Monday 28 February 2022

Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance The Cardinal Virtues - Father Andrew Pinsent - CTS Deeper Christianity Series

Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance:
The Cardinal Virtues
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691752
eISBN 9781784692360
CTS Booklet SP52

Over the last few years, I have read many books from the Catholic Truth Society. Most were good reads; some were great reads; and a few are exceptional. This is another excellent offering. It is the tenth in the Deeper Christianity Series that I have read, about half of them I have now read twice, and the first volume from Father Andrew Pinsent’s pen that I have read. But I do have a couple of the others on my wish list. I have read over 250 offerings from the CTS over the last few years. This series is one of my favourites. This booklet was originally published 2017 and the eBook was released at the same time. The description of this volume is:

“What kind of people do we need to be if we are to live up to the grace of our Baptism as children of God, able to call God, “Our Father?” Besides the theological virtues, the life of grace needs a wide range of character-forming dispositions. 

These dispositions are called the infused moral virtues, and their pillars or ‘hinges’ are the Christian cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. This eBook explores the meaning of these cardinal virtues, drawing on Scripture, the great works of Catholic theology, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and new research to explain and illustrate the ideas. It also includes practical ways to support the cardinal virtues, including discipleship, parables and stories, proverbs and maxims, memorisations, and a liturgical life.”

The chapters in the book are:

The Christian Cardinal Virtues
Prudence (Practical Wisdom)
Courage (Fortitude)
Concluding Practical Remarks

And there is an excellent set of recommendations for ‘Faith, Hope & Love: The Theological Virtues’ also by Father Pinsent. Interspersed throughout the volume are 9 full page pieces of art. (In the eBook they are full colour.) And Father draws from the artwork to expand upon points he is making in the text. The artwork is:

The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck 
Detail from the Wilton Diptych 
The Magdalene Reading by Rogier van der Weyden 
St Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger 
Detail of the Mocking of Christ by Blessed Fra Angelico 
Joan of Arc by Albert Lynch 
The Fall of the Rebel Angels (detail) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder 
The Torment of St Anthony by Michelangelo 
The Resurrection of Christ by Piero della Francesca

The art and how Pinsent ties them in is a wonderful addition for the book. And Father Pinsent draws heavily from both the old and new testaments throughout the volume. In the introduction we are informed that:

“These words “You shall love the Lord your God” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” are easy to write down, but challenging to interpret and, of course, to put into practice. The Greek word for love here is agápē, used in the Scriptures and translated into Latin as caritas or divine love. In other words, the love with which we must first love God, and then our neighbour, is the love with which God loves, and that is God.

Faith, Hope and Love: The Theological Virtues, the first book of this CTS series, observes that a special feature of love is that it is about particular persons. “I love you” does not mean “I love a you”, one of (possibly) many different ‘you’s’. The one who is addressed as ‘you’ is unique, just as whoever says ‘I’ is also unique. This particularity also applies to the other theological virtues. For instance, I am commanded to love you as myself, implying a holy desire for my own true good, namely the happiness of the kingdom of heaven. Hence love is linked to my hope, a desire for my own good, from a first-person perspective. And since love needs a guardian in this world, we have been given the revelation of the divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom I can say that I have faith in you, the divine persons, and what you have revealed, in other words a commitment to the particular persons of the Most Holy Trinity. The main focus of all the theological virtues is therefore the first person, ‘I’, or those to whom I can relate as ‘you’.”

I was previously unaware that this was the first book in the excellent series. And after reading:

“The theological and moral virtues work together. For example, an individual human person, who is the subject of the theological virtue of love in the relation ‘I’ to ‘you’, is also the subject of justice to whom I owe certain obligations as a member of the human race and a child of God in grace. An evil action against you therefore violates love and justice.”

I understand why the same author penned the companion volume. We are also informed that:

“This booklet describes these infused moral virtues and specifically the four virtues that are the pillars or ‘hinges’ of all the others. These ‘cardinal virtues’ (from the Latin word ‘cardo’, meaning ‘hinge’) are drawn from Scripture and classical philosophy: prudence, justice, courage and temperance. The content of the booklet is based on the great systematic works of Catholic theology, especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the second part of the Summa theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas. Examples of great Christian art, historical references, liturgical sources, parables, prayers and new research in psychology help to illustrate and explain these ideas.”

For each of the virtues we are given a broad over view, a section on ‘special aspects of Christian …’ then another teaching section. Followed by a section on ‘Cultivating …’. For example:

Courage (Fortitude)
Special aspects of Christian courage
Cultivating courage

And in this case two example from art that appear in the second section:

Joan of Arc by Albert Lynch (d. 1912)
The Fall of the Rebel Angels (detail) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (d. 1569)

The conclusion of the book begins with:

“As noted at the beginning of this booklet, the form of the Christian life of grace is to love with God the things that God loves, the goal of which is to mature in harmony with God. Sacraments, prayer and the avoidance of sin are the foundations of this life.

Without love, all the virtues are dead, and yet we cannot simply love in an abstract way without the other virtues. We need the Christian cardinal virtues, a consequence of grace that is also nurtured through study, since we cannot love what we do not know.”

This book is one of those ones that I believe we would benefit from, especially over multiple readings. I have already added it back to my reading list to circle around to and to read again. This is an excellent read. I wish I had known there was a specific order to this series. They are all written in such a way that they can easily be read in any order. Pick and choose the ones that interest you, read them in order, or jump around. I have been blessed by all the book in this series that I have read and can easily recommend this book and the series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Deeper Christianity Series:
7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 Deadly Sins Learning to Defend the Life of Grace
Catholic Architecture 
Christian Fasting Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit
Deepening Prayer Life Defined by Prayer
Desire & Delight
Faith, Hope and Love The Theological Virtues
Fruits of the Holy Spirit Living a Happy Life
Lectio Divina Spiritual Reading of the Bible
Making Sunday Special

Mary in the Liturgy
Mary Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Providence and Prayer
Prayer in Sadness and Sorrow

Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance
Purgatory A Mystery of Love
Rediscovering Virtue The Art of Christian Living
Spiritual Warfare Fighting the Good Fight
The Call to Evangelise: Founded on loving intimacy with the Lord
The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
The Name of God The Revelation of the Merciful Presence of God
The Trinity and the Spiritual Life
Understanding The Story Of The Bible
Union with God

Books by Father Andrew Pinsent:
Why? Course Book
Evangelium Presenter's Guide: Sharing the Riches of the Catholic Faith
Evangelium Participant's Book: Sharing the Riches of the Catholic Faith
Faith, Hope and Love - The Theological Virtues

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