OC 089 Three Theological Virtues

When we think of the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity (Love), we have many conceptions of what they mean and how they interact in our lives, and what is required for living these virtues. If we ask ten people, we will likely get at least nine different answers, not all of them consistent. We need to understand what each is, on what each depends, and how we gain the benefits of these virtues.

The supernatural virtues are those which unite us with God. The effect of these graces is to raise us to a supernatural mode of being through which we can become children of God. The key for us is understanding what these virtues are and how we gain their benefit. Remember, these virtues come to us from God; last week we learned that the cardinal virtues are of natural origin.

Faith is a gift from God. It must grow because God is Life, God is Act, God is never static. His gifts never result in inaction and static response. Faith grows by investing it. We invest faith by sharing it with others and by our constant trust in God operating in our lives. We notice that in several places St Paul speaks of this participating in and with Christ. He speaks of being baptized in Christ, and we suffer, and are crucified, and are made alive with Him.

St. Paul tells us that “Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that not seen.”

St. Paul is here drawing a relationship between the theological virtue of Faith and that of Hope. Through Faith, we believe in the testimony of God, and have absolute trust and confidence in what God has revealed. We have Faith in the goodness of God since He has revealed this about Himself. The virtue of Hope, like Faith, is based on that knowledge of the goodness and omnipotence of God. Like Faith, there are some common street definitions of Hope, and there is the concept as it pertains to our relationship with God.

Our Hope is the attainment of the ultimate good, God Himself, and the means He gives us to restore us to that state of grace necessary; the sacrament of Reconciliation. All it takes is enough desire on our part to want to return to Him, and we as His prodigal children are able to Hope in the grace we need to return to Him. We have to be humble enough to accept His help. This brings us to the virtue of Charity (Love). We know that when we have achieved our goal of being united in Heaven with God, Faith and Hope go away, but the virtue of love remains, for Good is Love. Possession of God is possession of Love.

The term, charity, generally means some form of humanitarian gesture or alms-giving. Boylan defines Charity as “that virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and by which we love our neighbor for God. It is the essential virtue of a living member of the Mystical Body of Christ.” Remember how St. Paul says that no matter what else we do, or how good our works may be, if we do not have Love we have nothing.

This is the secret of the gospel parable about the wedding guest who did not come properly dressed and was treated harshly by the host. In Christ’s time, the bridegroom provided the garment for the guests. It was the gift of the bridegroom, and became the guest’s garment, and the guest honored the host by wearing it and in a sense offering it back to him that way. To not wear the garment was an insult to the bridegroom, and so the bridegroom acted accordingly. Christ is telling us how God gives us Love so we can put it on and by making it our own so honor Him properly. We pray for the grace to accept His Love in humility and honor Him properly with our Love.

Love is so important that without it we are nothing.Whatever we do for God, for others, and for ourselves must be done out of love for God or it has no merit. Anything done that is not motivated by love of God is, pure and simple, wasted effort.

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