March 27, 2007


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1805, says:
Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”; all the others are grouped around them.
The word “cardinal” comes from the Latin cardo— “pivot” or “hinge.”

[CCC 1806] PRUDENCE is the virtue that disposes practical reason TO DISCERN OUR TRUE GOOD IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE AND TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MEANS OF ACHIEVING IT; "the prudent man looks where he is going." .... Prudence is "right reason in action".... It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); IT GUIDES THE OTHER VIRTUES by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

[CCC 1807] JUSTICE is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor....

[CCC 1808] FORTITUDE is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause....

[CCC 1809] TEMPERANCE is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion.... In the New Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety"....

As human virtues, the cardinal virtues are:
... rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object. [CCC 1812]


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