Choose a topic from Part 2A:

66. Equality Among Virtues

1. A virtue in itself is not capable of being greateror lesser. But in its subject (that is, in the person whohas it) a virtue can be greater or lesser at different times; itcan be greater or lesser in different persons at the same time.

2. And virtues, by comparison with one another,can be greater or lesser. St. Paul says that charity is greaterthan faith or hope. But different virtues in the one subject arenot properly to be compared and called greater or lesser. Thefingers of a perfectly formed hand are of different sizes, yet theyare proportionally equal inasmuch as each finger is fitted to itsown proper use. So it is with virtues in a person.

3. Considered in themselves, the intellectual virtues aremore excellent than the moral virtues, for they pertain to theintellective part of man, while the moral virtues regulate thepassions which are essentially of the sensitive part. Butconsidered in the service which they render to man, the moralvirtues are more excellent than the intellectual virtues; they domore to get a man on towards his last end.

4. The chief moral virtue is justice. Justice regulatesoperation, so that everyone shall have what is exactly right anddue. Thus justice is most closely allied with reason itself, whichis the mean or measure of all the moral virtues. Other moralvirtues are subordinate to justice. In the descending order ofexcellence, we have justice, fortitude, temperance; and all ofthese are suffused with prudence.

5. Among the intellectual virtues, wisdom is the greatest.Wisdom exercises judgment over the other intellectual virtues,directs them, and, as a master architect, builds with them.

6. We have the testimony of Sacred Scripture (I Cor.13:13) that charity is the greatest of the theological virtues. Ofcourse, all the theological virtues have God as their object, andon this score there is no greater or lesser among them. But charityis closer to that common object than are faith and hope. Faithpertains to what is not yet seen; hope, to what is not yetpossessed; charity, albeit imperfectly, possesses its object in thepresent clasp of love.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

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"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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