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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."

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"God looks neither at long nor beautiful prayers, but at those that come from the heart."
The Cure D'Ars

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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