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(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

We now consider fortitude, which the Catechism defines as “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good”. With the help of this virtue, we are strengthened in our daily efforts, sustained by grace, to resist temptation and to overcome all obstacles to living fully our new life in Christ.

TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our continuing catechesis on the virtues, we now turn to justice, which the Catechism describes as “the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor” (No. 1807). Justice is not only a virtue to be practiced by individuals; it is above all a social virtue, for it is directed to the creation of communities in which each person is treated in accordance with his or her innate dignity. Justice is thus the basis of peace.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023. TODAY’S REFLECTION IS FROM WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK.)

In our continuing catechesis on the virtues, we now turn to patience, which has its supreme model in the example of Jesus during his Passion. The patience of Jesus did not consist in a stoic endurance of suffering, but was the fruit of his love. Saint Paul also associates patience with the love of God, who is “slow to anger” and quick to repay evil with good. Indeed, Christian patience and forbearance is the most convincing witness to Christ’s love…

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our continuing catechesis on the virtues, we now consider prudence, one of the four “cardinal” virtues that, together with the “theological” virtues of faith, hope and charity, are the pillars of integrated Christian living. Prudence is the ability to combine intelligence and creativity, simplicity and shrewdness, understanding the complexity of situations and evaluating possible solutions, applying wisdom gleaned from past experiences while anticipating future needs. In this sense, Saint Thomas Aquinas calls prudence “right reason in action”.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now consider the nature of virtue, which the Catechism defines as “a habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (No. 1803).

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to pride, the first of the capital sins and, for the ancient writers, “the queen of all vices”. Indeed, the sin of pride hides an even greater sin: the absurd pretension to be like God.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

We now turn to envy and vainglory. Envy, already present in the story of Cain and Abel, is a destructive force fuelled by resentment towards others, and can lead to deadly hatred. We would like to impose our own selfish logic on God; instead, the logic of God is love. The good things he gives us are meant to be shared. This is why Saint Paul exhorts Christians, “Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Rm 12:10). Here is the remedy for envy!

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our reflections on the vices and virtues, we now consider acedia or sloth, which, although associated in English with laziness, is above all a deep spiritual apathy, manifested by discontent and aversion to attentive prayer and growth in our relationship with God. In reality, laziness is more an effect than a cause. When people are idle, indolent, apathetic, we say they are lazy. But as the wisdom of the ancient Desert Fathers teaches us, the root of this laziness is often acedia, which literally means “lack of care”, in Greek.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now center our attention on spiritual sadness. Saint Paul speaks of a “godly grief” and a “worldly grief” (2 Cor 7:10). The former prompts conversion, enabling us to cling to hope and, therefore, leads to joy. The latter stems from dashed hopes and disappointments, eroding the soul with discouragement and sadness.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and vices, we now consider “wrath”, the uncontrolled anger that may well begin with brooding over offenses received, but ends up being self-destructive and damaging to our relationships with others, leading ultimately to violence and even war.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to greed, as an undue attachment to wealth, which hinders us from being generous with regard to others. Greed is not simply a selfish hoarding of money or material objects, but a distorted relationship with reality and even a form of enslavement.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to lust, which is opposed to the beauty of that love which the Creator has implanted in our hearts and called us to cultivate in our relations with others, especially by the responsible use of our sexuality.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

In our continuing catechesis on the vices and the virtues, we now consider the sin of gluttony. As a guest at the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus taught the goodness of food and drink, and the joy of table fellowship. Rejecting the ritual distinction between pure and impure foods, the Lord turns our attention to our personal relationship with the consumption of food, … an interior one: thus one that is not about food per se but about our relationship with it.

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

The spiritual life of the Christian is not peaceful, linear and without challenges; on the contrary, Christian life demands constant struggle: the Christian struggle to preserve the faith, to enrich the gifts of faith in us. It is no coincidence that the first anointing that every Christian receives in the sacrament of Baptism — the catechumenal anointing — is without any aroma and symbolically announces that life is a struggle… a succession of trials and temptations.

It makes sense that the sacraments of Christian initiation take place at the Easter Vigil. The sign of the water —the immersion, the bath— is a sacramental expression of how a person is incorporated to Christ in His passing from death to life.

For the past few years we have lived with a strange weather situation: great drought and major flooding. Water, so necessary for life, is scarce. Yet, when water overflows, it can carry destruction.