(1) Our non-Catholic friends would side with Tertullian when he asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” while Catholics tend to side with Justin Martyr and think that the good scribe brings even treasures of Athens out of his treasure house.
To Catholics, this makes good sense and is helpful as we examine our moral life and hold it up to God for his repair.
I fear to many it will seem alien and useless. It’s too bad. If God can anoint Cyrus, certainly He can make something of Aristotle and Plato.
(2) I think it is good (I am stealing from Lewis) to avoid thinking of the virtues as distinct entities. I suggest modes of functioning instead.
How many of us have behaved imprudently, or intemperately, or even unfairly because we lacked the courage to resist “peer pressure”?
How often is what looks like courage actually recklessness, because the good habit of resisting fear is not balanced by prudence?
And so on.
For lagniappe: I propose that temperance is the musical virtue.
Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier” is a collection of pieces written for every possible key on the same instrument. Such an instrument has to be tuned logarithmically rather than in the Pythagorean system of “small, whole number ratios.” It is “well tempered”.
In music, especially choral music, one must be on pitch, not too fast, not too slow, not too loud, not too soft. And even, in a funny way and remembering Pythagoras, not too precise.
I forget under which virtue humility is classified. But it could be temperance, because to sing in a choir is to subordinate one’s voice to the good of the whole. YOU might possibly know exactly how to make this piece of music show its best features. But you are in a chorus, and if the performance is to succeed, you must be humble and trust that God will show the music at its best at a time that suits Him.
(Humility fascinates me, probably because I lack it so gravely. Pray for me.)
It may well be so, therefore, that the “arts” which everyone despises these days, are more important than we know and that to teach our children to sing is to lay the foundation for a cardinal virtue.
I think the sacred art and sacred music is on the way back, though. It will lead us all back to reverence and humility.