Monday, August 29, 2011

Virtue versus Vice

When I think about the Virtues, I picture a tree.  Its roots go wide and deep, supporting a large trunk which branches off into strong limbs that bear much foliage, flowers and fruit.  In this image, the roots and base of the tree are the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.  They are “theological” because, by engaging them, we interact directly with God.  Faith is the virtue by which we believe in God and all that He has said and revealed to us (CCC 1814).  Hope is how we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ and not our own strength (CCC 1817).  Finally, Charity is how we love God above all things for His own sake and love our neighbor as ourselves (CCC1822).  We see that charity, known simply as Love, has two parts:  love of God and love of neighbor.  These three foundational virtues inform the way we live with God and behave in the world.  Our morality must be based in them or it will not be moral.  For any of the subsequent virtues to be true, they must flow out of Faith, Hope and Love. 

The Theological virtues are infused into our souls through Baptism allowing the Holy Spirit to be present and act through our lives.  There is a reason that the names Faith, Hope and Charity have always been popular choices.  As Christians, indeed as humans made in the likeness of God, these names reflect our very nature.   To become more truly human, we must walk in the virtues as the saints do, by acting as if we have already been perfected in them.  Lord I believe; help my unbelief!  Let us accept the daily challenge to behave each day in a way which reflects the Faith we have received, the Hope we aspire to and the Love of the Father without which we could not exist.

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