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Monday, 8 June 2015

A Hierarchy of Virtues

The theological virtues help us practice the moral virtues. But, the Maritains point out that there is a hierarchy of virtue. Faith "attains God in obscurity, remaining as it were from a distance from Him in so far as Faith is belief in that which is not seen." Therefore, we live in Faith when we are not in union with God, do not perceive Him or do not experience being in His Presence.

Hope, as the CCC notes, "is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Hope is, again, based on desires unfulfilled. We use hope to trust in God and not rely on ourselves but on God. 

Faith and hope form the basis of our walk in the Dark Nights of the Senses and Spirit. Once a person is purified, the virtue of love takes over the soul and mind. Here are the Maritains on this point:

" attains god immediately in Himself, making an intimate union precisely with that which is concealed in Faith. And thus, although Faith regulates love and union with God in so far as it proposes the  object to the will: nevertheless, in virtue of the union by which love adheres immediately to God, the intelligence is moved by the affective experience of the soul to judge of divine things in a higher fashion than belongs to the obscurity of Faith..."

One cannot love but very imperfectly without the necessary purification of the senses and soul. Thus, those who have a hard time loving in truth have tried to love without the purgation of those faults which stand in the way of union. This is one reason why love must be purified in marriage, through sacrificial actions. 

But, the more one loves God, the more one wants to love Him and others, as love leads to greater understanding and forbearance. Then, discernment "kicks in". Only those who are orthodox and those who allow God to purify their imaginations, wills, intellect and senses can have true discernment of higher things, such as God's will.

If one is confused, go back to the posts on Divine Knowledge I did this year. Divine Knowledge comes from love. When one realizes the Indwelling of the Trinity, this love becomes a way of life. We shall finally, in heaven, in the Beatific Vision, have knowledge of God as He really is.