The Supernatural Organism/Order
'Your Ticket/Highway to Heaven'

[Mortal Sin destroys your Ticket-to-Heaven]

The Madonna of Carmel and the Souls of Purgatory - by TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista - from Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The Souls in Heaven, the Church Triumphant, intercede to God on behalf of the Souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering. Our Blessed Mother in Heaven, the 'Throne of Mercy' and 'Queen of the Angels', takes great delight in sending her Angels to release those Souls mercifully pardoned by her Son Jesus. Although depicted with Bodies, members of the Church Triumphant and Suffering actually have no Bodies, and will not receive their Glorified Bodies until the Final Judgment at the World's End. Currently, there are only Two (2) known Bodies in Heaven, belonging to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. Popular speculation attributes a Third Body in Heaven belonging to Saint Joseph, based on God's Commandment to 'Honor thy Father and Mother'. Jesus will never be outdone by Man in bestowing Honor on His parents.


Supernatural Organism/Order
(Resides in the Essence of the
Soul of the Natural Order)

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)




(Dominant Partner)

Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Man is born a Rational Creature, with Body and Soul, into the Natural Order.
God First elevates Man to the Supernatural Order via the Sacrament of Baptism, which infuses Sanctifying Grace into the Essence of the Soul. The other Six (6) Sacraments can then elevate the Soul even Higher.
The Supernatural Order is the Ensemble of Effects exceeding the Powers of the Created Universe and Gratuitously produced directly by God for the purpose of raising the Rational Creature above its Natural Sphere to a God-like Life and Destiny.
Mortal Sin destroys/kills Man's entire Supernatural Organism. Man is no-longer a Temple of God. God is gone & resides no-longer in the Soul.
Only God can raise the Soul back-to-life from the Dead, via the Sacrament of Penance.



dovesmlc.gif (3961 bytes) The Supernatural Organism - Part III of V

by Father Jordan Aumann, O.P.

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Father Jordan Aumann, O.P. former Director of the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, is an honorary professor of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where he has been giving special courses in Spirituality since 1977.

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The Infused Virtues

[No Infused Virtues - No Heaven]

Elements - Supernatural Organism

Subject: Soul
Formal Principle: Sanctifying Grace
Faculties/Powers: Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Operations: Acts of the Virtues and Gifts


Natural Human Soul

Superior Will/Reason
Infused Knowledge/

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Infused Supernatural Virtues
reside within the Essence of the Soul along with Sanctifying Grace and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

dovesmlc.gif (3961 bytes) The Existence and Necessity of the Infused Supernatural Virtues follow from the Nature of Sanctifying Grace. Although Grace is classified as an Accident, and not a Substance, its Role in the Supernatural Life of Man is similar to that of the Human Soul. Therefore, Sanctifying Grace is not Immediately Operative but Static, although it is the Remote Principle of all the Activities of the Person in Grace. And since Habitual Grace is the Principle of the Supernatural Life, it needs Faculties or Powers as the Immediate Principles of Operation.

If this were not the case, we would be Elevated to the Supernatural Order only as regards our Soul, but not as regards our Operative Powers. And although, absolutely speaking, God could Elevate our Faculties to the Supernatural Order by means of Continual Actual Graces, this would produce a Violence in the Human Psychological Structure by reason of the Tremendous Disproportion between the Purely Natural Faculty and the Supernatural Act to be effected. And such Violence could not be reconciled with the Customary Suavity of Divine Providence, which moves all things according to their Natures. As Saint Thomas points out:

It is not fitting that God should provide less for those He Loves, that they may acquire Supernatural Good, than for Creatures whom He Loves that they may acquire Natural Good. Now He so provides for Natural Creatures that not merely does He move them to their Natural Acts, but He bestows on them certain Forms and Powers, which are the Principles of Acts, in order that they may of themselves be inclined to these Movements, and thus the Movements whereby they are moved by God become Natural and easy to Creatures .... Much more, therefore, does He Infuse into those He Moves toward the Acquisition of Supernatural Good, certain Forms or Supernatural Qualities whereby they may be moved by Him Sweetly and Promptly to acquire Eternal Good.


Nature of the Infused Virtues

The Infused Virtues may be defined as Operative Habits Infused by God into the Faculties of the Soul to dispose them to Function according to the Dictates of Reason, Enlightened by Faith.

"Operative Habits" is the Generic Element of the Definition, common to all Natural and Supernatural Virtues. On the purely Natural Level, an Operative Habit is a Quality, difficult to remove, that disposes the Subject to Function with Facility, Promptness, and Delight. It gives the Subject, Facility for Operation, because every Habit is an increase of Energy in relation to its Corresponding Action; it gives Promptness because it constitutes, so to speak, a Second Nature in virtue-of-which the Subjects Quickly give themselves to Action; and it causes Delight in the Operation because it produces an Act that is Prompt, Facile, and Connatural.

"Infused by God" is a Radical Difference between the Infused and Acquired Virtues. The Natural or Acquired Virtues are Engendered in us by means of Repeated Acts; the only Cause of the Supernatural or Infused Virtues is the Divine Infusion. Their purpose is to Supernaturalize the Faculties by Elevating them to the Order of Grace and making them Capable of Performing Supernatural Acts. Without them, or without the Actual Grace that Substitutes for them (as in the case of the Sinner before Justification), it would be impossible for us to perform a Supernatural Act. Saint Thomas says: "As from the Essence of the Soul flows its Powers, which are the Principles of Deeds, so likewise the Virtues, whereby the Powers are Moved to Act, flow into the Powers of the Soul from Grace".

Comparison of the Acquired and Infused Virtues

Natural Acquired Virtues

Infused Supernatural Virtues

Acquired and Strengthened by Repeated Acts. Infused by Divine Gift of God along with Sanctifying Grace.
Disposes the Faculties to follow the Dictates of Reason. Disposes the Faculties to follow Reason Illumined by Faith.
Lost by non-use or repeated Acts Contrary to the Virtue. Lost, along with Sanctifying Grace, through Mortal Sin.
Increase the Ease with which Good Actions are performed. Give the Capacity to perform Acts Meritorious of Heaven
No matter how much we have advanced in Natural Acquired Virtues, they bring no Supernatural Benefit without the Infused Virtues to make their Acts Meritorious.

The principal difference between the Acquired and Infused Virtues is by reason of the Formal Object. The Infused Virtues dispose the Faculties to follow the Dictate or Command, not of Reason alone, as do the Acquired Virtues, but of Reason Illumined by Faith. The Acquired Moral Virtues, however Heroic and Perfect, could never Attain the Formal Object of the Infused Virtues. With good reason does Saint Thomas say that the principal difference between the Acquired and Infused Virtues is by reason of their Formal Objects:

The Object of every Virtue is a Good considered as in that Virtue's Proper Matter; thus the Object of Temperance is a Good with respect to the Pleasures connected with the Concupiscence of Touch. The Formal Aspect of this Object is from Reason, which fixes the Mean in these Concupiscence's. Now it is evident that the Mean that is appointed in such Concupiscence according to the Rule of Human Reason is seen under a Different Aspect from the Mean that is fixed according to the Divine Rule. For instance, in the Consumption of Food, the Mean fixed by Human Reason is that Food should not harm the Health of the Body nor hinder the Use of Reason; whereas according to the Divine Rule it behooves Man to Chastise his Body and bring it under Subjection (1Corinthians 9:27) by Abstinence in Food, Drink, and the like. It is therefore evident that Infused and Acquired Temperance differ in Species; and the same applies to the other Virtues.

Nor does it change matters to object that the Act of Infused Temperance is identical with that of Acquired Temperance (namely, the Moderation or Control of the Pleasures of Touch) and that therefore, there is no specific difference between them. Saint Thomas admits the Identity of the Material Object but insists on the Specific and Radical Difference by-reason-of the Formal Object: "Both Acquired and Infused Temperance moderate Desires for Pleasures of Touch, but for different reasons as stated: wherefore their respective Acts are not identical".

But the Infused Virtues lack something of the perfect definition of Habits, because they do not give complete Facility in Operation, which is characteristic of True Habits. They confer, it is true, an Intrinsic Inclination and Promptness for Good, but they do not give an Extrinsic Facility, because they do not remove all the Obstacles to Good, as is evident in the case of converted Sinners who experience Great Difficulty in the Performance of Good, because of their past Acquired Vices. Saint Thomas distinguishes clearly the Facility proper to the Two (2) kinds of Virtue: "Facility in performing the Acts of Virtue can proceed from Two (2) Sources: from Custom (and the Infused Virtue does not give this Facility from its beginning), and from a Strong Inhesion as regards the Object of the Virtue, and this is found in the Infused Virtue at its very beginning".

The principal differences between the Acquired and Infused Virtues can be summarized as follows:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) By reason of their Essence. The Natural or Acquired Virtues are Habits in the strict sense of the word. They do not give the Power to Act (for the Faculty has that already), but they give Facility in Operation. The Supernatural or Infused Virtues give the Power to Act Supernaturally (without them it would be impossible, apart from an Actual Grace), but they do not give Facility in Operation.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) By reason of the Efficient Cause. The Natural Virtues are Acquired by our own proper Acts; the Supernatural Virtues are infused by God together with Sanctifying Grace.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) By reason of the Final Cause. The Acquired Natural Virtues enable us to conduct ourselves rightly in regard to Human Acts in accordance with our Rational Nature. The Supernatural Virtues, on the other hand, give us the ability to conduct ourselves rightly in regard to our condition as Adopted Children of God, destined for Eternal Life, and to exercise the Supernatural Acts proper to the Life of Grace.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) By reason of the Formal Object. The Natural Virtues work for the Good according to the Dictate and Light of Natural Reason; the Supernatural Virtues work for the Good according to the Dictate and Supernatural Light of Faith.

There are Four (4) Properties that the Infused Virtues have in common with the Acquired Natural Virtues:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They consist in the Mean or Medium between the Two (2) Extremes (except for the Theological Virtues, and even these do so by reason of the Subject and Mode);

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) In the State of Perfection they are United among themselves by Prudence (and the Infused Virtues by Charity also);

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They are unequal in Perfection or Eminence; and

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Those that imply no Imperfection perdure after this life as to their Formal Elements.

The Characteristics or Properties that are Exclusive to the Infused Virtues are the following:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They always Accompany Sanctifying Grace and are Infused together with Grace. This Doctrine is common among the Theologians, although it is not exactly defined by the Church.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They are really distinct from Sanctifying Grace. It suffices to recall that Grace is an Entitative Habit infused into the Essence of the Soul, while the Infused Virtues are Operative Habits Infused into the Potencies, which are really distinct from the Soul.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They are specifically distinct from the corresponding Acquired Natural Virtues. This has been previously demonstrated.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They are Supernatural in their Essence, but not in their Mode of Operation.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They increase with Sanctifying Grace. Saint Paul writes to the Ephesians: "Rather let us profess the Truth in Love and grow to the Full Maturity of Christ the Head" (Ephesians 4:15). To the Philippians he says: "My Prayer is that your Love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience" (Philippians 1:9). And he prays for the Romans "that through the Power of the Holy Spirit you may have Hope in abundance" (Romans 15:13). Saint Peter writes: "Grow rather in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18).

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They give us the Intrinsic Power for Supernatural Acts, but not the Extrinsic Facility for those Acts. This explains why the Repentant Habitual Sinner experiences great Difficulty in the Practice of Virtue. The Difficulty can be overcome by Perfecting the Acquired Virtues. The Acquired Virtues cannot assist the Infused Virtues Intrinsically, of course, because a Natural, Acquired Habit cannot Perfect a Supernatural, Infused Virtue. However, it can help Extrinsically by removing Obstacles or by correcting Disordered Concupiscence. When the Obstacles are removed, the Infused Virtues can begin to work Promptly and Delightfully.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Except for Faith and Hope, they are all Lost as a result of Mortal Sin. The reason is that the Infused Virtues are like Properties flowing from Sanctifying Grace, and when Grace is Destroyed, they also are Destroyed. Only Faith and Hope can remain, and they in an Unformed and Imperfect State. But if a Person Sins directly against these Two (2) Virtues, they also are Destroyed, and the Soul is then Deprived of every Trace of the Supernatural.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) They cannot diminish directly. This Diminution could be caused only by Venial Sin, or by the Cessation of the Acts of Virtue. But they cannot be diminished by Venial Sin, because this Sin leaves intact the orientation to the Supernatural End proper to the Infused Virtues. Nor can they be diminished by the Cessation of the Acts of the Virtues, for these Virtues were not acquired by Human Effort, and hence do not depend on Repeated Acts. Nevertheless, the Infused Virtues may be diminished indirectly by Venial Sins so far as these Sins Stifle the Fervor of Charity, Impede Progress in Virtue, and Predispose to Mortal Sin.


Division of the Infused Virtues

Some of the Infused Virtues Ordain the Faculties to the End or Goal; others Dispose them in regard to the Means. The First Group is the Theological Virtues; the Second Group is the Moral Virtues. The First corresponds, in the Order of Grace, with the Principles of the Natural Order that direct us to our Natural End; the Second corresponds with the Acquired Virtues of the Natural Order that Perfect us in regard to the Means. Once again the close Similarity and Analogy between the Natural and the Supernatural Orders are evident.

Theological Virtues - The existence of the Theological Virtues seems to be clearly indicated in several texts of Saint Paul, including:

"God's Love has been poured into our Hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5); "So Faith, Hope, Love abide, these Three; but the greatest of these is Love" (1Corinthians 13:13). Moreover, the Church has stated in 'Equivalent Formulas' that we receive with Sanctifying Grace the Gifts of Faith, Hope, Charity, and the other Virtues.

The 'Equivalent Formula' of Baptism
Baptism infuses Seven (7) Virtues into the Soul, the First Three (3) of which relate to God Himself, namely, Faith, Hope, and Charity. We are thus enabled to Believe in Him, Hope in Him, and Love Him. But Four (4) other Virtues, called Moral Virtues, are related to the means of attaining God; these are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. By the right use of things for God's sake, by paying our debts to God, by being brave about witnessing our Faith and Temperate about even the Legitimate Pleasures of Life, we reach God more quickly.

The existence of the Theological Virtues is postulated by the very Nature of Sanctifying Grace. Since Grace is not Immediately Operative, it requires Operative Principles to Grow and Develop to Perfection. Among these Principles, some must refer to the Supernatural End ( Theological Virtues), and others must refer to the Means that lead to that End (Moral Virtues). This argument takes its force principally from the Divine Economy and the Workings of Divine Providence, made known to us through Revelation.

The Theological Virtues are Operative Principles by which we are Ordained Directly and Immediately to God as our Supernatural End. They have God Himself as their Material Object and One (1) of His Divine Attributes as their Formal Object. Since they are strictly Supernatural, only God can infuse them into the Soul.

There are Three (3) Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. The reason for this number is that, by these Three (3), 'Immediate Union' with God is realized Perfectly. Faith enables us to know God as First Truth; Hope makes us desire Him as the Supreme Good for us; Charity Unites us to Him by the Love of Friendship, so far as He is Infinite Goodness. There are no other Aspects of Union with God, for although the Divine Perfections are Infinite, they cannot be Attained by Human Acts except under the Aspect of Truth (by the Intellect) and Goodness (by the Will). And only this latter admits of a Twofold Aspect, namely, Good for us (Hope) and Goodness in itself (Charity).

That the Theological Virtues are distinct among themselves is something beyond doubt, since they can actually be separated. Faith can subsist without Hope and Charity (as in one who commits a Mortal Sin of Despair without losing his Faith); Charity will perdure Eternally in Heaven, separate from Faith and Hope, which will have disappeared (cf. 1Corinthians 13:8); and finally, in this life, Faith and Hope can subsist without Charity, as always happens when One Commits a Mortal Sin not directly-opposed-to Faith or Hope. In these instances Faith and Hope remain in the Soul in an Unformed-State, since Charity is the Form of the Virtues.

In the Order of Generation or of Origin, the First is to Know ( Faith), then to Desire (Hope), and Lastly to Attain (Charity). According to the Order of Perfection, Charity is the Most-Excellent of the Theological Virtues ("and the greatest of these is Love" -- (1Corinthians 13:13) because it Unites us Most Intimately with God, and is the only one of the Three (3) that perdures in Eternity. As to the other Two (2) Virtues, Faith is Superior to Hope because it bespeaks a Relation with God in Himself, whereas Hope presents God as a Good for us. Moreover, Faith is the Foundation of Hope. On-the-other-hand, Hope is more closely-related-to Charity, and in this sense, it is more-perfect-than Faith.


Moral Virtues: The existence of the Infused Moral Virtues was denied by numerous Ancient Theologians, but today it is admitted by almost all Theologians, in accordance with the Doctrine of Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great, and Saint Thomas. The basis of this Doctrine is to be found in Scripture. Thus, in the Book of Wisdom we are told that nothing is more useful in the life of a person than Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice: "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" (Wisdom 8:7).

Saint Peter, immediately after speaking of Grace as a Participation in the Divine Nature of God, states: "For this very reason make every effort to supplement your Faith with Virtue, and Virtue with Knowledge, and Knowledge with Self-Control, and Self-Control with Steadfastness, and Steadfastness with Godliness, and Godliness with Brotherly Affection, and Brotherly Affection with Love" (2Peter 1;5-7). In these and other texts we have the Scriptural Basis that was later elaborated by the Fathers and Theologians to give us a Body of Doctrine that is Perfectly Organized and Systematic. It is true that the Church has not expressly defined anything on this question, but today the Doctrine on the Existence of the Infused Moral Virtues is generally accepted.

The Theological Virtues are demanded by the very Nature of Grace so that it can be Dynamically Orientated to the Supernatural End; the Moral Virtues are demanded by the Theological Virtues because to be Ordained to the End requires a proper disposition to the Means. Hence, the Infused Moral Virtues are Habits that dispose the Faculties of Man to follow the Dictate of Reason Illumined by Faith in relation to the Means that lead to the Supernatural End. They do not have God as their Immediate Object -- and in this they are distinguished from the Theological Virtues -- but they rightly Ordain Human Acts to the Supernatural End, and in this way they are distinguished from the corresponding Acquired Natural Virtues.

The Infused Moral Virtues regulate all the Acts of Man, including (at least on the part of Prudence) the very Acts of the Theological Virtues, in spite of the fact that these latter Virtues are Superior to the Moral Virtues. For although the Theological Virtues, considered in themselves, do not consist in the Mean or Medium as do the Moral Virtues, one can nevertheless go to excess in the Manner of Operation, and it is that Manner or Mode that falls under the Moral Virtues. So it is that the Moral Virtues must be numerous, as Saint Thomas points out: "For every Act in which there is found a Special Aspect of Goodness, Man must be disposed by a Special Virtue". Accordingly, there will be as many Moral Virtues as there are Species of Good Objects that serve as Means leading to the Supernatural End. Saint Thomas Studies and Discusses more than Fifty (50) Moral Virtues in the Summa Theologiae, and perhaps it was not his intention to give a complete and exhaustive treatment.

However, since ancient times it has been the custom to reduce the Moral Virtues to Four (4) Principal Ones, namely, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. They are expressly named in Sacred Scripture, as we have already seen, and they are called the Virtues most profitable for Man in this Life. Among the Fathers of the Church, Saint Ambrose is apparently the first to call them Cardinal Virtues. The Scholastic Theologians unanimously subdivided the Moral Virtues on the basis of these Four (4) Virtues.

Saint Thomas maintains that these Virtues can be called Cardinal from Two (2) Points of View: in a less proper sense, because they designate general Conditions or Characteristics necessary for any Virtue (every Virtue calls for Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance); more properly, because they pertain to Special Activities that require the Control of Virtue. Hence, the Cardinal Virtues are Special Virtues, not merely General Virtues that comprise all the other Virtues.

The Principality of the Cardinal Virtues can be seen in the influence they exercise over their Subordinated Virtues. The latter Virtues function in Secondary Related Matters, leaving the Principal Matter to the corresponding Cardinal Virtue. Hence, each of the Cardinal Virtues can be divided into Integral Parts, Subjective Parts, and Potential Parts.

The Integral Parts refer to Conditions or Characteristics necessary for the Perfect Exercise of the Virtue. Thus, Patience and Constancy are Integral Parts of Fortitude.

The Subjective Parts are the various Species of the Principal Virtue. Thus, Sobriety and Chastity are Subjective Parts of Temperance.

The Potential Parts are those Annexed Virtues that do not have the Full Force and Power of the Principal Virtue, but are in some way related to it. Thus, the Virtue of Religion is Annexed to Justice because it has to do with rendering to God the Cult that is due, although this can never be done Perfectly, because one cannot achieve the Equality required for strict Justice.

But does the Principality of the Cardinal Virtues make them Superior to the Secondary Related Virtues? Evidently not, for Religion and Penance are Superior to Justice, since their Object is Nobler. Humility is related to Temperance, but is more Excellent than Temperance.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to preserve the Principality of the Cardinal Virtues as hinges of the others, because they comply more fully with their definitions as Virtues. For example, Commutative Justice has more of the aspect of Justice than Religion or Penance. An Annexed or Related Virtue may be Superior, by reason of its Object, but the Cardinal Virtue is Superior precisely as a Cardinal Virtue.

We shall treat of Particular Virtues when we discuss the Positive Means for Growth in Grace and Holiness (Chapter 9). Now, however, we shall investigate the Last and Crowning Element of the Supernatural Organism, namely, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.


- End of Part III -


Index - Supernatural Organism

Subject: Soul
Formal Principle: Sanctifying Grace
Faculties/Powers: Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Operations: Acts of the Virtues and Gifts