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The Virtues

In addi­tion to the beat­i­tudes of Jesus, there are many fruits of the Holy Spir­it enu­mer­at­ed in the apos­tolic scrip­tures and referred to in the writ­ings of the saints of the Church. These fruits of the Spir­it are often called the Chris­t­ian virtues, which lit­er­al­ly means those pow­ers and pos­ses­sions of the mind and the heart which all men should have if they are tru­ly human, ful­fill­ing them­selves as cre­at­ed in the image and like­ness of God.

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, all of the human virtues are attrib­ut­es of God Him­self. They are the char­ac­ter­is­tics of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God in human flesh. They are the divine prop­er­ties which should be in all human per­sons by the gift of God in cre­ation and sal­va­tion through Christ.

It has been said, and it is true, that the Chris­t­ian virtues are not all par­tic­u­lar­ly “Chris­t­ian” in the sense that only Chris­tians know about them and are com­mit­ted to attain them. Most, if not all, of the Chris­t­ian virtues have been hon­ored, respect­ed and rec­om­mend­ed by all great teach­ers of the spir­i­tu­al life. This in no way detracts from their Chris­t­ian val­ue and truth, for Christ and His apos­tles and saints have not taught and prac­ticed some­thing oth­er than that which all men should teach and prac­tice. As the ful­fill­ment of all pos­i­tive human aspi­ra­tions and desires, it is quite under­stand­able that Jesus Christ, the per­fect “man from heav­en” and “final Adam

(I Corinthi­ans 15:45–47, Romans 5:14), should ful­fill and real­ize in Him­self that which all men of wis­dom and good-will have sought for and desired in their minds and hearts, enlight­ened by God.

For in truth, what­ev­er is found in man to be good and beau­ti­ful and true, is found there because of God and is from God. This is the case, whether it is real­ized or not, “for every good gift and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17), and it is Christ Him­self, the eter­nal Son and Word of God, who is the light and the life of every man who has ever lived and been enlight­ened on this earth. (Cf. John 1: 1–10) Thus the Apos­tle Paul has coun­seled Christ’s faithful:

Final­ly, brethren, what­ev­er is true, what­ev­er is hon­or­able, what­ev­er is just, what­ev­er is pure, what­ev­er is love­ly, what­ev­er is gra­cious, if there is any excel­lence, if there is any­thing wor­thy of praise, think about those things. (Philip­pi­ans 4:8)

As we “think about those things,” we will refer to the teach­ing of the apos­tle him­self, and to all of the apos­tles and teach­ers of the Chris­t­ian faith who have been enlight­ened and inspired by God through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the pow­er of the Holy Spir­it in the life of the Church.