Gifts and Beatitudes

St. Augustine of Hippo shows how the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit correspond to the first seven Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-9), and how these seven are contained in the Eighth Beatitude (Mt 5:10).

He says: “Here the first place is given to fear [of the Lord], which is suitable for the humble, of whom it is said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ that is, those who think not high things, but who fear. The second is piety, which belongs to the meek; for he who seeks piously, reverences, does not find fault, does not resist; and this is to become meek. The third is knowledge, which belongs to those that mourn, who have learned to what evils they are enslaved which they once pursued as goods. The fourth, which is fortitude, rightly belongs to those who hunger and thirst, who seeking joy in true goods, labour to turn away from earthly lusts. The fifth, counsel, is appropriate for the merciful, for there is one remedy to deliver from so great evils, viz. to give and to distribute to others. The sixth is understanding, and belongs to the pure in heart, who with purged eye can see what eye seeth not. The seventh is wisdom, and may be assigned to the peacemakers, in whom is no rebellious motion, but they obey the Spirit.”

Concerning the Eighth Beatitude (“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”) he says: “Thus the one reward, the kingdom of heaven, is put forth under various names. To the first, as was right, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the beginning of perfect wisdom; as if it should be said, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ To the meek, an inheritance, as to those who with piety seek the execution of a father’s will. To those that mourn, comfort, as to persons who know what they had lost, and in what they were immersed. To the hungry, plenty, as a refreshment to those who labour for salvation. To the merciful, mercy, that to those who have followed the best counsel, that may be showed which they have showed to others. To the pure in heart the faculty of seeing God, as to men bearing a pure eye to understand the things of eternity. To the peacemakers, the likeness of God.”

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Blessed: Persecuted and Rewarded

After proclaiming the Eight Beatitudes, Christ promised to bless His faithful disciples. He said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Mt 5:11-12) Hear the comments of His disciples on this promise:

“Your reward is not to be placed in things that are seen, but by ‘in heaven’ understand the spiritual firmament, where everlasting righteousness dwells. Those then whose joy is in things spiritual will even here have some foretaste of that reward; but it will be made perfect in every part when this mortal shall have put on immortality.” -St. Augustine

“This it is in the power of any one of us to attain, that when our good character is injured by calumny, we rejoice in the Lord. He only who seeks after empty glory cannot attain this. Let us then rejoice and exult, that our reward may be prepared for us in heaven.” -St. Jerome

“If it be true that he who offers a cup of water does not lose his reward, consequently he who has been wronged but by a single word of calumny, shall not be without a reward. But that the reviled may have a claim to this blessing, two things are necessary, it must be false, and it must be for God’s sake; otherwise he has not the reward of this blessing; therefore He adds, ‘falsely for my sake.'” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“For by how much any is pleased with the praise of men, by so much is he grieved with their evil speaking. But if you seek your glory in heaven, you will not fear any slanders on earth.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“He invites them to patience not only by the prospect of reward, but by example, when He adds, ‘for so persecuted they the Prophets who were before you.'” -Gloss

“A man in sorrow receives great comfort from the recollection of the sufferings of others, who are set before him as an example of patience.” -Remigius of Auxerre

“He signifies His equality in honour with His Father, as if He had said, As they suffered for my Father, so shall ye suffer for me.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Yet ought we sometimes to check our defamers, lest by spreading evil reports of us, they corrupt the innocent hearts of those who might hear good from us.” -St. Gregory the Great

“We ought not to stir up wilfully the tongues of slanderers, lest they perish for their slander, yet when their own malice has instigated them, we should endure it with equanimity, that our merit may be added to.” -St. Gregory the Great

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Eighth Beatitude

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:10).

“‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, that is for virtue, for defending others, for piety, for all these things are spoken of under the title of righteousness. This follows the beatitude upon the peacemakers, that we may not be led to suppose that it is good to seek peace at all times.” -St. John Chrysostom

“‘For righteousness’ sake’ He adds expressly, for many suffer persecution for their sins, and are not therefore righteous.” -St. Jerome

“Scripture . . . does not mention the persons of the persecutors, but only the cause of persecution, that you may learn to look, not by whom, but why you suffer.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“He includes those in the beatitude whose will is ready to suffer all things for Christ, who is our righteousness.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“The eighth beatitude, as it were, returns to the commencement, because it shows the perfect complete character. In the first then and the eighth, the kingdom of heaven is named, for the seven go to make the perfect man, the eighth manifests and proves his perfectness, that all may be conducted to perfection by these steps.” -St. Augustine

“Wonder not if you do not hear ‘the kingdom’ mentioned under each beatitude; for in saying ‘shall be comforted,’ ‘shall find mercy,’ and the rest, in all these the kingdom of heaven is tacitly understood. . . . For indeed he would not be blessed who was to be crowned with those things which depart with this life.” -St. John Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Seventh Beatitude

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Mt 5:9).

“When you have made your inward parts clean from every of sin, that dissentions and contentions may not proceed from your temper, begin peace within yourself, that so you may extend it to others.” -St. Ambrose

“Peace is the fixedness of order; by order, I mean an arrangement of things like and unlike giving to each its own place. And as there is no man who would not willingly have joy, so is there no man who would not have peace; since even those who go to war desire nothing more than by war to come to a glorious peace.” -St. Augustine

“The peacemakers are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.” -St. Jerome

“The peacemakers within themselves are they who having stilled all disturbances of their spirits, having subjected them to reason, have overcome their carnal desires, and become the kingdom of God. There all things are so disposed, that that which is most chief and excellent in man, governs those parts which we have in common with the brutes, though they struggle against it; nay even that in man which is excellent is subjected to a yet greater, namely, the very Truth, the Son of God. For it would not be able to govern what is inferior to it, if it were not subject to what is above it. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of good will.” -St. Augustine

“No man can attain in this life that there be not in his members a law resisting the law of his mind. But the peacemakers attain thus far by overcoming the lusts of the flesh, that in time they come to a most perfect peace.” -St. Augustine

“The peacemakers with others are not only those who reconcile enemies, but those who unmindful of wrongs cultivate peace. That peace only is blessed which is lodged in the heart, and does not consist only in words. And they who love peace, they are the sons of peace.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“The blessedness of the peacemakers is the reward of adoption, ‘they shall be called the sons of God.’ For God is our common parent, and no other way can we pass into His family than by living in brotherly love together.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“Because peace is then perfect when there is nowhere any opposition, the peacemakers are called the sons of God, because nothing resists God, and the children ought to bear the likeness of their Father.” -St. Augustine

“The peacemakers have thus the place of highest honour, inasmuch as he who is called the king’s son, is the highest in the king’s house. This beatitude is placed the seventh in order, because in the Sabbath shall be given the repose of true peace, the six ages being passed away.” -Glossa apud Anselm

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Sixth Beatitude

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).

“The merciful loses the benefit of his mercy, unless he shows it from a pure heart; for if he seeks to have whereof to boast, he loses the fruit of his deeds.” -St. Ambrose

“Purity of heart comes properly in the sixth place, because on the sixth day man was created in the image of God, which image was shrouded by sin, but is formed anew in pure hearts by grace. It follows rightly the before-mentioned graces, because if they be not there, a clean heart is not created in a man.” -Glossa apud Anselm

“By the pure are here meant those who possess a perfect goodness, conscious to themselves of no evil thoughts, or again those who live in such temperance as is mostly necessary to seeing God according to that of St. Paul, ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God.’ For as there are many merciful, yet unchaste, to show that mercy alone is not enough, he adds this concerning purity.” -St. John Chrysostom

“The pure is known by purity of heart, for the temple of God cannot be impure.” -St. Jerome

“He who in thought and deed fulfils all righteousness, sees God in his heart, for righteousness is an image of God, for God is righteousness. . . . In that world to come the pure in heart shall see God face to face, not in a glass, and in enigma as here.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“They are foolish, who seek to see God with the bodily eye, seeing He is seen only by the heart, as it is elsewhere written, ‘In singleness of heart seek Him’ (Wis 1:1); the single heart is the same as is here called the pure heart.” -St. Augustine

“Seeing God is the reward of faith; to which end our hearts are made pure by faith, as it is written, ‘cleansing their hearts by faith’ (Acts 15:9).” -St. Augustine

“No one seeing God can be alive with the life men have on earth, or with these our bodily senses. Unless one die altogether out of this life, either by totally departing from the body, or so alienated from carnal lusts that he may truly say with the Apostle, ‘whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell,’ he is not translated that he should see this vision.” -St. Augustine

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Fifth Beatitude

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).

“Justice and mercy are so united, that the one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice, profusion.” -Glossa Ordinaria

“The merciful is he who has a sad heart; he counts others’ misery his own, and is sad at their grief as at his own.” -Remigius of Auxerre

“Mercy here is not said only of alms, but is in every sin of a brother, if we bear one another’s burdens.” -St. Jerome

“He pronounces those blessed who succour the wretched, because they are rewarded in being themselves delivered from all misery; as it follows, ‘for they shall obtain mercy.'” -St. Augustine

“So greatly is God pleased with our feelings of benevolence towards all men, that He will bestow His own mercy only on the merciful.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“The reward here seems at first to be only an equal return; but indeed it is much more; for human mercy and divine mercy are not to be put on an equality.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Justly is mercy dealt out to the merciful, that they should receive more than they had deserved; and as he who has more than enough receives more than he who has only enough, so the glory of mercy is greater than of the things hitherto mentioned.” -Glossa apud Anselm

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Fourth Beatitude

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6).

“As soon as I have wept for my sins, I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He who is afflicted with any sore disease, hath no hunger.” -St. Ambrose

“It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.” -St. Jerome

“He hungers after righteousness who desires to walk according to the righteousness of God; he thirsts after righteousness who desires to get the knowledge thereof.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“As He was going on to speak of mercy, He shows beforehand of what kind our mercy should be, that it should not be of the gains of plunder or covetousness; hence He ascribes to righteousness that which is peculiar to avarice, namely, to hunger and thirst.” -St. John Chrysostom

“The blessedness which He appropriates to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shows that the deep longing of the saints for the doctrine of God shall receive perfect replenishment in heaven; then they shall be filled.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“Such is the bounty of a rewarding God, that His gifts are greater than the desires of the saints.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“He speaks of food with which they shall be filled at this present; to wit, that food of which the Lord spake, ‘My food is to do the will of my Father,’ that is, righteousness, and that water of which whoever drinks it shall be in him ‘a well of water springing up to life eternal.'” -St. Augustine

“This is again a promise of a temporal reward; for as covetousness is thought to make many rich, He affirms on the contrary that righteousness rather makes rich, for he who loves righteousness possesses all things in safety.” -St. John Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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