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55. The Virtues

1. Virtue is a word formed from the Latin virtus which means power or strength or valor or manliness. In man, a virtue is a habit that accords with human nature, lending power, smoothness, promptitude to the operation of that nature. Virtue is a good habit either in the intellectual or the moral order; hence we distinguish intellectual virtues and moral virtues.

2. Virtue is an operative habit; it has to do with doing, not being. Hence we do not call physical habits such as health or leanness by the name of virtue, for these are habits of being (entitative habits) rather than habits of doing (operative habits).

3. Virtue is a good habit. Aristotle says (Ethic.ii), "Virtue makes its subject good, and makes the subject's work good." For virtue implies perfection of power.

4. Virtue may be called "a good habit of reason by which we live rightly, and which cannot be put to bad use." When we speak of "divinely infused supernatural virtue," we add to this description of virtue the words, "which God puts into us without our contributing anything to the gift."

"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."
Thomas á Kempis

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."
St Philip Neri

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