Camp is over and I am beginning to feel better. I’ll add a few comments here and try to come up with something more extensive later.
I do want to make a certain distinction to clarify our understanding of the virtues in Catholicism. Remember also that I am following Scholastic philosophy because that is the only approach that I have any familiarity with.
When speaking of virtues, there are both natural virtues and infused virtues. The infused virtues come only by the grace of God. We believe that the three theological virtues are infused (faith, hope, and charity). No man can have divine faith, hope, or charity without the special action of God.
These virtues are not merely natural then, but supernatural. Man does not have faith, he must receive it with a cooperative and grace conditioned will.
The cardinal virtues may also be infused though. Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude are all strengthened and produced within man by the graces of our Heavenly Father.
This is an issue which I think that my opponents in debate have misunderstood me on. Salvation is not natural to man. Obviously, neither are the virtues which in our present state precede salvation.
So we draw a distinction between man’s natural vocation and his supernatural vocation. In any case, sin is not part of God’s plan in either. However, if man does not even look to the basics of his natural vocation, how can he look above and grasp at his supernatural vocation? I think this is what Jesus refers to in the Gospel of Saint John, 3. The Pharisees thought they were righteous, that they were virtuous and law-abiding. However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord proclaims that our righteousness must be greater than that of the Pharisees if we are to ever see God.
The Pharisees did not keep the law of Moses, they didn’t even understand it. Christ exhorted Nicodemus to understanding. How will you understand the things above when you do not even understand the things below?