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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."

"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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