The Seven Infused Virtues
By Petronia Laine

The dignity of a person is being created in the image and likeness of God. It is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being having free will to direct himself to this fulfillment. In free choice of his actions, a person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and give evidence by virtuous conscience. He will make his own contribution for interior growth in God's image. A person's whole sensation and spiritual life is put into the means of this growth. Grace will help produce growth in virtue, avoid sin, and when having sinned then entrust oneself as did the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) to the mercy of our Father in heaven. In this way the perfection of love is attained. (1700 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The seven infused virtues are faith, hope, charity, temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude. They are infused to the soul in Baptism by sanctifying grace. The soul must develop in these virtues to be in the image of God at the time of our death. The soul is given to us from God, our Father at the time of conception as in the verse of Jeremiah 1:5 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you', and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you (Jeremiah) a prophet to the nations.

The Sacrament of Baptism frees our soul from the bondage of original sin and all personal sin. The sacrament is the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit using the powers of holy water, anointing with sacred chrism oil and blessing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. A person becomes reborn as a child of God, becoming a member of Christ and shares in the church mission. It is the cleansing that without no one "can enter the kingdom of God". It is Baptism in the Word of God. This 'bath' is called enlightenment, because those who receive this instruction are enlightened in their understanding, and one becomes a "son (child) of light". (1215, 1216 Catechism of the Catholic Church). The baptized have "put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27). Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies. (1 Cor. 6:11; 12:13)The intellect and will of the soul only receive the ability to perform supernatural acts as a child of God.

The temporal consequences of sin remain and these are apparent in the baptized person, such as suffering, illness, death and other weaknesses in life, as well as an inclination to sin that the church calls concupiscence. This inclination to sin cannot harm those who do not consent but willfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ. (1264, Catechism of the Catholic Church) Awareness of Actual grace is needed to activate the ability of the infused virtues. Actual grace gives the inspiration for a supernatural act to be done. For example, a prompt may appear as sudden impulse to read the Bible or say a prayer to Him in thanksgiving in an instant. A virtuous personal relationship with God may be developed by listening to God, living the Gospels and acting on the prompts of actual grace.

The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized soul sanctifying grace, the grace of justification, enabling one to believe in God, to hope and to love Him through the theological virtues of (Faith, Hope and Charity). Grace gives the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit; living in grace allows one to grow in goodness through the moral virtues (of temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude). Thus the roots of a Christian's supernatural life are in Baptism. (1265, Catechism of the Catholic Church) The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." (1268, Catechism of the Catholic Church).

A "living stone" is acting on actual grace and developing the seven infused virtues within the soul. The soul gives life to the mind and body to live in the image of God. The command to be virtuous is given in Phil. 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Living in virtue is having the habit and a strong motivation to do what is good for the love of God. This vision, or strong desire in action to love and serve God, produces the habit of discipline to live in virtue. This desire is necessary for living the kingdom of heaven within us. As in Psalm 37:7-11: Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. Herein you will strive to live in virtue with all your senses and spiritual powers given, and will seek the good and choose to do good based on the living Word of God.

Although we may have good intentions to respond to actual grace, our human nature has weaknesses (Rom. 7:19). When virtue is present and strengthened by graces given in the holy sacraments, prayers, fasting, confession, Bible reading and participating in the Holy Mass, the Holy Spirit will take over the direction of our actions. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit will perfect our virtues of the soul and will lead us to work God's will in our life, when we are giving free consent to the Holy Spirit.

The New American Bible, family edition, includes these virtues as petitions for growth in holiness when we pray The Lord's Prayer: Faith: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name; (pronouncing God is our Creator and He gives us everything for good). Hope: Your kingdom come; (by enduring afflictions with love for God, He will give tried virtue, producing hope) Charity: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; (by serving God first in life His kingdom will reign in one's heart) Temperance: Give us today our daily bread; (for self control to moderating the senses, our soul will be nourished and sanctified) Justice: And forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us; (respect other's rights and give their strict due) Prudence: Subject us not to the trial; (the reasoning to avoid sin and overcome with love) Fortitude: But deliver us from the evil one. (to control our inner life, desires, fears and emotions) Amen.

We need to pray for growth in the infused virtues. After the habit of acquiring virtue is learned, living the messages of Medjugorje will become a time of joyful encounters and discovery with God. We change because our minds are tuned with living prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, receiving the sacrament of confession, and attending Holy Mass. The Sacrament of Confession renews the soul with sanctifying grace. The power of the prayer of Absolution replenishes the soul with the virtues of baptism that were lost by committing a grave sin. Answering Our Lady's invitation will give us God's blessings in various ways. We will experience miracles and wonders that only He can accomplish in our life when we live in grace. We will be able to discern experiences of God by feeling the sensitivity of our soul to evil, like St. Teresa of Avila describes in her autobiography of The Life of Teresa of Jesus. The discernment being given according to God's will for us.

Our Lady of Medjugorje is inviting us to daily pray the Rosary. Our Lady invites us August 4, 1986: "I wish only that for you the Rosary become your life." Prayer and meditation on the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries is a powerful means to live the virtues. The Rosary contains the Word of God and the Holy Scriptures and gives protection to our life. The Word of God is found in the prayers and meditation on the Gospels will change the heart according to God's will.

Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Teacher, gave us the "Our Father" prayer as a means to pray and petition in His order. The Hail Mary prayer was given to us by the Angel Gabriel who came in God's authority. The Glory Be prayer is praise and worship to the Blessed Trinity and the Apostles Creed was given to the twelve apostles and first Christians. Therefore, as the Rosary is according to the Word of God there cannot be an error in praying the Rosary. The Rosary is a means to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit within us and is armor against the devil, providing the channel for petitioning our hearts to God in prayer and supplication. A decision to pray and meditate will bring us to be imitators of Jesus and Mary.

The Mystical City of God by Venerable Mary of Agreda, at page 548, gives a summary to the importance of working for greater virtue. In the section of Words of The Queen, Blessed Mary relates to Ven. Mary of Agreda as follows: I desire that the fruit of the obedience with which thou writes the history of my life shall be, that thou become a true disciple of my most holy Son and of myself. The main purpose of the exalted and venerable mysteries, which are made known to thee, and of the teachings, which I so often repeat to thee, is that thou deny and strip thyself, estranging thy heart from all affection to creatures, neither wishing to possess them nor accept them for other uses. By this precaution thou wilt overcome the impediments, which the devils seek to place in the way of the dangerous softness of thy nature. I who know thee, thus advise and lead thee by the way of instruction and correction as thy Mother and Instructress. By the divine teaching thou knows the mysteries of the Passion and Death of Christ and the one true way of life, which is the Cross; and thou knows that not all who are called, are chosen. Many there are who wish to follow Christ and very few who truly dispose themselves to imitate Him; for as soon as they feel the sufferings of the Cross they cast it aside. Laborious exertions are very painful and averse to human nature according to the flesh; and the fruits of the spirit are more hidden and few guide themselves by the light. On this account there are so many among mortals, who, forgetful of the eternal truths, seek the flesh and the continual indulgence of its pleasures. They ardently seek honors and fly from injuries: they strive after riches, and condemn poverty; they long after pleasure and dread mortification. All these are enemies of the Cross of Christ (Phil. 3, 18), and with dreadful aversion they fly from it, deeming it sheer ignominy, just like those who crucified Christ, the Lord.

And on October 24, 1985 Our Lady of Medjugorje gave us a message stating: "Dear children, from day to day I wish to clothe you in holiness, goodness, obedience, and God's love, so that from day to day you become more beautiful and more prepared for your Master. Dear children, listen to and live my messages. I wish to guide you. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Surrendering to the teachings of the gospels will give us a life of abundance. Those who choose to live for God and others are living in the truth. Virtue is a firm desire to do good. The theological virtues motivate a Christian to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. God is their origin and is known by faith, hope and love. The moral virtues govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our behavior in reason and faith. Prudence gives reason to discern for our true good. Justice is willing to give God and others their due. Fortitude disciplines the inner self. Temperance gives balance to use of created goods. These virtues grow through perseverance and decision of our acts on the prompts of Actual Grace. Our Lady is giving us the way that leads to living in the Scriptures. The produce of this means are the fruits of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. All these good things come from God, Our Father in love for us.

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