American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 94, Issue 4, Fall 2020

Matthew McWhorterOrcid-ID
Pages 573-596

Aquinas and the Moral Virtues of a Christian Person

Aquinas teaches that the acquired moral virtues associated with the civil life are to be differentiated from the gratuitous moral virtues associated with the spiritual life. An interpretation of Aquinas will benefit from situating his various remarks on the moral virtues within the context of his teaching regarding how Christian persons develop in virtue over time. In this account, Aquinas makes a distinction between the moral virtues exercised in this life (in via) and in heaven (in patria), as well as between three stages of the Christian moral life in via (active, intermediate, and contemplative). I argue that Aquinas indicates that for Christian persons the acquired moral virtues are retained in the active life in via, but not in patria. Further, claims that Aquinas makes regarding the relationship between the contemplative moral virtues and the active moral virtues provide an analogy for understanding how infused charity might relate to the acquired moral virtues.