Monday, 17 May 2010

Virtue in the Life of Mankind: Part 2 of 2

Here is the continuation of yesterday’s post.

From The Penny Catechism:


Envy....................Brotherly Love
Sloth or Acedia*........Diligence

*The Compendium adds Acedia to Sloth. It describes Acedia as “a form of spiritual laziness due to relaxed vigilance and a lack of custody of the heart”.

The Penny Catechism says:

They are called capital sins because they are the sources from which all other sins take their rise.


Fear of the Lord

The Compendium says:

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are permanent dispositions which make us docile in following divine inspirations.

I wasn't sure how to understand Counsel. Here is a helpful article on the subject, by the Reverend William G Most, on the EWTN website. A key sentence in the article is: "The gift of counsel perfects prudence."



The Compendium says:

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are perfections formed in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.

This is all good, nourishing spiritual food, really positive and, I think, very inspiring.

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.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

An academic, thinking aloud ...

I saw this interesting item in the Daily Telegraph of 12/05/10. It was short enough to re-type here, but you can see a longer and slightly different version of the story in the online Telegraph.

The Suicide Generation
by Stephen Adams

People will choose when to end their lives in the future, because anti-ageing drugs that extend lifespans by many years are likely to become commonplace, an expert on longevity has claimed.

Dr David Gems, of University College, London, told the Royal Society that it was reasonable to expect drugs would soon be developed that dramatically extended lifespans. He said birth rates might have to be centrally controlled, and that people would have to make the choice about when to “switch off” their own life.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A Bavarian Parish Church

A weekday lunchtime. A young man prays in the church of MariƤ Himmelfahrt - or, as we would say, Our Lady of the Assumption - in the small spa town of Bad Aibling, Bavaria. We were spending a few days there as part of a touring holiday of Gemany.

Set within this grandeur - to which the photograph does not do justice - there is a modest-sized free-standing altar, fully draped, and a fairly inconspicuous lectern. Not undignified, but rather overwhelmed by the splendour that surrounds them.

Suspended several feet above the North wall, a huge and apparently unused pulpit looms over the pews.

From time to time, Catholic bloggers post pictures of the continental churches they have visited; and the churches are usually very splendid and gleaming. The beauty of this church remained intact; but it reminded me of one of those television programmes about the rescue of fine old houses, whose owners are now in reduced circumstances. They seem to make shift as best they can in these well-loved homes, filled with the ghosts of past glories. It is as though they are camping amid the memories of what once was.

That is the impression I received in this fine old church. Above all, however, I felt completely at home there. Like every other Catholic church I have known, whether a glorious basilica or a humble Nissen hut, it had that unique warmth of the Presence.