Supernatural Virtue

Faith, hope, and love (or charity) are the three theological virtues. They could also be called the “supernatural” virtues because unlike the cardinal (or practical) virtues which can be increased directly by our actions and habits, they grow or increase indirectly by creating the right conditions or environment within us and are then fed by our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Everyone has the seeds of these three virtues within them and must exercise their free will to encourage them to grow and thrive.

Faith is the first theological, or supernatural, virtue. Faith is cultivated within the intellect and is fed by truth. Our intellect is our faculty of reasoning and understanding. So faith results from understanding what is true. In order to have or grow our faith in something, we must understand it and accept it as truth. There are a number of ways that we might develop understanding but two in particular come to mind. The first is through learning and knowledge. We can develop our understanding through reading and listening to respected sources of information. The second way to develop our understanding is through our experience. We can come to know what is true through what we have observed and experienced in our lives. But having understanding does not always guarantee that we will have faith and this is the supernatural element of this virtue. Because of our limitations in time and space, we cannot always discern the full truth about something with our human faculties so our belief develops against a balance of probabilities. We take a “leap of faith” to bridge this gap between our limited ability to understand and our belief in something. There are some things we can understand as truth that are beyond the limits of our natural human reasoning. Choose silence to free and open your mind to understanding what is true.

Hope is the second theological, or supernatural, virtue. Hope is cultivated within the memory and is fed by discipline. The virtue of hope is bigger than just wishing for something like a new car or a job promotion. Hope in the larger sense is desire for a good, meaningful, and healthy life. The opposite of hope is despair or hopelessness. We cultivate hope in our memory by being disciplined and managing our thoughts and actions. We use our free will to actively think and do the things that maintain and grow our hope and stop us from falling into despair. Cultivating hope is one of the central aims of the choose silence process. By managing your mind and making healthy choices, you cultivate hope in yourself and your life. The key is in choosing. Hope does not just happen to us, we must choose it and cultivate it. The seed, or ability, of hope is planted in every person but we must use our free will to cultivate it within ourselves and our lives. Hope is not guaranteed even if we do all the right things which points to the supernatural nature of this virtue. Just like a seed we water and feed to encourage it to grow, we rely on the sun to provide the required life force to actually germinate the seed. When our hope seems uncertain, we have to wait for the sunny day. Maintaining discipline in our thoughts and actions, using our memory to remember the good, and also continuing to cultivate faith in ourselves will help us to maintain our virtue even if our hope is hidden or seems lost. Choose silence to clear your mind of unhelpful thought processes and replace them with good thoughts that feed your hope and wellbeing. Hope is never lost.

Love, or charity, is the third theological, or supernatural, virtue. Love is the greatest of all the virtues. Love is cultivated in our will and is fed by gratitude. Love, in the context of virtue, is way beyond how we understand love in popular culture. The virtue of love, or charity, has eternal implications for us. Love most directly points us towards becoming fully the person we are meant to be. Through gratitude for all that we are, all that we possess, and all the people in the world, we truly transcend our evolutionary programming. Love is not just a feeling or an objective desire for something or someone. Love is a desire for the best of everything for everyone. Love is our highest purpose. Love means both thought and action. We take care of ourselves in mind, body, and soul, we look for the best in others despite their flaws, we curb our desires to be first and to have more so that others can thrive too, we are grateful for everyone and everything, we long for others to do the same and we lead gently and lovingly by our example. We allow people to take their own journey and we are happy (full of love) when they succeed. This is the virtue of love, the virtue of charity, that lifts us as humans to a level of presence and consciousness beyond our mere mortality. Love makes us immortal. Love binds our souls to the beauty of existence. Love is the fuel that allows our rocket of hope to take off from the platform of faith. The supernatural virtues are super, or above, the natural tendencies for our mere survival. Survival can now be understood differently as not just a function of perpetuating our individual bodies but in how we lift up humanity. Choose silence and let your mind be blown, see yourself as who you really are, as part of the supernatural force that brings love to the universe.

This text first appeared as a series of posts on the choose silence Instagram feed. Daily posts available on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.