The Theological Virtue of Faith – Part 4 of 4

Father Pegues concludes his discussion of the virtue of faith by emphasizing the importance of the gift of wisdom and the danger of the sin of folly, which is opposed to wisdom.

He states that, of all virtues and gifts that perfect the mind in its knowledge of the truth, the virtue of faith is the most important, for “it is the virtue of faith upon which all the others depend; indeed, it is the role of the other virtues and gifts to assist in the knowledge of this truth. After the virtue of faith the most perfect is the gift of wisdom.” A person who receives the gift of wisdom, being under the direct action of the Holy Spirit, “judges of all things by reference to the highest and most sublime of all causes, which is the wisdom itself of God in so far as it is made manifest to us by faith.” By the gift of wisdom “one attains to the highest degree of knowledge to be had on earth.”

Folly is the sin opposed to wisdom. Folly “is that lack of wisdom which consists in judging finally of a thing without taking into account, or perhaps even by contemning, the sovereign counsels of God. . . . Practically speaking, it is the sin of all those who lead a life apart from or in defiance of the things of God.”

There is “an insuperable opposition between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, for each regards the other as folly.” The opposition consists in this: “The world esteems those wise who arrange their life in such a way as to lack none of the things of this world, and such people seek their last end in the good things of this life in contempt of the Good of God which is promised us in another life; whereas the wisdom of the children of God consists in subordinating all the things of the present life to the possession of God in heaven. . . . The last end of each is absolutely different; and it is the last end which rules all in a life.”

“It is then only by practising the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity and cultivating the corresponding gifts that man can tend towards his true final end, and is able as it behooves to view that last end in all the acts of his life.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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