Baltimore Catechism 3

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The Virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost


 * Q. 119. What are the chief supernatural powers that are bestowed on our souls with sanctifying grace?
A. The chief supernatural powers that are bestowed on our souls with sanctifying grace are the three theological virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.


 * A virtue is a habit or permanent disposition which inclines a person to do good and to avoid evil. Virtues may be natural or supernatural. Natural virtues are acquired by frequent repetition of the same act; supernatural virtues are infused into the soul directly by God.

 * Like sanctifying grace, the three theological virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are supernatural habits. They are called "powers" because they enable us to perform supernatural acts that lead to God. Whoever is in the state of grace has the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are infused into the intellect and will by God.


 * "For this reason I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth receives its name, that he may grant you from his glorious riches to be strengthened with power through his Spirit unto the progress of the inner man; and to have Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts: so that, being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-19). See Scripture, question 108, Titus 3:4-7).


 * Q. 120. Why are these virtues called theological virtues?
A. These virtues are called theological virtues because they have God for their proper object.


 * All virtue has God for its last end, but not every virtue refers directly to Him. Some virtues deal directly with human things; for example, justice is concerned with human rights, such as the right to life and property. The virtues referring immediately to God are called theological, a term derived from the Greek word for God, Theos.


 * Q. 121. What are the three theological virtues?
A. The three theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity.


 * > "So there abide faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corinthians 13:13).


 * Q. 122. What is faith?
A. Faith is the virtue by which we firmly believe all the truths God has revealed, on the word of God revealing them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.


 * To believe is to assent to a truth on the word of another, even though it is not understood. A judge or jury believes the testimony of a witness. Such an obvious truth as two and two are four is not believed; it is understood. To understand is to assent to a truth because our intellect sees that it is true.

 * To believe a mystery that can be known to us only because God has revealed it is to assent to it on divine faith. We believe men in human affairs; we should not find it difficult to believe God, even in matters we cannot understand, since God can neither deceive nor be deceived.

 * To make a supernatural act of faith, one must have the help of grace. Grace enables one to have sufficient enlightenment and good will to accept God's word for what He has revealed.

 * Our faith must have these qualities: first, it must be firm; to be doubtful deliberately on matters of faith is equivalent to denying outright God's authority. Faith should not be confused with opinion, which considers an opposing statement as probably true. Saint Paul tells us, "Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). When he speaks of evidence, he means that faith must be firm and certain. When he speaks of the things that are not seen, he means that faith is obscure; second, it must be complete; our faith must include all the truths God has revealed. To accept one truth and deny another is equivalent to denying all the truths He has revealed.

 * Without faith it is impossible to be saved. Adults must have the virtue and the act of faith; infants must have the virtue of faith, received in Baptism, although they are incapable of making an act of faith. When children are baptized in infancy they receive, along with sanctifying grace, the infused virtue of faith. This virtue supplies them with the supernatural power they will need to make an act of faith when they have reached the age of reason.

 * > "He said to them, 'but who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter

 * > "He who comes from above is over all. He who is from the earth belongs to earth, and of the earth he speaks. He who comes from heaven is over all. And he bears witness to that which he has seen and heard, and his witness no one receives. He who receives his witness has set his seal on this, that God is true" (John 3:31-33).

 * > "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

 * > "If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God which is greater, that he has borne witness concerning his Son" (1 John 5:9).

 * > "Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen; for by it the men of old had testimony borne to them" (Hebrews 11:1-2)


 * Q. 123. What is hope?
A. Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God, who is all powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it.


 * With the help of God man can gain heaven, a goal he could never attain of himself. In Sacred Scripture God promised to give man eternal life and the means to obtain it: "... he that putteth his trust in me shall inherit the land and shall possess my holy mount" (Isaias 57:13).

 * Hope is absolutely necessary for salvation; adults must have the virtue and make the act of hope; infants must have the virtue. For the infused virtue of hope, like the infused virtue of faith, is given to the infant when he receives sanctifying grace.

 * Our hope must be firm, since the motive for hope is God's almighty power, and since it is certain that God will give us sufficient means to obtain salvation. The firmness of hope founded in God does not exclude a reasonable fear of losing our souls because, ordinarily, we cannot be certain that we shall properly use the means of salvation.

 * > "But hope that is seen is not hope. For how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" (Romans 8:24-25).

 * > "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and in the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

 * > "Christ is faithful as the Son over his own house. We are that house, if we hold fast our confidence and the hope in which we glory unto the end" (Hebrews 3:6).

 * > "This hope we have, as a sure and firm anchor of the soul, reaching even behind the veil where our forerunner Jesus has entered for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech" (Hebrews 6:19-20).


 * Q. 124. What is charity?
A. Charity is the virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.


 * Charity is called the queen of the virtues because it unites man to God most perfectly and most permanently in the bonds of love. Charity is the divine friendship uniting man to God and man to fellow-man in the bonds of mutual affection. As we love those who are truly our friends, for their own sake and not because of any advantage to us, so through charity, we love God for His own sake and our neighbor because of God.

 * Our neighbor includes all living human beings, even our enemies, and the souls in purgatory, the blessed in heaven, and the angels. The infused virtue of charity corresponds to the infused virtues of faith and hope. Like faith and hope it is given with sanctifying grace. When God gives us the infused virtue of charity, He gives us the means to make perfect acts of love, and the power to make these acts easily.

 * We should frequently make acts of perfect love and open our hearts to God as friend to friend in intimate conversation. To love God above all things we must be willing to renounce all created things rather than offend God by mortal sin. It is not necessary that we have more feeling in our love of God than in our love of men, since love is essentially a matter of the will, not of the feelings.

 * We return God's friendly love by making acts of perfect love, by promoting in ourselves and others an appreciation of His infinite goodness, and by striving to live constantly for Him. Faith and hope will cease once we have attained heaven, for we cannot believe what we see, and we cannot desire and hope for what we already have; but charity remains even in heaven, where we will love God whom we possess.

 * > "If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, yet do not have charity, I am nothing. And if I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth; bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).


 * Q. 125. Which are the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost?
A. The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.


 * The gifts are infused with sanctifying grace. The Holy Ghost dwells in the souls of the just and He is never present without His gifts.

 * > "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord" (Isaias 11:2-3).


 * Q. 126. How do the gifts of the Holy Ghost help us?
A. The gifts of the Holy Ghost help us by making us more alert to discern and more ready to do the will of God.


 * The difference between the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost consists in this, that the virtues help us to follow the guidance of our reason and faith, and the gifts help us to follow readily the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.


 * Q. 127. Which are some of the effects in us of the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
A. Some of the effects in us of the gifts of the Holy Ghost are the fruits of the Holy Ghost and the beatitudes.


 * Beatitude, or happiness, consists in attaining what is desired. Man, notwithstanding human suffering, can gain a very real but supernatural happiness from the possession of God in this life through grace and charity. Man hopes for everlasting happiness in heaven, where suffering is excluded.


 * Q. 128. Which are the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost?
A. The twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity.


 * The fruits of the Holy Ghost are good works performed under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and with a certain delight.

 * > "But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty, continency" (Galatians 5:22-23).


 * Q. 129. Which are the eight beatitudes?
A. The eight beatitudes are:


 * 1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 * 2. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.

 * 3. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 * 4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.

 * 5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

 * 6. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

 * 7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

 * 8. Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven


 * The eight beatitudes were announced by Our Saviour at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10). They are called beatitudes because the practicing of them will bring us happiness both on earth and in heaven.


 * Q. 130. Are there any other virtues besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity?
A. Besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity there are other virtues, called moral virtues.


 * Q. 131. Why are these virtues called moral virtues?
A. These virtues are called moral virtues because they dispose us to lead moral, or good, lives by aiding us to treat persons and things in the right way, that is, according to the will of God.


 * The word moral generally signifies a way of acting, whether good or bad. It is sometimes used to mean good actions or things as opposed to immoral or evil actions and things.


 * Q. 132. Which are the chief moral virtues?
A. The chief moral virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance; these are called cardinal virtues.


 * > "And if a man love justice, her labours have great virtues. For she teacheth temperance and prudence and justice and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life" (Wisdom 8:7).


 * Q. 133. Why are these virtues called cardinal virtues?
A. These virtues are called cardinal virtues because they are like hinges on which hang all the other moral virtues and our whole moral life. The word "cardinal" is derived from the Latin word "cardo" meaning hinge.


 * They are called cardinal or chief virtues not because they are the highest or even the most important virtues, but because all the other moral virtues depend upon them.


 * Q. 134. How do prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance dispose us to lead good lives?
A. Prudence disposes us in all circumstances to form right judgments about what we must do or not do.


 * Justice disposes us to give everyone what belongs to him.

 * Fortitude disposes us to do what is good in spite of any difficulty.

 * Temperance disposes us to control our desires and to use rightly the things which please our senses.

 * Prudence perfects the intelligence, which is the power of forming judgments. Knowledge and experience are important for prudence.

 * Justice perfects the will and safeguards the chief rights of man: his right to life and freedom, to the sanctity of the home, to his good name and honor, and to his external possessions.

 * Fortitude is especially important when one is in danger of death. Martyrs are the best examples of those who possess this virtue. Fortitude urges us forward in the face of trying difficulties.

 * Temperance is especially necessary in moderating the use of food and drink, and in regulating the enjoyment of sex in the married state.


 * > "Get wisdom, because it is better than gold: and purchase prudence, for it is more precious than silver" (Proverbs 16:16).

 * > "He that followeth justice and mercy shall find life, justice, and glory" (Proverbs 21:21).

 * > "Use as a frugal man the things that are set before thee: lest if thou eatest much, thou be hated" (Ecclesiasticus 31:19).

 * > "Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make them drunk" (Ecclesiasticus 31:35).

 * > "Or do you not know that the unjust will not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err; neither fornicators...nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor the evil-tongued, nor the greedy will possess the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).


 * Q. 135. Which are some of the other moral virtues?
A. Some of the other moral virtues are:


 * Filial piety and patriotism, which dispose us to honor, love, and respect our parents and our country.

 * Obedience, which disposes us to do the will of our superiors.

 * Veracity, which disposes us to tell the truth.

 * Liberality, which disposes us rightly to use worldly goods.

 * Patience, which disposes us to bear up under trials and difficulties.

 * Humility, which disposes us to acknowledge our limitations.

 * Chastity, or purity, which disposes us to be pure in soul and body.

 * Besides these, there are many other moral virtues.

 * Religion is the highest moral virtue since it disposes us to offer to God the worship that is due Him. Religion, therefore, is rightly classed under the cardinal virtue of justice.


 * > "An obedient man shall speak of victory" (Proverbs 21:28).

 * > "Be patient in tribulation, persevering in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

 * > "Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for there exists no authority except from God... Render to all men whatever is their due; tribute to whom tribute is due; taxes to whom taxes are due; fear to whom fear is due; honor to whom honor is due" (Romans 13:1, 7).

 * > "Rather are we to practice the truth in love, and so grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ... Wherefore, put away lying and speak: truth each one with his neighbor, because we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:15, 25).

 * > "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you abstain from immorality; that every one of you learn how to possess his vessel in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God... For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7).

 * > "And all of you practice humility towards one another; for, 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation" (1 Peter 5:5-6).




 * When God sanctifies a soul, He gives it not only the sublime supernatural quality by which it is made like to Him and shares in His divine life- sanctifying grace-but also a number of other qualities or habits by which the soul can act supernaturally. These are called the supernatural virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. These supernatural habits are said to be infused by God-that is, poured into the soul. They are given in proportion to each one's measure of sanctifying grace, and they increase proportionately with the increase of that grace. The supernatural virtues do not destroy the natural virtues which one may have acquired by repeated good acts, but rather strengthen and perfect them. Neither do the supernatural virtues free one from the obligation of acquiring the natural virtues. The ideal Christian has both natural and supernatural virtues. However, it is possible to have one type without the other. Thus, a baptized infant has the supernatural virtues, infused at Baptism, but he has no natural virtues. On the other hand, a sinner, who has not the supernatural moral virtues may have some natural virtues.

 * The noblest of the supernatural virtues are the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, by which the soul believes in God's revelations, hopes to possess Him for all eternity, and loves Him because of His infinite goodness. The infused moral virtues help one to use created things properly, employing them so as to gain eternal life from their use. These virtues, like the corresponding natural virtues, are grouped under the four chief or cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. Finally, the gifts of the Holy Ghost make one docile to the movements of the Holy Spirit. Every good Christian knows that at times he chooses a certain course of action or performs a good deed so suddenly that it would seem that he is impelled by a power outside of himself; and afterwards he realizes that it was the proper thing to do. This is a manifestation of the activity of the Holy Ghost, working on the soul through His gifts. Often we find Catholics who believe that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are given only in Confirmation; but this is incorrect. They are always given with sanctifying grace, though the sacrament of Confirmation, since it makes us soldiers of Christ, urges us to use the gifts in a special degree.

 * The greatest of the theological virtues is charity, which is love for God because of His infinite goodness and love for our neighbor because he shares, or can share, in the goodness of God through the possession of sanctifying grace. Our Lord told us that we must love God with our whole heart and soul, which means that we must be willing to renounce every created good rather than offend God by mortal sin. We can have true love for God even though we are not sorry for our venial sins, though it is surely more perfect to repent of our venial as well as our mortal sins when we make an act of love for God. The goodness of God which is the motive of charity is His supernatural goodness, which is made known through revelation.

 * Similarly, love for our neighbor, to be charity, must be based on a supernatural motive-namely, the fact that every one of our fellow men either possesses sanctifying grace or is capable of possessing it. If we love a person merely because of his natural qualities, we are not making an act of charity. When Our Lord told us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He meant that we must love all our fellow men in the same manner as we love ourselves - that is, supernaturally - but not necessarily in the same measure. Moreover, we are not obliged to love all our fellow men in the same degree. We can and should have greater love for those who are united to us by the bonds of relationship, faith and nationality.

 * As long as we retain sanctifying grace, the infused virtues and the gifts remain in our soul. Mortal sin drives out all these supernatural habits, except faith and hope, which remain even in the soul of the sinner unless he commits a sin directly against hope-in which case only faith remains- or a sin directly opposed to faith, in which case all the supernatural qualities are driven out.

 * St. Paul in the Epistle to the (5:22-23) speaks of the fruits of the Holy Ghost-acts of virtue which bring sweetness and joy to the soul, like delicious fruit. Our Lord has given us the beatitudes (Matthew 5:310), eight principles concerning the practice of virtue in an exalted manner, which will bring us happiness and peace. The Church is constantly urging her members to the practice of virtue. The first condition required in the process of canonization, or declaring one a saint, is to prove that this person practiced the theological and moral virtues in a heroic or extraordinary degree.

 * RESOLUTION: Resolve to make progress in virtue every day. It is best to center one's attention on a particular virtue, especially that which we find most difficult to practice, and perform acts of this virtue whenever the opportunity is offered.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 10





 * (Check each of the following statements as either true or false. The correct answers can be found in the previous portions of the lesson. )


 * (1) We shall retain faith and hope in heaven.

 * It is not necessary that we have more feeling in our love for God than in our love for men.

 * A baptized infant possesses the theological virtues.

 * A baptized infant possesses the natural moral virtues.

 * A baptized infant possesses the supernatural moral virtues.

 * To make an act of charity toward God we must repent of all our venial sins.

 * The gifts of the Holy Ghost are given only in Confirmation.

 * The best examples of fortitude are the martyrs.

 * Religion is classed under fortitude.

 * We must love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * Enumerate the chief supernatural powers that accompany sanctifying grace in our souls.

 * Dolores has a well-merited reputation for being a virtuous girl. In a paragraph of three or four sentences explain what is meant by the expression 'virtuous girl.'

 * Kent is an avowed atheist; but he is extremely honest in paying every penny he owes. What kind of virtue is he practicing, if any?

 * Virginia's catechism paper would have come back marked 100% instead of 95% had she known St. Paul's text to the Corinthians, wherein charity is called the greatest of the virtues. What is that text?

 * Kevin often quotes approvingly the expression: "Seeing is believing!" Is this true? Explain your answer.

 * Susan, orphaned in childhood, is now a grown-up woman, without any form of religion. She believes in God, and reads the Bible regularly and reverently. Philomena, a Catholic girl of 12, runs errands for Susan. Yesterday Susan asked Philomena if God has any agency on earth doing His work and preserving His revealed truths. How would you answer Susan's question?

 * Leo frequently makes acts of love for God, but he wonders if they are genuine acts of charity, because he does not feel any great fervor. Explain to him how these acts can be true acts of charity.

 * Herman says he would never do his neighbor any harm but he would not put himself to any inconvenience to help anyone in need. Do you think he has the kind of love for his neighbor that Our Lord expects him to have?

 * Yearly you hear read a parable that illustrates the love of our neighbor. What parable is it?

 * Edith and Mabel, playmates, have a falling-out because Edith falsely accused Mabel of stealing a valuable wrist-watch from a classmate. Must Mabel continue to love Edith as her neighbor? Does that love imply an approval of Edith's injustice? Must Edith right the wrong she has done Mabel? With each answer, add a short explanation.

 * Clement, Gerard and Alphonsus, 3 pals, are given ten apples by a friendly farmer. Clement keeps five for himself because he is the oldest and biggest of the three; three he gives to Gerard, and the remaining two he hands to Alphonsus, the smallest and the youngest of the trio. In his night prayers that night, Clement pauses when he reaches "... and I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee ... " He wonders if he can truly say these words after what he did earlier in the day when sharing the apples. Tell him what to do, and why.

 * Celine finds it hard to love her Protestant, Jewish and pagan neighbors in the same measure as she loves her own family and cousins. Her grandparents were all born in France. On that account she loves the French people more than those of any other nation except our own. Do any of her ideas on charity need correcting? State the reason for your solution.

 * Lambert, the brightest boy in the sixth grade, claims he is not smarter than most of the boys in his class because he has any better brains but because perhaps he studies a little longer than most of them, and prays a bit more earnestly to the Holy Ghost and to Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. In from 50 to 75 words let us know what you think of his theory.

 * Regina wants to know if devotion to the Holy Ghost will help her become a saint. Answer her question, and add the reason why you think so.

 * Enumerate any six of the moral virtues and give short definitions of them.

 * What is an inspiration of the Holy Spirit?

 * In this lesson you have learned that faith and hope will cease when the soul enters heaven, because it then sees and possesses God, and we cannot believe what we see nor hope for what we have. Do you think that the souls in purgatory have faith and hope? Do you think that faith and hope are present in the souls of any of those who are being punished in hell? Did the angels have faith and hope before they were submitted to the test whereby God tried their loyalty?


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