Aquinas on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit as the Delight of the Christian Life

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    There is an increasing awareness that the infused virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, beatitudes and fruits of the Holy Spirit form essential elements of Aquinas’ moral theology, even though they were long treated as ornamental discussions or as relevant only to mysticism. Some studies have discussed one of these elements or the relation between them. But there is still much confusion about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They almost mysteriously appear at the end of Aquinas’ discussion of the virtuous life and they are very often glossed over, or interpreted as belonging to the domain of the passions. This article presents the importance of a proper understanding of the fruits. I will argue on the basis of Aquinas’ commentary on Galatians and the Summa that it is time to do away with the notion that the fruits are passions or dispositions. We should understand the fruits in relation to the beatitudes since both are acts that result from the reorientation of the will of the human person through grace. The fruits are the supervenient delight that comes along with the beatitudes. This theory is corroborated by a study of the commentary on Matthew, which is contemporaneous with the prima secundae. Question eleven of the prima secundae, on fruitio, is the key to understanding the fruits. In this question Aquinas expands on delight, enjoyment and the fruit of human life. As such, it can be read as an analogy for the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)80-94
    JournalJournal of Moral Theology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


    • Thomas Aquinas
    • Grace
    • Holy Spirit


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