Posted by: liturgicalyear | March 8, 2011

The Virtues

Barbara wrote an excellent post  over the weekend about getting the order of charity right by focusing on growing in virtue in our homes.  One of the things she recommended was focusing on a virtue a week as a way to set things right.  When were homeschooling, I did this with my children, and it heightened our awareness and provided a daily reminder of our mission – to grow in holiness and to ultimately be with God in heaven.   I thought perhaps a brief lesson on the virtues might prove useful for you as well.  Before you read, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the areas where you most need to grow and to show you a practical way to make it happen.

As human beings made in the image and likeness of God, we are created with an intellect & a will – a soul

The Soul

Intellect: the part of the soul which has the capacity to know the truth

Will:  the part of the soul with has the capacity to choose love

Grace:  The free gift of God given to help us to get to heaven by strengthening the intellect & the will.  It is the very life of God within us.

Sanctifying Grace:  A supernatural state of being infused by God into our souls at baptism that gives us participation in the Divine life.  It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Sanctifying grace is a permanent part of our soul as long as we cooperate with its effects (stay in a state of grace)

Actual Grace:  God’s temporary enlightenment of our mind or strengthening of our will to perform supernatural actions that help us obtain, retain, or grow in sanctifying grace.  We receive actual grace from the sacraments.

What is Virtue?

A good habit that enables us to act according to right reason, enlightened by faith.  It is a firm disposition to act according to God’s will and disregard the contrary impulses of our own will.

3 Theological Virtues

Sanctifying grace infuses in us the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. They enter our souls permanently. They are not acquired by repetition of an act; God pours them directly into our soul. These virtues allow us to participate in the divine life of God.  They are supernatural virtues because they cannot be achieved through human effort, but can come only from God.  It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Faith:  “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (Heb 11:1).  Faith resides in our intellect (soul).  When we completely submit our intellect and will to God, our faith guides our daily life.

Hope:  Our desire for the kingdom of heaven, and our trust in Christ’s promises.  Hope resides in the will; it keeps us from discouragement, sustains us during desolation, and opens our hearts to God.

Charity:  Charity is our love for God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Charity is a gift to us from God, wrapped in sanctifying grace. Charity resides in the will.

Cardinal Virtues
all other virtues hinge on these

Prudence: correct knowledge of things to be done or avoided. Prudence resides in the intellect and is natural, that is acquired by our own acts but also supernatural, infused with sanctifying grace. As an act of virtue, prudence requires three mental actions: taking counsel carefully with ourselves and others, judging correctly from the evidence at hand, and directing the rest of our activity based on the norms we have established.

Justice:   Our constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due. Justice is a habitual inclination of the will. The rights due to others are whatever belongs to a person as an individual as distinct from ourselves.  A sin against justice requires reparation. We are to compensate for the harm we have inflicted.  The distinction between justice and charity is that justice distinguishes between the person practicing it and his neighbor. Charity treats our neighbor as our brother.

Temperance:   moderates the desire for pleasure. It regulates every form of enjoyment that comes from human will, and includes all those virtues, especially humility, that restrain the inordinate movements of our desires or appetites

Fortitude: or courage, is firmness of spirit, steadiness of will in doing good despite obstacles in the performance of our daily duty. It suppresses inordinate fear and curbs recklessness. Because fortitude also moderates rashness, it is the special virtue of pioneers in any field.   Fortitude is the obverse of temperance. Where temperance limits inordinate desire for major pleasures such as food and drink or the marital act, fortitude limits inordinate rashness and fear in the face of major pain that threatens to unbalance human nature.

The 7 Capital Virtues and the 7 Capital Sins
 (opposites of each other )

All the virtues we strive to practice are said to flow from these seven capital virtues.  All the sins of commission and omission that we commit are said to flow from these seven capital sins.  (also known as the 7 deadly sins)

7 Capital Virtues 7 Capital Sins
humility pride
generosity avarice
brotherly love envy
patience wrath
chastity lust
temperance gluttony
diligence sloth


Come to our aid, O Heavenly angels, that we may grow in virtue!   Anne 

(Source:  Used with permission,  by Martin Barrack)




  1. […] in Lent, I wrote a post about the Virtues. For weeks now, I’ve been wanting to follow-up with a hands-on activity for students of all […]

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