Notes for a talk given on March 16, 2014, by
Mr. Lou Pizzuti, OP. Chapter President
course, as Christians, our starting point must be faith in Christ, and
as Catholics, we are to follow the precepts of the Church
What are the precepts?
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
- You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church
the precepts are, in a sense, an outward conformity. Don't get me
wrong, they're good, and they plant the seeds for spiritual growth.
But, they're just a starting place.
How do we grow?
Might I suggest a framework for living?
Live a life in which your actions are informed by the 3 Theological
Virtues and the 4 Cardinal Virtues, avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins
B. Aim to live the Beatitudes
C. Let the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy and the 7 Spiritual Acts of Mercy be your playbook.
If you do that, looking to Christ our God for the strength to do it, you will grow.
true Christian life, therefore, must begin with a deep yearning to
become a new man in Christ, and an inner readiness to 'put off the old
man' — a readiness to become something fundamentally different" -
Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ, chapter 1. (cf. Eph
3 Theological Virtues
4 Cardinal Virtues
- Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God
and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy
Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith
"man freely commits his entire self to God." For this reason the
believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live
by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity." CCC 1814
- Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the
kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust
in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on
the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the
confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is
faithful." "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly
through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by
his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life." CCC 1817
- Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God
above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the
love of God. CCC 1822
The Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit
- 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." "Keep sane and sober for your
prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas
Aquinas, following Aristotle. 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 1806
- 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.
"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." CCC 1807
- 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. "The Lord is my strength and my song." "In the world you
have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." CCC
- 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: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking
according to the desires of your 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." CCC 1809
moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the
promptings of the Holy Spirit. CCC 1830
The seven gifts
the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude,
knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to
Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those
who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying
divine inspirations. CCC 1831
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children,
then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.
the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the
first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve
of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity,
gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity." CCC 1832
on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another
and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as
the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put
on love, that is, the bond of perfection (Col 3:12-14)
7 Deadly Sins
(all of our sins are, ultimately, derived from these)
7 Corporal works of mercy
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
7 Spiritual works of mercy
- To feed the hungry.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked.
- To harbor the harborless. (also loosely interpreted today as To Shelter the Homeless)
- To visit the sick.
- To visit the imprisoned (classical term is "To ransom the captive")
- To bury the dead.
- To instruct the ignorant.
- To counsel the doubtful.
- To admonish sinners
- To bear wrongs patiently.
- To forgive offences willingly.
- To comfort the afflicted.
- To pray for the living and the dead.