Text of Moral and theological virtues 40 TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista (1696- 1770) The Theological Virtues Oil...
Moral and theological virtues 40 TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista (1696- 1770) The Theological Virtues Oil on canvas, c.1755 15 1/4 x 15 inches (38.8 x 38.1 cm) Muses Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
Compendium of the Catechism 377. What is a virtue? 1803 1833 A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God (Saint Gregory of Nyssa). There are human virtues and theological virtues.
Introduction When the Church proclaims someone to be a saint, she investigates his or her life to be sure that this person practised to a heroic degree the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity, as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, along with their related virtues. Virtue and virtuous deeds are what crown human nature, especially if it has been elevated by the supernatural virtues, since grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it. VOUET, Simon Allegory of Virtue c. 1634 Oil on canvas, 210 x 113 cm Muse du Louvre, Paris
1. What is virtue? Nature is the radical principle of operations: we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and know with our intelligence. With practice, the faculties acquire stable habits. If the habit is good it is called a virtue; if it is bad it is called a vice. Virtue then is a quality of the spiritual faculties that inclines man to do what is good. CORREGGIO Allegory of Virtue about 1532-34 Oil on canvas, 149 x 88 cm Muse du Louvre, Paris
2. The human virtues The most excellent virtues are the supernatural ones, which refer directly to God, but the moral virtues are also important, since by perfecting mans conduct they lead him to God. The main moral virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. They are also called cardinal virtues because they are the foundation of the other moral virtues Raphael (1483-1520) The Cardinal Virtues Fresco, 1511 Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican
3. Natural virtues and supernatural grace At times it is hard to practise natural virtues because of the disorder and evil inclinations left by original sin. But God grants grace that purifies the intellect and elevates human virtues to the supernatural level to help us to obtain the goal we have been called to: eternal beatitude, heaven. In this way virtues continue to be natural, while also becoming supernatural. With Gods help, natural virtues strengthen our character and make the practice of doing good easy. TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista (1696-1770) Allegory of Merit Accompanied by Nobility and Virtue Fresco, 1757-1758 393 5/8 x 236 1/8 inches (1000 x 600 cm) Museo del Settecento Veneziano, Ca' Rezzonico, Venice
4. The theological virtues Since man has been elevated to the supernatural order, natural virtues, although necessary, are not sufficient. God, from the moment of baptism, grants Christians the supernatural virtues along with grace: Faith is the supernatural virtue by which we believe, based on Gods authority, the truths revealed to us and taught by the Church. Hope is the supernatural virtue by which we place our trust in God who will glorify us through his grace and our correspondence. Charity is the supernatural virtue by which we love God above all things, and ourselves and our neighbours, for love of God. RAFFAELLO, Sanzio Theological Virtues, 1507 Oil on wood, 16 x 44 cm (each) Pinacoteca, Vatican
5. Gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are like the crown of the supernatural building. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural perfections infused by God to facilitate the practice of the virtues, making us docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit : wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. In addition, the tradition of the Church lists, as the first fruits of eternal glory, twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. GRECO, El The Pentecost 1596-1600 Oil on canvas, 275 x 127 cm Museo del Prado, Madrid
6. Charity, the highest virtue Charity is the greatest of all virtues, being first among the theological virtues, which are more excellent than all the others. All virtue, to be authentic, must be inspired by charity. As Saint Paul says, charity is the bond of perfection, the form of all the other virtues. WATTS, George Frederick (1817-1904) Charity Oil on canvas, 1898 Private collection
7. To grow in virtue A Christian who tries to lead a life worthy of God, counts on divine grace and the virtues. With Gods help, and with his own effort, man has to grow in virtue. God never abandons us, and it is enough that we struggle to do what is good and to practise charity. Charity consists in loving God with all our heart, and loving ourselves and our neighbour, for love of God. BENNER, Emmanuel (1836-1896) Hercules Between Virtue And Vice Oil on canvas 57 3/4 x 45 7/8 inches (146.7 x 116.8 cm) Private collection
Resolutions for Christian life
Resolutions to move forward Practise the moral virtues in ordinary life: study, work, family life, friendship Ask God to increase in us the theological virtues; do so especially during the consecration at Mass with the words: Lord, increase my faith, hope and charity.