Cardinal Virtues

There are many virtues that help Catholics to do good and to avoid evil but all of the moral virtues can be traced back to the four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

Unlike the special Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and charity which are infused into the soul at Baptism, the Cardinal Virtues are acquired by human will through action and education. Virtues are developed with regular practice.

From the Latin word cardo, which means “hinge”, the Cardinal Virtues are the four chief virtues which are central to living a good life as a Catholic, helping man to control his passions, to master himself, and to live in harmony with others.

The virtue of prudence allows a person to know what the right thing to do is and how to do it. Prudence is first among the virtues because it reveals both what is truly good and the right way to achieve the good.

Justice is the virtue that controls relationships between people, seeing that everyone receives what they are owed. Justice applies to relationships with God, other individuals, and society.

Fortitude is also known as courage. This virtue overcomes fear and gives a person the strength to do what is right even against great challenges or when facing strong resistance.

Temperance is the virtue that gives a person control over their emotions and passions. It allows a person to recognize and enjoy the good things in life without overindulging in them.

Virtues that all Catholics should know:

Father Ian VanHeusen

The hinge of all of the virtues:


If riches are desirable in life, what is richer than Wisdom, who produces all things? And if prudence is at work, who in the world is a better artisan than she? Or if one loves righteousness, whose works are virtues, She teaches moderation and prudence, righteousness and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful than these.

Wisdom 8: 5-7

All of the virtues depend on these fundamental virtues:

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC

Helping man to make good and holy decisions:

Fr David Mary Engo

Four primary moral virtues:

Dominican Media Presents

Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. “If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom’s] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage.” These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1805

The building blocks to human flourishing:

The Thomistic Institute

The foundation of all of the human virtues:

Mike Brummond

When we speak of virtues—not only these cardinal ones, but all of them, every virtue—we must always have in mind the real man, the actual man. Virtue is not something abstract, detached from life, but, on the contrary, it has deep “roots” in life itself, it springs from the latter and forms it. Virtue has an impact on man’s life, on his actions and behaviour. It follows that, in all these reflections of ours, we are speaking not so much of the virtue as of man living and acting “virtuously”; we are speaking of the prudent, just and courageous man, and finally, precisely today, we are speaking of the “temperate” (or “sober”) man.

Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 22 November 1978

Regulating the intellect, will, passions and emotions:

Fr Gabriel of Sacred Heart and Saint Michael’s

Four powers to lead a moral life:

Fulvio Di Blasi

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Faith is reasonable:


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