A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
On Safari – the lessons from autumn.
September 26, 2020
July 25, 2020
Virtues Part Four: The Theological Virtues
In the past weeks we have learned much about the Moral or Cardinal Virtuesand now understand that according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself”. (CCC 1803) St. Gregory of Nyssa states, “The goal of a virtuous person is to become like God”. That might well be the goal of all persons who desire eternal life; that we seek to act and live in this world as God did through Jesus Christ.
Having reviewed the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, we will now examine the Theological Virtues. The word theological comes from the Latin word “theo” meaning God and “logical”; to make sense of or come to understand. If something is theological in nature it refers to that which is religious or spiritual, “of God”. So as the CCC categorizes the seven virtues, three of them, the Theological Virtues, relate directly to God; Faith, Hope and Love. These become for us a foundation aiding us in living our lives in such a way that others are drawn to Jesus Christ. These virtues “are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and meriting eternal life.” (CCC 1813) Simply put; our eternal life with God depends upon our living the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. Let’s take a look at each:
Faith – To believe in God, in all he has said and revealed to us through his Word, his actions, His Son, and to believe in the teaching of the Catholic Church as the spouse of Christ. Faith is a gift as are all virtues to aid us in living as Christian in this world. We participate in living our faith through our actions with and toward all those with whom we share life. The CCC teaches that faith cannot exist without works; action on our part as we live in union with the Body of Christ. We have a responsibility to care for the gift of faith by continuing to serve God and one another, to grow and nurture our relationship with God and His people through prayer, receiving the sacraments and being a witness to the truth taught by Jesus Christ.
Hope – This virtue instills in us a desire to be one with God for eternity, to understand that true happiness is realized not of our own making but of our becoming one with God forever. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Romans 4.18
Our hope is in Jesus Christ for he died to pay the price for our sin. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice and because of his action, his unconditional love and commitment to humanity, we live in hope of the glory of eternal life with God. That glory we hope for is ours if we love God and do His will. Hope allows us to look forward with joy to eternal life.
Love – also called “Charity” “is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves.” (CCC1822) This is the greatest of all commandments made known to us in Jesus Christ. We can have all things and do every sort of good in this world, but if we do not have charity toward God and others, we truly have nothing. We can do nothing without love!
If we were asked to describe God using only one word, the only word that would suffice is LOVE. God is love. To live in relationship to God we must also love. We must love God and His people. It may sound simple, but simple it is not – it takes every part of who we are, all of our human effort and all of our desire to be a person of love. Quickly we come to understand that we alone are not capable of love without knowing God who is love. This virtue called love or charity fuels all other virtues and we love because God first loved us. Love is superior to all the virtues.
“So faith, hope and love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13.13
In the beautiful words of St. Augustine, “Love is itself the fulfillment of all of our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.”