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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

and vices.

Growth in virtue is an important goal for every Christian, for the

virtues play a valuable role in living a Christian moral life.