Cardinal Virtues. Cardinals in the Church.
I had learned that the Cardinal Virtues were considered “hinges.” So I consulted a dictionary. I was curious as to how that term was extended to the Cardinals who serve the Pope. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me until I read along in the dictionary. If this is new to you, just follow along with me.
Cardinal means hinge, or a pivot: Something that is pivotal. Think of a kitchen cupboard door or of a regular door or of a window shutter. Most are connected to their frames with a hinge to allow them to open and close. They wouldn’t function without the hinge. They pivot or swing open around the hinge. The hinge is, therefore, very important. And why are the Cardinals of the church given their title of Cardinal? Well, it’s because they are so important to the church; much that happens with the Church (such as the election of a new Pope) depends upon or “hinges upon” them.
Back to Cardinal Virtues: there are four of them. These are: Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance. Under these four virtues or categories are organized all of the Human Virtues (also called Moral Virtues). We acquire the human/moral virtues by our own efforts (as opposed to the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity which are infused in us by God and increased by God). So, to acquire or increase in human virtue, we can just decide to become (or become more) friendly or organized or polite or courageous or productive, and plan out a way to achieve our goal, and get working on it.
Let’s look at these four. Fortitude is the tendency to remain firm, constant and strong in the pursuance of what is good, without being taken off-track by temptations. It allows one to conquer fear and to face challenging trials. Just think of the fortitude Abraham and Moses had!
Justice is a very interesting virtue. The idea of “persons receiving their due rewards for what they have done” is commonly understood. Justice also requires “giving God what is owed to HIM.” Might we consider this when regarding tithing or planning our Sundays or setting time aside for prayer?
Prudence is that which helps us discern what is truly good at every moment and employ the “right means” for achieving it. And Temperance is what helps us to use restraint from the temptations of inappropriate or unbalanced pleasures and of the over use of or attraction to created objects. These four are well explained in the Catechism.
The Lenten season is a perfect time for great advancement in virtue. With which of the four Cardinal Virtues do YOU NEED the most growth? Go for what is most crucial, not easy! Let’s devote extra time in prayer before the Blessed Tabernacle or in Adoration in the next few days. Pray fervently to the Holy Spirit to help us change. Continue praying. He WILL listen!
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