Overview of the Supernatural Organism: The Infused Virtues

I have opened up the subject of the ‘supernatural organism’, the complex of supernatural virtues and gifts that come with sanctifying grace. First, however, I wrote about the natural acquired virtues and their relation to the supernatural virtues. Today, my intention is to begin an overview of the supernatural organism.

While the natural acquired virtues are habits of mind that order the powers of the soul rightly in relation to life in this world, the supernatural virtues are habits of the mind, given by God together with sanctifying grace, that give the soul an inclination or impulse directing us towards God himself, the Holy Trinity, and eternal life in him; or they set the soul in order so as to act in this world in view of eternal life.

In the first place, then, are the three ‘theological virtues’, of faith, hope, and charity, which direct us the towards God himself, as he reveals himself, as the goal of our hope, as the one whom we love above all things. Faith is the indispensable foundation because it makes known the goal of hope, eternal life in God, and reveals God himself, the Holy Trinity, as the one whom we must love above all things, for his own sake.

Hope enlivens faith and kindles love, because giving us a taste of God’s goodness, it leads us to love God for his own sake, not just because of his gifts. Love, however, transforms and elevates both faith and hope. Love desires to be forever united to the one we love; love desires to move beyond faith; love desires to see his face. Loving God, we believe more surely and hope more firmly; the growth of faith and hope, in turn, kindles yet greater love.

The virtues of faith, hope, and charity place the soul interiorly in the presence of God, through Jesus Christ, in a living interchange which is the dynamo that powers the whole Christian life. The interior movement of these virtues is the heart of the Christian, beating in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Of course, the commandment of charity is twofold: love of God and love of neighbor. With supernatural charity, love of neighbor flows from love of God; the neighbor is loved precisely because he was created in the image of God, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and called to sanctification and eternal life in the Holy Spirit. Like supernatural love of God, love of neighbor consists essentially in the interior disposition of the will but must be expressed by a multitude of actions belonging to the different kinds of virtues, grouped around the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

Here especially, we will need to distinguish between the supernatural infused virtues and the acquired human virtues. For example: supernatural prudence has in view the good of eternal life; natural prudence the good of the virtuous human life in this world. Supernatural justice is governed by the common good of the kingdom of God; natural justice by the common good of the earthly city. By supernatural fortitude a person is ready to lay down his life for Jesus Christ and his kingdom; by natural fortitude, a person is ready to die for his country, his family, or his friends. By supernatural temperance by person denies himself the fulfillment of fleshly desire, seeking union with God; by natural temperance a person moderates his eating and drinking for the sake of bodily health and well-being.

The supernatural organism, however, consists of more than just grace and the infused virtues, it also comes with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (to be continued)

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.