Jacques Maritain Center : Catechism of the Summa Theologica



What virtues are of the greatest import?

The theological virtues.

Why are these of the greatest import?

Because they are those whereby man attains his final end as far as he can and ought to attain it in this life so as to merit the possession of his final end in heaven.

It is then impossible for man to perform any supernaturally good act without the theological virtues?

Yes, it is quite impossible.

What are the theological virtues?

The theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity.



What is faith?

Faith is a supernatural virtue which makes our mind, even though it understand not, adhere most firmly and without fear of deception to what God has revealed principally about Himself, and of His will to give Himself to us some day as the object of our perfect happiness

How can our mind not understanding what God has revealed adhere firmly thereto and without fear of deception?

By relying on the authority of God who can neither deceive nor be deceived (I. 1).

Why is it that God cannot deceive nor be deceived?

Because He is Truth itself (I. 1; IV. 8).


But how do we know that God has revealed truths?

We know this through them to whom He has revealed these truths, and through them to whose care He has confided the deposit of His revelation (I. 6-10).

Who are they to whom God has revealed these truths?

First of all God revealed them to Adam to whom He manifested Himself directly; subsequently to the Prophets of the Old Testament; and lastly, to the Apostles at the time of Jesus Christ (I. 7).

How do we know that God thus revealed Himself to Adam, to the Prophets, and to the Apostles?

We know this through history which narrates this fact, and which speaks also of prodigies or miracles done by God to convince men of His supernatural intervention.


Does the miracle prove absolutely the intervention of God?

Yes, for it is proper to God only, no creature being able to perform a miracle by its own power.


Where is the history of these supernatural interventions of God and of His revelation to be found? In particular this history is to be found in the Holy Scriptures or the Bible.

What is meant by the Holy Scriptures or the Bible?

It is a collection of books divided into two groups, which are called the Old and the New Testaments.

Do these books resemble other books?

No, for other books are written by men, whereas these were written by God.

What is meant by saying that these books were written by God?

By this is meant that God is the principal author of these books, and that He chose certain men, as so many instruments, to write them.

Of whatever then is contained in these books God is the author?

Yes, God is the author of all that is contained in these books, that is if we speak of the original autograph written by the holy writers; whereas all copies of this autograph are only divine in their authorship in so far as they conform with the original.

Whenever then we read these books, it is as though we heard God Himself speaking to us?


But is it not possible for us to misunderstand the sense of this word of God?

Yes, for there are passages that are obscure.

Why is it that there is obscurity in the Holy Scriptures?

This obscurity is due first of all to the mysteries contained therein, since the Bible treats essentially of truths that God Himself alone knows, such as are beyond the reach of every created mind; this obscurity also arises from the antiquity of these books, which were written primarily for people whose tongue was other than ours and whose lives and customs differed from ours; and, lastly, this obscurity arises from mistakes that have crept either into the copies of the original language, or into the translations made thereof and into the copies of these translations.


Is there anyone who unerringly interprets the right sense of the word of God whether contained in the Scriptures or elsewhere?

Yes, the Sovereign Pontiff, and through him the Catholic Church in its universal teaching (I. 10).

Why cannot the Sovereign Ponisif and through hzm the Catholic Church in its universal teaching be deceived as to the sense of the word of God in the Holy Scriptures or wherever it is to be found?

Because God Himself has wished that they should be infallible.

And why did God wish that they should be infallible?

Because, otherwise, men would not have the necessary means of reaching, without fail, the supernatural end to which He has called them (I. 10).

Is this what is meant by saying that the Pope and the Church are infallible in matters of faith and morals?

Yes, this is the precise sense of these expressions; the Pope and the Church can never be deceived, nor can they deceive us, when they give or interpret the word of God, in matters that treat of the essential truths which regard faith or conduct.


Is there a résumé of these essential truths which treat of faith and conduct?

Yes, it is the Apostles' Creed or the "I believe" (I. 6).

What is the Apostles' Creed?

It is the following, such as the Catholic Church recites every day:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; was born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Is the recitation of the Apostles' Creed an act of faith "par excellence"?

Yes, indeed it cannot be sufficiently recommended to the faithful for their daily practice.

Is it possible to make a short and concise act of faith?

Yes; the following in the form of an act of homage to God is excellent: "O my God, I believe, on Thy word, all that Thou hast revealed to us, because of Thyself who hast promised to be some day our perfect happiness."


Who are able to make this act of faith?

Those only who have the supernatural virtue of faith (IV., V.).

Then unbelievers cannot make this act of faith?

No, for they do not believe what God has revealed with a view to their supernatural happiness; and this either because they are ignorant thereof, or do not trust in the will of God, who is able to give to them the good that He thinks fit; or because having known His revelation they refuse to give their assent to it (X.).

Can the impious make this act of faith?

No, because even though they may hold to be true what God has revealed by reason of the authority of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, their assent is not the effect of a supernatural love for the word of God; on the contrary, the word of God is hateful to them, although in spite of themselves they are forced to admit its truth (V. 2, ad 2).

Are there men who believe the word of God, and yet do not make an act of the supernatural virtue?

Yes, and in this they imitate the devils (V. 2).

Can heretics make an act of faith?

No, for even though in their minds they assent to such and such a point of revealed doctrine, they do not give this assent on the word of God, but on their own private judgment (V. 3).

As regards the act of faith are heretics more to be blamed than the impious or the devils?

Yes, because the word of God or His authority is not the motive of their assent

Can apostates make an act of faith?

No, because their mind rejects entirely what formerly they believed on the word of God (XII.).

Can sinners make an act of faith?

Yes, provided they actually have this virtue; and they can have it, although imperfectly, when they have not charity, that is when they are in the state of mortal sin (IV. 1,4).

Every mortal sin then is not a sin against faith?

No (X. 1,4).


In what consists precisely a sin against faith?

A sin against faith consists in not wishing to submit one's mind to the word of God through homage or through love for God's word (X. 1-3).

Is it always man's own fault if he does not thus submit his mind to the word of God through homage or through love for God's word?

Yes, it is always man's own fault, because he resists the actual grace God offers inviting him to make this act of submission (VI. 1, 2).

Is this actual grace offered to all men on earth?

Yes, all men always have this grace, although in different degrees and as it pleases God to distribute it according to the designs of His Providence.

Is it a great grace of God to have the virtue of supernatural faith?

Yes, to have the supernatural virtue of faith is in some sense the greatest grace of God.

Why is the gift of faith the greatest grace of God?

Because, without supernatural faith one can do abso- lutely nothing towards salvation; moreover, heaven is lost unless one receive the gift of faith from God before death (II. 5-8, IV. 7)


Would it then be a great sin to expose oneself to the danger of losing the happiness of its possession by reading books or by listening to conversations opposed thereto?

Yes, it would be a great sin to place oneself knowingly in this danger; and even when it is not one's own fault, it is a deplorable thing to have to run such danger.

It is then an extremely important thing to choose our acquaintances and our reading with prudence so as not to expose ourselves to this danger, but, on the contrary, so as to preserve and to increase the great gift of faith?

Yes, this is extremely important, especially seeing that in the world, what with the liberty of the press and so forth, one meets so many things that are dangerous to faith.


Is there any other sin against faith?

Yes, the sin of blasphemy (XIII.).

Why is blasphemy a sin against faith?

Because it militates directly against the exterior act of faith which is the confession of faith by words; all blasphemy, in fact, consists in the uttering of some word that dishonours God or His saints (XIII. 1).

Is blasphemy a great sin?

Blasphemy is always of its nature a great sin (XIII. 2-3).

Does the habit of blaspheming excuse or lessen the gravity of the sin?

On the contrary, this habit aggravates the sin somewhat, for instead of endeavouring to correct oneself of the habit, the grave evil is allowed to become rooted firmly (XIII. 2, ad 3).


Does this virtue of faith suffice to attain to the knowledge of God such as is necessary in this life?

Yes, it suffices provided there are present also certain gifts of the Holy Ghost which aid faith (VIII. 2).

What gifts of the Holy Ghost aid the virtue of faith?

They are the gifts of understanding and knowledge


How does the gift of understanding succour the virtue of faith in knowing God?

The gift of understanding succours the virtue of faith in knowing God, by making our mind, under the direct action of the Holy Ghost, discern the sense of the words which express the divine messages, and of all propositions pertaining thereto, so as, provided they are not beyond the reach of our minds, to understand them in their full meaning; or if it is a question of mysteries this gift helps us to hold them securely in spite of all difficulties.

This gift of understanding then is "par excellence" a gift of enlightenment?

Yes; and all the intellectual lucidity that we have concerning supernatural truth and the joy resulting therefrom, are due primarily to this gift of understanding (VIII. 2).

Does the gift of understanding also help us in the matter of behaviour?

Yes, the gift of understanding helps us in the greatest degree in the matter of behaviour, because it throws light on the reasons of supernatural good that are contained in the revealed truth that we hold by faith; thus does the gift of understanding enlighten the mind, in order that man's will made divine by charity may be drawn to act well as it behoves (VIII. 3, 4, 5).

Can it be shown how the gift of understanding is distinguished from faith and from the other gifts, such as the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and counsel?

Yes, in a few words thus: Faith proposes to man's mind under the form of propositions uttered by God certain truths of which the principal surpass his understanding. Some of these truths have reference to God alone, others to creatures, and others to man's conduct. If man by faith assents to these truths as it behoves, he can never live these truths by good behaviour unless he fully understand them; and it is the proper office of the gift of understanding to make man's mind understand these truths fully, whereas the gift of wisdom enlightens the mind with regard to truths that have reference to the things of God, the gift of knowledge to truths relating to creatures, and the gift of counsel to truths relating to man's behaviour (VIII. 6).


What is the importance and the rble of the gift of knowledge in relation to the virtue of faith?

By the gift of knowledge, the faithful soul, under the direct action of the Holy Ghost, judges with absolute certainty and infallibly, not by the natural process of reasoning, but by instinct as it were and intuitively, the true character of created things in their relation to faith according as they are to be believed, or according as they are directive of our conduct. Thus immediately man sees in creatures what is and what is not, in harmony with the First Truth which is the object of faith and the last end of our acts (IX. 5-3).


Is this gift of special importance to the faithful in these days?

Yes, for it carries with it the remedy par excellence for one of the greatest evils that has afflicted humanity since the Renaissance.

Of what evil is there question?

It is the prevalence of false science which fails to understand the true relation between creatures and God, who is the First Truth and the last end of man: in the speculative order it has made the study of creatures an insurmountable obstacle to the truths of faith; and in the practical order it has renewed the old pagan depravity which is all the more pernicious seeing that it succeeded the peerless lives of virtue practised by the saints.

Is this one of the principal causes of the evil that is rife in the world and is the bane of modern society?

Yes, without doubt.

The virtue of faith then with the accompanying gifts of understanding and knowledge is one of the most powerful remedies against the impiousness and the aloofness from God of modern society?

Yes, the virtue of faith with these gifts is one of the most powerful remedies against this evil.


What are the vices opposed to the gifts of understanding and knowledge?

They are ignorance, which is opposed to knowledge, and blindness of mind, and the hebetude of the senses, which are opposed to understanding (XV. 5, 2).

What are the causes of these vices, and of the last two in particular?

The causes of these vices are, in particular, sins of the flesh which stifle the life of the mind (XV. 3).



Are there in God's law any precepts relating to faith?

Yes, in God's law there are certain precepts relating to faith, especially in the New Law (XVI. 1, 2).

Why especially in the New Law?

Because in the Old Law there were no precepts treating in detail the things to be believed; God thought it not yet necessary to impose these truths in their details on the faith of all people (XVI. 1).

These truths that are now expanded in detail, at least those that regard the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation. and are imposed on the faith of all, why were they not imposed on all in the Old Testament?

Because in the Old Testament the mysteries relating to Jesus Christ existed only in the state of promise as it were or of figure, and it was reserved to Jesus Christ Himself to reveal to men in their plenitude the two essential mysteries of our faith, namely, those of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

What then were the people under the Old Law bound to believe?

As regards these two mysteries they were not bound to believe anything explicitly; but they believed them in an implicit way by believing in the perfection of God and in His repeated promises of salvation (XVI. 1).

Was this sufficient for them to be able to make an act of supernatural faith?


Is our state to be preferred to that of the people under the Old Law?

There is no comparison between our state and that under the Old Law.

In what does this superiority consist?

It consists in this, that these mysteries are now manifested to us directly as they are in themselves, although in a way that is veiled and obscure; whereas under the Old Law they were unknown except implicitly, and in a vague and figurative sense.


Have we not then, under the New Law, a special duty to live in the thought of these great mysteries, and to endeavour to understand them more and more by the use of the gifts of knowledge and understanding?

Yes, this is a duty incumbent on all the faithful under the New Law; it is to help them to this end that the Church endeavours with so much care to instruct the faithful in the things of faith.

What form of teaching that is within the reach of all does the Church use in particular?

It uses that form of teaching known as the Catechism.

It is then a duty of all the faithful to learn the teaching of the Catechism as far as lies in their power?

Yes, this is a strict duty for all the faithful.

Has the Catechism any special value and authority?

Yes, the Catechism brings within the reach of all, all that is sublime and enlightening in the greatest truths which are the food of our minds.

Who is the author of this teaching?

The Church in the person of its learned Doctors.

May one say that this Catechism is the first "par excellence" of the gifts of knowledge and understanding in the Church?

Yes, for it is the reproduction in a lesser or greater degree of the most marvellous of these fruits, which is the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Has the "Summa Theologica" any special authority in the Church?

Yes, for the Church ordains that all who teach in her name should be imbued with its teaching (Code, Canons 589, 5366).

There is then nothing more profitable than to live in this doctrine?

There is nothing more profitable, for one is sure to live in the full light of reason and faith.



What is the second theological virtue?

The second theological virtue is the virtue of hope.

What is the virtue of hope?

It is one of the three theological virtues, which effects that our will, relying on the help of God, is drawn towards Him revealed by faith, as towards the one who is to be some day our perfect happiness (XVII. 1,2).

Is hope possible without faith?

No, it is impossible to have the virtue of hope without faith which is its necessary basis (XVII. 7).

Why is it impossible to have hope without faith?

Because only faith gives to hope its object and the motive upon which it relies (XVII. 7).


What is the object of hope?

First, and above all, it is God Himself according as He is Himself His own happiness, and according as He deigns to give Himself to us one day in heaven to make us happy (XVII. 1, 2).

Can there be anything else other than God which can be the object of hope?

Yes, every true good can be the object of hope, provided it be subordinated to the principal object, which is God Himself (XVII. 2, ad 2).

What is the motive upon which hope relies?

The motive upon which hope relies is nought but God Himself, who Himself comes to our help or uses His creatures to this end that we may one day possess Him in heaven in token of reward (XVII. 2).

Does hope then necessarily imply virtuous and meritorious actions performed with God's help that we may approach Him in the way that He desires, namely, that He might give Himself to us in heaven?

Yes, hope necessarily implies these virtuous and meritorious actions.


Is it a sin against hope to count upon the possession of God one day, and to hold that such is possible without taking the trouble to prepare ourselves by a life of supernatural virtue?

Yes, this is a sin against hope.

What is this sin called?

It is called presumption (XXI.).

Is this the only sin that can be committed against hope?

No, there is another that is called despair (XX.).

What is the sin of despair?

The sin of despair consists in this: by reason of the high excellence of God, who is to be won as He is in Himself, or by reason of the difficulties of practising supernaturally a virtuous life, one does God the injury to think it impossible to practise this life of virtue and so gain happiness; a virtuous life is therefore renounced and no longer does one seek God's help (XX. 1, 2).

Is the sin of despair a very grave sin?

In some sense it is the gravest sin of all, for of itself it makes all supernatural effort impossible, and the sinner in some sort damns himself (XX. 3).

No matter then how great are man`s miseries and his sins he should never despair?

No, man ought never to despair no matter how great his sins; for the mercy of God is so great and He is so good that He will always help him by His grace.

What then should man do when he feels the weight of his troubles and of his sins?

He should turn to God immediately corresponding to the grace God always gives, and trust that God will give him strength to live a virtuous life, and so gain heaven.


What is the formula of an act of hope?

The following: "O my God, I trust that. by Thy mercy and power Thou wilt grant me the grace to lead a virtuous life, so that one day I may possess Thee in the glory of heaven."


Who is able to make an act of hope?

All the faithful who are still on earth.

Can the blessed in heaven make an act of hope?

No, for they have no longer the virtue of hope since they possess God (XVIII. 2).

Have the lost in hell the virtue of hope?

No, for God, who is the object of hope, is separated from them for ever (XVIII. 2).

Have the souls in purgatory the virtue of hope?

Yes; but for them an act of hope is not quite the same as for the faithful on earth; for although they do not yet possess God they no longer have need of His grace to merit heaven since they are sure of heaven, all sin henceforth being impossible to them (XVIII. 3).



Only the faithful on earth then require that the virtue of hope should strengthen their will lest excessive fear prevent them from possessing God one day?

Yes (XVIII. 4).

Is there a fear attaching to the virtue of hope that is essentially good?


What is this fear called?

This fear of God is called filial fear (XIX. I, 2).

What is meant by filial fear?

By this is meant that one's attitude towards God is that of a holy respect because of His excellence, or of the goodness of His infinite majesty, and that one fears only what displeases Him or keeps us away from Him in such wise as to prevent us from possessing Him eternally in heaven (XIX. 2).

Is there any other fear of God beside this filial fear?

Yes; it is called servile fear (XIX. 2).

What is meant by servile fear?

By this is meant a disposition of an inferior order such as is proper to slaves whereby one fears a master because of the penalties and punishments He is able to inflict (XIX. 2).


Has the fear of the punishments which God can inflict always the nature of servile fear?

Yes, except that it need not always have a sinful character such as is proper to sin (XIX. 4).

When does servile fear have a sinful character such as is proper to sin?

It has this character when punishment, or the loss of a created good whatsoever (which is the object of this fear) is a thing one fears as if it were the supreme evil (XIX. 4).

If then one fears this evil, not indeed as the supreme evil, but as wbordinate to the loss of God loved above all, is servile fear an evil thing?

On the contrary, it is even a good thing, albeit of an inferior order and of much less worth than filial fear (XIX. 4, 6).

Why is this fear of less worth than filial fear?

Because filial fear recks not at all the loss of all created goods, provided that the possession of the Uncreated Good which is God Himself remains assured (XIX. 2, 5).

It is then only the loss of the Infinite Good which is God Himself, or of whatsoever compromises perfect possession of it, that filial fear dreads?

Yes, it is only the loss of the Infinite Good which is God Himself, or of whatsoever compromises perfect possessioa of it, that filial fear dreads (XIX. 2).


Has filial fear any relation to the gift of the Holy Ghost which is called the gift of fear?

Yes, filial fear is most intimately related to this gift of the Holy Ghost (XIX. 9).

Does then the gift of the Holy Ghost which is called the gift of fear, belong in a special manner to the theological virtue of hope?

Yes (XIX.).

In what precisely consists that gift of the Holy Ghost which is called the gift of fear?

It consists in this, that by its means one subjects oneself to God and to the action of the Holy Ghost, resisting Him not, but rather revering Him in all, lest one lose Him (XIX. 9).


In what precisely does the gift of fear differ from the virtue of hope?

It consists in this, that the virtue of hope views the infinite good of God to be gained by the help which He Himself gives, whereas the gift of fear views rather the evil of being separated from Him and of losing Him in withdrawing ourselves by sin from that help which He gives in order to lead us to Him (XIX., ad 2).

Is the virtue of hope of a higher order than the gift of fear?

Yes, as indeed are all the theological virtues superior to the gifts; also because the virtue of hope views the good to be possessed, whilst the gift of fear views the evil which is the lack of such good.

Is the fear which is proper to the gift of the Holy Ghost inseparable from charity or the perfect love of God?

Yes, since charity or the perfect love of God is the cause of this fear (XIX. 10).

Can this fear co-exist with servile fear, such as is, of course, free from fear that is sinful?

Yes, it can exist at the commencement, together with servile fear that is not sinful, and for this reason it is called initial fear; but according as charity grows it also grows, until at length it has only the name of fear taking on the most pure character of filial or chaste fear which is wholly penetrated with the love of God, Who is the one and only truth, and Whose loss would be for us the greatest evil and in some sort the only evil (XIX. 8).


Will this fear still exist in heaven?

Yes, but in its highest perfection; moreover, its effect will not be entirely the same as here on earth (XIX. 11).

What will be the effect of filial fear in heaven?

In some sort its effect will be a holy trembling in the presence of the infinite greatness and majesty of God's goodness; but no longer will it be the trembling of fear as if it were possible to lose God, it will be the trembling of wonderment in so far as God is seen to be infinitely above all that is possible to nature, since for evermore the blessed will have the most intimate consciousness that their eternal happiness comes from God alone (XIX. 11).



Are there in God's law any precepts relating to the virtue of hope and the gift of fear?

Yes, in God's law there are certain precepts relating to the virtue of hope and the gift of fear; but like the precepts relating to faith, these precepts in their primary notion have a special character distinct from the precepts properly so-called that are contained in God's law (XXII. 1,2).

In what consists this special character of the precepts of faith and of hope as regards what is primarily essential to them?

It consists in this: they are not given in the manner of precepts; but under the form of propositions in the case of faith; and under the form of promises or threats in the case of hope and fear (XXII. 1).

Why are these precepts given under this special form?

The reason is because of necessity they precede the precepts properly so-called such as are contained in the law (XXII. 1).

Why should these precepts attaching to faith, hope, and fear necessarily precede the precepts properly so-called that are contained in the law?

It is because the act of faith makes man's mind ready to acknowledge that the author of the law is such as to whom one is in duty bound to submit; and the hope of reward or the fear of chastisement makes man ready to observe the precepts (XXII. 1).

What are the precepts properly so-called which constitute the substance of the law?

They are those which are given to man thus subject and ready to obey, whereby he may order and regulate his life, especially in regard to the virtue of justice.


Are these latter precepts those which make up the Decalogue?

Yes, they are these very precepts.

Then the precepts relating to faith and hope are not, properly speaking, precepts in the Decalogue?

No, they are not, properly speaking, precepts of the Decalogue; for, first of all, they precede and make the latter possible; and then in the unfolding of the law of God, such as the Prophets or Jesus Christ and the Apostles have made, they take on a new form, developing in their turn the character of counsels or of complementary formal precepts (XXII. 1, ad 2).

Nothing then is more necessary nor more ardently desired by God and ordained by Him than that man's mind should be wholly submitted to Him by faith and by hope, which relies on His help for attaining unto Him through the means of a life altogether supernatural?

No, there is nothing more necessary nor more ardently desired and ordained by God than this.

Is there a special virtue which has precisely the rôle of making man lead a wholly supernatural life with a view to the possession of God?

Yes, and this virtue is called charity.



What then is charity?

Charity is a virtue which raises us to a life of intimacy with God for His own sake, in so far as He is His own happiness and has deigned to wish to communicate His happiness to us (XXIII. 1).

What does this life of intimacy with God to which the virtue of charity raises us imply in us?

This life of intimacy with God implies two things in us: first of all a participation of the divine nature which divinizes our nature and elevates us above every natural order (whether human or angelic) to the order which is proper to God, making us gods and members of His family; secondly, it implies in us principles of activity proportionate to this divine existence which enable us to act as true children of God even as God Himself acts -- knowing Him as He knows Himself, loving Him as He loves Himself, and enabling us to enjoy Him as He enjoys Himself (XXIII. 2).

Are these two things indissolubly connected with the presence of charity in the soul?

Yes, and charity itself is their consummation or perfection.

Is it then true always that whoever has charity has also sanctifying grace together with the virtues and the gifts?

Yes, of necessity he must have all these (XXIII. 7).

Is charity the queen of all the virtues?

Yes, charity is the queen of all the virtues (XXIII. 6).

Why is charity the queen of all the virtues?

Because charity rules them all and causes them to act with the view of possessing God, who is the proper object of charity (XXIII. 6).

How does charity cleave and unite itself to God, its proper object?

It is by love that charity cleaves and unites itself to God (XXVII.).

In what precisely consist this cleaving and union of charity to God, its proper object?

It consists in this, that man by charity desires for God the Infinite Good which is God Himself, and for himself he desires the same good, which is God, precisely as constituting his own happiness (XXV., XXVII.).


What is the difference between these two loves?

This: one is a love of complacency in God in so far as He is Himself happy; the other a love of complacency in God in so far as He is our own happiness.

Are these two loves inseparable in the virtue of charity?

Yes, they are absolutely inseparable.

Why are they inseparable?

Because each rules the other, and they are reciprocally cause and effect.

How can it be shown that they rule each other, and are reciprocally cause and effect?

By this: if God were not our good we would have no reason at all for loving Him; and if there were not in Him, as in its fount, the good that He is for us, we would not love Him by the love with which we love Him (XXV. 4).

Are both these loves pure and perfect?

Yes, in very truth.

Is each one of them a love belonging to the virtue of charity?


Is there not, however, some order between these two loves; and which of the two holds the first place?

Yes, there is here a certain order; and that love holds the first place which is complacency in God, because of the infinite good which He is to Himself.

Why does this love hold the first place?

Because the good that God is to Himself outbalances the good that God is to us: not that this good is really different, for it is always God Himself in so far as He is in Himself; but because this good is in God in an infinite manner and as it were in its source; whereas it is in us in a finite manner and by participation.

Does the love of charity embrace others besides God and us?

Yes, the love of charity reaches to all those who already possess the happiness of God or who hope to possess it one day (XXV. 6-10).

Who are those who already possess the happiness of God?

The angels and the elect in heaven.

Who are those who hope to possess it one day?

All the souls of the just in purgatory and all living on earth.

Must one then love all men on earth with the love of charity?



Are there degrees in this love of charity which we must have for others as well as for ourselves?

Yes, there are degrees in this love of charity; for first we must above all love ourselves, and then others according as they approach in nearness to God in the supernatural order, or according as they are more or less near to us in the divers relations that bring us into touch with them, such relations, for instance, as ties of blood, friendship, life in common, etc. (XXVI.).

What is meant by saying as to the order of the love of charity that we must above all love ourselves after the love of God?

By this is meant that we must wish for ourselves the happiness of God above all things else excepting God, to whom we must wish this happiness first and in preference to all other.

Is it only the happiness of God that we must wish for ourselves and for others also by virtue of charity?

It is the happiness of God before all and above all; but we must or may also wish for ourselves and for others, by virtue of charity, all that is ordained to the happiness of God or that is dependent upon Him.

Is there anything that is directly ordained to the happiness of God?

Yes, the acts of the supernatural virtues (XXV. 2).

Should we therefore desire for ourselves and for others the acts of the supernatural virtues immediately after the desire for the happiness of God and by reason of this happiness?


May we also by virtue of charity desire temporal goods for ourselves and for others?

Yes, we may and sometimes we ought to desire for ourselves and for others temporal goods in virtue of charity.

When ought we to desire this kind of goods?

When they are indispensable to our life on earth, and for the practice of virtue.

When may we desire them?

When they are not indispensable but may be useful.

If they were hurtful to the good of virtue, would it not be possible to desire them for ourselves and for others without detriment to the virtue of charity?

No, for if these temporal goods become an obstacle to a life of virtue and are a cause of sin, we cannot desire them neither for ourselves nor for others without prejudicing the virtue of charity.


How may one formulate accurately the act of love which constitutes the principal act of the virtue of charity?

In this wise: "My God, I love Thee with all my heart and above all things; I desire no other happiness but Thyself, wishing this same happiness before all and above all to Thyself; further, I desire this happiness for all those who already possess Thee or who, by Thy bounty, are called to possess Thee one day."



When the soul has the virtue of charity and performs in truth the principal act of charity, what is the result in the soul?

The result is the first effect of charity which is called joy (XXVIII. 1).

Is this joy, which is the proper effect of charity, perfect without any trace of sadness?

Yes, this joy is perfect, without trace of sadness, when it reaches towards the infinite happiness that God is to Himself or towards the elect in heaven; but it is mingled with traces of sadness when it reaches to the happiness of God which is not as yet possessed by the souls in purgatory, or by us and all those who are still on earth (XXVIII. 2).

In the latter case why is the joy belonging to charity mingled with sadness?

The mingling of sadness in this joy is due to the presence of physical or moral evil which affects or can affect those who are in the divers states mentioned (ibid.).

But then even in these cases ought not joy to predominate by the very virtue of charity?

Yes, by the very virtue of charity joy should always predominate, because this joy has for its principal object and for its first cause the infinite happiness of the Divine Friend, Who enjoys eternally the infinite good which is no other than Himself, and which He essentially possesses secure from all evil (ibid.).


is there any other effect in us consequent upon the principal act of charity?

Yes; and this other effect is called peace (XXIX. 3).

What is peace?

Peace is the tranquillity of order or perfect harmony resulting in us and in all things from the fact that all our inclinations and the inclinations of all other creatures are turned towards God, who is the supreme object of our perfect happiness (XXIX. 11).


Is there any other effect which attends the principal act of charity besides these two interior effects?

Yes, there is another interior effect which follows this act which is called mercy (XXX.).

What is meant by mercy?

By mercy is meant a special virtue distinct from charity, and of which it is the fruit, whereby we sorrow for the misery of our neighbour as something possible to ourselves, or at least as if the misery in some sense were our own, and this by reason of the friendship which unites us to our neighbour (XXX. 1-3).

Is this virtue of mercy a great virtue?

Yes, for it is a virtue which belongs to God par excellence, not indeed in so far as there is any feeling of sorrow or of sadness (which cannot be in Him), but as regards the effects which this feeling moved by charity produces (XXX. 4).

Among men, does this feeling belong above all to the most perfect?

Yes, for the nearer one approaches to God, so much the more must mercy have root in him, inclining him to give help to all around him according to the extent of his means, whether they be spiritual or temporal (XXX. 4).

Would the practice of this virtue be a great help towards the establishment and the strengthening of social peace among men?

Yes, indeed this would be so.


Are there also any exterior acts which are the proper effect of the virtue of charity by reason of its principal act?

Yes; and one of the first is kindliness (XXXI. 1).

What then is kindliness?

Kindliness, as its very name implies, consists in doing good (ibid.).

Is this act always an act proper to the virtue of charity?

Yes, provided one understands it in the precise sense of doing good to others (ibid.).

Can it also be the act of other virtues distinct from charity that are, however, dependent upon charity?

Yes, it can also be the act of other virtues distinct from, yet dependent upon charity, when to the general reason of doing good is added some special and particular reason, as, for instance, when a thing is due, or necessary, or is a thing of which one has need (ibid.).

What virtue is implied in an act of well-doing when to this is added the particular reason of a thing as due?

In this case the virtue of justice is implied (XXXI. 1, ad 3).

And when in the same act of well-doing, there is found added to the general reason of well-doing the particular reason of something that is necessary or of which one has need, what virtue is implied?

The virtue of mercy (ibid.).


What is that act of charity called which consists in doing good through the means of mercy?

It is called almsdeeds (XXXII. 1).

Are there divers kinds of almsdeeds?

Yes, there are two great kinds of almsdeeds: those that are spiritual and those that are corporal (XXXII. 2).

What are corporal almsdeeds?

Corporal almsdeeds are the following: To feed the hungry; to give drink to him that thirsts; to clothe the naked; to give hospitality to the stranger; to visit him who is ailing; to set at liberty those in captivity; and to bury the dead (XXXII. 2).

And what are spiritual almsdeeds?

Spiritual almsdeeds are prayer, teaching, counsel, consolation, correction, and the forgiving of an offence (XXXII. 2).

Are all these almsdeeds of great worth?

Yes, and indeed we see by the Gospels that at the day of judgment the sentence of eternal damnation or eternal reward will depend upon them.

When is there a strict and grave obligation of performing an almsdeed?

Always when our neighbour is in pressing need, whether spiritual or corporal, and when we only are able to help him (XXXII. 5).

Although there may be no pressing need for helping our neighbour, is there any strict and grave obligation to make use of the spiritual and temporal goods one has received in superabundance from God with the view of bettering our neighbour or society?

Yes, one who has received spiritual and temporal goods in superabundance from God is in duty bound to act in this way (XXXII. 5, 6).


Is there a certain kind of almsdeed which is in particular important and of a delicate nature?

Yes, it is called fraternal correction (XXXIII. 1).

What is meant by fraternal correction?

It is a spiritual almsdeed which is, properly speaking, directed to the healing of sins evil in the sinner (XXXIII. 1).

Is this almsdeed an act of the virtue of charity?

Yes, it is eminently an act of charity, through the medium of mercy and the help of prudence, which should choose the proper means for this end, which is as excellent as it is delicate and difficult (XXXIII. 1).

Is fraternal correction of precept?

Yes, it is of precept and is obligatory, but only in the case when owing to circumstances it is imperative upon us to help our neighbour out of some evil which endangers his salvation (XXXIII. 2).

Who are those bound to make use of fraternal correction?

Everybody who is animated by the spirit of charity and who, consequently, is free himself from the evil he perceives in his neighbour, is bound to point out the fault in his neighbour whoever the latter may be, even if a superior, provided, of course, proper respect is preserved and there is hope of amendment; otherwise there is no obligation, and one should abstain therefrom (XXXIII. 3-6).



What feeling, above all, should be banished from man's heart in his dealings with his fellow-men?

It is the feeling of hatred (XXXIV.).

What then is hatred?

Hatred is the greatest of all the vices opposed directly to the principal act of charity, which is an act of love of God and of one's neighbour (XXXI V. 2-4).

Is it possible that God should be hated by any one of His creatures?

Yes, it is even possible for God to be hated by one of His creatures (XXXIV. 1).

How is it possible to explain that God, who is the Infinite. Good, and from whom comes all good for the benefit of His creatures, whether in the natural or the supernatural order, can be hated by one of His creatures?

It is explained by the moral depravation of some of His creatures, who no longer consider God as the Infinite Good and the source of all good things, but as the Legislator who forbids the evil one loves, or as the judge who condemns and punishes the evil one commits, and of which one is unwilling to repent or to ask pardon (XXXIV. 1).

It is then a sort of diabolical obstinacy in doing evil which causes rational creatures to hate God?

Yes, it is a sort of diabolical obstinacy in evil.

Is hatred of God the greatest of all sins?

Yes, it is by far the greatest of all sins (XXXIV. 2).

Is it ever permitted to hate any one of our fellow-men?

No, this is never permissible (XXXIV. 3).

But has not one the right to hate men who do evil?

No, one never has the right to hate evildoers; but one should detest the evil they do, because of the love one must have towards them (XXXI V. 3).

May one never wish them evil?

No, one may never wish them evil; but in view of the good which one wishes to them, or to society, and still more to God, one may wish them to suffer certain evils to the end that they might be drawn to a good life, and thus safeguard the good of society and the glory of God (XXXI V. 3).

May one ever wish that a man on earth, no matter how bad he may be, may suffer eternal damnation?

No, one may never wish this of any man living; for this would be an act directly opposed to the virtue of charity, which makes us wish for all in the end the happiness of God, with the sole exception of the devils and the lost who are already in hell.


Is there a vice which is specially opposed to the second act of charity which is called joy?

Yes; and this is the vice of sadness touching spiritual and supernatural good which is the proper object of charity, and which we know to be God Himself, our perfect happiness (XXXV.).

How is such sadness possible?

It is possible because man by reason of his distaste for spiritual things esteems the divine good, which is the object of charity, as something not good, and as baneful and oppressing.

Is this always a mortal sin?

Yes, it is always a mortal sin when it passes from the lower or sensitive part of our nature and infects the rational and higher part of our soul (XXXV. 1).

Why is it then a mortal sin?

Because it is directly opposed to charity which makes us in duty love God above all things, and as a consequence makes us bound to seek in Him the first and ultimate peace and joy of our soul (XXXV. 3).

Is this sadness one of the capital sins?

Yes, it is a capital sin, because on its account men do many evil things and commit numerous sins either to avoid and get rid of it, or because its oppressiveness makes them take refuge in evil acts (XXXV. 4).

What is this evil sadness which is a capital sin called?

It is called spiritual laziness, or distaste for spiritual things.

What are the sins which flow from this sin, or what are the daughters of this spiritual laziness?

They are despair, pusillanimity, sluggishness as regards the precepts, spite, malice, and the wandering of the mind among unlawful things (XXXV. 4, ad 2).

Is this laziness the only vice opposed to the joy of charity?

No, there is another called envy (XXXVI.).

What is the difference between these two vices?

There is this difference: spiritual laziness is opposed to the joy of the divine good in so far as this good is in God and ought to be in us; whereas envy is opposed to the joy of the divine good in so far as this good belongs to our neighbour (XXXV., XXXVI.).


What then is envy?

Envy is sadness because of the good of another, not because this good is a cause of evil to us, but merely because it is another's and not ours (XXXVI. I, 2; 3).

Is this sadness of envy a sin?

Yes, because one is sad when one ought to have cause for joy, namely, at the good of another (XXX VI. 2).

Is envy always a mortal sin?

Yes, it is always of its very nature a mortal sin, since it is essentially opposed to the joy of charity; but it may be venial if it be a question of an imperfect voluntary act (XXXVI. 3).

Is envy a capital sin?

Yes, because it carries men to numberless sins, either in the endeavour to avoid it or to follow its commands (XXXVI. 4).

What are the daughters of envy?

They are obloquy, detraction, gladness in the adversities of our neighbour, affliction at his prosperity and hatred (XXXVI. 4).


Are there any vices opposed to the peace of charity?

Yes, there are several.

What are they?

They are discord within the soul, wrangling and fighting, schism, strife, sedition, warfare (XXXVII.-XLII.).


What precisely is discord, which is a sin against charity?

It consists in not wishing purposely what others wish when they manifestly desire the good, that is what is for the honour of God and our neighbour's good, and precisely for this very reason; or, to take part in this disagreement without a direct bad intention, except that it has reference to things that belong essentially to God's honour and our neighbour's good; or to be unduly obstinate and stubborn in disagreeing no matter what the object may be and no matter how right be our intention (XXXVII. 1).


What is wrangling?

Wrangling is to contend with another in words (XXXVIII. i).

Is wrangling a sin?

Yes, if one thus contends with the sole desire to contradict; and the more so if one does this in order to hurt a neighbour or contaminate the truth which our neighbour defends by his words; it would also be a sin if, in defending the truth oneself, one's manner or speech wounds our neighbour's feelings (XXXVIII. 1).


What is schism?

Schism is the separating oneself intentionally from the unity of the Church, either by refusing to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff as to the head of the Church, or by refusing to have communication with the members, as such, of the Church (XXXIX. 1).


Why is war counted among the sins opposed to charity?

Because when war is unjust it is one of the greatest evils that can be inflicted on our neighbour.

Is it ever permissible to make war?

Yes, when there is a just cause, and no injustice is committed in the course of the war (XL. 1).

What is meant by a just cause?

By this is meant the hard necessity of making respected even by force of arms the essential rights among men, when these rights have been violated by a foreign nation which refuses to make reparation (XL. 1).

Is it then permitted to make war in this case only?

Yes (XL. 1).

Do those who fight in a just war, and who commit no act of injustice in the course of the war, perform an act of virtue?

Yes, they perform a great act of virtue, since they expose themselves to the greatest of perils for the welfare of their fellow-men or for the good of God.


What is understood by faction, the sin that is opposed to peace?

By faction is understood strife between individuals without any sanction whatsoever of the public authority; and it is always of itself a grave sin in him who is the author thereof (XLI. 1).


Is the duel related to this sin?

Yes, but with this difference, that the duel is a thing calculated and is in a sense not fought in the heat of passion; and this circumstance adds to its gravity.

Is the duel, in itself, always essentially bad?

Yes, because therein one jeopardizes one's own life or that of one's neighbour contrary to the law of God, who alone is the master of life.


What is sedition, a sin that is also opposed to charity and to peace?

Sedition is a sin whereby parties of the same people conspire or rise up tumultuously one against the other, or against the established and legitimate authority, whose office it is to guard the well-being of the whole people (XLII.).

Is sedition a great sin?

Yes, it is always a great sin, because humanly speaking there is nothing more excellent and more to be desired than the maintenance of public order, hence the crime of unjust war, and perhaps sedition even more so, is the greatest crime against the well-being of our fellow-men (XLII. 2).


Is there any special kind of sin which is directly opposed to charity as regards the external act which is called beneficence?

Yes, and the sin is called scandal (XLIII.).

What is scandal?

Scandal is that sin which through some word or deed offers to another an occasion of sinning; or the fact of taking occasion to sin because of what is said or done by another: in the first instance one gives scandal; in the second, one is scandalized (XLIII. 1).

Is it only weak souls that are scandalized?

Yes, that is those that are not as yet proof against evil; although many sensitive souls cannot help but be painfully affected when they see or hear something that is bad (XLIII. 5).

Are good and virtuous souls incapable of giving scandal?

Yes, because in the first place they never do or say anything bad that could really scandalize; if perchance scandal is ever given to others, this is due to the malice of the latter only (XLIII. 6).

May it not sometimes happen that virtuous souls are under an obligation to forego certain things lest weaker souls be scandalized?

Yes, provided of course it is not a question of things necessary for salvation (XLIII. 7).

Is one ever bound to forego some good thing in order that the wicked may not be scandalized?

No (XLIII. 7, 8).


Is there in the law of God any precept relating to the virtue of charity?

Yes (XLIV. 1).

What is this precept?

This precept is the following: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole mind, with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength" (XLIV. 4).

What do these words mean precisely?

They mean that in all our actions our intention should be directed towards God; that all our thoughts should be subject to Him; and that all our affections should be regulated according to His will; and that all our external acts should be performed in fulfilment of His will

Is this precept of charity a great precept?

Yes, it is indeed the greatest of all the precepts, since it contains virtually all other precepts, for these are ordained to it (XLIII. 1-3).

Is this precept of charity one and single, or does it embrace several other precepts?

This precept taken in its fulness is both one and many; and this means that understood in its proper sense it alone is sufficient in the order of charity; for in very truth one cannot love God without loving one's neighbour whom we must love for God's sake; but in order that the precept may be properly understood by all, to this first precept is added a second, which is really not distinct from the first, viz., "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (XLIV. 2,3,7).

Are these precepts of charity contained in the Decalogue?

No, for these precepts of charity precede, and as it were dominate, the Decalogue; indeed, the precepts contained in the Decalogue were only given in order that the carrying out of the precepts of charity might be assured (XLIV. 1).

Are these precepts of charity in the supernatural order manifest of themselves without any need of their being promulgated?

Yes, for just in the same way as there is a law of nature inborn in all which commands that in the natural order God must be loved above all and all things else for His sake; so it is a law essential to the supernatural order that God, who is the fount of all in this order, must be loved with a supernatural love above all and all things else for His sake.

Then, not to love God above all, and not to love one's neighbour as oneself, is to run counter to what is essential in the order of the affections?

Yes, this is so.

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