At a very early age St. Agnes had such a high regard for the virtue of chastity that she vowed her virginity to God. The Roman authorities, who were persecuting the infant Church, tried to make this child offer incense to the idols, but she refused. Seeing her firmness, the persecutors tried to win her by flattery. She was only thirteen years old, beautiful and wealthy; they offered to marry her to the son of a high official in Rome. But she answered that she was consecrated to her Heavenly Bridegroom. She suffered torture and meekly laid her head on the execution block.
What is humility? –Humility is that moral virtue which disposes us to appreciate and acknowledge our true position with respect to God and our fellowmen.Jesus Christ often praised and recommended humility. “Unless you turn, and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). He always answered the prayers of the humble, as of the centurion (Matt. 8:11). “If any man wishes to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:34)
- The humble man acknowledges God as the source of all the excellent things he may possess. He recognizes his limitations, his own nothingness, and the uselessness of all earthly things without God.Compared to God, what are we? All things pass away; only God is eternal. These simple truths will help us keep humble; without God we are nothing. Let us practice the behest of Our Lord. “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29).
- The humble man knows that earthly things are of value only if they lead us to God. His detachment from all things worldly frees him from all human fear.In order to become humble, let us think often of the majesty and grandeur of God. Let us contemplate His works, beside which ours would be nothing. Above all, let us remember that without God we would not even exist. Do we feel proud of our wealth? Tomorrow a fire, a business depression, may wipe it off completely. Are we proud of our appearance? An accident, some sickness, would make it as if it had never been. Are we proud of our intelligence? Amnesia would take it all away.
- The humble man has his best, model in the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, Who humbled Himself out of love for men.“Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29). The Son of God humbled Himself when He came down to earth as man. He came as a poor man, in the eyes of the world the son of a carpenter. His companions were simple fishermen. He associated with the humble, with sinners even. At the Last Supper He washed the feet of His apostles. He was put to death on the cross, the manner of death then most despised.
- Our Lord continually urged us to humility; as when He said, “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11).In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican Christ exalted humility; as also He did when, taking a little child, He said, “Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4). And again He said, after preaching to His disciples, “When you have done everything that was commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants'” (Luke 17: 10)
- Humility is opposed both to pride and to excessive and affected self-abjection.To be humble, a man does not need to belittle his abilities. St. Thomas Aquinas says: That a person should recognize and appreciate his own good qualities is not sin.”
What is liberality? –Liberality is that moral virtue, related to the cardinal virtue of justice, which finds expression in generosity towards our fellowmen, disposing us to use material goods rightly.
- Ordinarily the term is taken with reference to material goods; but in a broader sense it also is with respect to spiritual and intellectual gifts.Liberality consists in giving, for the love of God, generous help to those in need. Our Lord said, in urging us to do works of mercy, that what is given to the poor is given to Him. Liberality does not depend on the amount given, but in the spirit. A poor man can be very liberal; whereas a rich man who gives millions, but does so only in order to get praised does not have the virtue of generosity.
- Liberality is opposed to covetousness.With liberality we become willing for the love of God to help out those in material need. This virtue does not depend on the amount or material value of the gift, but in the goodness of the heart with which it is given.
What is chastity? –Chastity is that moral virtue which disposes us to be pure in soul and body.Those who keep themselves pure in soul and body are like angels on earth. It was the chaste Apostle John to whom Christ gave the privilege of leaning on His breast at the Last Supper; it was to him that He entrusted His Virgin Mother.
- Chastity, opposed to lust, disposes us to preserve the mind and body from everything that is impure. Chastity is purity. It is termed the angelic virtue, because it makes men resemble the angels in heaven.Chastity gives health to the soul and light to the understanding; it aids wisdom and develops strength of character. Judith, a weak woman, had the courage to go into the enemy camp, and returned with the head of Holofernes; of her Holy Scripture says, “Thou hast done manfully and thy heart hath been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity” (Judith 15:11). Thousands of martyrs died in defense of this virtue of holy chastity.
- For the unmarried, chastity forbids indulgence of the sexual appetite; for the married, it regulates the use of that appetite in accordance with the dictates of right reason. It is wrong to suppose that chastity is not a virtue for the married. God requires chastity from everyone, in all states of life. A chaste marriage is the basis of the Christian family.Not all saints are virgins. God requires chastity to be practiced by all, in accordance with the state of life that each has embraced. It may be either absolute (for the unmarried), or relative (for the married).
- The mere knowledge of facts does not destroy our chastity. It is wilful consent and yielding to impurity that sullies chastity of mind and body.Jesus Christ, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and other saints surely knew the facts of sex; but such knowledge did not spoil their spotless chastity.
- Let us be careful of the company we keep, and avoid all occasions of sin to preserve virtue of chastity. Let us form the habit of temperance in all things, so as to strengthen our self-control. We should often have recourse to prayer and the sacraments, receiving these frequently. “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5: 16). Let us have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and ask her daily to preserve us in chastity. The following prayer has in many cases been found efficacious in imploring the Blessed Virgin to preserve one’s chastity:“My Queen, my Mother! I give myself entirely to thee; and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me as thy property and possession.”
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!
The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity furnish a strong basis for all other virtues. The cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, are the foundation of all moral virtues. The theological virtues define our relations with God; the moral virtues define our relations with ourselves and our fellowmen. If we have these virtues, we are on the way to perfection.
Are there any other virtues besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity? –Besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, there are other virtues, called moral virtues.
- These virtues are called moral virtues because they dispose us to lead moral, or good lives, by aiding us to treat persons and things in the right way, that is, according to the will of God. Moral virtues are opposed to the capital sins.For example, humility is opposed to pride; liberality is opposed to avarice;chastity is opposed to lust; meekness and patience are opposed to anger;temperance is opposed to gluttony; brotherly love is opposed to envy: and zeal and diligence in what is good are opposed to sloth.
- Moral virtues are an outgrowth and completion of the theological virtues. The theological virtues perfect our interior being; the moral virtues perfect our exterior. If we sincerely strive after these virtues, we are on the road to perfection.The theological virtues affect our relations with God; the moral virtues affect our relations with our neighbor and our own selves. For example, faith makes us believe in the existence of God. Temperance makes us regulate our appetites.
Which are the chief moral virtues? –The chief moral virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance; these are called cardinal virtues.All other moral virtues spring from the cardinal virtues. These are called cardinal from cardo, the Latin word for hinge, because all our moral actions turn on them as a door turns upon its hinges. All other moral virtues depend on them.
How do prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance dispose us to lead good lives? –Prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance dispose us to lead good lives, as indicated below:
- Prudence disposes us in all circumstances to form right judgments about what we must do or not do.-It teaches us when and how to act in matters relating to our eternal salvation. Prudence perfects the intelligence, which is the power of forming judgments; for this virtue, knowledge and experience are important.Prudence shows us how to leave earthly things in order to earn riches for eternity. It is the eye of the soul, for it tells us what is good and what is evil. It is like a compass that directs our course in life. It is opposed to worldly wisdom. “Be prudent therefore and watchful in prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7). Prudence is a virtue of the understanding.
- Justice disposes us to give everyone what belongs to him.-It teaches us to give what is due to God and to man. It makes us willing to live according to the commandments. Justice perfects the will and safeguards the rights of man: his right to life, freedom, honor, good name, sanctity of the home, and external possessions.The just man is an upright man. He gives to every one his due: he gives God worship; the authorities, obedience; his subordinates, rewards and punishments; and his equals, brotherly love. “Render to all men whatever is their due; tribute to whom tribute is due; taxes to whom taxes are due; fear to whom fear is due; honor to whom honor is due” (Rom. 13:7).
- Fortitude disposes us to do what is good in spite of any difficulty.-It gives us strength to do good and avoid evil in spite of all obstacles and afflictions.We possess fortitude when we are not hindered by ridicule, threats, or persecution from doing what is right; when we are ready, if necessary, to suffer death. The greatest fortitude is shown by bearing great sufferingrather than undertaking great works. No saint was ever a coward. The martyrs had fortitude.
- Temperance disposes us to control our desires and to use rightly the things which please our senses.-It regulates our judgment and passions, so that we may make use of temporal things only in so far as they are necessary for our eternal salvation. We have temperance when we eat and drink only what is necessary to sustain life, preserve health, and fulfill our duties.We should strive to be like St. Francis of Sales, who said: “I desire very little, and that little I desire but little.” However, temperance does not consist in refusing or denying ourselves what is necessary, thus unfitting ourselves for good works.
Which are some of the other moral virtues? —Filial piety and patriotism, which dispose us to honor, love, and respect our parents and our country. It is, however, no virtue but a sin if we are so prejudiced in favor of our parents that we find no good in others; or if we are so “patriotic” that we see no good in other nations.The division and mutual antagonisms of nations and peoples in which certain ones profess to find themselves as “superior” can certainly not please God; from them come war and revenge. God is Father of all nations and peoples, without exception.
- Obedience, which disposes us to do the will of our superiors. Obedience consists not only in doing what is commanded by our superior, but in being willing to do what is commanded. One who grumbles and murmurs while doing what his mother asks him to do is not obedient.Obedience is a virtue only when one subjects his will to that of another for God’s sake, not for material or natural motives. Christ is the model of obedience, for He obeyed completely and lovingly, even to the death of the Cross. “An obedient man shall speak of victory” (Prov. 21:28).
- Veracity, which disposes us to tell the truth.We should always be truthful, as children of God, Who is Truth itself. Veracity, however, does not require us to reveal secrets, or to reply to questions about which the questioner has no right to ask. In cases such as these, we should either remain silent, or return an evasive answer. “Wherefore, put away lying, and speak truth each one with his neighbor, because we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).
- Patience, which disposes us to bear up under trials and difficulties.In sickness and ill fortune, in the difficulties of our occupations, in our weaknesses, let us have serenity of mind, for the love of God: “And bear fruit in patience” (Luke 8:15). “Be patient in tribulation, persevering in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).Besides these, there are many other moral virtues. Religion is the highest moral virtue, since it disposes us to offer to God the worship that is due Him.Religion is classed under the virtue of justice.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!