THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X

On the Virtues and Vices

The Main Virtues

Theological Virtues

1 Q: What is a supernatural virtue?

A: A supernatural virtue is a quality infused by God into the soul by which the latter acquires inclination, facility, and promptness to know good and do it towards eternal life.

2 Q: How many principal supernatural virtues are there?

A: The principal supernatural virtues are seven: three theological, and four cardinal virtues.

3 Q: What are the theological virtues?

A: The theological virtues are: Faith, Hope and Charity.

4 Q: Why are Faith, Hope and Charity called theological virtues?

A: Faith, Hope and Charity are called theological virtues, because they have God as their immediate and principal object, and are infused by Him.

5 Q: How can the theological virtues have God for their immediate object?

A: The theological virtues have God for their immediate object, in this way that by Faith we believe in God, and believe all He has revealed; by Hope, we hope to possess God; and by Charity, we love God and in Him we love ourselves and our neighbor.

6 Q: When does God infuse the theological virtues into the soul?

A: God in His goodness infuses the theological virtues into the soul when adorning us with His sanctifying grace; and hence when receiving Baptism we were enriched with these virtues and, along with them, with the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

7 Q: Is it enough towards salvation, to have received the theological virtues in Baptism?

A: For one who has come to the use of reason, it is not enough to have received the theological virtues in Baptism; it is also necessary to make frequent acts of Faith, Hope and Charity.

8 Q: When are we obliged to make acts of Faith, Hope and Charity?

A: We are obliged to make acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, when we come to the use of reason; often during life; and when in danger of death.

On Faith

9 Q: What is Faith?

A: Faith is a supernatural virtue, which God infuses into our souls, and by which, relying on the authority of God Himself, we believe everything which He has revealed and which through His Church He proposes for our belief.

10 Q: How do we know the truths God has revealed?

A: We know the revealed truths by means of the Church, which is infallible; that is, by means of the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, and by means of the Bishops, the successors to the Apostles, who were taught by Jesus Christ Himself.

11 Q: Are we certain of the truths the Church teaches us?

A: We are most certain of the truths the Church teaches, because Jesus Christ pledged His word that the Church should never be led into error.

12 Q: By what sin is the Faith lost?

A: Faith is lost by denying or voluntarily doubting even a single article proposed for our belief.

13 Q: How is lost Faith recovered

A: Lost Faith is recovered by repenting of the sin committed and by believing anew all that the Church believes.

The Mysteries of Faith

14 Q: Can we comprehend all the truths of Faith?

A: No, we cannot comprehend all the truths of Faith, because some of these truths are mysteries.

15 Q: What are mysteries?

A: Mysteries are truths above reason and which we are to believe even though we cannot comprehend them.

16 Q: Why must we believe mysteries?

A: We must believe mysteries because they are revealed to us by God, who, being infinite Truth and Goodness, can neither deceive nor be deceived.

17 Q: Are mysteries contrary to reason?

A: Mysteries are above, not contrary to, reason; and even reason itself persuades us to accept the mysteries.

18 Q: Why cannot the mysteries be contrary to reason?

A: The mysteries cannot be contrary to reason, because the same God who has given us the light of reason has also revealed the mysteries, and He cannot contradict Himself.

On Holy Scripture

19 Q: Where are the truths which God has revealed contained?

A: The truths which God has revealed are contained in Holy Scripture and in Tradition.

20 Q: What is Holy Scripture?

A: Holy Scripture is the collection of books written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by the Prophets and the Hagiographers, the Apostles and the Evangelists. These books have been received by the Church as inspired.

21 Q: How is Holy Scripture divided?

A: Holy Scripture is divided into two parts, the Old and the New Testament.

22 Q: What is the Old Testament?

A: The Old Testament comprises the inspired books written before the coming of Jesus Christ.

23 Q: What is the New Testament?

A: The New Testament comprises the inspired books written after the coming of Jesus Christ.

24 Q: What is the common name for Holy Scripture?

A: The common name for Holy Scripture is the Holy Bible.

25 Q: What is the meaning of the word Bible?

A: The word Bible means the collection of holy books, the Book par excellence, the book of books, the book inspired by God.

26 Q: Why is Holy Scripture called the book "par excellence"?

A: Holy Scripture is so called because of the surpassing merit of the content as well as the author who inspired it.

27 Q: Can there be any error in Holy Scripture?

A: There cannot be any error in Holy Scripture since indeed it is inspired by God. The Author of all of the books is God Himself. This does not prevent that in copies and translations that have been made, some errors on the part of the copyists or translators may have crept into it.

28 Q: Is the reading of the Bible necessary to all Christians?

A: The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church; however its reading is very useful and recommended to all.

29 Q: May any translation of the Bible, in the vernacular, be read?

A: We can read those translations of the Bible in the vernacular which have been acknowledged as faithful by the Catholic Church and which have explanations also approved by the Church.

30 Q: Why may we only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church?

A: We may only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church because she alone is the lawful guardian of the Bible.

31 Q: Through which means can we know the true meaning of the Holy Scripture?

A: We can only know the true meaning of Holy Scripture through the Church's interpretation, because she alone is secure against error in that interpretation.

32 Q: What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants?

A: A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

33 Q: Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles?

A: The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.

On Tradition.

34 Q: What is meant by Tradition?

A: Tradition is the non-written word of God, which has been transmitted by word of mouth by Jesus Christ and by the apostles, and which has come down to us through the centuries by the means of the Church, without being altered.

35 Q: Where are the teachings of Tradition kept?

A: The teachings of Tradition are kept chiefly in the Councils' decrees, the writings of the Holy Fathers, the Acts of the Holy See and the words and practices of the sacred Liturgy.

36 Q: What importance must we attach to Tradition?

A: We must attach to Tradition the same importance as the revealed word of God which Holy Scripture contains.

On Hope

37 Q: What is Hope?

A: Hope is a supernatural virtue, infused by God into the soul, by which we desire and expect that eternal life that God has promised to His servants, as well as the means necessary to attain it.

38 Q: What grounds have we to hope that God will give us Heaven and the means necessary to secure it?

A: We hope that God will give us Heaven and the necessary means to attain it, because the all-merciful God, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, has promised it to those who faithfully serve Him; and, being both faithful and omnipotent, He never fails in His promises.

39 Q: What are the conditions necessary to obtain Heaven?

A: The conditions necessary to obtain Heaven are the grace of God, the practice of good works, and perseverance until death in His holy love.

40 Q: How is Hope lost?

A: Hope is lost as often as Faith is lost; and it is also lost by the sins of despair and presumption.

41 Q: How is lost Hope regained?

A: Lost Hope is regained by repenting of the sin committed, and by exciting anew confidence in the divine goodness.

On Charity

42 Q: What is Charity?

A: Charity is a supernatural virtue, infused into our soul by God, by which we love God above all for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

43 Q: Why should we love God?

A: We should love God because He is the Supreme Good, infinitely good and perfect; and also, because He commands us to do so, and because of the many benefits we receive from Him.

44 Q: How are we to love God?

A: We are to love God above all things else, with our whole heart, with our whole mind, with our whole soul, and with all our strength.

45 Q: What is meant by loving God above all other things?

A: To love God above all other things means to prefer Him to all creatures, even the dearest and most perfect, and to be willing to lose everything rather than offend Him or cease to love Him.

46 Q: What is meant by loving God with our whole heart?

A: To love God with our whole heart means consecrating all our affections to Him.

47 Q: What is meant by loving God with our whole mind?

A: To love God with our whole mind means directing all our thoughts to Him.

48 Q: What is meant by loving God with our whole soul?

A: To love God with our whole soul means consecrating to Him the use of all the powers of our soul.

49 Q: What is meant by loving God with all our strength?

A: To love God with all our strength means striving to grow ever more and more in His love, and so to act that all our actions should have as their one motive and end the love of Him and the desire of pleasing Him.

50 Q: Why should we love our neighbor?

A: We should love our neighbor for the love of God, because God commands it, and because every man is made to God's image.

51 Q: Are we obliged to love even our enemies?

A: We are obliged to love even our enemies, because they are our neighbors also and because Jesus Christ has made this love the object of an express command.

52 Q: What is meant by loving our neighbor as ourselves?

A: To love our neighbor as ourselves means to wish him and do him, as far as possible, the good which we ought to wish for ourselves, and not to wish or to do him any evil.

53 Q: When do we love ourselves as we ought?

A: We love ourselves as we ought when we endeavor to serve God and to place all our happiness in Him.

54 Q: How is charity lost?

A: Charity is lost by each and every mortal sin.

55 Q: How is charity regained?

A: Charity is regained by making acts of the love of God, by duly repenting and making a good confession.

On The Cardinal Virtues

56 Q: Name the Cardinal Virtues.

A: The Cardinal Virtues are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.

57 Q: Why are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance called Cardinal virtues?

A: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance are called cardinal virtues because all the moral virtues are founded and hinged around them. (in Latin, cardo means hinge)

58 Q: What is Prudence?

A: Prudence is the virtue that directs each action towards its lawful end and consequently seeks the proper means in order that the action be well accomplished in all points of view and thereby pleasing to Our Lord.

59 Q: What is Justice?

A: Justice is the virtue which disposes us to give everyone what belongs to him.

60 Q: What is Fortitude?

A: Fortitude is the virtue which renders us courageous to the point of not fearing danger, not even death, for the service of God.

61 Q: What is temperance?

A: Temperance disposes us to control the inordinate desires that please the senses and makes us use temporal goods with moderation.