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Cardinal Virtues
Question from Veronica Rapinchuk on 12/12/2000:

What are the cardinal virtues and how are they central to the pursuit of the moral life, especially for catechumens and candidates entering the Catholic Church?

Answer by Fr.Stephen F. Torraco on 12/12/2000:

Since you ask this question in connection with preparing to enter the Church, I thought it would be helpful to offer you a rather comprehensive response.

VIRTUE: PUTTING ON THE MIND OF CHRIST: Why We Do Anything At All

Why do we do anything at all? Start thinking about this by reflecting on an ordinary activity in your life. Ask yourself: why do I do this? For example, suppose you go to work every day. Why? You might say, "To support myself or my family." But why? And then why again? And why again? And again, and again, and again...?

The why of your ordinary activity is at first an immediate one. Beyond that immediate why, there are possibly several intermediate whys. Your immediate and intermediate whys may differ from mine. But whether in your case or in mine, where do the string of whys come to an end? Whether in your case or in mine, what is the ultimate why or the ultimate goal or good for which we strive? If our string of immediate and intermediate whys have no final resting point, if there is no ultimate why or good or goal, that would mean that our immediate and intermediate whys ultimately have no meaning or purpose or goal! It would mean that we are living for no ultimate purpose! Without an ultimate why or purpose or goal, our immediate and intermediate whys would fall like a house of cards.

When we go about making sense of our lives, not only are we presupposing that there is an objective standard that enables making sense to make sense, but we are also presupposing that there is an ultimate why or goal or good. We are presupposing that the ultimate why of my and your immediate and intermediate whys exists. Secondly, we presuppose that this ultimate why or good is superior to us, that it is not something within us or that we already possess, and that if we attain it it would make us better or would perfect or fulfill us. Right away, this tells us that, thirdly, we think that the ultimate why or good is something attainable, and that fourthly, when we finally attain it, it will make us complete.

In short, we presuppose that our lives can make sense only in reference to the ultimate why or good and that the more we attain this ultimate good, the more we will be happy. The ultimate why or good, we think -whether consciously or unconsciously- is the source of happiness.

What is happiness? Is it simply a feeling? If that is the case, how shall we understand the lives of martyrs who shed their blood for Christ and who did so happily? Nevertheless, even if it were just a feeling, "where" is happiness when I am happy? In my stomach? In my kidneys? In my big toe? Is it my body alone that enables me to be happy? Isn't there another dimension of me that enables me to be happy, even if happiness were just a feeling? And don't we call that other dimension soul?

In light of all the above, we can say that while the ultimate good is outside of and beyond ourselves and yet the source of happiness, happiness itself is within us -a quality of soul that results from attaining the ultimate good. This quality of soul, according to our previous discussion of the characteristics of the ultimate good, should perfect or fulfill us. Qualities of soul that perfect or fulfill us are called virtues or good habits. Good habits enable me to act with moral beauty, joyfully, confidently, and for the ultimate good. Good habits give me the highest of motives.

At this point, we are led to ask: What is the ultimate good and how do I attain it so as to become happy? Actually, these two questions have a very important relationship: understanding how we become happy -which is another way of asking how we become virtuous- opens the way to learning what the ultimate good is.

In order to become virtuous -in order to develop good habits- I need a teacher in whose life I can see the virtues or good habits manifested and exemplified. Who is this teacher? In our ordinary experience, our parents and school teachers. But what happens if my parents or teachers are taken away from me against my will? Doesn't that suggest that becoming virtuous or happy is a very fragile thing indeed? Doesn't that suggest that I can't be confident about becoming happy or attaining the highest good?

Not if -and here, we learn another, a fifth characteristic of the ultimate good- the ultimate good is something that cannot be taken away from us against our will. The only One Who can fulfill all five characteristics of the ultimate good is the God Who created the heavens and the earth, the God Who redeems and sanctifies, the One Who ultimately must be our Teacher.

There is a very important point to be noted here. In order for making sense to make sense, in order for the pursuit of virtue in this world to be meaningful, in order for morality ultimately to make sense for any human being, the God Who created the heavens and the earth, the God of Moses, the God of Jesus Christ, must be our ultimate Good, our Ultimate Why. This God must be the One Who is our highest Motive, our ultimate Good and Goal. This God alone must be "why we do anything at all."

Educating the Emotions: Toward the Wholeness of "Spice"

We can know that happiness is more than a feeling when we realize that we are not born with virtue while we are born with emotions. Moreover, by the very fact that we go about our lives making sense or aiming for good or seeking to become happy we know that the primary emotion of our souls is love. Most fundamentally, we are lovers.

From our own experience of making sense or aiming or loving, we know that there are other emotions related to the primary emotion of love. When someone or something -say a beautiful song or a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon or a person- touches us with its or his or her goodness, the emotion of love is triggered in us. The emotion of love, in turn, triggers the emotion of desire, which moves us toward that good thing or good person. When we finally possess or become united, respectively, with that good thing or person, we experience the emotion of joy.

In contrast, when we are confronted by evil, we are repulsed -we experience the emotion of hatred. Hatred triggers the emotion of aversion, which moves us away from the evil experienced. However, if we are unsuccessful in our attempt to move away from that evil, we experience sadness.

These six emotions, centered on love, are called the affective emotions. Standing at the service of the affective emotions are the spirited emotions. These emotions assist us when the good by which we are touched and which we then desire is difficult to attain, or when the evil by which we are touched and from which we seek to move is hard to avoid. In relation to the good which we love and desire but which is hard to attain, we are assisted by the secondary emotions of hope and courage. When faced by an evil that we hate and in relation to which we experience aversion but which is difficult to avoid, we experience the secondary emotions of fear, anger, and, again courage. Finally, if the evil is overwhelming or impossible to avoid, we experience despair.

The affective emotions are rooted in the dimension of the soul called desire or, in Greek, eros. The spirited emotions are rooted in the dimension of the soul called spiritedness or, in Greek, thumos.

We have been created in the image and likeness of God, and this image at its core is our minds and wills. The mind and will, or in Greek, logos, constitute the first dimension of the soul; thumos, the second; and eros, the third.

If, as I said earlier, we are not born with virtue, and if we, by our minds and wills, aim at doing things to attain good, and ultimately, God, then it follows that our emotions, both affective and spirited, need to be educated or trained to be in harmony with our minds and wills. We must learn to love and desire what is good. We need to learn to feel strongly about the quest of our minds and wills for the Ultimate Good, God. This is to say that logos must govern thumos and eros. This governance of thumos and eros by logos -of our feelings or emotions by our minds and wills- is the essence of that quality of soul called virtue, itself the essence of happiness.

While reflecting on the importance of the attainment of harmony among the three or dimensions of the soul by virtue, we must not neglect the fact that we are embodied persons. There is an intimate unity between the body and soul of man and woman. This means that their bodies are not mere "dress." Their bodies are intimately united with their persons. In and through their bodies they reveal themselves to each other.

There is an acronym that sums up the wholeness that results in a person's life from the attainment of the harmony among the three dimensions of the soul and the consequent harmony between body and soul: SPICE. The S stands for spiritual; the P, for physical; the I, for intellectual; the C, for communicative; and the E, for emotional. Originally, SPICE was a description of the fullness of the bond of love between husband and wife that is learned in connection with natural family planning. Later, we will have reason to reflect more on natural family planning in connection with our discussion of the family as the school of virtue. For now, we can recognize that the education of our emotions by virtue will lead us to respect our bodies as "sacraments" of our persons. Part of this education includes the understanding that human sexuality is so much more than genitality.

Attaining and Maintaining the Cardinal Virtues

A virtue is essentially a good habit that perfects a specific dimension of one's soul. Good habits perfect our souls so that our human actions will radiate moral beauty and the "splendor of the truth." The more virtuous we are, the more we will attain the ultimate good, God, and the happier we will be.

The first virtues that we must learn about are the cardinal virtues, namely, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice. The word "cardinal" is derived from the Latin cardinalis, which means "hinge." These four virtues are called "cardinal" because upon them hinges the perfection or fulfillment of the soul as well as the moral life -- for our actions flow from our souls. Each cardinal virtue perfects one of the three dimensions of the soul: mind or logos, spiritedness or thumos, and desire or eros.

Prudence is the virtue that perfects our minds so as to be able to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good. Fortitude perfects the spirited emotions, or spiritedness or thumos. Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. Temperance perfects the affective emotions, or desire, or eros. Once these three moral virtues are attained, the soul arrives at a harmony among its three dimensions according to which the mind or logos governs spiritedness or thumos and desire or eros. This internal harmony is the fourth cardinal virtue of justice, which includes both internal justice (this internal harmony in the soul) and external justice. By virtue of internal justice, my mind and will are strengthened to perform external justice, namely, to render to others what is due them, or to respect others AS others.

It is important to remember that human beings are creatures of habit. However, endowed with intellect and free will, we are capable of being conscious of and conscientious about the habits we develop, maintain, or lose. This means that, if we are not conscientious about acquiring and maintaining good habits, we are inevitably falling into bad habits. When it comes to good habits and bad habits, or virtue and vice (which is the name for a bad habit), for creatures of habit there is no neutral ground.

Previously, we reflected on the affective and spirited emotions and noted that our emotions need to be educated and trained to be in harmony with our minds and wills. If we do not attend to this education or training, our emotions can easily become captives of one or more of the seven deadly or capital sins: sloth, envy, covetousness, vainglory or pride, gluttony, lust, and anger. The dangerous thing about the deadly sins is that, if we allow ourselves to be captivated by them, they deceive us into thinking that they are virtues or qualities of soul that lead us to happiness. In fact, they are like "cancerous growth" that strangles the soul.

Sloth is often equated with laziness; but the kind of laziness that sloth is is often misunderstood. Sloth is fundamentally a sadness in the presence of eternal or spiritual goods, and ultimately God Himself. Sloth is often disguised by "workaholism," or by a "busy-ness" about temporal things that is actually a means of avoiding eternal and spiritual things, and ultimately God. Sloth is often manifested by "boredom" about attending Mass or praying, for example. Saint Thomas Aquinas calls sloth the "sin against the Sabbath."

Envy is a sadness in the presence of the goodness of others. Rather than move us to emulate the goodness of others, envy leads us to find a way to justify the fact that we lack the goodness that others possess. A manifestation of envy today is ethical relativism, which denies that there are any objective moral norms. This denial is intended to subvert the objective status of the goodness of others.

Covetousness is a disordered and excessive desire to control persons, places, or things. Contrary to generosity, covetousness manifests itself today especially in the contraceptive mentality. The contraceptive mentality is the distorted attempt to control one's own as well as another's body, including the human capacity for sexual loving and procreation. The tragic result of the contraceptive mentality -- the "sexual holocaust" of the past twenty-five years -- is the reduction of one's own and another's body to "mere dress." The contraceptive mentality has reduced woman to a merely passive receptacle of male predatory tendencies. The contraceptive mentality is the opposite of SPICE.

Vainglory or pride is respecting oneself or others for the wrong reasons. Pride today is often manifested in the news media when, for example, a Catholic legislator who consistently promotes a so-called "pro-choice" position is praised by the Catholic media for his or her position on welfare reform. Gluttony is the excessive preoccupation with our bodies at the cost of becoming forgetful of our souls, not only in terms of excessive eating and drinking, but also in terms of excessive preoccupation with physical fitness and physical beauty. Lust is the vehement disorder of sexual desires, as in the case of the so-called "homosexual lifestyle" or the widespread phenomenon of "living together." Lust reduces human sexuality to genitality. As a result, lust tends to distort human sexual genital activity into a form of recreation. Ironically and tragically, lust leads to a fear of fertility and to an animosity for children, as expressed in practices such as rape, sterilization, contraception, abortion, pornography, child molestation, adultery, and divorce.

Finally, anger is a mixture of sadness and hatred in the presence of what is true. (Don't be confused by the fact that "anger" is the name of a spirited emotion as well as the name of the distortion of that emotion.) An example of this sin of anger is the radical feminist movement and the so-called "gay rights" movement. Radical feminists are very unhappy about the objective meaning of the dignity and vocation of women, just as a members of the "gay rights" movement are unhappy about the objective meaning of masculinity and femininity.

It is important to notice that five of the seven deadly sins latch onto a "part" or dimension of the soul called desire or eros, the source of the affective emotions. In light of the fact that we "begin" our human story, so to speak, in this dimension of our souls, -- we are, at root, primarily "intenders" or "lovers" -- it is extremely east to drift into sloth, envy, covetousness, gluttony, or lust. Anger is the "cancerous growth" on the dimension of the soul called spiritedness or thumos.

Vainglory or pride is the distortion of the dimension of the soul called mind or logos. In connection with this point, have you noticed that in the list of the deadly sins the literally central one is pride? Also, have you noticed that in the acronym, SPICE, the "I," which stands for "intellectual," is the literally central letter? The sin of Adam and Eve was a sin of pride and led to the distortion of masculinity and femininity. In contrast, we noted that SPICE points to the truth that human sexuality is so much more than genitality. I am leading you to the point of recognizing that the mind is the "most important sex organ." This is testified to by the literal centrality of "I" in SPICE and by the literal centrality of vainglory or pride in the list of the seven deadly sins. Thus, while SPICE points to the road toward the recovery of the fullness of our human dignity, the list of the seven deadly sins points to the road toward our dehumanization.

Well, then, suppose you are trying to be conscientious about acquiring and maintaining good habits or virtues -- like the cardinal virtues -- and thereby trying to avoid or overcome the seven deadly sins. How does it work?

Let's suppose that you wanted to become a pianist. You wanted to be able to enjoy the graceful way in which a professional pianist plays. You perhaps witnessed how smoothly and artistically the fingers of a pianist roll across the keyboard. However, when you set out to learn how to play the piano, you probably experienced a great deal of difficulty in training your fingers to hit the right keys at the right time. You probably discovered that it takes time and practice -- and perseverance -- to finally learn how to play the piano. Moreover, if you advanced your ability to play the piano, you also discovered that, even after you finally arrived at being able to play with grace and beauty, you still have to spend time regularly practicing the piano in order to maintain the grace and beauty with which you play.

The same is true in acquiring and maintaining the cardinal virtues. Continual practice is the key to acquiring and maintaining them. Thus, if you want to be prudent, you will need to engage in prudent actions. Likewise, becoming temperate and just require engaging in temperate and just actions.

How will you know when you finally become prudent, courageous, temperate, and just? You will know when performing prudent, courageous, temperate, and just actions gracefully and with moral beauty. You will know when performing such actions becomes a source of happiness. (Didn't we already learn that happiness consists of activity in accordance with those qualities of the soul called virtues?) You will be like the pianist, in which case the keyboard is parallel to your emotions, your spiritedness or thumos and your desire or eros. Your mind and will, or logos, will govern the other two dimensions of your soul as gracefully as the pianist rolls his or her fingers across the keyboard. The result will be a moral life as beautiful as a symphony!

There are two questions that we must deal with in connection with the attainment and the goal of virtuous acts. The first question is: if, as we learned in the first presentation, "The Gift of the Gospel," the effects of the original sin leave us incapable of being fully human on our own power, how will we ever be able to attain the cardinal virtues? Secondly, what do the cardinal virtues have to do with "putting on the mind of Christ?"

The Difference that Jesus Makes: The Theological Virtues

Something very exciting happened to a certain Jewish man: he became a Christian. He was so excited about this newness in his life that he decided to visit his best friend and share it with him. His best friend was a rabbi whose office was on the top floor of a sky scraper in Times Square, New York City. The new Christian made his way to the building and boarded the elevator that brought him to the top floor. He knocked on the office door of the rabbi, who greeted him and invited him in. After both were seated, the convert said to his friend, "I discovered the Messiah! He really is Jesus Christ!" He went on and told the rabbi all the details of his conversion while the rabbi listened politely. When the conversion story came to an end, the rabbi smiled, rose from his chair, and walked intently over to the window in his office. He looked down at Times Square and watched the people and traffic scurrying to and fro. Then, looking back at his Christian friend, the rabbi called him over to the window. "So you found the Messiah, did you?" the rabbi said intensely. "Look down there, then, and tell me: what's different? What's changed? What difference does Jesus make?"

The effect of the original sin was that it left our human nature in a defective state of being. A moment ago, we learned that the attainment of the cardinal virtues makes us fully human; they draw us into that wholeness referred to by the acronym SPICE. But if the original sin has left us in a defective state of being, we cannot possibly attain the cardinal virtues on our own power. We cannot attain happiness, the ultimate Good, God, on our own power. However, even if we could, is there anything uniquely Christian about prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice? Pagan philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were the first to discuss these virtues and recognize them as distinctly human qualities of soul that are the key to happiness. But is there or are there uniquely Christian qualities of soul? What difference does Jesus make?

The answers to the questions about how we are to attain the cardinal virtues as well as about uniquely Christian qualities of soul are to be found in the theological virtues. However, to prepare for the study of the theological virtues, we need to review some important points.

Jesus Christ's suffering and death was the perfect "translation" of His divine Love for His Father into human terms. In other words, Jesus' suffering and death was the perfect translation of Holy Spirit. Moreover, because Holy Spirit is deeper, truer, and eternally stronger than human death, Jesus rose from the dead. Neither suffering nor death could separate Jesus, the Son of God, from the bond of Love (Holy Spirit) with His Father. As a result of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been drawn in to the internal life of the Trinity; we have been Trinified; we have been bestowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we were baptized into Christ, the Holy Spirit made us members of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Let us recall the criteria for determining what the ultimate good is. The fifth criterion was that the ultimate good must be something that cannot be taken away from us against our will. That criterion led us to discover that only God can meet this criterion. When we were discussing that point, you may not have noticed it, but we arrived at that conclusion on the basis of reason alone. In other words, any thoughtful human being must come to terms with the rationally discoverable truth that, in order for morality in this universe in which we live to make ultimate sense, God the Provident Creator must be the ultimate Good.

We must now come to this truth with faith seeking understanding or theology. And when we do, God's Revelation in Scripture enables us to be more specific about the ultimate Good, which, as a result of the original sin, we cannot attain by our own power. We can say that the ultimate Good is God's internal life, the eternal bond of Love between the Father and the Son, namely, the Holy Spirit.

When we say that we have been Trinified, we also mean that God, the ultimate Good, has made a Gift of Himself to us. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can separate us from the gift of the Holy Spirit -nothing, that is, except ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our minds and wills -the image of God in us- are illumined and restored to themselves. We are justified by the power of the Holy Spirit and empowered freely to accept God's Gift of Himself to us. However, that also means that we are empowered -if we so choose- freely to reject God's offer and thereby repeat the sin of Adam and Eve.

If we accept God's Gift of Himself to us, if we continually surrender to His Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit begins to mold us and conform us ever more deeply into members of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit makes the cardinal virtues attainable. Attaining and maintaining the cardinal virtues is a matter of freely cooperating with the Holy Spirit in our lives.

This brings us to the question about the connection between the cardinal virtues and "putting on the mind of Christ." Is there or are there distinctively Catholic motives for living? As the rabbi put it, "What difference does Jesus make?"

The best way to delve into this question is to ponder the meaning of Jesus' command to "turn the cheek:" "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39). In a famous letter, Saint Augustine pondered the meaning of this commandment from Jesus. Augustine wondered at first if Jesus meant what he said literally. So he searched the gospels and discovered that Jesus Himself did not obey the commandment literally. After Jesus was arrested and brought to the house of the high priest, when He was struck by a Jewish officer while being interrogated, Jesus did not turn his other cheek. Instead, he said, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" (John 18:23). Moreover, Augustine, after the Apostle Paul was arrested and struck on the mouth at the command of the high priest, he did not obey Jesus command to turn the cheek literally. Instead, Paul said, " God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?" (Acts 23:3).

Augustine returned to the words of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel and pondered them more intensely. He noticed that, in his command, Jesus specified that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other. If by the example of Saint Paul as well as that of Jesus Himself it is clear that the command is not to be taken literally, what is the reason for Jesus' specifying the right cheek?

Augustine examined the possibility that Jesus' words, including His reference to the right cheek, pointed to something deeper. Augustine noted that, assuming that the assailant is right-handed, it would be much more difficult for him to strike his victim's right cheek and much easier to strike him on the left cheek. Augustine then speculated: the right cheek is symbolic of those things that cannot be taken away against our will while the left cheek represents temporal things or all those things in this world that can be taken away against our will. If that be the case, Augustine thought, then the meaning of Christ's command becomes clear: if someone strives to take the ultimate Good -the Holy Spirit- away from you against your will, fear not! No one, nothing in this world can do that. Moreover, if someone strives to do that, do not react by seeking security in temporal things -or in hiding the left cheek- from your assailant. If you have the ultimate Good or the Holy Spirit, clinging to temporal goods for security would be less than Christian and would betray the ultimate Good or the Holy Spirit.

Augustine finally unveiled the fuller meaning of Christ's command to turn the cheek. The command certainly includes prohibiting revenge: you should not imitate the behavior of your assailant. However, the command includes more: not only should you forgive your assailant, but also, out of joy, out of Love, out of Holy Spirit, and without fear of any kind or for any reason, seek to make your assailant good. Seek to draw him into repentance and into receiving the ultimate Good, the Holy Spirit.

According to Saint Augustine, Jesus' command to turn the cheek points to the uniquely Christian motive: charity. Charity is the most important of the theological virtues. "So faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Faith, hope, and charity are the theological virtues. Like faith and hope, charity is the form that Holy Spirit takes in us. Like faith and hope, charity is a gift. The theological virtues are not virtues that we can attain by our own power, not even if our human nature were not in a defective state of being. The theological virtues are infused into our souls when we are baptized into Christ. We call them the theological virtues precisely because they literally unite us to the Triune God.

If charity is the form that the Holy Spirit takes in us, this means that charity is the virtue that empowers us to love with the Love (Holy Spirit) with which God loves. Charity empowers us to "translate" Holy Spirit into human terms, just as Jesus did in his suffering and death. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit not only restores our free will but also transforms them into iron wills aflame with resolving to want what God wants, and to be moved by what God is moved, namely, Holy Spirit. Charity impels us outward, in joy and in Love, to seek the good for others, especially for those who have offended us. Charity frees us from everything and everyone in this world to become ever more truly united to Christ our Head as members of His Body. Charity opens the way for Christ to continue his "human story" in our "human stories." Charity is the "resurrection power" that frees us to follow Christ on the way of the cross without fear of anyone or anything in this world.

Together, faith, hope, and charity give us ecclesial consciousness: we are most deeply members of the Body of Christ. Faith gives us a new goal: the Kingdom of God. Hope gives us a new power by which to seek this goal. And, as noted, charity gives us a new motive, namely Holy Spirit, for seeking this goal. These virtues enable us to participate in the Personhood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Head of His Body, the Church. The theological virtues not only make possible the attainment of the cardinal virtues but also transform or Trinify the cardinal virtues. The theological virtues radically redefine the cardinal virtues by rooting them in the uniquely Christian motive: being in Love with God. As Saint Augustine puts it, the cardinal virtues become four ways of loving God, or, as I put it, of "translating" Holy Spirit into human terms.

The "New Adam" and the "Second Eve": Toward the Trinification of "Spice"

The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to be simultaneously the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. Moreover, only Mary is most truly and fully the Bride of Christ. Thus, the Church is essentially the nuptial encounter between the embodied and Trinified manhood of Christ, the "New Adam," and the embodied and Trinified womanhood of Mary, the "second Eve." In this nuptial encounter at the heart of the Church, "SPICE" is both restored and Trinified. If the Church is the Body of Christ, the Church is also the mystical extension of Mary's womb; and we are Mary's unborn children, residing in her womb, until Christ be formed in us - until we completely "put on the mind of Christ."

This means that, as members of the Church, the redemption and sanctification of our bodies (and souls) is really the participation of our embodied manhood and womanhood in the embodied and Trinified manhood and womanhood of Jesus and Mary. Gifted with the theological virtues, our striving to attain and maintain the cardinal virtues, our striving to put on Christ - to receive the gift of the restoration and Trinification of "SPICE" - is a participation in the nuptial encounter between the "New Adam" and the "second Eve."

From this it follows that the family is the "domestic church." As such, the family makes concrete the womb of Mary in which we all reside as her unborn children. The family, as the "school of virtue," is the way for all humanity to "put on the mind of Christ." Crucial to this "way" is natural family planning.

Natural family planning includes but is not simply a technique for cooperating with God's created order in the parental responsibility of procreation. Natural family planning calls for a way of life in accord with the cardinal and theological virtues. Natural family planning becomes a very intimate and practical way of "translating" Holy Spirit into human terms, or of participating in the embodied and Trinified manhood and womanhood of the "New Adam" and the "second Eve." As such, natural family planning is at the heart of the "new evangelization" for the third millennium. Thus, natural family planning becomes the intimate and practical way of manifesting in our lives the difference that Jesus makes.



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