Good qualities or inclinations, whether natural or supernatural, are generally referred to as “virtues”. Virtue is a habit that inclines us to whatever is good.
A single good act does not constitute virtue. For instance, one does not have the virtue of faith if one believes in Christ only once a week.
Supernatural virtues enter the soul with sanctifying grace, imparted by the Holy Ghost in the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance. With sanctifying grace the soul acquires the supernatural light of faith and hope, and burns with the fire of charity.
These virtues render us capable of being good and doing good for the love and service of God, to act for instead of against Him.
We are not to suppose however that sanctifying grace makes us perfect in the practice of virtue. It gives us the power and the inclination to be good and do good, but to have perfection we must frequently exercise our virtues. We are given the power, but if we do not use it, it remains dormant; similarly, we are given legs to use for walking, but if we refuse to walk, the power is dormant. Virtue is a habit acquired by repeated good acts.
Natural virtue enables us to perform good natural acts; it deals directly with things human. Supernatural virtue enables us to perform good acts from a supernatural motive, for the glory of God.
If we are temperate in food and drink because we wish to preserve our health, we have a natural virtue; we act according to reason.
Natural virtues compared to supernatural ones are like a photograph compared to the living original. It is only supernatural virtues that will profit us unto life everlasting, since it is only those whose object and life is God.
What are the chief supernatural powers that are bestowed on our souls with sanctifying grace? –The chief supernatural powers that are bestowed on our souls with sanctifying grace are the three theological virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.
These virtues are called theological, from the Greek term theos (meaning God) , because their object is God.
An appropriate symbol for the theological virtues is a living tree. Faith is the root, hope the trunk, and charity the fruit. The root and trunk are valueless if they do not find completion in the fruit. The common symbols depicting these three virtues are: the cross for faith, the anchor for hope, and the burning heart for charity.
He who possesses these three virtues has all other virtues in some degree. Without them, he cannot possess any other supernatural virtue nor reach heaven.
We should make acts of these virtues every day. We can say very briefly: “O my God, I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. To Thee be honor, praise, and glory forever.”
What are the three theological virtues? –The three theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity.
Faith is belief in a truth on the word of another, though that truth be not fully understood.
In a trial, the judge believes the testimony of a witness known to be an honest man. When a fact is so obvious as “it is dark at midnight,” no belief is needed; that is known and fully understood.
Divine faith is belief in a truth or mystery known only because God revealed it. It is grace that helps us to attain faith and to persevere in it, to take God’s word for whatever He has revealed.
Faith is supernatural because we cannot by ourselves acquire it. It is a gift of God. It is, however, increased by prayer and continual exercise; the apostles prayed to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5)
Without faith, it is impossible to be saved.
We must not cease praying for increase of faith, for it is necessary for salvation. “He that believeth not shall be condemned” (Matt. 16:16). “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).
Our faith must be firm and complete; that is, both certain and all-encompassing.
If we are doubtful on any matters of faith, considering opposite viewpoints as possibly true, then we deny God’s authority. If we accept some truths, and deny others, then that is denying God altogether.
What is faith? –Faith is the virtue by which we firmly believe all the truths God has revealed, on the word of God revealing them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
God promised to give man eternal life, and the means to obtain it. In this promise is our hope.
“He that putteth his trust in me shall inherit the land, and shall possess my holy mount” (Is. 57:13).
Hope is necessary for salvation. Our hope must be firmly founded in God, Who Promised to give us the means for salvation.
Such firm hope, however, would not exclude reasonable fear of the loss of our soul. Very often we fall far short of the proper use of the means of salvation granted us.
What is hope? –Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God, Who is all-powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it.
Charity is the queen of virtues. It unites God and man perfectly in love. It also unites man and man, for the love of God.
To love God above all things, we must be willing to renounce all created things rather than offend Him by sin. We should often speak to God in acts of love, opening our hearts to Him.
In heaven faith and hope will cease; for we cannot need faith for what we already know; nor can we desire what we already possess. But for all eternity we shall have charity: we can love God forever.
What is charity? –Charity is the virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves, for the love of God.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!
God gives us always sufficient grace to be saved. A true Christian should view his whole life in the light of grace. All God’s gifts granted for man’s salvation are graces.
A good family, a good education,-these are graces. But even sickness and hardships are God’s graces, and may be the steps by which to ascend to heaven. And God grants graces to protect us against temptation, never suffering us to be tempted beyond our strength. If we do our part, avoid the occasions of sin, and cooperate with His graces, we shall win.
What is actual grace? –Actual grace is a supernatural help of God which enlightens our mind and strengthens our will to do good and to avoid evil.
By actual grace the Holy Ghost shows us the emptiness in themselves of earthly things. He makes us see our own sins, and the true goal of life. By it we can perform a virtuous act or reject a temptation.
Actual grace is transient; that is, it is given to us only when we need it, to perform a good act, or to overcome a temptation.
An example of the wonderful action of the Holy Ghost in enlightening the mind and strengthening the will is the First Pentecost. Before the descent of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles were ignorant and afraid; after His descent, His grace made them wise and fearless men, going forth to preach Christ everywhere, ready to die for their faith.
Grace is given to all men, although not in equal amounts. Some receive more, some less. Some ordinary graces are granted to all men; certain extraordinary graces are granted to chosen ones.
God is free to bestow His gifts as He likes. The Blessed Virgin received more than other mortals. Christians receive more than pagans. Those in the state of grace are likely to receive more than those in the state of mortal sin. In a way, our graces depend also on our dispositions. If we are faithful in corresponding with what we get, we receive more abundantly. Often our carelessness and indifference turn away God’s graces from us. We reject Him who only wishes to make us saints, whose “delight is to be with the children of men” (Prov. 8:31).
Is actual grace necessary for all who have attained the use of reason? –Actual grace is necessary for all who have attained the use of reason, because without it we cannot long resist the power of temptation, nor perform other actions which merit a reward in heaven.
We all need actual grace. Sinners need it to rise from sin. The just need it to persevere in good. Without grace, we fall into sin.
Herod was offered actual grace when he heard of the birth of the Messias from the three wise men; but Herod rejected the grace, and added to his sins.
Actual grace is obtained by good works. It is especially obtained by the use of means offered by the Church, such as hearing Mass, sermons, etc., and receiving the sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist, which contains God, the Source of Grace.
Although we cannot merit grace by our good works, still our good works can beg God for us, to give us grace. Good works are necessary, for God will not save us without our cooperation.
Actual grace is made to act through various means: through sermons, reading of good books, illness and death, advice of superiors and friends, good example, etc.
The first converts at Pentecost were moved by the preaching of the Apostles. St. Ignatius of Loyola was moved by the reading of the lives of the saints; St. Francis of Assisi, during an illness; St. Francis Borgia, upon seeing the corpse of Queen Isabella. Often God sends us sufferings as a means by which the Holy Ghost may speak to us.
What are the principal ways of obtaining grace? –The principal ways of obtaining grace are prayer and the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
The sacraments of Baptism and Penance give grace to those not possessing it; the other sacraments increase grace in those already in the state of grace.
Grace does not force us. It leaves us free to choose between good and evil. The Holy Ghost guides and enlightens, but we can still close our eyes to His grace. If we cooperate, we gain other graces.
As Christ said, “For to him who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance” (Matt. 13:12). He who persists in rejecting the gift of God’s grace and refuses to be converted will die in his sin and will be forever excluded from the sight of God. “From him who does not have, even that which he seems to have shall be taken away. But as for the unprofitable servant, cast him forth into the darkness outside, where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:29-30). Would it not be an insult to a king if he keeps offering gifts to one of his people, and these gifts are despised?
We should be on the lookout for the graces of God, ready to accept them as soon as they are offered. The action of the Holy Ghost on the individual soul is not continuous in particular graces; we must be ready when He comes with special gifts.
Some receive only one summons to the banquet. In the desert, the Israelites who rose late found the manna melted away. There are times of special grace for the Christian, such as Lent, a retreat, etc.
Can we resist the grace of God? –Unfortunately, we can resist the grace of God, for our will is free, and God does not force us to accept His grace.
God grants us the right to a heavenly reward for the most ordinary good actions in the supernatural order, provided we are in the state of grace. God does not ask us to do extraordinary things. If we do the most ordinary tasks of the day, like cooking, studying, doing small chores, carpentry work, sewing, and such, in a spirit of love and obedience to Him, our acts will deserve merit before God’s eyes.
God does not expect all of us to be great scientists saving thousands of lives each day, great discoverers, great lawyers, great statesmen. Does God need our help? All He wants is our love; and this we can give in the most ordinary daily actions. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do, do all to the glory of God.”
By mortal sin one loses the merit he has gained from his good actions. It is necessary that he regain that state of grace before he can regain that merit.
To regain God’s friendship, we must be sorry for our sins, make a good confession, and resolve never to displease Him again. Then He will give us back the gift of His grace and love, and the merit of all our good works.
How can we make our most ordinary actions merit a heavenly reward? –We can make our most ordinary actions merit a heavenly reward by doing them for the love of God, and by keeping ourselves in the state of grace.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!