Choose a topic from Part 2B:

81. The Virtue of Religion

1. Cicero thinks that the word religion derives from the Latinverb relegere, "to read over again," and that itsuggests the propriety of reading and pondering, again and again,on what belongs to divine worship. St. Augustine thinks that theword religion comes from religare, "to bind, or tieup," and indicates the bond or tie between man and God.Whatever may be true of the origin of the word, religion means anordering, a standing, a relationship between man and God.

2. Religion in a person is a virtue, that is, it is anenduring quality, a habit, which disposes him who has it to pay,steadfastly and well, the debt of honor and worship that he owes toGod.

3. Religion is one virtue. For, though it has many andvarious acts, God is the object of them all.

4. Religion is a special virtue, distinct from othervirtues, and it disposes man to give to God the special honor thatis his due. Therefore, though religion serves the ends of justice,and is one of its potential parts, it has its own definite fieldwherein to exercise and apply justice. Thus it is not identicalwith justice as such. Nor is it identical with any othervirtue.

5. Religion is not a theological virtue, infused likefaith, hope, and charity. It is a moral virtue. The theologicalvirtues have God himself as their object, whereas religion has asits object the honor, reverence, and worship due to God.

6. Religion is the chief of the moral virtues because itsacts are directed immediately to God's honor andglory, while the other moral virtues direct their acts to Godthrough the medium of religion. Therefore, religion isnobler and more excellent than the other moral virtues.

7. Religion is expressed essentially by internal acts ofthe soul; secondarily, it is expressed by suitable external acts.Man is body-and-soul, and, during earthly life, the soul has anextrinsic dependence on the body, so that, for instance, theintellect cannot grasp reality without the cooperation of bodilysenses. It is inevitable, therefore, that religion which honors Godand thereby perfects the faculties of the human mind and will,should also, in some sense, perfect the bodily faculties as well.Hence, these bodily faculties have some expression of religion tomake; that is to say, religion will have expression, though in asecondary way, in external and bodily acts, in sensible signs,actions, and ceremonies.

8. Sanctity, which fundamentally means purity andsacredness under the law, is holiness. Now, holiness and religioncome to the same thing. For it is by holiness that the human mindand will apply themselves to the service of God, and this isreligion. Therefore, sanctity in a man and religion in a man arenot really distinct; they are distinct by a logicaldistinction, not by a real distinction; that is to say,they are two distinct aspects of the same thing.

"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."
St Philip Neri

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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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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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