Growing in Virtue

What is a virtue?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “a virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions” (CCC 1803).

Growing in virtue helps us grow out of sin. The more we practice habitually doing good, the less we habitually do bad, or sin. St. Gregory of Nyssa said, “The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” If we want to grow in holiness and turn away from sin in our lives, we have to grow in virtue.

If you have certain sins and weaknesses that constantly nag at you, then you can try and rid them out by practicing the opposite, expelling virtues. For example, if you often fall into the sin of pride (love of self), than you should learn practical ways to regularly exercise humility (‘lowliness’). Perhaps you could go out of your way to tell your boss how great a job your coworker is doing on a project, instead of touting your own accomplishments.

Take a look at the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. We call them “deadly” because they severely damage our relationship with God. Next to them, see the virtues that counter them:


The Virtues by Pope Benedict XVI

book-the-virtuesIn this series of excerpts from his homilies, addresses, and encyclicals, the Holy Father draws on the lives of saints, the Catechism, and common experiences to bring us into a deeper understanding of the virtues and how to cultivate them in our own lives so that we can grow closer to the Lord.

Seven Deadly Sins Seven Expelling, “Capital” Virtues
Pride Humility
Envy Admiration, Brotherly love, Solicitude
Anger Forgiveness, Meekness
Sloth, Acedia Zeal, Diligence
Greed, Avarice Generosity, Liberality
Gluttony Temperance
Lust Chastity


If you have a certain vice, you need to push against it with a virtue…this is how you get straightened out!

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“Virtue is the utmost of what a man can be; it is the realization of the human capacity for being.” –Josef Pieper