Whether Poverty of Spirit is the Beatitude which Corresponds to the Gift of Fear
Whether Poverty of Spirit is the Beatitude which Corresponds to the Gift of Fear

We proceed to the twelfth article thus:

1. It seems that poverty of spirit is not the beatitude which corresponds to the gift of fear. For it was explained in Art.7 that fear is the beginning of the spiritual life, whereas poverty of spirit pertains to the perfection of the spiritual life, according to Matt.19:21: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." Hence poverty of spirit does not correspond to the gift of fear.

2. Again, it is said in Ps.119:120: "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee," from which it appears that fear mortifies the flesh. Now the beatitude of mourning seems to correspond to the mortification of the flesh. Hence the beatitude of mourning corresponds to the gift of fear, rather than poverty of spirit.

3. Again, it was said in Art.9 that fear corresponds to the virtue of hope. Now hope seems to correspond especially to the last beatitude, which is: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God," since it is said in Rom.5:2: "we . . . rejoice in hope of the glory of God." [66] Hence this beatitude corresponds to the gift of fear, rather than poverty of spirit.

4. Again, it was said in 12ae, Q.70, Art.2, that the fruits of the Spirit correspond to the beatitudes. But there is nothing in the fruits which corresponds to the gift of fear. Neither then is there anything in the beatitudes which corresponds to it.

On the other hand: Augustine says (1 Sermo Domini in monte, cap.4): "The fear of God befits the humble, of whom it is said 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.'"

I answer: poverty of spirit properly corresponds to fear. Reverence for God and submission to God belong to filial fear. What results from this submission therefore belongs to the gift of fear. When a man submits himself to God, he no longer seeks to glory in himself, nor in any other save God, since this would be incompatible with perfect submission to God. Thus it is said in Ps.20:7: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." Hence if any man fears God perfectly, he will not seek to glory in himself through pride, nor yet in external goods such as honours and riches. Now in either regard, such restraint pertains to poverty of spirit. For poverty of spirit can be understood to mean either the humiliation of a puffed up and haughty spirit, as Augustine interprets it (loc. cit.); or the renunciation of worldly things, which is of the spirit, that is, of our own will at the instigation of the Holy Spirit, as Ambrose says on Luke 6:20: "Blessed be ye poor," and as Hieronymus says also, in interpretation of Matt.5:3.

On the first point: a beatitude is the actuality of a perfect virtue. Hence all the beatitudes belong to the perfection of spiritual life. But contempt of worldly goods would seem to be the beginning of this perfection, since it permits one to tend towards perfect participation in spiritual goods, just as fear comes first among the gifts of the Spirit. Renunciation of worldly goods is the way to perfection, even though perfection does not consist in the renunciation of them. Yet filial fear, to which the beatitude of poverty corresponds, is present in the perfection of wisdom, as we said in Arts.7 and 10.

On the second point: undue glorification in oneself or in other things is more directly opposed to submission to God, which results from filial fear, than is love of external things. Love of external things is opposed to this fear consequentially, since one who reverences God and submits to him does not delight in things other than God. But such love does not pertain to the arduous, with which fear and glorification are concerned. Hence the beatitude of poverty corresponds to fear directly, while the beatitude of mourning corresponds to it consequentially.

On the third point: hope implies a movement towards the term to which it relates, whereas fear implies rather a movement away from the term to which it relates. Hence the last beatitude, which is the term of spiritual perfection, fittingly corresponds to hope in point of its ultimate object, while the first beatitude, which involves recoil from worldly things which hinder submission to God, fittingly corresponds to fear.

On the fourth point: those gifts of the Holy Spirit which relate to the moderate use of worldly things, or to abstention from them, such as modesty, continence, or chastity, do appear to correspond to the gift of fear.


[66] Migne: ". . . in hope of the glory of the children [filiorum] of God."

article eleven whether fear remains
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