Thursday, March 6, 2003

Nowadays we forget that human life is a battle . . . Not for nothing did the Church Fathers take over the pagan Greek doctrine of the cardinal virtues, because in prudence and justice, in fortitude, temperance and self-discipline, they saw remedies against concupiscience, which continues to affect the baptized.

Today, when the ravaging of human life is so great . . . it is essential to promote the simple virtues that slowly but surely can restore a human life. We are once more in a situation like that of Paul, who in a pagan culture had to remind the new Christians of the elementary human virtues. They are the humus of humanity, the ground-soil of the humanum, upon which the live of the divine virtues, the truly Christian life, can be grown. "Whatever is true, whatever his honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil 4:8 CCC 1803).

This struggle is unending as long as there is a world. It is the praeparatio Ecclesia, the gathering up of men in the cause of the good, in the cause of community. For only goodness unites; sin splits and separates. As Origen says, "where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also is harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers." It is Christ who is our hidden guide and teacher in this struggle, the magister interior, the inner teacher of our hearts, the light that enlightens every man (cf. Jn 1:9). This is how he gathers up his people, prepares the way for His Church.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
Loving the Church

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