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Look It Up — Scripture has many tips for living a life of virtue


Catholic News Service

A great source of learning about virtue is the Bible.

There are numerous passages within the Scriptures emphasizing the importance of living a virtuous life. One of the major sections of the Old Testament is what are called the Wisdom books — Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach — in which one can find any number of statements that, if followed, can help the reader live a life of virtue.

For example, in the Book of Wisdom we hear that righteousness, “whose works are virtues,” can teach us moderation, prudence, as well as fortitude, “and nothing in life is more useful than these” (Wisdom 8:7).

The Book of Proverbs 10:9 also tells us about virtue this way: “Whoever walks honestly walks securely, but one whose ways are crooked will fare badly.”

St. Paul (in Galations 5:19-23) sees virtuous living as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” but warns that the “works of the flesh” (immorality, rivalry, jealousy, envy, etc.) lead to death.

Those who live by the spirit, he says “await the hope of righteousness.” Paul addresses the same ideas in Ephesians 4:1 when he calls on the church in Ephesus “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”

St. Paul also succinctly explained what it means to live a virtuous life in Philippians 4:8-9:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

In 2 Peter 1:5-6, Christians are encouraged to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.”

As the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and our church leaders make clear, living virtuously means being shaped by all that is good and holy. We are told to focus on God to find virtue and to follow the path of eternal life.


Mulhall is a catechist living in Laurel, Md.