“Can our national virtues of Comfort, Wealth, and Success be reconciled with the Cardinal Virtues of Chastity, Poverty, and Humility? I am afraid that the answer must be honestly faced. And the answer is, No. The breakdown of civilization has probably been caused by the attempt to reconcile the two sets of ultimately contradictory, exclusive values.” (1943)
“Christian Civilization, morally considered, means simply the sense in the person of virtue and the sense of sin. It means, in a word, responsibility.” (1943)
“Man is only happy in cooperating with his individual destiny. All men are destined to perfect virtue.
Some men are destined to achieve virtue before death.
Some are destined to achieve it after death.
It is a special mark of providence to have the opportunity of complete humility before death. The longer before death it is—the greater the mark of God’s love.”
(October 19, 1929)
“The breakdown here in America is not due to a negative evil like sin, but to avoidance alike of all negative and positive things like the virtues and vices in the hope that, by postponing both heaven and hell long enough, a Utopia of science may be discovered. It is thought that if the good can be held off long enough, comfort will triumph.”
—from the essay “Room (with Bath) at the Inn” (October 5, 1941)
“We hear often enough of the pagan vices (Rome always seems to have fallen) but it is time to recognize the important place which history gives to the pagan virtues.
“The era of Augustus with its grandeur and peace could never have occurred without magnificent virtue, and it is only on such magnificent natural virtue that the supernatural virtues of Christianity can be placed, if they are to survive (short of miracle).
For the supernatural religion cannot exist by itself; it cannot float in mid-air. It must be superimposed upon a foundation of balanced and vigorous natural religion.” (1943)