Catholics find consolation in the three great virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, which St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 are the three things that “remain” beyond this world and guide us into the next. Catholic Tradition has always called Faith, Hope, and Love the “Theological Virtues” because they come from Heaven and are not human in origin. As with all virtues, they are habits that dispose us to act for our own proper happiness, the greatest goal of which is the attainment of Eternal Life.
There are two things to be especially clear about when speaking of the Theological Virtues. First, they are gifts from God and cannot be obtained by human effort. Once we have these gifts, we can – and should – develop them by our efforts, but they can only acquired by asking for them. We can also ask that these gifts be given to others. Second, we receive these gifts primarily through the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, which the Church calls “Sacraments of Initiation” (Catechism, II.2.1).
Because these gifts only come through prayer, the Church has traditionally encouraged the faithful to make “acts” of Faith, Hope, and Love, whereby we both express these virtues as personal commitments and ask God to grant us an increase in them, as the Apostles did (Luke 17:5).
Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Act of Hope
O my God, relying on your infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
Act of Love
O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon for those whom I have injured.