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 19 – Systematically study and practice the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance

Systematically study and practice the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance and their many sub-virtues to break the Vices of Imprudence, Injustice, the lack of Fortitude and Intemperance..

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 Cardinal Virtues?

The Cardinal (Latin, cardinalis, meaning “principle, chief, essential”) Virtues are the four major human virtues under which all other sub-virtues can be organized: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.

What is the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence?

The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence helps a man make and carry out decisions which lead to the true good. See here for more on the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence.

In opposition to the Virtue of Prudence is the Vice of Imprudence by which a man uses his reason to pursue worldly goals which are sinful and/or do not yield to God in their calculation.

The Virtue of Prudence is supernaturally strengthened by the Gift of Counsel from the Holy Spirit.

What are the parts of the Virtue of Prudence?

The Virtue of Prudence which is the virtue of making good decisions proceeds in three logical steps of the thinking process, each of which has several parts:

Step 1 in Decision-making: Survey Survey (sometimes called, “Counsel”) is the first step in which various sources of input/information required to make a decision are gathered. Surveying has several parts:

  • Drawing Lessons from ExperienceDrawing Lessons from Experience is the good habit of a man to think deeply and reflect upon his experience of relevant situations from the past which are stored in his memory. The opposing vice is to be Hasty/Negligent, a bad habit by which a man jumps to conclusions without diligently considering what his experience from the past might have told him. See more here.

  • DocilityDocility (meaning, “teachable”) is the good habit of a man which opens him up and makes him receptive to the wisdom of others so he can make better decisions. The vice opposing Docility is Closed Mindedness, a habit of discounting or ignoring the advice of the wise. See more here.

  • Comprehension/UnderstandingComprehension/Understanding is the good habit built up over time which helps a man step back and see the guiding principles which he can use to make better decisions.  The vice opposing Comprehension/Understanding can be described as Ignorance, a consistent unwillingness to apply one’s intellect and reason to gain wisdom and see the broader picture in particular circumstances and to apply broader principles to his decision making. See more here.

Step 2 in Decision-making: JudgeJudge is the second step during which the input/information collected in the Survey is analyzed and a man decides how to proceed. Judging has several parts:

  • Shrewdness – Shrewdness is the good habit which is built over time which allows a man to quickly and easily make good and rapid decisions about the choices he needs to make. The vice opposing the growth of Shrewdness is to be Slow-witted, an unwillingness or intellectual laziness over time to be disciplined in making decisions in a thoughtful way which renders one unable to quickly make decisions when needed. See more here.

  • Disciplined use of ReasonDisciplined use of Reason is the good habit of having the diligence to take the time to look at all the facts/information available, analyze the data and reach logical and practical conclusions about the best course of action to take. The vice opposing the Disciplined use of Reason is to be Irrational, a bad habit by which a man fails to use reason and is impulsive, is flawed and illogical in his conclusions, or over-relies on his emotions/passions to guide his decision-making. See more here.

Step 3 in Decision-making: CommandCommand is the third step in decision-making in which a decision is carried out and adjusted as necessary in the world.

  • ForesightForesight is the good habit of looking ahead and anticipating the various scenarios and consequences which are likely to occur after a man takes action on a decision. The vice opposing Foresight is to be Short-sighted, the bad habit of a man who is unwilling due to ignorance or laziness to attempt to look ahead and anticipate predictable reactions to his decisions. See more here.

  • CircumspectionCircumspection is the good habit of staying tuned in and monitoring how a decision a man has made is playing out so he is informed and ready to adjust his plans as needed to achieve a goal. The vice opposing Circumspection is to Lack Followthrough, the unwillingness to remain vigilant and engaged in how a man’s decisions are playing out in the world. See more here.

  • CautiousnessCautiousness is the good habit by which a man takes decisive action to avoid obstacles and dangers which arise as a man’s decisions play out in the world. The vices opposing Cautiousness include the bad habit of Rashness by which a man “throws caution to the wind” and takes unnecessary or unknown risks in the face of danger, and Indecisiveness, by which a man becomes paralyzed and fails to take appropriate action because he is unable to assess the dangers and risks he might face. See more here.

What is the Cardinal Virtue of Justice?

The Cardinal Virtue of Justice is the good habit of giving God and each person what is rightly due and is opposed by the Vice of Injustice.  See here for more on the Cardinal Virtue of Justice.

In opposition to Justice is the vice of Injustice, which opposes giving God His due as the Creator of man and fails to give one’s neighbor his due, what is rightly owed to him.

Human Justice can be supernaturally infused by the Holy Spirit through the Gifts of the Fear of the Lord and Piety.

What are the parts of the Virtue of Justice?

The Virtue of Justice has a number of sub-virtues, each of which opposes the vices of Injustice:

Virtue of ReligionReligion is the good habit of a man to continually praise and worship God, recognizing he can never repay God for all God has done for a man. The habitual acts of the Virtue of Religion are carried out consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church through Prayer, Devotion, and Sacrifice. The opposing vices of Religion include the Vices of False Worship (practicing false religions, superstition, idolatry, simony, witchcraft, devil worship) and Irreligion (rejection of God and the duty to praise, worship and honor Him). See more here.

The Virtue of Obedience/PietyObedience/Piety is the good habit of a man who consistently renders people and institutions superior to him their rightful due, including honoring and acts of charity to one’s parents, being loyal to one’s friends and mentors, willingly abiding by the just and moral laws and institutions of one’s country and having a loyalty to one’s country (patriotism). The opposing vices of Obedience/Piety include the Vices of Dishonoring Parents, Disloyalty to one’s friends, mentors and country, and Disobedience to rightful authority and just laws. See more here.

The Virtue of Observance/CourtesyObservance/Courtesy is the good habit of a man who recognizes the inherent dignity of every soul and treats others with respect by being cordial, polite, chivalrous, and practicing good manners which seeks not to offend the rightful peace of others. The opposing vice of Observance/Courtesy is the bad habit of Rudeness which disregards and disrespects others acts by callous words and behaviors which purposefully or ignorantly rejects the accepted customs of manners and behaviors of society. See more here.

The Virtue of GratitudeGratitude is the good habit of a man which cultivates a continual recognition of the blessings from God and others and responds with words and acts of thanks to express his appreciation of another’s kindness. The opposing vices of Gratitude include the Vice of Ingratitude in which a man cultivates a self-centered lack of recognition of the blessings from God and others, a sense of entitlement and often a malformed attitude of being a false victim or misplaced beliefs of persecution. See more here.

The Virtue of VindicationVindication is the good habit of a man who seeks to uphold Justice by recognizing just and unjust acts, defending and encouraging the innocent and those who do good against unjust attack and charitably confronting those who do evil, supporting the rule of law/justice by holding evil-doers to account and ensuring just punishment (Vengeance) when necessary and defending the innocent and weak. The opposing vices of Vindication include the Vice of False Mercy which excuses evil and fails to promote Justice, and the Vice of Cruelty/Brutality by which punishment exceeds the crime in amount or type, often with a sadistic and perverse pleasure at the suffering of others or self-righteousness. See more here.

The Virtue of Truthfulness/HonestyTruthfulness/Honesty is the good habit of a man who grasps the reality of God and His Truth as preserved in its fullness in the Catholic Church and strives to always form and conform his thoughts, words and deeds to the reality of God’s Truth by always telling the truth, particularly in confronting confusion and lies in the world so as to proclaim Christ. The opposing Vice of Dishonesty is the bad habit of a man who seeks to gain advantage or avoid personal discomfort or persecution by willingly lying, cheating or withholding the truth to deceive another and lead them into error, or to deprive them of their rightful reputation or possessions. See more here.

The Virtue of Fraternity/AffabilityFraternity/Affability is the good habit of a man who cheerfully seeks to build true friendship and brotherhood with others which helps support a healthy and happy social order, deters conflict and is often the first step in evangelization.  The opposing vices of Fraternity/Affability include the Vice of Indifference by which a selfish man coldly disregards others and the Vice of Meanness in which a man derives pleasure or perverse joy by causing discomfort or suffering to others. See more here.

The Virtue of Generosity/LiberalityGenerosity/Liberality is the good habit of a man by which a man uses the treasures God has given him to justly give to those who are truly in need in the right proportion, not counting the cost, and being willing to err by giving to the unworthy so as to never miss a chance to give to those truly in need.  The opposing vice of Generosity is the Vice of Greed/Avarice/Covetousness through which the unjust man hordes the treasures God has given him for his own selfish pleasure and allows the needy to suffer.  See more here.

The Virtue of KindnessKindness is the good habit of a man who has concern for the well-being of others, takes concrete action to relieve the suffering of others, and finds joy in another’s success when consistent with Justice. The opposing vices of Kindness include the Vice of Envy through which a man has sorrow or anger over the good fortune, reputation, the virtues, or the possessions of another. See more here.

The Virtue of Responsibility/DutyResponsibility/Duty  is the good habit of a man by which he strives to justly to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of his core identity and vocation as a Catholic Son/Father and his occupation/work in society and accepting the just consequences for his actions or failure to act.  The opposing vice of Responsibility/Duty is the Vice of Unreliability, the habit of a man who does not live up to his commitments and responsibilities, unjustly depriving others what he owes to him by his vocation and being unwilling to make reparations when he fails another. See more here.

The Virtue of Defense/ProtectionDefense/Protection is the good habit of a man who responds to unjust attacks upon himself, his family and friends, his country or when he witnesses aggression against the weak by anticipating and preparing himself to be effective when various foreseeable attacks occur. The opposing vices of Defense/Protection include the Vice of Unjust Aggression by which a man attacks others unjustly out of malice or desire to possess another’s goods (Verbal or Physical Assault, Murder) and the Vice of Unjust Pacifism by which a man holds to a false pacifism, is cowardly, indifferent or apathetic, causing him to fail to justly protect those in his care or the weak when they are unjustly attacked.  See more here.

What is the Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude?

The Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude helps a man take on and achieve great accomplishments and is opposed by a number of vices which weaken and deter a man.  See here for more on the Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude.

In opposition to the virtue of Fortitude are a number of vices which defy a single word description and will be described in more detail below.

The Virtue of Fortitude is supernaturally strengthened by the Gift of Fortitude from the Holy Spirit.

What are the parts of the Virtue of Fortitude?

The Virtue of Fortitude has a number of sub-virtues, each of which are opposed by vices which oppose Fortitude:

The Virtue of MagnanimityMagnanimity is the good habit of a man who imagines, is inspired, and motivated to pursue great things which are extraordinary in their ability to serve God and others and are difficult to achieve, greatness which appears to be large on human scale (building a great charity or cathedral) or can appear to be relatively minor but have great impact (heroically passing on the faith to children). The vices opposing  Magnanimity include the Vice of Presumption by which a man foolishly aspires to wild dreams beyond his capacity, the Vice of Sinful Ambition by which a man seeks to do great things for selfish riches and honors, and the Vice of Vainglory through which a man desires praise for unworthy things and/or by unworthy people.  See more here.

The Virtue of MagnificenceMagnificence is the good habit of a man who, after aspiring to Magnanimity, puts forth the extraordinary effort to bring his noble aspirations into concrete reality, investing his time, talent, and money with selfless generosity for a noble cause. Opposing Magnificence is the Vice of Littleness by which a weak man is satisfied by achieving little or nothing when great accomplishments lie within his power, the Vice of Miserliness through which a man refuses to invest in great causes and instead clings to his time, money, and possessions, and the Vice of Prodigality (wastefulness) by which a man foolishly spends extravagantly on things that don’t matter and/or exceeds what is necessary to achieve noble results. See more here.

The Virtue of CourageCourage is the good habit of a man who when faced with danger which is appropriately to be feared, bravely faces down that fear with proper good sense in a deliberate way to serve God and others. Opposing Courage is the Vice of Cowardliness by which a timid man, driven by excessive sinful fear, shrinks and avoids taking proper action to defend the faith, protect others and oppose evil or dangerous situations, and the Vice of Rashness by which a man, driven by the desire for personal glory, stupidity or disgust of life, foolishly puts himself or others at unnecessary risk by taking unreasonably daring, impulsive, and ineffective actions. See more here.

The Virtue of PerseverancePerseverance is the good habit of a man who, with unshakeable will, sustains strong effort and action to achieve his noble purpose when confronted by obstacles, delays, fatigue, and temptations.  Opposing Perseverance is the Vice of Effeminacy (or Softness) by which a man fails to give God and others their due by weakly giving up in the face of weariness and difficultly, often quitting far before he reaches his true limits and the Vice of Stubbornness through which a man, with foolish pride or ignorance, continues to doggedly pursue that which should be rightly abandoned for it is unobtainable or is not consistent with God’s will. See more here.

The Virtue of PatiencePatience is the good habit of a man of the world who accepts the sorrows that result from pain in his life and continues with unbroken spirit to seek to achieve his goals. Opposing Patience is the Vice of Impatience by which a man lacks the maturity and love to patiently bear the sorrows in his life. See more here.

What is the Cardinal Virtue of Temperance?

The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance helps a man enjoy licit pleasures in the world in a balanced way and overcome his passions and impulses which result in becoming enslaved by the Vice of Intemperance.  See here for more on the Cardinal Virtue of Temperance.

In opposition to Temperance is the Vice of Intemperance, an unmanly vice by which a man refuses to moderate his own impulses, losing control or not caring to stop in the consumption of pleasure, or to control his emotions and behaviors towards others.

Human Temperance can be supernaturally infused by the Holy Spirit through the Gift of the Fear of the Lord.

What are the parts of the Virtue of Temperance?

The Virtue of Temperance has several sub-virtues:

The Virtue of HumilityHumility is the good habit of a man who recognizes his own smallness compared to God and the great gifts God has given others, causing him to be truly awed and grateful for God’s work and not unjustly taking credit for the blessings God has given him.  Opposing Humility is the Vice of Pride, a deadly sin by which a man falsely perceives himself as more than he is, fails to be grateful to God, is obsessed with self-esteem, takes credit where credit is not due, is disrespectful or disregards the opinions of others, seeks attention and applause, dresses to stand out, is vain, immodest, boastful and self-promoting. See more here.

The Virtue of MeeknessMeekness is the good habit of a man who has the self-mastery to cooly and rationally observe the injustice of others with a patient confidence in God’s will and often confidently chooses to respond with moderation and clemency to convert the hearts of sinners, instead of responding with anger. The opposing Vice of Wrath/Unrighteous Anger is a deadly sin in which a man is routinely overcome with excessive anger and is habitually angry about injustice, often out of proportion to the injustice, leading him to explode with sinful words, emotions, and even evil acts of violence. See more here.

The Virtue of Abstinence/SobrietyAbstinence/Sobriety (sometimes generally called Temperance) is the good habit of a man who has the self-restraint to moderate the amount and type of food/drink he consumes so as to maintain his health to have the longevity and vigor to serve God to the best of his ability. The opposing Vices of Gluttony and Drunkenness are the bad habits of a man who lacks desire and self-control to moderate his consumption of food/drink (or drugs, tobacco, etc.) and habitually consumes healthy things in excess and/or  unhealthy things, leading to the destruction of health due to obesity, disease and/or mental impairment. See more here.

The Virtue of ChastityChastity is the good habit of a man who gains self-mastery of his sexual impulses so he may conform his sexual thoughts and acts to the beautiful, holy and natural gift of conjugal love within the vocation of married life, a love that is unitive and open to the conception of children. Opposing Chastity, is the Vice of Lust by which a man has a disordered desire for sexual pleasure, leading him to engage in various sexual sins including masturbation, viewing of pornography, contraception, fornication, adultery, homosexual acts and other abhorrent sexual acts, and acts of immodesty (lewdness, sexually provocative clothing) which seek to arouse sexual lust in others. See more here.

The Virtue of DiligenceDiligence is the good habit of a man who puts his best efforts into cultivating and gratefully, joyfully, and energetically using his God-given talents in the service of God and neighbor in every thought, word and deed, balancing the just use of himself for God, his family and his work. Opposing Diligence is the deadly Vice of Sloth by which a man  is ungrateful, sorrowful and lazy in fulfilling his duties to God, family, neighbor and country, caring mostly for his own disordered pleasure. See more here.

The Virtue of Self-controlSelf-control is the good habit of a man who has mastered and controls his desires, impulses, emotions, and behaviors and uses reason and discipline to put holy choices into orderly practice so as to achieve some good outcome. Opposing Self-Control is the Vice of Impulsiveness by which a man fails to regulate his emotions, desires and reactions to the world, and is ruled by his current whims and emotions, often causing himself and others suffering as the consequences of his flippant reactions bear bad fruit. See more here.

The Virtue of StudiousnessStudiousness is the good habit of a man who uses his God-given intellect and reason for the purpose of accumulating knowledge in service of God and the good of others. Opposing Studiousness is the Vice of Curiosity by which a man seeks information, images or sounds from corrupt sources which oppose God through the promotion of immoral or demonic material and/or excessively seeks intellectual stimulation in the pursuit of the lewd, morbid, trivial or frivolous. See more here.

This week’s questions

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

Which of the Cardinal Virtues and their sub-virtues 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 Cardinal Virtue or sub-virtue.

2) Review the Virtue or sub-virtue you are going to work on first and choose several actions to do this week. Consider praying a corresponding Litany of Virtue daily.

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 Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance:

Blessed Trinity, help me to be Prudent in decision-making, to conform my thoughts, words and deeds to Justice which always gives You and my neighbor proper due, to be strengthened in Fortitude to carry out Your will, and to be resolute in Temperance so I do not fall into selfish weakness which leads me to fail in my service to You and others. Amen.