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A year ago, we ran a series of Lenten reflections on the Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and love. This year, we will be focusing on two areas: 1) The four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance and 2) How to counteract the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, avarice (greed), envy, wrath, sloth, lust, and gluttony with the seven beatitudes of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-12).

In our post-Christian culture, we no longer consider virtue an important aspect of life. All great cultures of the past ended in ruin when virtue was thrown by the wayside. Our culture is at the precipice of destruction. It is only virtuous living, especially in our marriages and families, that our culture may avert disaster.

Philosopher and scholar Peter Kreeft, in his book Back to Virtue, describes our culture as “we are not weaker in morality, we are weaker in the knowledge of morality. We are stronger in the knowledge of nature, but weaker in the knowledge of goodness.” He goes on to say…

We have lost objective moral law for the first time in history. The philosophies of moral positivism (that morality is posited or made by man), moral relativism, and subjectivism have become for the first time not a heresy for rebels but the reigning orthodoxy of the intellectual establishment. University faculty and media personnel overwhelmingly reject belief in the notion of any universal and objective morality.[1]

Kreeft explains that there are two contradicting philosophies at work in our culture: 1) There is a God; therefore, conform to Him and 2) There is no God so we are God of our world. We can see both philosophies coexisting in our culture but one of the two is “disastrously wrong,” says Kreeft.[2] Our society is like a ship that has been run aground. Virtue is needed to right it. So, what is virtue?

Virtue (n.) 1. moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. 2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude. 3. chastity; virginity. 4. a particular moral excellence. 5. a good or admirable quality or property. 6. effective force; power or potency.[3]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines virtue as a “habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (CCC, 1803). In our culture, moral relativism allows “good” to be defined by the individual. There is no absolute truth which defines what is good. This is the slippery slope that is leading our culture to the precipice of destruction. It is only through a Christian worldview, combined with virtuous living, that we can change the direction our culture is heading. It is in the context of the family that virtues are taught.

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end, “Thy will be done.”[4]

Virtuous living is hard work but thankfully, God has not left us alone. Christ is our model of the virtuous life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The desire and work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the Church is that we may live the life of the Risen Christ” (CCC, 1091). It is our hope that through the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, you may become the virtuous and holy person God has created you to be.

[1] Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtues (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 25.

[2] Ibid., 23.

[3] Dictionary.com, internet: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtue (accessed February 22, 2020).

[4] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (Great Britain: G. Bles, 1946), Chap. 9.