The Catholic Understanding of Faith, Hope and Love - CHSS 87
Catholic Heritage Spirituality Show · 32 minutes ·

The Catholic Understanding of Faith, Hope and Love - CHSS 87

Catholic and Protestant Christians often use the same theological terms such as “faith,” “grace” and “salvation.” But do they understand these terms in the same way?


In this episode, we take some time to think critically about the meaning Catholic theologians have assigned to this term “faith.” We note that Augustine and Thomas Aquinas understood faith to be a theological virtue. By referring to this virtue as “theological,” they understood faith to be a virtue that most directly connects the Christian to God.


Faith, hope and love, both scholars believed, were given to the soul at baptism, the critical moment of the person’s incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ. With God’s help and with personal initiative, the Christian thereafter exercises each of these theological virtues.

Throughout the Christian life, these theological virtues could be increased, decreased and even eliminated.


The theological virtue of faith, according to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas who followed him, means “to think with assent.” Faith assents to divine revelation.


In addition, these two thinkers likewise understood love to be a desiring of the good for someone else.  Love leads the Christian to take positive action in the world.


The question of the loss of the theological virtue of faith has proven to be a point of contention between Protestant and Catholic Christians. In the show, we talk about how Catholic and Protestant Christians address the question of post-baptismal sin as it relates to the virtue of faith.


The medieval Scholastic theologians divided sins into two broad categories. First, there were sins against faith such as apostasy, heresy and idolatry. These types of sins most immediately led to the loss of the theological virtue of faith. Second, there were sins against morals. These types of sins harm the moral virtues such as justice, temperance and temperance.


In most instances, post-baptismal sins are against morals. Because of this, there is a loss of the theological virtue of love. In instances where the theological virtue of love has been lost, it is necessary for Catholics to restore this theological virtue. Sins against morals usually do not require a restoration of the theological virtue of faith. Although sins against morals can eventually lead to a diminution and eventual loss of the theological virtue of faith, the primary effect of sins against morals is a loss of the theological virtue of love.


In order to restore the theological virtue of love, Catholics need to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and do penance for their sins. In this episode, we talk about why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so important for Catholic spirituality, especially in light of the problems posed by post-baptismal sin.


Join us this week as we discuss faith, post-baptismal sin and its remedy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To comment on this show or to provide feedback, please navigate to


The Catholic Heritage Spirituality Show is devoted to helping Catholic Christians better understand the history, teachings and culture of their Catholic faith so that they can better love and serve Christ, the Church and their neighbors.

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