Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heavenly Habits: Cardinal Virtues

I'm going to rerun this look at the virtues mostly for myself, but also for anyone else interested. I see that I had two separate series which ran in 2006 and 2008. Yes, it's time to get back to basics on these.

Despite God’s help and our best intentions we often fall. We often turn down the wrong road, whether accidentally or deliberately. There is, however, a frequently overlooked way that we can strengthen ourselves and increase our odds of success in following Jesus. Of course, we cannot do this without God’s grace, but just as athletes train for both strength and muscle-memory, we can do the same for our souls. We can train ourselves by striving to acquire the virtues.
A virtue is a habit that perfects the powers of the soul and disposes you to do good. Catholics believe that divine grace is offered to the soul, because without God's help, humans can't do good on their own. Grace, which is God's intervention, bolsters a person's soul. providing the necessary oomph to do the right thing, that is, if the recipient recognizes its value. Catholics believe that virtues prepare and dispose people so that when the grace is offered, people readily recognize, accept, and cooperate with it. In other words, God's grace is necessary, but virtues make it easier to work with.

Traditionally, the cardinal virtues number four ... The root meaning of cardinal is cardio, which is Latin for hinge. These four virtues are the hinges on which the rest of the moral life swings:
  • Prudence
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Fortitude
The four cardinal virtues are also called moral virtues to distinguish them from the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (charity), which are given to the soul at Baptism.
Catholicism For Dummies by John Trigilio
Now there's a way of looking at it that isn't common, at least to me. What habits can I cultivate to make it easier for me to recognize and receive God's grace? I like that.

A great book to read on this subject, and on that I should reread is Back to Virtue by Peter Kreeft. Along with talking about virtues, Kreeft lines up specific virtues and Beatitudes as antidotes to each of the seven deadly sins.

Next we'll look at the four virtues separately. First up: Prudence.

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