Pope Francis: Powerful poison of pride

by FLL Editorial Team

(Vatican News) During his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis transitions from discussing the cardinal virtues to the theological ones, recalling that faith, hope and charity help us follow Christ, guide our journey together toward holiness, and restore us, even when we fall.

Theological virtues are infused by God, and with the Holy Spirit, prepare us to merit eternal life.

Pope Francis made this point at his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square, as he transitioned from discussing the cardinal virtues to reflecting on the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

In recent months, the Pope has been offering this catechesis series on the virtues and vices. After he concluded his discussions of sins, he moved on to virtue, thus far, reflecting specifically on patience, prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance.

Inform, give life to all moral virtues

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope recalled, describes the theological virtues as "the foundation of Christian moral activity," which "animate it, and give it its special character," and "inform, and give life to all the moral virtues."

"They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful," it continues, "to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life," since they are "the pledge" of the Holy Spirit's presence and action in the human being's faculties.

While praising the cardinal virtues as being capable of generating men and women who are "heroic" in doing good, the Pope warned that at times practicing them alone poses a risk of being commendable, personally, but isolated.

Whereas, he suggested, "the great gift" of the theological virtues is instead this "existence lived in the Holy Spirit."

Never alone

The Holy Father emphasized the essential, community-related dimension of Christianity, which is inherent in these virtues, noting, "A Christian is never alone."

Christians, he said, do good "not because of a titanic effort of personal commitment," but instead "because, as a humble disciple," they "walk behind the Master Jesus."

Therefore, Pope Francis suggested, the theological virtues "are the great antidote to self-sufficiency."

"How often," he lamented, "do certain morally irreproachable men and women run the risk of becoming conceited and arrogant in the eyes of those who know them!"

Intentions count

The Gospel, the Pope emphasized, warns us against this "danger" of being taking over by the "powerful poison" of pride, which, "even a drop of," the Pope cautioned, is "enough to spoil a whole life marked by goodness."

Even if "a person may have performed a mountain of good deeds" and "may have reaped accolades and praise," if "he has done all this only to exalt himself," the Pope said, he no longer can call himself a virtuous person.

Revive us when we fall

"To correct all these situations, which sometimes become painful," the Pope stressed, "the theological virtues are of great help," especially when we have moments where we "fall," and we do not succeed in our good moral intentions.

However, "if we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit," Pope Francis encouraged, "He revives the theological virtues in us."

"If we have lost confidence, God reopens us to faith; if we are discouraged, God awakens hope in us," and, "if our heart is hardened," he reassured, "God softens it with His love."

Source: Pope at Audience: Live faith, hope and charity, to merit eternal life