Moral virtues are good habits which conform our appetites to right reason. Since our appetites are always for some good, it is possible that we can desire those goods more or less than is appropriate. Our appetites can tend towards excess or deficiency in what they desire. In either case, it is the task of virtue to order the appetites according to reason. When the appetites are not ruled and measured by reason, vices develop.
The capital vices already discussed have opposite extremes which are also opposed to the same contrary virtues. While less common, these vices also need to be avoided. For example, self-loathing, like pride, is opposed to humility. Similar to gluttony, Deficiency: not eating and drinking enough, is opposed to temperance. Overworking or excessive activity, like sloth, is also contrary to the virtue of diligence. The wasteful person lacks generosity not because of greed, but because he lacks proper appreciation of his resources. Christ taught us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We can fail in love of neighbor through envy, but we can also fail by not desiring our own good sufficiently (pusillanimity) that we would see any reason in wishing the good for others. It is possible to fail to become angry when injustices are done that warrant it – this is not meekness, but servility. Lastly, it is also possible to lack the virtue of chastity due to prudishly shunning or despising the goods of marriage, as opposed to lust which desires those goods in an illicit manner.
Before we begin the journey towards perfect virtue by the Grace of God we must first come to knowledge of our more predominate faults by signing up for phase 1 of the Holy 40 Project.
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