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Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12

The greatest sermon ever given is undoubtedly Jesus’ Sermon of the Mount. It is a treatise on joy. There is no better place to explore the blessedness of virtue than in this sermon and the Beatitudes. Blessedness, or beatitude, is the greatest aim of the human person, our greatest good. Every person seeks this blessedness but not all find it. Jesus has given us a roadmap to blessedness in the opening to His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), the Beatitudes.

Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue, contrasts the vices or Seven Deadly Sins with the corresponding virtues set forth in the Beatitudes.


(Seven Deadly Sins)


Pride Poverty of spirit (humility)
Avarice (greed) Mercy
Envy Mourning
Wrath Meekness and peacemaking
Sloth Hunger and thirst for righteousness
Lust Purity of heart
Gluttony Bearing persecution

Pride is self-assertion, selfishness; poverty of spirit is humility, selflessness.

Avarice is greed, grab and keep goods for oneself; mercy is to give, share goods with others.

Envy resents another’s happiness; mourning shares another’s unhappiness.

Wrath wills harm and destruction; meekness refuses to harm and peacemaking prevents destruction.

Sloth refuses to exert the will toward the good, and the ideal; hunger and thirst for righteousness does just that.

Lust divides the soul and body, uses the other; purity of heart unifies the soul and body, desiring God alone.

Gluttony consumes an excessive amount of worldly goods; being persecuted is being deprived of even basic necessities.[1]

“The Beatitudes come from Heaven…All evil is from Hell,”[2] says Kreeft. To grow in virtue and the spiritual life, we need to cling to the source of life, Jesus.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

For the next seven weeks, we are going to take a look at each of these vices and their opposing virtue. Next week, we will examine the vice of pride and the opposing virtue of poverty of spirit.

This is the third in a series on virtue. The first one is Living Virtue Well in Our Marriages and Families and the second one focuses on The Cardinal Virtues.

[1] Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 92-93.

[2] Ibid., 94-95.