Natural religions placed great importance on the place of virtue. From Taoism, Buddhism and finally Confucianism, we see how grace builds on nature. Catholicism's stress on virtues was not foreign to the thinking of the sages who began to look into the new thinking that came from China. This similarity in a virtuous life with which they were familiar, made Catholicism in Korea, easy to accept.
In the spirituality
column of the Peace Weekly we are told that the first of the natural
virtues is prudence. Before Christ, in China and the Greek world we had
the wise and philosophers teaching the need for virtue in search for
the good life. They discovered that these required repetition. In
Confucianism we have benevolence, propriety, fidelity, wisdom, and
righteousness. We find lists of these virtues both in the Old and New
In the book of Wisdom: "Or if one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues; for she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these" (8:7).
4:8 "Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true
everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything
that we love and honor, and everything that can be thought virtuous or
worthy of praise."
One difference for a Christian when
we speak about the natural virtues is we understand God's grace can
enter to make our acceptance more complete but it begins in the
natural and our efforts are required. Cardinal Virtues are Prudence,
Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. All the other moral virtues hinge on
these four and consequently are called cardinal. They can be infused
with the grace of God but they begin in the natural.
is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good
in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it;
'the prudent man looks where he is gong.... It is called the charioteer
of the virtues; it guides the other virtues by setting rule and
measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of
conscience" Catechism of the Church #1806.