Acquired and Infused Virtues

Acquired and Infused Virtues: What are they? Did Christ have them? How do you grow in them?

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The Thomist appeals to a wide international readership in the university, the seminary, and the Church. In the tradition and spirit of Thomas Aquinas, it seeks to promote original and penetrating inquiry into the full range of contemporary philosophical and theological questions. It undertakes particularly to support sustained discussion of issues of philosophy and systematic theology, where such discussion can be advanced by creative use of the thought of Aquinas and significant authors in the Thomistic tradition. In this way The Thomist seeks to cultivate a fruitful dialogue between modern and contemporary philosophical systems and the classical tradition of philosophy and Christian theology.

About the Topic:

Acquired: Virtue that we cultivate by our own efforts. Acquired virtues can be strengthened progressively over time. Aquinas holds that acquired virtue can be a life of continuous growth and progress.

Infused: Given by God alone. Habitual grace is the accidental form that modifies the essence of the soul so as to give the human person a participation in the divine nature. Infused virtues can also grow over time.

Stages of growth:

  1. Beginner – avoiding sin and preserving the gift of charity.
  2. Proficient – Strengthen charity by steadily advancing in greater works
  3. Perfect – Whose exercise of charity is directed at uion with and enjoyment of God

The strengthening of a habit enables one to perform greater acts in accordance with that virtue the 1. Promptness 2. Pleasure 3. Ease.

Acquired virtues are both generated and increased by gradual strengthening of reason’s imprint on the appetitive powers through human acts, but “our acts are not the active causes of the increase of charity and the other infused virtues,” just as our actions are not the active causes of infused virtues’ coming to be in the first place. The increase of the infused virtues is due to God’s action, just as their initial infusion is God’s gift.


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About the author, Adam

Adam is the Vice President St. Michael Catholic Radio in Tulsa and the co-host of The Catholic Man Show.

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