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Virtue • Sacraments • Prayer
Virtue, as you may know, is a habit of doing good. It comes from the Latin word vir meaning “man” and is also used to convey “manliness” or “power”. Virtue is a habit, that is, a virtue is not something we do now and again, but it is something that we do regularly, even without thinking about it. When we begin to work on developing a virtue, we do have to pay attention and focus on it during the day, but after a while it becomes part of our daily routine. It becomes a habit. Virtue is developed by effort, patience, and much grace from the Lord. One grows in virtue by choosing to exercise a virtue in a particular situation. Virtue is gained in the doing of it.
The Four Cardinal Virtues
The Four Cardinal Virtues which we know through reason are Justice (living in right relationships with God and neighbor), Prudence (doing what is right in a particular circumstance), Temperance (moderating our desires and appetites, e.g. food, computer or TV time, etc.), Fortitude (following through on good things even when it’s difficult).
The Three Theological Virtues
We only know through faith are Faith, Hope and Love (also called Charity).
It is important to remember that these theological virtues cannot be produced on our own. They are first and foremost a free gift, a grace from the Lord with which we then accept and appropriate in our lives. The Catechism states, “Faith is the virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God’” (#1814). In faith man gives his entire self over to God, his intellect, will, feelings, desires and body – everything. To be salvific, faith must be a living faith, that is, a faith that is lived out in good works, and not a dead faith. Holy Scripture tells us in the Letter of James that faith without works is dead. Thus, this important virtue must be linked to the virtues of hope and love. “Hope,” as the Catechism states, “is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (#1817). This virtue “keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude” (#1818). Faith and hope lead to the ultimate virtue of charity or love. Charity “is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (#1822).
Other important virtues are Honesty and especially Chastity
Honesty is the virtue by which we are truthful in our speech and writing. It means that what we say corresponds to the truth. Jesus told us that He is the truth (Jn. 14:6). Honesty means more than outright lying. We can act against honesty by gossiping (exaggerating faults to make someone look worse), or by boasting (exaggerating one’s strengths to make one look better). Often one can experience much pressure from friends at school to act dishonestly in conversation or to cheat in his schoolwork. The decision to be honest in these situations calls for much courage and sometimes downright heroism.
Read more here:
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Chastity is the virtue by which our powers of life and love are always placed in the service of love. Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has freed us from the slavery to impurity. Our bodies are no longer simply ours, they are temples of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Chastity makes sure that a man always acts lovingly toward others in his body and never uses other people for his own pleasure. Chastity means treating women with honor and respect. With the virtue of chastity, one can always look upon others as a real person and not as an object. A way of thinking about chastity is being truthful with one’s body just has honesty is the virtue of being truthful in speech. Chastity also demands that one avoid bad language, dirty jokes or innuendo. Developing the virtue also means avoiding impure images in advertising, magazines or online. This virtue is essential in the spiritual combat yet it often takes much grace, effort and time to attain a deep grounding in this virtue. Sometimes one has already fallen into sins of impurity even before knowing the freedom that chastity gives. No matter where one is, he can start anew with the Lord Jesus. He makes us pure in heart.
Go to Jason Evert’s “Pure Love” to learn more about chastity.
Read more here:
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments comprise an essential dimension to the Spiritual Combat because in the Sacraments we receive sanctifying grace! This is God’s own power at work within us. The Sacraments communicate Divine power to our souls. Wow! Can you imagine that this weapons system is powered by an infinite, divine power? Because of Original Sin and concupiscence (the constant “drift” or “undertow” toward doing what is evil) we need help from the Lord. Without grace, we cannot do anything good. Here we focus especially on the Sacraments we can receive more than once: Confession and Holy Communion. Surely Baptism and Confirmation in a way “set us up” by grounding us in Jesus, yet Confession and Holy Communion are there for us in the day-to-day fight against evil. I strongly suggest that one receives Holy Communion at least on Sunday, if not during the week, and to go to Confession at least once per month. When a man is discerning his vocation, I suggest that he go to Confession every 2-3 weeks. It can be especially helpful to go to confession to the same priest so that he gets to know your soul.
Prayer is our vital, daily and intimate contact with the Lord. It entails the lifting of our hearts and minds to Him who is with us throughout the day. Prayer is more about listening than speaking to Him. A man must be praying if he wants to know his vocation. Much can be learned about prayer in the Catechism, and please feel free to look at the other prayer hints on this website. Examples of prayer are Eucharistic Adoration, Lectio divina with Holy Scripture, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc. But the most important thing about prayer is to JUST DO IT.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- The Prayer of Quiet
- Lectio Divina
- Holy Rosary
- Chaplet of Divine Mercy
- Other Prayers
I would also suggest that on read Peter Kreeft‘s great introductin to prayers, Prayer for Beginners