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Anonymous: "May true Wisdom & Love shine in your heart as though through a prism, so that you can realize virtues in your life as clearly as you see the colors of the rainbow."

This short study in virtues and vices can be seen as a simple introduction to my ethical theology. You can find twelve pictures here that each give a set of two vices and one virtue in the middle. This arrangement is due to the fact that virtues are opposed on the one hand by a vice that is a shortcoming and on the other hand by a vice that is an exaggeration.





Every virtue has two opposing kinds of vices on either side, virtue being the golden mean. On one side there is a vice which is a spiritual poverty and on the other side one that is a false ideal. Another comparable triad is: Lewdness, Chastity and Victorianism.




A virtue is a mean between two extremes. The first extreme is lacking in and the second one goes beyond the right proportion. Thus foolhardiness is a state of too much courage, that is to say recklessness.




One vice is often a reaction to its counterpart. Many people are controlled by the swings of the pendulum, whether it be in the matter of the eating habits of one individual, or in the matter of the morals of an entire society.




Virtue is not simply a matter of a certain degree of a particular quality. Because different situations call for different degrees of say courage or generosity. Degree is the relative aspect of virtue, quality the absolute one.




How is virtue obtained? Is it earned by hard practice, or is it a gift of God? Is it learned or inherited? In the latter case only the fortunate could have it. But certainly inherited character plays some role. However it is up to a person to work on his/her foibles and fortes.




Notice that the baser vices have to do with the body, and the others with the mind or the soul or the spirit. They are not simply relative idiosyncrasies. There is such a thing as a wrong habit, opinion, or belief. Today's relativism causes a regrettable bewilderment.




The difficulty is to find the fine line between vice and virtue. People generally condemn extremes, but all vice is not extreme. Remember the ancient adage: 'Dead flies make the ointment of the apothecary to stink and so a little foolishness much wisdom.'




It makes for a good exercise to try yourself to think up virtue-versus-vices groups. For instance: Diligence vs. laziness and workaholism. Try to practice the Golden Mean in every area of your life! For just as vice breeds more vice, so virtue engenders more virtue.




Humility is the highest virtue. Where pride is the root of all evil and the cause of Satan's fall, there the humility of Christ came to undo the works of the devil. People often wallow in self-pity, proclaiming that they are innocent victims; and this is then a reaction to the fact that they fail to realize their pride. Either low in despair or high on pride, they go with the flow of emotionality. Therefore there is also such a thing as the soberness of wisdom, which is also a form of humility.




Notice that unbelief lacks faith and that superstition is an exaggerated form of belief. Atheism, agnosticism and deism are forms of unbelief on the one hand, and pantheism and polytheism of superstition on the other hand. Monotheism, actually only the Christian one--Judaism and Islam tend either to forms of rationalisticism on the one hand, or mysticism on the other hand--is the Golden Mean among all religions, which fall by the two waysides.




Desperation and exuberance are respectively the shortcoming and the overemphasis of hope. The highest virtues are not only spiritual, they are the necessity of our heart. They are faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest of the three and lasts for ever.




'For God so loved the world that He gave His unique Son, so that anyone who believes in Him does not perish, but have eternal life.' Christmas is a great season, but did you realize that Christ's death is to be remembered by us? He asks us to celebrate what He did for us and He says that as often as we break 'this bread' 'we remember Him.' Let us adore Him for this the greatest proof of His Love.

There is so much to learn about virtues that one starts wondering where it all begins and ends. Remember therefore that all virtues flow out of love. Love is the alpha and omega of all good comportment! Love is more than a normal virtue per se. God is Love! Whereas humility is the highest virtue, love is the highest possible quality of the heart, the true essence of humanity after the image of God Who is Love.

If your interest has been aroused, click here to study a bit of virtue versus vice theory .

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