A terrible fire

The four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, temperance, and justice, elevate all man’s powers, those of his intellect, his will, and his affective life, balancing them with each other and thus adapting man to himself and to others. They are above all the result of education; and they reveal to us an admirable type of humanity, something like a Greek temple, where everything is measured, ordered, balanced, and in harmony. But the paradox is that in the midst of this measured order, this harmonious equilibrium, Christianity introduces a sort of exaggeration, and in a sense an element of disorder, an unexpected lack of balance, a higher folly which dislocates and renews everything. This superior folly, these amazing calls to exaggeration, are called faith, hope, and charity. We cannot doubt it: the theological virtues are fed by a terrible fire, the fire of the living God himself, and this fire burns our souls with a mortal burn, the burn of the infinite, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. . . .Sell all you have, and come, follow me.”