The Christian virtues begin with “faith, hope, and charity” (though most translations these days translate the Greek agape differently, and call them faith, hope, and love). These were enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:13 by St. Paul.
Faith is belief in the truth of the Christian revelations even though they have not been revealed by God to you personally. Hope is the belief that God ultimately has your back, so that you shouldn’t despair no matter what life throws at you. But of the three, Paul said that agape (charity/love) is the greatest virtue, and in an oft-quoted passage, he described that virtue this way:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
From that description it appears that Paul’s agape is a compound virtue that incorporates virtues like patience, kindness, mudita, modesty, humility, respect, good temper, forgiveness, righteousness, care, trust, hope, and perseverance. (I say that’s cheating.)
The Catholic church borrowed the four cardinal virtues of ancient Greek philosophy to add to Paul’s list, and thereby created the traditional seven Christian virtues:
- prudence (wisdom)
- justice (fairness)
- temperance (restraint, self control, moderation)
- courage (fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance)
There was also an attempt at one point to back-fill a version of seven Christian virtues by looking for the opposites of the “seven deadly sins”. The sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride have their virtuous counterparts in:
- chastity (including purity, honesty, and wisdom)
- temperance (self control, justice, honor)
- charity (benevolence, altruism)
- industry (diligence, persistence, effort)
- patience (mercy)
- kindness (compassion)
- humility (modesty, reverence)
In strong contrast to Aristotle’s and Ayn Rand’s ethics, in which the individual’s own needs and worldly thriving is the foundation for his or her virtues, in Christian ethics the individual is utterly submissive to God’s will and His designs, and any individual’s needs are to be considered even by that individual to be no more important than those of his or her neighbor. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself, is the Christian ethics foundation.
For this reason, in the Christian scheme of virtues, you should not expect that the virtues should tend toward a happy, fulfilling worldly life (indeed, such a life may be suspect or even counter-productive). Instead, your actions are dedicated to the glory of God, and any reward is only to be expected in the hereafter.