Character and Virtues

Overview


Think of someone you admire as a person of integrity and goodness. You may recognise their virtues:

A virtue is a power or habit that enables us to live a good life: a firm disposition to do good. Virtues are strengthened by repeated actions, guided in the light of faith and reason.

Four ‘cardinal’ virtues are the source of all other virtues that guide intellects and wills towards genuinely Christian ways of acting:

Prudence – enables discernment and practice of good moral behaviour
Justice – gives God and others what is due to them
Fortitude – is the courage and strength to do good in spite of difficulties, fear or temptation
Temperance – helps control instincts and desires, to maintain balance and moderation in our lives

Theological virtues come from God, relate us to God and help us return to God.

Faith - enables relationship with God, belief in God and what God reveals
Hope - enables trust in God’s promises, dispelling despair and self-centredness, and empowering and motivating work for God’s Reign (or ‘Kingdom’) on earth.
Charity (Love) - involves active self-giving love of God and neighbour, the basis of all Christian life.

Charity (Love) is a gift and a command. Jesus gave his example and command to love; “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Love is the greatest of all virtues, giving form and shape to all the others and binding them together.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

“If I...do not have love, I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I do not have love, I gain nothing.” Love is superior to all the virtues. “Now, faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-4,13; Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos 1825-1826).

Catechism of the Catholic Church

(Paragraph numbers for the Catechism are shown - Click the Nos section to view)
GOD'S SALVATION: LAW AND GRACE
  No 1949 

GRACE  Nos 1996-2005  

LIFE IN CHRIST   Nos 1691-1698 
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT  No 1699
DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON  No 1700 
HUMAN BEINGS: IMAGE OF GOD   Nos 1701-1709 
IN BRIEF  Nos 1710-1715
The Beatitudes   Nos 1716-1717
Desire for Happiness   Nos 1717-1719
Christian Beatitude (Happiness and Blessing) Nos 1720-1724 
IN BRIEF  Nos 1725-1729  

HUMAN FREEDOM   No 1730
Freedom and Responsibility  Nos 1731-1738 
Human Freedom and Salvation  Nos 1739-1742 
IN BRIEF  Nos 1743-1748 
THE MORAL LAW   Nos 1950-1953 

MORALITY No 1749, Nos 1750-1754, Nos 1755-1756
IN BRIEF  Nos 1757-1761
HUMAN PASSIONS AND FEELINGS:  IN BRIEF  1771-1775  

VIRTUES No 1803, 1804-1811, 1812-1829 
The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit   1743-1748 
IN BRIEF  1833-1845  

SIN AND MERCY   Nos 1846-1848, Nos 1849-1851, Nos 1852-1853 
The Gravity of Sin:  1854-1864, 1865-1869 
IN BRIEF  1870-1876 


Items of Interest

Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

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