The Cardinal Virtues

News: Commentary
by Rodney Pelletier  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 27, 2021   

How to invigorate the tired and weak soul

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The year-long orgy of China virus fear pushed by media along with bishops blocking millions of people from accessing the sacraments has produced a new moral low.

Forbes noted in an article on Wednesday that during the China virus lockdowns, "Americans drank heavily, smoked copious amounts of weed, played video games, ate lots of junk food and watched television, Netflix and porn more than ever before."

There is a solution for people who feel worn out by the weakness of sin: live a virtuous life. Human beings have a fallen human nature owing to the first sin of Adam and Eve. Even after a soul is reborn with the sacrament of baptism, it's much easier to commit sins than it is to do good.  

The theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are meant to perfect our interior selves. The moral virtues, also called the cardinal virtues, are directed to perfecting our exterior selves.

The cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. It's these four virtues that form the basis for the other moral virtues: filial piety, patriotism, obedience, veracity, patience and religion. All these other virtues hang from the four cardinal virtues.

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A good way to think about how it all fits together is to imagine an upside-down pyramid with charity at the bottom. It is the supernatural — or theological — virtue that is the perfection of all the others. In the end, charity will be the only theological virtue that souls in Heaven will still possess as faith and hope will have passed away in the presence of God.

Practicing and growing in virtue, along with the regular reception of the sacraments of confession and the Holy Eucharist, will lift any soul out of its spiritual mire and raise it upward towards Heaven.

Faith and hope will be unnecessary because the soul will rest in beatitude with the Blessed Trinity. It will have no need of believing in a God it doesn't see or trust that God will do everything He promised.

One of the best adult catechetical books, My Catholic Faith, explains the cardinal virtues in a very easy-to-understand way.

Prudence disposes us in all circumstances to form right judgments about what we must do or not do. It teaches us when and how to act in matters relating to our eternal salvation. Prudence perfects the intelligence, which is the power of forming judgments; for this virtue, knowledge and experience are important.

Justice disposes us to give everyone what belongs to him. It teaches us to give what is due to God and to man. It makes us willing to live according to the Commandments. Justice perfects the will and safeguards the rights of man: his right to life, freedom, honor, good name, sanctity of the home and external possessions.

Temperance disposes us to control our desires and to use rightly the things which please our senses. It regulates our judgment and passions so that we may make use of temporal things only insofar as they are necessary for our eternal salvation. We have temperance when we eat and drink only what is necessary to sustain life, preserve health and fulfill our duties.

Fortitude disposes us to do what is good in spite of any difficulty. It gives us strength to do good and avoid evil in spite of all obstacles and afflictions.

Practicing and growing in virtue, along with the regular reception of the sacraments of confession and the Holy Eucharist, will lift any soul out of its spiritual mire and raise it upward towards Heaven.

Learn more by watching The Download—The Cardinal Virtues.

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