Chapter 23. Life in Christ—Part One • 317
This term comes from the Latin word
meaning “hinge.” All the
virtues are related to or hinged to one of the Cardinal Virtues. The four
Cardinal Virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.
There are a number of ways in which we acquire human virtues.
They are acquired by frequent repetition of virtuous acts that establish a
pattern of virtuous behavior. There is a reciprocal relationship between
virtue and acts because virtue, as an internal reality, disposes us to act
externally in morally good ways. Yet it is through doing good acts in the
concrete that the virtue within us is strengthened and grows.
The human virtues are also acquired through seeing them in the
good example of others and through education in their value and meth-
ods to acquire them. Stories that inspire us to want such virtues help
contribute to their growth within us. They are gained by a strong will to
achieve such ideals. In addition, God’s grace is offered to us to purify and
strengthen our human virtues, for our growth in virtue can be hampered
by the reality of sin. Especially through prayer and the Sacraments, we
open ourselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace as another
way in which we grow in virtue.
The Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and charity (love) are those
virtues that relate directly to God. These are not acquired through
human effort but, beginning with Baptism, they are infused within us
as gifts from God. They dispose us to live in relationship with the Holy
Trinity. Faith, hope, and charity influence human virtues by increasing
their stability and strength for our lives.
Each of the Ten Commandments forbids certain sins, but each also
points to virtues that will help us avoid such sins. Virtues such as gen-
erosity, poverty of spirit, gentleness, purity of heart, temperance, and
fortitude assist us in overcoming and avoiding what are called the seven
deadly or Capital Sins—pride, avarice or greed, envy, anger, lust, glut-
tony, and sloth or laziness—which are those sins that engender other sins
Growth in virtue is an important goal for every Christian, for the
virtues play a valuable role in living a Christian moral life.