Theological Virtues

St. Paul said: “Now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor 13:13). Father Geiermann writes: “By uniting us directly to God each of the theological virtues exercises a fourfold influence in the spiritual life. Faith nourishes the mind, produces rectitude of life, prompts us in the service of God, and rewards us with eternal life. Hope imparts serenity of mind and gladness of heart, lightens our labors, and puts off old age. Charity prompts us to reverence God, to love our neighbor, to correct the erring, and to relieve the needy and the poor.”

Faith is defined as the virtue whereby we accept all that God has revealed and the Catholic Church teaches. . . . Our faith should be founded on the bedrock of humility, firmly grasped by the mind, cherished by the heart, and resolutely practised by the will.”

Hope is the virtue by which we trust to receive life everlasting and the means necessary to attain it. ‘Hope,’ says St. Lawrence Justinian, ‘is the column which sustains our spiritual edifice.’ Our hope at attaining eternal happiness rests primarily on the mercy, power and promises of God and the merits of our Saviour, secondarily on the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin and of the angels and saints.”

Charity is the virtue by which we love God above all, and ourselves and our neighbor for the love of Him. It animates all the moral virtues and gives value to their actions. Hence St. Dionysius calls it the bond of perfection.”

Father Geiermann suggests some ways to manifest this charity: by delighting in the infinite goodness of God, by desiring that He be glorified by all mankind, by giving glory to God through our works, by striving to make God known and loved, by grieving over our sins and the sins of the world, by desiring perfection, by desiring heaven, by loving our neighbor in word and deed, by speaking of God with affection, by conversing with Him in prayer, by seeking to please Him, by enduring adversity for His sake, and by praying daily for an increase of charity.

He then mentions four effects of charity: “(1) it justifies us in the sight of God; (2) it establishes a bond of friendship between us and God; (3) it makes all our acts of Christian virtue meritorious for heaven; (4) it renders the yoke of the Lord sweet and His burden light.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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