We continue the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father. 

We continue reflecting upon the fifth major habit: Major Habit 5 – Strive to Grow in Heroic Virtue.  Last week we studied Habit 17 – Pursue a deliberate plan to grow your most needed Virtues.

We turn our attention to Habit 18.  

Habit 18 – Practice the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity Daily

Practice the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity daily to overcome the Vices of Unbelief, Doubt and Hatred.

What are Virtues and Vices?

Virtues  are good habits (CCC 1803) and Vices are evil habits (CCC 1865). A Catholic man must build the good habits (Virtue, from the Latin, vir, meaning “manliness, moral strength, goodness, valor”) of the moral life and break the bad habits (Vice, from the Latin, vitium, meaning “defect, offense, blemish, imperfection”) which cause him to fall into sin (current unhappiness) and risk losing his salvation (eternal happiness). See here for a more detailed discussion on Virtue and Vice. 

What are Theological Virtues?

The Theological (Latin, theologia, meaning, “the study of God”) Virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1813[CCC 1813]).

The Theological Virtues “relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object…” (CCC 1812) and are strengthened by supernatural graces from God which allow a man to more and more conform his thoughts, words and deeds to Christ.

In summary, the logic of the Theological Virtues ascend in understanding, conversion, and conformance of one’s life to God and His Holy Catholic Church, starting with Faith, growing in Hope and becoming fruitful in Charity (CCC 1813).

What is the Theological Virtue of Faith?

The Theological Virtue of Faith is a gift from God which helps a man to believe in and commit himself to God and His Holy Catholic Church. See here for more on the Theological Virtue of Faith.   

Jesus repeatedly calls men to have faith in Him (Mt 21:21-22, 28:18-20; Mk 1:15; Jn 6:29, 11:25-26, 14:1), applauded the faith of some (Mt 8:10), rebukes those who lack faith (Mt 8:26, 14:31, 17:20; Mk 9:19; Lk 24:25; Jn 10:25-26, 20:29) and rewards those who have faith in Him (Mt 9:28-29; Lk 18:42). 

The gift of the Virtue of Faith is supernaturally strengthened by the Gifts of Understanding and Knowledge from the Holy Spirit which also protect a man against falling way from God. 

The Virtue of Faith is opposed by various sins against Faith including Doubt, Incredulity, Heresy, Apostasy, Schism and Blasphemy. 

How does the Virtue of Faith bless a man?

The Virtue of Faith gives a man many blessings:

  • Puts a man on the path of eternal happiness – Faith draws a man to God, protects him from destruction (Lk 8:12, Jn 8:24), and leads him to the life-saving blessing of becoming an adopted son of God through the Sacrament of Baptism and puts him on the path to Heaven (Lk 19:1-10; Jn 3:16, 6:40); faith leads to the eternal happiness of Heaven.

  • Faith gives a man access to God’s help – Jesus promises He answers the faithful man’s prayers (Mt 6:33, 7:7-8, 21:22; Mk 11:24), gives a man wisdom (Jn 12:46), provides spiritual nourishment (Jn 6:25), helps a man do extraordinary things (Mt 17:20; Mk 9:23, Lk 17:6), heals a man’s illness (Mt 8:5-13; Mk 2:1-12, 5:25-34), and protects a man from earthly suffering (Mt 8:23-27).

  • Helps a man find happiness on earth – Those who truly have faith in Christ are filled with “unutterable and exalted joy” (1 Pet 1:7) and protects a man from anxiety (1 Pet 5:6-7).

How can a man grow in the Virtue of Faith?

Here are some ways a man can grow in the Virtue of Faith: 

  • Ask God to increase your faith and help your unbelief (Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5).

  • Faith is a gift from God that requires a man to accept the gift. By making small acts of Faith throughout the day, a man can be continually strengthened in Faith. Simply acknowledging God many times a day through prayers of gratitude, praise and petition can all help build faith (CCC 2655). 

  • Pray this traditional Act of Faith regularly and pray the Morning Offering of yourself to God daily.

  • Schedule consistent times each day to spend time with God in prayer. 

  • Pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary which provide a powerful basis to grow in faith. 

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the Gifts of Understanding and Knowledge which protect a man against falling way from God.

  • Read scripture, particularly the Gospels, for “faith comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:17; CCC 133). 

  • Read the Catechism to grow in knowledge of the Catholic faith (CCC 153-165).

  • Look for ways to take concrete acts to love, for works of love makes faith alive (Jas 2:17).

  • Spend more time with those who have faith (CCC 166-169) and avoid those who reject God or His Holy Catholic Church (1 Cor 5:11-13; 2 Thes 3:14-15, Titus 3:10-11). 

  • Go to Mass more frequently and be strengthen in the Sacrament of the Eucharist (CCC 1392).

What is the Theological Virtue of Hope?

The Theological Virtue of Hope is a gift from God which helps a man to trust in God’s Divine Dominion and Providence and be confident that a man can receive the true and lasting happiness Jesus promises in this life and the next.  See here for more on the Theological Virtue of Hope.

Jesus repeatedly calls men to place their hope and trust in God (Mt 6:33), to rely on God’s absolute power (Mk 10:27), to trust He will answer men’s prayers (Mk 11:24), to be certain He will help men bear their earthly suffering (Mt 11:28-30) and lead them to the happiness of the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12; CCC 1820), and bring them to the happiness of eternal life (Jn 10:10, 11:25-26). 

The basis of the Virtue of Hope is the reality that God loves and has absolute power over Creation (Dominion: CCC 268-270, 664) and has a perfect plan which is being fulfilled (Providence: (CCC 1, 302-308), even while allowing for evil to exist (CCC 309-314).

The gift of the Virtue of Hope is supernaturally strengthened by the Gifts of the Fear of the Lord and Knowledge which help protect a man from failing to trust and hope in God. 

The Virtue of Hope is opposed by the sins of Despair and Presumption. 

How does the Virtue of Hope bless a man?

The Virtue of Hope gives a man many blessings:

  • Hope helps  a man live in happiness – The Virtue of Hope helps a man trust in Christ’s promises of eternal happiness (CCC 1817) and to experience a life of happiness  on earth (CCC 1818) by avoiding selfishness and living in love (CCC 1818).

  • Sustains a man in the trials of life – The blessings of the Virtue of Hope protect a man from despair, allowing him to rejoice and patiently suffer in the trials of life (Lk 18:1; CCC 1820).  

  • Helps a man trust in God’s care – The Virtue of Hope helps a man to accept Jesus’ promise that God will provide for the needs of those who love Him (Lk 12:22-31). 

  • Gives a man confidence in God’s merciful forgiveness – Despite horrible and many sins, the Virtue of Hope helps a man know if he honestly repents and confesses his sins in the Sacrament of Penance, he will be forgiven by God (CCC 982).

  • Protects a man from despair – Instead of being filled with despair because of the rampant evil in the world, the Virtue of Hope strengthens a man to look forward to Christ’s glorious return (CCC 1130), God’s victory over the evil on earth and the establishment of the Kingdom of God (CCC 1046, 1090, 1107). 

  • Allows a man to trust in his salvation – Through the Virtue of Hope, a man can trust he will be raised from the dead (CCC 992) and be unafraid of death, Satan or Hell (CCC 2854). 

How can a man grow in the Virtue of Hope?

Here are some ways a man can grow in the Virtue of Hope: 

  • Pray for God to help you grow in Hope (Eph 1:18-19).

  • Pray the Our Father which summarizes why men can have hope in God (CCC 1820). 

  • Pray this traditional Act of Hope regularly.

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the Gifts of the Fear of the Lord and Knowledge which help protect a man from failing to trust and hope in God.

  • Meditate upon scripture passages which speak of hope (Rom 5:5, 15:13; Heb 10:23).

  • Pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary which provide a sure basis for hope.

  • Reflect upon God’s absolute power (CCC 268-270) and that He has a plan (CCC 271) to be inspired in hope.

  • Receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist to “possess the hope of resurrection” (CCC 1000, 1274, 1680). 

What is the Theological Virtue of Charity?

The Theological Virtue of Charity is a gift from God which helps a man to sacrifice himself to love God and his neighbor. See here for more on the Theological Virtue of Charity.

Jesus repeatedly calls men to love God with their entire being (Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27), loving God more than anyone (Mt 10:37-39) or anything (Mk 10:17-22), and promises those who love God will be rewarded (Jn 14:21, 14:23). 

The gift of the Virtue of Charity is supernaturally strengthened by the Gift of Wisdom which helps a man remain close to God and fills his mind with the desire and ability to love God and others. 

The Virtue of Charity is opposed by the sins of Indifference, Ingratitude, Lukewarmness, Acedia and Hatred of God. 

How does the Virtue of Charity bless a man?

The Virtue of Charity gives a man many blessings:

  • God reveals Himself to those who love Him – Jesus promises that those who love God will be blessed by God’s presence in their souls (Jn 14:21).

  • A man will experience joy – Jesus promises that those who love God will experience joy and peace (Jn 15:11).

  • God will protect a man who loves Him – Those who love God can rely on God’s protection against troubles in life (Psalm 91:14-16).

  • God will give a man salvation – Those who love God and obey His commandments can be assured of being received into the Kingdom of God (Jas 2:5). 

How can a man grow in the Virtue of Charity?

For this habit, growing in Charity towards God is the focus; Habits 21 and 22 will focus specifically on growing in Charity for other people through the Works of Mercy. Here are some ways a man can grow in the Virtue of Charity towards God: 

  • Pray for God to give you the Virtue of Charity so you can love Him more.

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the Gift of Wisdom which helps a man remain close to God and fills his mind with the desire and ability to love God.

  • Pray this traditional Act of Charity regularly.

  • Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary which help a man grow in gratitude for Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the Cross to save mankind.

  • Meditate upon scripture passages which speak of the love of God (Jn 3:16; 1 Cor 13).

  • Reflect upon the healing miracles of Jesus to grow in gratitude of God’s sacrificial love and how God demonstrates His love for man.

  • Receive the Sacrament of Penance to grow in gratitude for God’s merciful forgiveness.

  • Receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist during the week to receive Christ’s bountiful love in His Body and Blood. 

  • Spend a Holy Hour as an act of loving adoration of God (CCC 1378).

This week’s questions – Here are some questions to meditate upon this week’s habit: 

Which Theological Virtue do I need most right now?

How might I be blessed to grow in that virtue?

This week’s commitments Making a habit a reality requires commitment to concrete action. Here is this week’s challenges:

1) Commit to take concrete actions to grow in your most needed Theological Virtue. 

2) Review the “how to grow” sections above for the Virtue you are going to work on first and choose several actions to do this week.

Don’t forget to pray with the ECM Daily Gospel Devotional each day.

Consider listening to the EveryCatholicMan.com Gospel Devotional Podcast to be better prepared for Sunday Mass.

Daily Prayer – During the week, pray this short prayer, or one like it, to help practice the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity:

Blessed Trinity, bless me with the Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity so I can believe in You and in Your Divine Dominion, so I can trust in Your Divine Providence, and so I can love You and receive the peace and true and lasting happiness You promise. Amen.