Month: September 2018


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)


– the Bible starts with the presupposition of God’s existence

– it is not really a beginning, but an “unbeginning,” since God as God has never not existed

– if there was nothing to begin with then there would still be nothing (nothing from nothing leaves nothing)

– nothing is incapable of producing something

– so there clearly was something to begin with or there would still be nothing

– what is it that has been there from the very beginning – from all eternity?

– could unthinking, inert matter be eternal, “running amok” even to the “creation” of the universe and human beings (see postscript)?

– it would appear that inert matter was radically incapable of producing itself – or being the cause of everything else – since it lacked any ability to think and design

– it seems logical that something far greater than inert matter would be needed at the very beginning

– inert matter did not flower into organic life until late in the history of the universe

– the Bible says that God has life in Himself (John 5:26)

– Only God makes sense as the Eternal Unbeginning of everything else since by His Eternal Attributes He has the POWER and KNOWLEDGE to bring forth the unbelievably immense and complex universe we live in.

CONCLUSION: It is beyond all peradventure that something cannot be derived from nothing, so that there has to be an eternal cause or principle of all other things that has always existed. Only God can meet this job description, and in the person of Jesus Christ he manifests his complete dominion over the physical universe, even to the point of rising from the dead.

“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1).


P.S.  Michael Corey, in discussing the possibility whether our “wondrous universe could have evolved by blind chance” quotes the distinguished University of Montreal psychiatrist Karl Stern as  labeling such a view of the universe as “crazy.” He further quotes Stern as saying: “And I do not at all mean crazy in the sense of a slangy invective but rather in the technical meaning of psychotic. Indeed such a view has much in common with certain aspects of schizophrenic thinking” (God and the New Cosmology, p.220). Stern is basically maintaining that it is flat out irrational to believe the universe came about by chance or accident.

REFERENCES: Father Faber talks about God’s unbegiining life. I am relying on the article in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics under the title, “Principle of Causality” beginning at page 120. I do believe the argument is irrefutable.

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“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Great spiritual writers often talk about the interior life and of its importance. I may add that we all have an interior life, that conversation with self, in which we examine our own life and reflect upon our past, present and future. This is part of the “examined life,” although our conversation with self can sometimes be unproductive and even harmful.

But the Christian interior life involves a deeper and more important conversation: our conversation or converse with God. And so one of the pillars of the interior life is a deep prayer life. Much has been written about the paramount importance of prayer.

Another pillar of the interior life is a profound purity of conscience, which involves an ongoing watchfulness over self, so that, strictly speaking, one is not content with even one evil thought being allowed to fester and grow in one’s soul. Spiritual writers call this the practice of purity of heart, and they advise us that much good comes from practicing this interior custody over one’s heart. See my post


Another pillar of the interior life is a great contempt for self. Even though this practice of self-contempt seems almost  degrading it is, nevertheless, constantly mentioned in the great spiritual literature. For example, The Imitation of Christ constantly stresses this principle (“A man who truly knows himself realizes his own worthlessness.”). Faber says that “self-abasement is the genius of a creature,” and he quotes Saint Angela of Foligno as having said, “I tell you with an entire certainty that the soul can have no better science than that of its own nothingness.”  Really, aren’t these words too much for the modern mentality? And yet we must do something with them, as they are a corollary to the great harm pride can do to our spiritual progress. So we must learn to keep self down! “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).

Our fourth pillar of the spiritual life is a great love for Jesus Christ. Faber asks: “Can there be a pleasure in life so great as loving Jesus and serving him for love.” During “the whole course of our spiritual lives,” says the great Father Lallemant, we “must devote ourselves more and more to the knowledge and love of our Lord without which we can never attain to any solid spirituality.” Thus, a close application of our lives to Jesus is necessary, often entering the “Heart of Jesus” by “recollection to contemplate the Word Himself and His Most Sacred Humanity….” (Father Lallemant). I might add that meditating on the mysteries of Jesus’ life is highly conducive to this purpose. Making acts of virtue with the interior intention of imitating Jesus nurtures the growth of our spiritual life and our love for Jesus..

CONCLUSION: Four important marks of the interior life are:

      1. A great love of prayer,

      2. Great purity of conscience,

      3. Great contempt of self, or at least keeping self down, and,

      4. A great love of and application of our lives to Jesus Christ.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

References: These four points are mentioned by Father Lallemant in his classic work, The Spiritual Doctrine, pages 82-86, in the specific context of Jesuit spiritual formation for priests in the seminary. It is Father Faber who says, “keep self down,” and Father Garrigou-LaGrange talks about the conversation with self giving way to a deeper conversation with God. I do believe Father Grou talks about the “application” of our lives to Jesus Christ; he also mentions not being content with one evil thought.

P.S. Clearly there are other pillars of the spiritual life, like devotion to Mary and docility to the Holy Spirit, to name two.

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“An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.” (Saint Pope John Paul II)

Amoris Laetitia, by calling into question the Church’s fundamental moral teachings in the area of sexual morality, is hardly helpful in resolving the monumental clergy sex abuse crisis that is causing great harm to the Church’s mission.

As one priest has demonstrated in an article linked below, a fundamental aim of Amoris Laetitia was to provide a conscience argument for homosexual relationships. See

Priest explains how Amoris Laetitia was really written to ‘normalize …

Imagine that you are a Catholic seminarian with homosexual tendencies, but nevertheless you are trying to live a chaste life. But then in your class on morality you are introduced to the teachings in Amoris Laetitia, in particular nos. 301-303, which seem to strongly suggest that in certain circumstances God even approves of conduct not in harmony with Catholic teaching. This is a liberating moment for you: you now can claim in good conscience that homosexual acts are not intrinsically evil in your situation (and that God understands that). Before you know it your vow of chastity has vanquished and you are part of the homosexual sub-culture in the Church, and more drastic steps down the slippery slope seem imminent.

In fact, in the controversial Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis states that the type of “mercy” being advocated is not just for the divorced and remarried but for everyone “in whatever situation.” He states:

297. It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an “unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous” mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves. 

Here is the very troubling passage from Amoris Laetitia (no. 301) which clearly suggests that a person can be in a “concrete situation” where he has no choice but to live in mortal sin (and is thus justified in remaining in his objectively sinful condition even though he knows the rule):

301.  For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised.  The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.  More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule.  A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.  

Amoris Laetitia, no. 303, contains another very controversial statement made by Pope Francis, stating that a person can come to the realization that God wills him to stay in his sinful condition. It reads, in pertinent part:

“Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized.”

In his great encyclical on Catholic morality, Veritatis Splendor, Saint Pope John Paul II specifically foresaw and rejected the type of argument put forth in Amoris Laetia (303) quoted above. He stated very clearly that

“It would be a very serious error … to conclude that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man.” (VS 103) 

Still further, Saint John Paul II stated:

“circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act “subjectively” good or defensible as a choice.” (VS 81)

Pope John Paul II explained in Veritatis Splendor the clear Catholic teaching that an intrinsically evil act cannot be creatively transformed into something willed by God under concrete circumstances (the suggestion put forth in AL 303 and 301).

“The negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behavior as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever.” (Veritatis Splendor 67)

“The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception.” (VS 52)

By trying to claim that an intrinsically evil act like adultery, fornication or other “irregular situation” may be the most generous response a person can give to God at a certain moment in his life, Pope Francis has embraced situation ethics and has strayed far from the firm and authentic foundations of Catholic morality. Pope John Paul II had already warned that such an argument is clearly erroneous.

CONCLUSIONAmoris Laetitia potentially opens the door to the justification of practically any type of mortal sin, not only because it is arguably for “everyone” in “all situations,” but also because “no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed” if the general statements about moral acts in the document are considered valid, to quote the great Dominican scholar, Father Aidan Nichols. For example, why would a married gay couple not be able to claim under the rationale of Amoris that their union is the best response they can make given their concrete situation. What about a priest with homosexual inclinations? Thus, when Dr. Joseph Seifert referred to Amoris Laetitia as a “theological atomic bomb” which in essence would blow up Catholic morality, making all Catholic morality essentially optional, his opinion was not mere hyperbole.

Amoris Laetitia has created quite a mess for those who teach moral theology, and for the seminarians who study it. One could forcefully argue it is the greatest threat to Catholic morality the Church has ever encountered.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.

P.S. See

Madison bishop says homosexuality is at the root of ongoing sexual …

Sex-abuse crisis in US Catholic Church is about homosexuality, not …

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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The key point in this note is the importance of developing a strong love for God, the result of which is a closer union with Him. One could say that this loving friendship with God is the goal of the entire spiritual life.

What I want to stress in this note, then, is the importance of loving God (and what could be more important than that?). There are many tangents in Romans 8:28 – grace, justification, election, predestination, to put a name on them – but we can, in effect, overcome these theological considerations simply by loving God. Not all the Saints were great theologians, but they all loved God quite intensely. We might say, then, that your love of God is a great sign of your calling and election.

The verse – Romans 8:28 –  is quite clear and very powerful: God works for the good of those who love Him. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” What does love do for us? Love unites us to the object we desire. Thus, the love of God unites us to God who is the source of all goodness and every blessing. God calls us to this love, gives us the grace to love Him, and indeed shares His life of love with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). It is essential, then, that we nurture intimacy and friendship with the Holy Spirit Who is Love!

The key point, then, is that you must love God, and grow more and more in love with Him. You must love Him more than all things, more than yourself, and you must love yourself and your neighbor in Him. When you do this all is tilted towards your good, and the magnetic power and attraction of God’s omnipotent love draws you inevitably – no matter what happens – towards eternal glory. This powerful bond of love between you and God cannot fail. How cannot it not but work good for you because God is drawing you to Himself?

Dear friend, make the love of God a special object of your prayers. You might simply pray: “Oh Holy Spirit, I pray for the grace to fall deeply in love with God. I beg of you the grace to see how great God is, and how infinitely lovable He is. Oh Holy Spirit, help me to grow in the love of God.”

“We should, therefore, deem as nothing all that we give to obtain the priceless treasure of the love of God, of ardent love. He alone gives to the human heart the interior charity that it lacks. During the journey toward eternity, we must never say that we have sufficient love of God. We should make continual progress in love. The traveler (viator) who advances toward God progresses with steps of love, as St. Gregory the Great says, that is, by ever higher acts of love. God desires that we should thus love Him more each day. The song of the journey toward eternity is a hymn of love….” (Father Garrigou-LaGrange).

“IN ALL THINGS” God works for the good of those who love Him in all things. Are we deeply affected by this Gospel mystery? Does it fill our hearts with confidence, and even holy boldness, that if we “keep in His love” all things, everything, happy things and sad things, trial and afflictions, joys and sufferings, they all work for our good. We see this principle operating in the life of Jesus: because he loved God everything in his life worked for the good, so much so that his crucifixion on Calvary obtained an infinite good for humanity. Our love of God, therefore, gives us the certitude that God is secretly – or even explicitly – accomplishing the good he desires in all that we do and suffer. “The apostle [Paul in Romans 8] speaks as one amazed, and swallowed up in admiration, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things, the less we wonder; but the further we are led into gospel mysteries, the more we are affected by them. While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness” (Matthew Henry Bible Commentary).

By “all things” I conclude that St. Paul means all things, which would include any present difficulties you are undergoing. If you are loving God, these difficulties are all going to work for your good. A great spiritual writer, Father Grou, states: “Everything that happens here to the servants of God…is arranged by Infinite Love and Wisdom for their eternal happiness…. For, as long as they love God with a real, effective, and practical love, it is impossible for anything in the world to keep them back; on the contrary, everything will help to their advancement….” Every trial, then, is for our advantage! And if we are presently suffering through some trial or persecution, we should ask: “What good is God trying to work in my soul with this trial?”

Is Romans 8:28 the most most encouraging verse in the Bible? If it helps you to understand the crucial and critical importance of loving God during all the joys and adversities of life – well then, it certainly is!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: My discussion on love is based on and flows from Father Garrigou-LaGrange’s masterpiece, The Three Ages of the Interior Life (see especially Vol. I, Chapter 19). The quote from Father Grou is in Manual For Interior Souls, a book highly recommended.

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“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

“Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says: “Follow me!”. Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him” (Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, 26, by Pope John Paul II)

There is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a remarkable paragraph that speaks to the amazing power God has given us, by our prayers and good actions, to merit most amazing graces for others. If the paragraph in question is sound theology, as we know it must be, then it would be good for us to take advantage of this spiritual solidarity and use God’s grace to merit good for others!  Here is that paragraph from the Catechism:

2010 “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.” (See also CCC 307, 618, 953, 956, and 1508)

Now in Saint Paul we see a clear Biblical basis for this Catholic doctrine of meriting good for others with specific reference to the concept or doctrine of redemptive suffering. I am especially going to take a look at two striking passages –  one from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, and the other from his Letter to the Colossians (using the Living Letters translation, which is a simplified/paraphrased  translation recommended by Billy Graham, which can easily be compared to traditional translations).

At 2 Philippians 2: 17-18 Saint Paul discusses the possibility of offering his life as an oblation for the community. Here is what he says:

“And if my lifeblood is, so to speak, to be poured out over your faith which I am offering up to God as a sacrifice — that is, if I am to die for you – even then I will be glad, and will share my joy with each of you. For you should be happy about this too and rejoice with me for having this privilege of dying for you.”

COLOSSIANS  And at Colossians 1:24 Saint Paul says to the community there:

“But part of my work is to suffer for you; and I am glad, for I am helping to finish up the remainder of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the church.”

We can see, therefore, from the passages cited above, that at Calvary Christ merited for members of his mystical body the privilege of joining in His super-abundant, all-encompassing suffering for the benefit of others.

Paul’s understanding of redemptive suffering flows from his insight that believers in Christ form one organism, or one body, united to Christ who is the head (“all of us, in union with Christ, form one body” – Romans 12: 5). Paul says elsewhere at 2 Corinthians 1: 5-6 (RSV):

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation….”

Still further at 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 Paul states:

“In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute. We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us: but life in you.”

So in the Catholic church, following the teaching of Paul on the value of redemptive suffering, we are urged to unite our own suffering to the Cross of Christ for the welfare of others. Pope John Paul II made this point about the value of redemptive suffering in a trip he made to Poland, stating:

“Therefore, uniting myself with all of you who are suffering throughout the land of Poland, in your homes, in the hospitals, the clinics, the dispensaries, the sanatoria—wherever you may be—I beg you to make use of the cross that has become part of each one of you for salvation. I pray for you to have light and spiritual strength in your suffering, that you may not lose courage but may discover for yourselves the meaning of suffering and may be able to relieve others by prayer and sacrifice. And do not forget me and the whole of the Church, and the cause of the Gospel and peace that I am serving by Christ’s will. You who are weak and humanly incapable, be a source of strength for your brother and father who is at your side in prayer and heart.” (quote from Father Hardon)

And in her mystical life Saint Faustina, the “secretary of Divine Mercy,” experienced this revelation from Jesus:

“I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His heart. After some time He said “I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners.” (Diary 1032)

The old Catholic practice of making a “morning offering” of the trials and tribulations one suffers during the day, for one’s own benefit or for the benefit of others is, no doubt, based on strong Biblical foundations. Perhaps tomorrow you are going to find yourself, as someone once said, “nailed to your desk,” doing hours of paperwork that you would love to chuck out the window. In union with Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, and in union with all the masses being said throughout the world, you can offer up your hardships and daily duties for the benefit of some soul who desperately needs grace. Don’t waste your sufferings.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

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“And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.” (James 1:4)

Patience is a huge – indeed critical – virtue in the spiritual life and for life in general. Consider St. Paul’s description of the many characteristics of love – the first thing he says about love is that it is patient, and the next thing he says is that it is kind (1. Cor. 13:4). Dear God, give me the grace to be patient and kind and I certainly will grow in charity!

Here, then, by the practice of patience, is a simple yet profound way to grow in holiness. To be sure, growth in holiness means, as already mentioned, growth in the love of God and neighbor. All the virtues, including patience, are directed to the fulfillment of Christ’s law of charity. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

So this simple method to grow in holiness is nothing more (or less) than the exercise of patience under adversity for the love of God. Virtue is tested by the people and circumstances of our day to day life. When, for the love of God, we meet these challenges and adversities with patience and meekness, we grow in holiness and sanctifying grace increases within us (see CCC 1266,which explains that the supernatural virtues – including patience –  are given to us in the sanctifying grace of baptism, and nos. 2010-2011 pertaining to the increase of sanctifying grace by way of meritorious acts).

The motive for our patience (which is truly a mortification of our self-will) is the love of God, and, secondarily, the love of neighbor. It is this “purity of intention,” as the theologians say, which makes the act of being patient supernaturally meritorious, thus causing sanctifying grace to grow within us, which, as Father Garrigou-LaGrange frequently mentions, can continually increase inasmuch as the precept of the love of God has no limits!

Patience is a power – a supernatural virtue sustained by sanctifying grace. Patience is an exercise of the cardinal virtue of fortitude. “Patience, says St. Thomas, is a virtue attached to the virtue of fortitude, which hinders a man from departing from right reason illumined by faith by yielding to difficulties and to sadness. It makes him bear the evils of life with equanimity of soul, says St. Augustine, without allowing himself to be troubled by vexations. The impatient man, no matter how violent he may be, is a weak man; when he raises his voice and murmurs, he really succumbs from the moral point of view. The patient man, on the contrary, puts up with an inevitable evil in order to remain on the right road, to continue his ascent toward God. Those who bear adversity that they may attain what their pride desires, have not the virtue of patience but only its counterfeit, hardness of heart” (from The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume II, Chapter 10).

Now, my friend, get this! The great theologian and Dominican, Father Garrigou-LaGrange, from whom I am drawing the material for this note, specifically states that among one of the three important signs of predestination (there are more than three) patience in adversity for the love of God is one of them. He states:“Therefore, as a rule, among the signs of predestination are…patience in adversity for the love of God (he names love of the poor and love of enemies as two other such signs)”. See The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume II, p.395, which, in context, is dealing with the passive purification of the spirit.

Your sure path to holiness and Heaven is patience and meekness under adversity, done for the motive of loving God and neighbor. Father Garrigou-LaGrange mentions that the devil often tempts us to anger, so we should not be surprised if this happens as we try to practice the great virtue of patience. “Love is patient and kind…love bears all things….” (1 Cor. 13:4,23). The corresponding virtue of meekness, says Father Garrigou LaGrange, curbs anger and bitterness. When you feel anger, allow meekness to descend into your anger.

To accomplish this goal of patience under adversity, we will need constant recourse to prayer and fervent reception of the sacraments. The practice of examining our conscience at the end of the day (to mark our progress) is also  valuable.  In the Eucharist, Jesus shares his life and virtues with us. When we receive Holy Communion, we should specifically ask Jesus to help us grow in patience and meekness.

Remember, “In your patience you shall possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Pray for the grace to grow in the all- important virtue of patience.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Madonna Under the Fir Tree, 1510, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Public Domain, U.S.A. For a reflection on the patience of Mary, click on :

The Patience of Mary

References: I am basing this note entirely on The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Father Garrigou-Lagrange. All of my thoughts proceed from this amazing work! Father Faber has an excellent chapter on patience in his Growth in Holiness book, wherein he shows that patience is the “rule” for those of us living in the world. Note that the word “patient” in James 1:4 is also translated as endurance or steadfastness, or one might say, “patient endurance.” According to Father Garrigou-Lagrange, patience is united to fortitude, whereas meekness is united to temperance. The natural virtue of patience, which may be carried out purely for pragmatic reasons, must be contrasted with the supernatural virtue of patience, done for the love of God and neighbor by reason of sanctifying grace (see CCC 1804-1811).

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