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316 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived

moral life. Compassion, responsibility, a sense of duty, self-discipline

and restraint, honesty, loyalty, friendship, courage, and persistence are

examples of desirable virtues for sustaining a moral life. Historically, we

group the human virtues around what are called the Cardinal Virtues.

1. How are we created in the image of God?

It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15)

that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of

the Creator. . . . By virtue of his soul and his spiritual pow-

ers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an

“outstanding manifestation of the divine image” (GS, no.

17). (CCC, nos. 1701, 1705)

2. What is freedom?

Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to

perform deliberate acts of one’s own. Freedom attains

perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the

sovereign Good. . . . The right to the exercise of freedom,

especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalien-

able requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise

of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do

anything. (CCC, nos. 1744, 1747)

3. What are virtues?

Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. . . .

The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intel-

lect and will that govern our acts, order our passions, and

guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith.

They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues:

prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. . . . There are

three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. They

inform all the moral virtues and give life to them. (CCC,

nos. 1833, 1834, 1841)