The Third Day of Christmas!

1 Corinthians 13:13

So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

There are, in Christian tradition, seven virtues.  Four of them are "natural" or "cardinal" virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.  They are the virtues that don't require any supernatural insight to see.  Thus, great pagans such as Socrates or Alexander have known and tried to follow these virtues.  They are like the foundation on a house.  But merely natural virtue is not enough, since we are intended by God not merely to be good, but to share in His supernatural life by the Holy Spirit.  To share in that life is to exhibit not merely the goodness of man, but the goodness of God.  And so God reveal the last three "theological" or "supernatural" virtues: faith, hope and love.  Faith roots us in the God Who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.  It reminds us of Who Jesus is and what He has done and is doing in us by the power of the Spirit.  Hope grows from this faith, and looks not so much to the future as to eternity.  Hope keeps before our eyes the fact that God's plan for us is for good, not evil, and that, whatever evils befall us are ordered to that ultimate blessedness.  And hope does not disappoint us, for the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Such love is given, not merely to friends, but even to enemies.  It is the most unstoppable power in the world.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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