Virtues, Gifts, and Fruits
as Defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Cardinal Virtues:

Prudence

Temperance

Fortitude

Justice

1805 Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage." These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

PRUDENCE. Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that ought to be avoided. It is the intellectual virtue whereby a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil. In this sense, it is the moral virtue that enables a person to devise, choose, and prepare suitable means for the attainment of any purpose or the avoidance of any evil. Prudence resides in the practical intellect and is both acquired by one's own acts and infused at the same time as sanctifying grace. It may be said to be natural as developed by us, and supernatural because conferred by God. As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct the rest of one's activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made.

TEMPERANCE. The virtue that moderates the desire for pleasure. In the widest sense, temperance regulates every form of enjoyment that comes from the exercise of a human power or faculty, e.g., purely spiritual joy arising from intellectual activity or even the consolations experienced in prayer and emotional pleasure produced by such things as pleasant music or the sight of a beautiful scene. In the strict sense, however, temperance is the correlative of fortitude. As fortitude controls rashness and fear in the face of the major pains that threaten to unbalance human nature, so temperance controls desire for major pleasures. Since pleasure follows from all natural activity, it is most intense when associated with our most natural activities. On the level of sense feeling, they are the pleasures that serve the individual person through food and drink, and the human race through carnal intercourse. Temperance mainly refers to these appetites.

FORTITUDE. Firmness of spirit. As a virtue, it is a steadiness of will in doing good in spite of difficulties faced in the performance of one’s duty.

There are two levels to the practice of fortitude: one is the suppression of inordinate fear and the other is the curbing of recklessness. The control of fear is the main role of fortitude. Hence the primary effect of fortitude is to keep unreasonable fears under control and not allow them to prevent one from doing what one’s mind says should be done. But fortitude or courage also moderates rashness, which tends to lead the headstrong to excess in the face of difficulties and dangers. It is the special virtue of pioneers in any endeavor.

As a human virtue, fortitude is essentially different from what has come to be called animal courage. Animals attack either from pain, as when they are wounded, or from fear of pain, as when they go after humans because they are angered, whom they would leave alone if they were unmolested. They are not virtuously brave, for they face danger from pain or rage or some other sense instinct, not from choice, as do those who act with foresight. True courage is from deliberate choice, not mere emotion.

JUSTICE. As a virtue, it is the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due. It is a habitual inclination of the will and therefore always recognizes each one’s rights, under any and all circumstances. The rights in question are whatever belongs to a person as an individual who is distinct from the one who practices justice. The essence of justice, then, as compared with charity, consists in the distinction between a person and his or her neighbor; whereas charity is based on the union existing between the one who loves and the person loved so that the practice of charity regards the neighbor as another self.

Theological Virtues:

Faith

Hope

Love/Charity

2095 The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity inform and give life to the moral virtues. Thus charity leads us to render to God what we as creatures owe him in all justice. The virtue of religion disposes us to have this attitude.

FAITH. The infused theological virtue whereby a person is enabled to “believe that what God has revealed is true – not because its intrinsic truth is seen with the rational light of reason – but because of the authority of God who reveals it, of God who can neither deceive nor be deceived” (First Vatican Council, Denzinger 3008).

HOPE. An infused theological virtue, received at baptism together with sanctifying grace and having the possession of God as its primary object. It belongs to the will and makes a person desire eternal life, which is the heavenly vision of God, and gives one the confidence of receiving the grace necessary to reach heaven. The grounds of hope are the omnipotence of God, his goodness, and his fidelity to what he promised. The virtue of hope is necessary for salvation. Acts of hope are also necessary for salvation and are commanded by God for all who have come to the use of reason.

LOVE. To will good to someone. Also to please someone, either by sharing with that person what one possesses or by doing what someone wants. Basically there are two kinds of love. The love of concupiscence, or self-interested love, means that another is loved for one's own sake as something useful or pleasant to the one who loves. The love of friendship means selfless love of another for that person's own sake, for his or her good, to please him or her; it is the love of benevolence.

CHARITY. The infused supernatural virtue by which a person loves God above all things for his own sake, and loves others for God's sake. It is a virtue based on divine faith or in belief in God's revealed truth, and is not acquired by mere human effort. It can be conferred only by divine grace. Because it is infused along with sanctifying grace, it is frequently identified with the state of grace. Therefore, a person who has lost the supernatural virtue of charity has lost the state of grace, although he may still possess the virtues of hope and faith.

Gifts of the Holy Ghost:

Wisdom

Knowledge

Understanding

Piety

Counsel

Fortitude

Fear of the Lord

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

See Prayers for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

WISDOM. Book of the Septuagint Old Testament placed in the Vulgate and the Church’s biblical canon. It is called deuterocanonical because, found in the Greek but not the Hebrew, it was not included in the Jewish canon of the Bible, drawn up by the Pharisees at the close of the first century of the Christian era. In Syriac it is called “The Book of the Great Wisdom of Solomon,” but the author was more likely an Alexandrian Jew, living toward the beginning of the third century B.C. The book  can be divided into two main parts, separated by the famous prayer for wisdom (chapter 19). Part One is an exhortation to rulers to observe justice and wisdom (chapters 1-8). Part Two extols the advantages of wisdom, as seen in the way God dealt with his own people compared with the unwisdom of the idolatrous nations. Wisdom means knowledge that is so perfect it directs the will to obey God’s commands. In God wisdom is identified with his Word, a foreshadowing of the revelation of the Trinity.

KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. According to the First Vatican Council, “God, one and true, our Creator and Lord [can] be certainly known by the natural light of human reason from the things that are made” (Denzinger 3026). God’s first witness of himself, therefore, is in the world of creation as declared by St. Paul: “Ever since God created the world, His everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). Moreover, the human mind “can even demonstrate” his existence and attributes by reasoning from the effects in the universe to their ultimate cause (Pope St. Pius X, Oath Against Modernism, Denzinger 3538). However, God has also manifested himself supernaturally in what is commonly called revelation, as found in the Bible and sacred tradition. Such revelation is morally necessary to enable everyone to know God easily, with certitude and without error. Revelation is also absolutely necessary “because God in His infinite goodness has ordained man to a supernatural end,” which therefore requires man’s knowledge of his destiny and of the means of getting there (Denzinger 3005).

PIETY. Honor and reverence given to someone in any way responsible for our existence or well-being. Thus God as our Creator and constant Provider, parents, near relatives, country, tribe, or people.

FORTITUDE. Firmness of spirit. As a virtue, it is a steadiness of will in doing good in spite of difficulties faced in the performance of one’s duty.

There are two levels to the practice of fortitude: one is the suppression of inordinate fear and the other is the curbing of recklessness. The control of fear is the main role of fortitude. Hence the primary effect of fortitude is to keep unreasonable fears under control and not allow them to prevent one from doing what one’s mind says should be done. But fortitude or courage also moderates rashness, which tends to lead the headstrong to excess in the face of difficulties and dangers. It is the special virtue of pioneers in any endeavor.

As a human virtue, fortitude is essentially different from what has come to be called animal courage. Animals attack either from pain, as when they are wounded, or from fear of pain, as when they go after humans because they are angered, whom they would leave alone if they were unmolested. They are not virtuously brave, for they face danger from pain or rage or some other sense instinct, not from choice, as do those who act with foresight. True courage is from deliberate choice, not mere emotion.

Fruits of the Holy Ghost:

Joy

Long-suffering

Charity

Humility

Peace

Patience

Fidelity

Modesty

Kindness

Goodness

Continence

Chastity

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."

1098 The assembly should prepare itself to encounter its Lord and to become "a people well disposed." The preparation of hearts is the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the assembly, especially of its ministers. The grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken faith, conversion of heart, and adherence to the Father's will. These dispositions are the precondition both for the reception of other graces conferred in the celebration itself and the fruits of new life which the celebration is intended to produce afterward.

See Prayers for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit

JOY. In spiritual literature, the feeling aroused by the expectation or possession of some good. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Joyful emotions affect the body, but they are essentially in the higher faculties of the soul. Differs from pleasure, which may affect the human spirit but originates in some bodily sensation. Thus joy is possessed by angels and human beings, and its source is the rational will.

SUFFERING. The disagreeable experience of soul that comes with the presence of evil or the privation of some good. Although commonly synonymous with pain, suffering is rather the reaction to pain, and in this sense suffering is a decisive factor in Christian spirituality. Absolutely speaking, suffering is possible because we are creatures, but in the present order of Providence suffering is the result of sin having entered the world. Its purpose, however, is not only to expiate wrongdoing, but to enable the believer to offer God a sacrifice of praise of his divine right over creatures, to unite oneself with Christ in his sufferings as an expression of love, and in the process to become more like Christ, who, having joy set before him, chose the Cross, and thus "to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church" (I Colossians 1:24).

CHARITY. The infused supernatural virtue by which a person loves God above all things for his own sake, and loves others for God's sake. It is a virtue based on divine faith or in belief in God's revealed truth, and is not acquired by mere human effort. It can be conferred only by divine grace. Because it is infused along with sanctifying grace, it is frequently identified with the state of grace. Therefore, a person who has lost the supernatural virtue of charity has lost the state of grace, although he may still possess the virtues of hope and faith.

HUMILITY. The moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one's total dependence on God; moral humility recognizes one's creaturely equality with others. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride; it is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God's gifts and use them according to his will.

PEACE. The tranquillity of order. Peace is first of all the absence of conflict. But it is also the serenity experienced because there is no conflict. It is the calm that accompanies agreement of human wills, and is the foundation of every well-ordered society.

MODESTY. The virtue that moderates all the internal and external movements and appearance of a person according to his or her endowments, possessions, and station in life. Four virtues are commonly included under modesty: humility, studiousness, and two kinds of external modesty, namely in dress and general behavior.

Humility is the ground of modesty in that it curbs the inordinate desire for personal excellence and inclines one to recognize his or her own worth in its true light. Studiousness moderates the desire and pursuit of truth in accordance with faith and right reason. Its contrary vices are curiosity, which is an excessive desire for knowledge, and negligence, which is remissness in acquiring the knowledge that should be had for one's age and position in life. Modesty in dress and bodily adornments inclines a person to avoid not only whatever is offensive to others but whatever is not necessary. Modesty in bodily behavior directs a person to observe proper decorum in bodily movements, according to the dictum of St. Augustine, "In all your movements let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another."

CONTINENCE. The virtue by which a person controls the unruly movements of sexual desire or other bodily emotions. It is connected with the virtue of temperance. It generally means the chastity to be observed by the unmarried. But it may also refer to the abstinence, in marriage, voluntarily agreed upon by both parties or forced by circumstances to abstain from marital intercourse.

CHASTITY. The virtue that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of faith and right reason. In married people, chastity moderates the desire in conformity with their state of life; in unmarried people who wish to marry, the desire is moderated by abstention until (or unless) they get married; in those who resolve not to marry, the desire is sacrificed entirely.

Chastity and purity, modesty and decency are comparable in that they have the basic meaning of freedom from whatever is lewd or salacious. Yet they also differ. Chastity implies an opposition to the immoral in the sense of lustful or licentious. It suggests refraining from all acts or thoughts that are not in accordance with the Church's teaching about the use of one's reproductive powers. It particularly stresses restraint and an avoidance of anything that might defile or make unclean the soul because the body has not been controlled in the exercise of its most imperious passion.

Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church are enumerated.

Definitions have been taken from the Pocket Catholic Dictionary.

  

02/16/2011

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