Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Theological Virtues

There are three theological virtues.  Unlike the Cardinal Virtues which can be practiced by anyone, theological virtues can only be practiced by those who receive them, and they are gifts of grace from God.

They are habits that become stronger as we practice them. Their immediate and proper object is God, and so they are infused in our soul. Like all virtues, they become a habit.  The include the following.

1.  Faith: It is showing our love for God through our action, such as practicing the cardinal virtues. It's a gift that allows us to reason that God exists, and that all knowledge extends from Him.  It is knowing that knowledge extends far beyond our intellect. So faith helps us grasp the truth of divine revelation. Faith is also knowing that man cannot fully grasp the true nature of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), which is why it's referred to as a mystery. Since humans have free will, we can reject the gift of faith.  When we revolt against God through sin, God may withdraw the gift of faith.

2.  Hope: It can only be practiced by those who believe in God, and has as it's ultimate object union with God in Heaven.  It is trusting that God will grant eternal life if we practice what He has taught us. It is knowing that we cannot achieve eternal life on our own, it's belief or confidence that God will show us how to obtain eternal life, and belief or confidence that He will actually grant it to us when the time comes.

3.  Charity:  It's loving God above all else, and loving others for God's sake.  The exercise of it increase our love for God and our fellow man. It depends on faith, because without faith in God we cannot love, nor can we love our fellow man for God's sake. It is considered by many to be the greatest of all the virtues.