Cardinal Virtues: Primary Moral Virtues

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Theological VirtuesFaith, Hope and Charity  — are gifts of God received on Baptism for natural morality, and share of divine nature.

Cardinal Virtues — prudence, justice fortitude and temperance — group all other moral virtues, and  represent the foundation of natural morality under the impetus of reasoning prompted by the theological virtues.

Aristotle defined prudence as the “right reason applied to practice.”  The virtue to judge  right and wrong in a given situation resides in the practical intellect, and is improved  by  experience in natural morality.  God infuses prudence through theological virtues.

Justice is the will to honor people rights.

Fortitude, reasoned and reasonable, is the courage to overcome fear of obstacles, and the strength to implement the determinations of prudence and justice.

Temperance moderates our desires for legitimate goods, like food and drink. Fortitude controls unreasonable fear, while temperance controls unreasonable desires.

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