Monday, 17 May 2010

Virtue in the Life of Mankind: Part 1 of 2

How wonderful it would be if all the teachings of the Church could be presented to us each Sunday from the pulpit, systematically, over a period of time, in all their strength and beauty!

Such as, for example, the virtues.

Using the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and my copy - a 1970s reprint of a much older text - of the Catholic Truth Society’s Catechism of Christian Doctrine (the old Penny Catechism), I thought it might be useful to gather some of the basic teaching, and set it out here.

Since I am thinking at present of the virtues as they relate to our dealings with our neighbour, I have concentrated on the so-called human virtues, leaving aside the theological virtues. I have included:

The cardinal virtues.
The Penny Catechism’s list of the seven capital, or deadly, sins, alongside which, most helpfully, it lists their contrasting virtues.
The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

This is quite a lot to cover: I think I will split it into two posts, over two days. At the end of each post, please let me know if I have missed anything out. It is such a beautiful and important subject that I’d like to do it justice as best I can.



The Compendium says:

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.

The human virtues are habitual and stable perfections of the intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They are acquired and strengthened by the repetition of morally good acts and they are purified and elevated by divine grace.

The principal human virtues are called the cardinal virtues, under which all the other virtues are grouped and which are the hinges of a virtuous life.

What is prudence? Prudence disposes reason to discern in every circumstance our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it. Prudence guides the other virtues by pointing out their rule and measure.

What is justice? Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give to others their due. Justice toward God is called “the virtue of religion.”

What is fortitude? Fortitude assures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It reaches even to the ability of possibly sacrificing one’s own life for a just cause.

What is temperance? Temperance moderates the attraction of pleasures, assures the mastery of the will over instincts and provides balance in the use of created goods.

I think that will do for now; the remainder will appear in the next post.


shadowlands said...

I didn't know half of that! I only had a few religious education classes, outside of school, in order to prepare for sacraments so I never really learned the catechism properly although I have tried to always attend Mass, and sent my children to Catholic schools wherever possible. Also, with a few years of nose-diving into Baptist and Pentecostal Churches, I have a rather confused set of theological views. That is why the Rosary was such a beautiful re-discovery for me, as I felt truly Catholic, at last, and gained a sense of belonging, apart from knowledge ( the lack of) of liturgy etc.

This post has truly been an education for me, thank you! I look forward to more.

Dorothy said...

Dear Shadowlands, Thank you for the lovely comment, which I found both informative and encouraging. I do agree with you about the Rosary. Within the past year or so I have managed to form the habit of saying the Rosary every day, and I have found that meditating on each Mystery as I go along has been a very great help in my spiritual life.

Part 2 has just been published, and I hope you will find it interesting and useful.