looking at the “Theological” virtues. Before we begin let us review what is a virtue? In the CCC 1803 it states “…A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions…” “Human” or “Cardinal” or “Moral” virtues help us develop habits to freely choose a deliberate act which is toward the good. When faced with a choice between doing something good or doing something evil, the Cardinal Virtues direct us to the good. The Cardinal (Moral) Virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
The “Theological Virtues” are described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC1812-1813) as follows: “the human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man’s faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it it’s special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about the theological virtues: “The virtues of faith, hope and charity are the three theological virtues. Faith is a divinely infused virtue which enables us to assent with conviction to the truths of salvation revealed by God. Because it enables us to do this, we are obliged to make acts of faith and to foster the growth of faith in our lives through prayer and worship. Hope is the infused virtue that enables us to rely on God’s grace and salvation to look forward to achieving eternal salvation and fulfillment in Him. Charity is the infused virtue which enables us to love God for His own sake and oneself and others for His sake as well. Acts of charity are necessary to attain salvation and, like acts of faith and hope, they are required for growth in the likeness of Christ. Growth in the theological virtues is the ultimate aim of Christian life, for their perfection opens the Christian fully to the movements of the saving grace of God.”
Unlike the cardinal virtues, which can be practiced by anyone, the theological virtues are gifts of grace from God, and the object of the virtues — what the practice of the virtue aims at — is God Himself. Let us pray for the virtues of grace, hope and charity that we may become more like God Himself.