The Cardinal Virtues and Our Lives

Earlier this week I gave a mid-day reflection at the University of St. Thomas law school on the the theme, The Cardinal Virtues and Our Lives. For those who can’t remember them, the cardinal virtues are temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence.

Some people have the misapprehension that the cardinal virtues are outdated, not saying much to us today. Others view them as constituting merely one subjective preference among many. But the reality is that they are both universal and as important today as ever. The virtues are not nice things we put on the shelf and look at now and then; they are meant to shape how we live our lives.

In my talk, I spoke a little about each of the four cardinal virtues and about what they mean in our lives. I also spoke a bit about how the vitues can be distorted, how hiding behind each of the virtues is something whose presence we need to be wary of , lest we turn the virtue into something it was not intended to be. Finally, I spoke about how we might develop the virtues.

You can access a recording of the talk I gave here. (The podcast runs for 24:24, and ends at the point at which participants engaged in their silent reflection.) The handout I gave the participants for their reflection is here.