A Brief Catechism on Virtue

Theological -- Cardinal -- Civic

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This discussion of theological, cardinal and civic virtues is adapted from a short catechism on virtue I prepared for religion students I taught at Corpus Christi Parish School in Oklahoma City. The comments on the theological and cardinal virtues are based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The discussion of civic virtues is basically derived from common sense.

A Prayer to God for Virtue. . .A Prayer to Mary for Virtue

The Theological Virtues are Faith, Hope, Love. The Cardinal Virtues are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance. Ten Important Civic Virtues: Self Discipline, Respect, Cooperation, Responsibility, Honesty, Motivation, Friendship, Courage, Non-violence, and Work.

1. What is virtue? A virtue is the habit of doing good.

2. Why do we say virtue is a habit? It is a firm attitude. It is a way of life. It governs our actions. It guides our conduct by thinking and by faith.

3. How does virtue help us? Virtue brings joy. It helps us govern ourselves. It brings comfort and peace.

4. How do I learn virtue? I pray for the virtue. I learn about virtue. I practice virtue. I follow through and I stick with it. I am not a moral quitter.

Theological Virtues

5. What are the theological virtues? The theological virtues are faith, hope, and love. They are the foundation of Christian virtue. They give life, joy, and peace. They are gifts from God. They teach us to live with God.

6. What is Faith? By Faith we believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe all that God has said. We freely commit ourselves to God. The Bible says, "The righteous shall live by faith."

7. What is Hope? Hope is the virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of God and eternal life. We trust in Christ's promises to us. We rely on God, not ourselves. Hope keeps us from discouragement.

8. What is Love? Love is the virtue by which we love God above all things. We love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Cardinal Virtues

9. What are the Cardinal Virtues? The Cardinal Virtues are four virtues that are central to my life as a Christian. They are Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude.

10. What is Prudence? Prudence helps me decide what is good in every circumstance of my life. By prudence, I choose to do good things and I do not do bad things. When I take the time to think of the consequences of my actions, I am prudent. When I don't do some things because of the bad consequences, that is prudence. Prudence is necessary for a happy and successful life. Prudence helps keep the stress out of life.

11. What is Justice? Justice is a consistent decision to do what is right towards God and my neighbor. I respect the rights and duties of others. Justice brings harmony. Without justice, there is no peace. There are no rights without duties attached. If I wish to exercise my rights, in justice I must also exercise my duties.

12. What is Fortitude? Fortitude means that I do what is right, in every circumstance. If others tempt me to do wrong, I do not do it. I stand up for what is good and true. I avoid what is evil. Fortitude conquers fear.

13. What is Temperance? Temperance is the virtue of balance and moderation. It is the mastery of my will over my urges. If I have the desire to do what is wrong, I resist it. I can and do govern myself.

Civic Virtues

14. What are civic virtues? Civic virtues are habits of personal living that are important for the success of the individual, the family, and the community. This catechism discusses ten such virtues.

15. What is Self Discipline? Self Discipline is self government for the sake of improvement. It is me making myself do what is right, even if nobody is looking. I show self discipline when I follow instructions.

16. What is Respect? I show Respect when I give particular attention to someone. I hold them high in my thoughts. I have a good attitude about them. I show Respect when I listen to and obey my teachers and parents.

17. What is Cooperation? Cooperation is voluntarily working together with others for a good common purpose. Cooperation is fundamental to a successful life. People who can cooperate with others get ahead in life.

18. What is Responsibility? Responsibility is doing the things I am supposed to do. I can be counted upon to do what is right, not just talk about it. I tell the truth. I admit my mistakes and try to do better next time. I do not blame others for my own mistakes. This is my life and I am responsible for my life. It's my job to make sure I have a good life. I want to succeed in life so I take responsibility for my life.

19. What is Honesty? I am honest when I tell the truth. I do not steal, cheat, or lie.

20. What is Motivation? I am involved with my own life. I look for interesting things to learn and do. I work diligently at everything that I do. I am always ready to discover and learn something new. All things that are good, all things that are true, all things that are just, all things that are righteous, these are my goals in life. I am a steward of my time.

21. What is Friendship? To have friends, I must be a friend. A friend is sincerely interested in other people. A friend is true and faithful. A friend is helpful and fun. A friend does not lie or gossip. A friend does not put down others. A friend does not help others do wrong. A friend helps us to do the right thing, at all times, in all places, in all situations. A friend does not laugh or make fun of others when they make a mistake. A friend stands by others through good times and bad times. A friend listens when others need to talk about good and bad things in life. A friend is hospitable to newcomers. Jesus is an example of perfect love and perfect friendship. His example helps me to be a friend to others.

22. What is Courage? I have courage when I stand up for the Gospel. Courage is the willingness to do what is right. If people say, "Let's do something wrong", I have Courage and do not follow the crowd. Jesus is my example of courage. I will follow Jesus' example.

23. What is Non-Violence? I do my part to make the world a peaceful place. If I have a problem with someone, I look for peaceful solutions. I know I can always ask for help in resolving a situation non-violently. I know I sometimes must do my part to help others resolve situations non-violently. The only moral and proper use of force is in self-defense, but it is also proper to meet violence with non-violence.

24. What is Work? Work is the opposite of laziness. To succeed in life, I must work for success. To succeed in school, I must work at my studies. Work is the opportunity to fulfill my life. Through Work, I follow the example of God who created the earth, and Jesus the Worker, who labored with his hands. It is my duty to Work to support myself and my family. Good work brings fulfillment and happiness.

25. Why are these virtues important? Life is a challenge. These virtues are skills that I must learn and live every day in order to meet the challenges of life and be successful and happy. Life is better when I live these virtues every day. By living these virtues, I show pride in myself, my family, my school, my church, and my community.

A Prayer to God for Virtues

+Father in Heaven,

I love you with all my heart.

I want to be like Jesus.

Please help me to learn and live the virtues of

Faith, Hope, Love,

Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance,

Self Discipline, Respect, Cooperation, Responsibility,

Honesty, Motivation, Friendship,

Courage, Non-violence, and Work.

May these virtues guide my every action.

I ask these things in the Holy Name of Jesus, Amen.

A Prayer to Mary for Virtues

Mother Mary, first teacher of our Lord,

Help us to learn and live these lessons of virtue.

May Faith, Hope, Love,

Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance,

Self Discipline, Respect, Cooperation, Responsibility,

Honesty, Motivation, Friendship, Courage,

Non-Violence, and Work be living realities in my life.

Grant that I will find in the Grace of your Son

abundant strength for daily living. Amen.

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