Blessed are the pure

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (Matthew 5:18). Pope Francis notes:
This Beatitude speaks of those whose hearts are simple, pure and undefiled, for a
heart capable of love admits nothing that might harm, weaken or endanger that love. The
Bible uses the heart to describe our real intentions; the things we truly seek and desire, apart
from all appearances. “Man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart” (Gaudete et Exsultate 83, quoting 1 Samuel 16:7).

The heart is meant for love, which makes the heart simple, admitting nothing that would
tarnish or diminish that love. “Guard your heart with all vigilance” (Proverbs 4:23), for, as our
Lord says, “what proceeds from the heart is what defiles a person, for from the heart come
murder, theft, false witness, and other evil deeds” (see Matthew 15:18-19).

A pure heart is directed toward one’s true love, free of sinful attachments to creatures
and is absolutely necessary to be able to love and to experience God’s love in heaven. “Pure in
heart refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s
holiness…” (CCC 2518). Such persons can see their bodies, and those of others, as temples of the
Holy Spirit. Since the passions and temptations can be so strong and many, purity of heart is a
real struggle, a holy “battle,” an affirmation of love for an upright and undivided heart, with pure
intentions and pure vision (see CCC 2520).

Man is called to love. We only truly find ourselves through the sincere gift of ourselves
in love. To live this kind of life-long and life-giving love we need the virtue of chastity.

What is chastity? Chastity means the positive integration of sexuality within the person.
Sexuality becomes truly human when it is integrated in a correct way into the relationship of
one person to another. Chastity is a moral virtue, a gift of God, a grace, and a fruit of the
Holy Spirit (CCCC 488).

What is involved in the virtue of chastity?
The virtue of chastity involves an
apprenticeship in self-mastery as an expression of human freedom directed towards self-
giving. An integral and continuing formation, which is brought about in stages, is necessary
to achieve this goal (CCCC 489).

The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself
be dominated by them and becomes unhappy… “Man gains such dignity when, ridding
himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what
is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to
this end” (CCC 2339).

This harmony of one’s body and soul fully integrates sexuality within the person; while
challenging, chastity is not a “sad,” burdensome, or negative virtue, consisting in a bunch of
dont’s, but is an affirmation of love, a triumph of man over his tendency to act like a “beast.”
Chastity is directed toward real love—both natural human love and supernatural love for God.

To acquire purity of heart we need the virtue of temperance, which moderates our desires for
food, drink, rest, and sex, enabling the heart to resist temptation and to direct our desires to the
ultimate good. Temperance includes guarding the eyes so that others don’t dominate us. Modesty
respects our human dignity and that of others, avoiding provocative dress and speech that draws attention to ourselves as objects.

We also need courage to help us flee temptation and occasion of sin (places, situations, media, etc.) so as to keep our heart safe and keep it pure.

Keeping up our prayer life (our good relationship with God) is essential, especially
frequent Mass and Communion, sincerity in our confession and spiritual direction, mortification
(self-denial), reparation, acts of contrition, and devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph,
“her most chaste spouse,” and to our Guardian Angel.

Opportunities to serve others and forget about ourselves help us grow in purity of heart.

Let’s keep our eyes on the goal. When tempted, ask: “What is this compared to heaven?”
or “Is this worthy of Jesus Christ?”

1. March 10, 2024.