dispositions to perform good acts. Virtues orienting us to human
perfection are acquired by repeated acts, and are called human or
“natural” virtues. They are distinct from theological virtues, which
orient us beyond human perfection to God himself and are infused by God.
human persons, God wills for them a perfection or goodness appropriate to
their nature. So, God wills that human beings be healthy, intelligent,
morally good, perfected by community, and so on. We are called to
cooperate with God’s plan, and so part of our vocation is to work
energetically for human goods, that is, the perfection of human life and
community (cf. Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in
the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 34).
But God has
also freely chosen to share with us more than a human perfection. He has
freely chosen to invite us to share his own interior divine life. When we
were conceived by our human parents, we became children of human beings
and received a human nature; when we were baptized, we became children of
God and received sanctifying grace, which is a participation in the divine
nature. Thus God has called us not only to human perfection but, what is
clearly beyond our ability to comprehend, also to a share in his own
interior divine life.
there are two different kinds of virtues: human or natural virtues and
theological virtues. Our share in divine life, also called grace, does not
negate human nature; so, specifically human perfections are not
superfluous in God’s kingdom. Dispositions to human actions that perfect
us as human are human virtues; dispositions to communion with God in his
own life are the theological virtues. Human virtues include prudence,
justice, temperance, fortitude, and others. Prudence, justice, fortitude,
and temperance traditionally are called “cardinal” (or “moral”)
virtues; they are particularly important, since they are sources of other
virtues and the foundations of morally good acts. The theological virtues
are faith, hope, and charity.
Cardinal Virtues; Grace; Kingdom of God; Theological Virtues.
Shaw. Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine. Copyright ©
1997, Our Sunday Visitor.
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