virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal";
all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice,
and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are
virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and
These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of
disposes the practical reason to
discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right
is the virtue that disposes practical
reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the
means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going."
"Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right
reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It
to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or
is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides
virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately
judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his
accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply
principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about
to achieve and the evil to avoid.
human being must always obey the certain
judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it,
condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in
and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already
This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is
case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and
or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of
sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
is the moral virtue that consists in the
constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice
God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes
one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human
harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common
just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by
habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his
"You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in
righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." "Masters, treat your
slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Ten Commandments state what is required in
the love of God and love of neighbor. The first three concern love of
the other seven love of neighbor. As charity comprises the two
which the Lord related the whole Law and the prophets . . . so the Ten
Commandments were themselves given on two tablets. Three were written
tablet and seven on the other. To transgress one commandment is to
10 commandments are:
Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve"
shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. In it you shall not do any work
your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land
Lord your God gives you.
shall not kill.
shall not commit adultery.
shall not steal
shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor's
is the moral virtue that moderates
the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created
It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within
limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive
appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do
follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires
heart." Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not
follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites." In the New
Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety." We ought
"to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."
fasts or applies physical discipline to
"chastise one's own soul," to "humble oneself in the sight of
his own God," to "turn one's face toward God, "to "dispose
oneself to prayer," to "understand" more intimately the things
which are divine, or to prepare oneself for the encounter with God.
necessity of the mortification of the flesh
also stands clearly revealed if we consider the fragility of our
which, since Adam's sin, flesh and spirit have contrasting desires.
exercise of bodily mortification-far removed from any form of stoicism
imply a condemnation of the flesh which sons of God deign to assume. On
contrary, mortification aims at the "liberation" of man, who often
finds himself, because of concupiscence, almost chained by his own
Through "corporal fasting" man regains strength and the "wound
inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance is cured by the
of a salutary abstinence."
duty of doing penance is motivated above all
by participation in the sufferings of Christ-the necessity of an
which chastises the body and brings it into subjection is affirmed with
insistence by the example of Christ Himself.
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
moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even
death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to
and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. "The Lord is my
strength and my song." "In the world you have tribulation; but be of
good cheer, I have overcome the world."
live well is nothing other than to love God
with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts;
it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through
misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God]
this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be
surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).
virtues acquired by education, by
deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts
purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge
and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is
is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to
maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace
necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should
ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments,
with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and
is from Catechism