Faith, Hope and Love - Just 3?


This is a topic where i have little idea what the truth is and thought it would be fun to learn what others think. St. Paul writesAnd now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:13)
Do you think he is saying that every virtue is an example of faith or hope or love (i.e., charity)? That is, is everything good that pleases God that we can think, say or do an expression of faith or hope or love?

Or is there any good thought or word or deed that is not an example of one of these three?

I’m really not up for any kind of debate with this discussion, just curious what others believe, or hazard to guess.


These are the Theological Virtues foundational to our identity in Christ, thus all virtues and spiritual gifts flow from these three.


I would not say that it is always faith or hope or love. It might be more logical to assume that all three come into play and that all good things are the product of God’s grace and an outgrowth the three supernatural virtues. Faith, hope, and love are themselves gifts of God and are, indeed, foundational to the Christian life.


Thank you Pax and FC for your replies. I’m curious how the three categories of virtues are alike and how they are different. I think i have a good idea of what love is, for there is much written about it in the New Testament. There is some helpful information about faith, as well. However, there does not appear to be much written about hope.

Does anyone have an idea of how faith and hope are different from one another?


Of course one could look up the dictionary definition of these two words which I often do, but I will speak from experience.

Faith is what I believe. If I believe in something, my actions will back that up because I do what I believe. I act on what I believe. If I think the boogie man lives under my bed, I will behave as if he is there and my actions will reflect that.

The way I look at hope from experience is based what I felt as hopelessness. I have felt hopeless before in different situations. Hopeless meaning there was nothing I could do to get out of that situation. Hope for me is knowing that, yes I can get out of this situation and I look forward to it and long for it.

I hope this helps :slight_smile: It is difficult to put things in words sometimes. Also, I am always learning, so this is the best way right now that I know how to communicate my perspective.


I’m always learning, too! That’s a good way to be Fisherman. :thumbsup:

I believe there are people who live, and even die, in some state of hopelessness. So, i do not think that you mean that all hope is in this life. Some hopes might be realized only in the immortal life after this mortal one. I think you might agree.

Nonetheless, there are many things for which i hope i (and others) will achieve on this side of eternity before i die. There are many things for which i pray that i hope God will give, but that He does not. Some things for which i pray i might be certain God will grant; other things for which i pray i might be hopeful (though not certain) He will grant. Not being sure of what God wants should not prevent me from praying.

I’m wondering, then, does faith have to do with certainty but hope have to do with uncertainty?


Before I go to Mass this morning, I make one more comment. No, I am not speaking about hope in this life, but I use examples of different situations that I have experienced.

I would also say faith can be looked at to mean that I am certain about what I cannot see. To live God’s message is to live it by faith and it often times goes against our own reason. Jesus preached one message and mostly spoke in parables. In the Sermon on the Mount he spoke specifically. Just listen to this from Luke 6: 27-31. Wouldn’t you say it requires faith to live this message? These are the demands of the kingdom and it does start here. Remember the love spoke about here is AGAPE - the unconditional love of God.

27"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

29Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not with hold your shirt from him either.

30Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

31Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.



How was mass? Of what was the message about this week?

Yes, i agree it takes faith (what i, perhaps too narrowly, define as trust in God) to live the Sermon on the Mount. I also concur with what you said about faith being certain of what i cannot see. It reminded me of a passage in Hebrews:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Heb. 11:1)
Thanks for reminding me of that! It seems that the author is comparing hope with faith and attributing a certainty to faith that is not present in hope. What do you think?


Socrates, the Virtue of Faith gives us the capacity to have a supernatural knowledge of God. Faith is the beginning of eternal life; it is the first personal encounter of man with the life of God. The mystery of the intimate life of God becomes, through faith, the possession of the soul. Faith is an insertion into the life of the Most Blessed Trinity. Faith is a beginning of eternal life. An act of faith is the adherence of the mind to God: believing what God has taught, accepting what God has revealed, without requiring that we understand it, and living, then, according to our adherence to God and His revelation. And this act is itself an impulse of grace. We are radically incapable of believing and acting according to our belief unless God Himself bestows the power of adhering to revealed truth. No one can say “I believe” unless the Lord first pierces the soul with a ray of light which is at one and the same time the splendor of wisdom and the warmth of mercy. The Light of Glory by which we will have the Beatific Vision of the Most Holy Trinity is here and now received, but as through a veil – as St. Paul writes, we “see through a glass, darkly”.

In theological terms, Faith is an infused habit. The habit of faith, through the divine mercy, is first infused at Baptism and awaits the opportune moment to be ratified by the will and the intelligence. Thus we were educated, and educate our children, in the faith so that we and they have knowledge of the substance of Faith and of the lives we are called to live according to this habit. Faith widens the horizon of the intelligence, makes it capable of functioning in a world which is beyond its natural boundaries, the world of the mystery of God. The intelligence becomes capable of knowing and savoring what it could never have known either in its existence or in its reality, without the gift of faith.

The Virtue of Hope is the flowering of Faith; it makes us tend to our proper end: Life eternal with God Who alone is the object of our Hope. The exercise of Hope brings with it detachment from the world, freedom from passing things, superiority over everything created. It is also the beginning of an inner facility for progressive joy because slowly and gently fidelity to Hope brings about an interior attitude of receptivity to what the Lord has guaranteed to His Faithful. The soul that hopes is always ruled by a holy fear of God, not a fear that paralyzes or begets sadness and disquiet, but one which produces in the soul a sense of the seriousness of life, an interior alacrity and a need for and a stimulus to generosity.

The Virtue of Charity infuses into the Christian a true love of friendship for God; and this is, as we know, the only Theological Virtue that will be ours eternally, because once we have reached our goal – life eternal with God – we will no longer have Faith for we will have full knowledge of the One we love; we will no longer have Hope for we will possess the One Whose presence we hoped for. Charity is God Himself enveloping us and transforming us to love with His Love here and now, this Love to reach its eternal climax in the Beatific Vision. (cf. The Theological Virtues and the Spiritual Life, Fr. Anastasius of the Most Holy Rosary, O.C.D.).



Forgive my mental dullness, but i’m not sure i understand. What kind of habit is faith - a habit of trusting God or of something else? Also, i’m not sure i understand what you mean by saying hope is the flowering of faith. I’m not sure i understand the analogy, as i’m not much of a gardener. :slight_smile:

And please, call me Soc (it’s easier to type than Socrates).


Ok, Soc. :slight_smile:

The habit of faith is not something we acquire, but is a supernatural habit infused by God that makes us tend to our end in Him. IOW, when we are baptized we are reborn in Christ through Sanctifying Grace that gives our soul a new character; with Sanctifying Grace the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are infused in the soul making it tend to its end which is life eternal with God. The habit of Faith allows the soul to recognize and believe God’s Self-Revelation in Christ Jesus. When the soul lives in this habit of Faith the Virtue of Hope, then, flourishes because the soul has been nourished by the Truth and sees that the sufferings of life are nothing compared to what awaits the faithful soul.

This article in the online Catholic Encyclopedia gives more information about Habit:

Supernatural habits cannot be acquired, since they direct man to his supernatural end, and, therefore, are above the exigencies and the forces of nature. They suppose a higher principle, given by God, which is sanctifying or “habitual” grace. With habitual grace the three theological virtues, which are also habitus supernaturales, and, according to the more common opinion, the four cardinal virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, are infused in the soul.


Christ is Love. It reminds me of the love of St. Shophia and her daughters for God. Are we willing to do the same?

[FONT=Lucida Casual][FONT=Lucida Casual][FONT=Lucida Casual][FONT=Lucida Casual][FONT=Lucida Casual][FONT=Lucida Casual]St. Sophia
***September 17th
***Troparion of St. Sophia and her 3 daughters (Tone 5)
Thou didst blossom in the courts of the Lord as a fruitful olive tree, O holy Martyr Sophia; in thy contest thou didst offer to Christ the sweet fruit of thy womb, Love, Hope and Faith. With them intercede for us all.
St. Sophia was a widow with three daughters living in Rome in the time of Emperor Hadrian. Her daughters were Faith (age 12), Hope (age 10) & Love (age 9). The four of them were brought before Hadrian and commanded to sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. They stood steadfast with their arms entwined and instead gave glory to Jesus Christ. One by one the pagan officers took Sophia’s daughters and tortured them, beat them, stabbed them, threw them into fire and boiling pitch, finally beheading them. All the while St. Sophia was urging them to hold firm to their faith in hope of the life to come. She then took the bodies of her precious daughter Saints and buried them outside of town. She stayed by their graves and prayed day and night for three days, then gave her soul to God, joining her daughters in the heavenly fellowship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Interesting account, Rose. I think the only thing that might have made it perfect would be if their mother encouraged them with the words, “Hold firm to your faith in hope of the love to come.”


Thanks Frances for answering part of my question! You have told me how faith, hope and love are alike. The three are all classes or categories of virtues that God produces in us if we allow Him. They are also alike in that they are sciences as well as arts. They are sciences because there are certain rules to follow in adherence to them. They are arts in that the more we do them the better we get at doing them.

This is all well and good, but only the half of that truth i am seeking. For what i’m most interested in knowing is how faith, hope and love are different from one another. How is a habit of faith unlike a habit of hope and not like a habit of love? What makes the virtue of love distinct from the virtue of faith and the virtue of hope? How is God-given hope different from the faith that God gives and not the same as the love that God provides?



Did you miss my reply? If you don’t want to continue the conversation, that’s OK. I was just curious about what you and others thought about faith, hope and love.


Soc, I did miss your response, thus my late one.

Simply put, Faith is the Theological Virtue that allows us to recognize the truth of God’s Self-Revelation in and through Christ Jesus; iow, the intellect is graced with the ability to acknowledge God’s revealed Truth. Hope, builds on that knowledge; the will is graced with the desire for the end for which it was made (life eternal with God). The will is further graced with divine charity to live in conformity with the intellect’s knowledge of God and the will’s desire to be one with God through His Incarnate Son.


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