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What is meant by a “virtue”?
A virtue is an interior disposition, a positive habit, a passion that has been placed at the service of the good.
“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). That means that we must change on our way to God. By our human abilities we can do that only in fits and starts. With his grace God supports the human virtues and gives us, above and beyond that, the so-called supernatural virtues, which help us to come closer to God and live more securely in his light.
Why do we have to work to form our character?
We must work at forming our character so that we can freely, joyfully, and easily accomplish what is good. A firm faith in God, in the first place, helps
us to do this, but also the practice of the virtues, which means developing within ourselves, with God’s help, firm dispositions, not giving ourselves over to disorderly passions, and directing our faculties of intellect and will more and more consistently toward the good.
The most important virtues are: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance. These are also called the “cardinal virtues” (from Latin cardo = hinge, or from cardinalis = principal).
Dig Deeper: CCC section (1803-1805)