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St. Augustine wrote much about rightly ordered love (or affections, or desires). Living virtuously requires one to love things in the proper order and to a proper degree. Virtue is lacking (or, in Christian terms, it is sinful) when one devotes more affection towards a thing which deserves it less than another.

The question of what things deserve how much love is, ultimately, not an easy question, but when applied to daily life, to the minor actions that we do day to day, the idea can be a helpful reminder. For example, as a student, it helps to recognize that paying too much attention and spending too much time on, say, video games—that is, to love gaming beyond a just amount—while at the same time neglecting studies and homework, is to engage in disordered love.

The idea relates neatly to the cardinal virtues: to be prudent is to know which things deserve to be loved; to be just is to know how much love to give to each of these things; and to be courageous and temperate is to have the will to ensure this proper ordering of desires.


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