42 Quotes from books about the Seven Capital Virtues

In Aurelius Clemens Prudentius’ epic poem called Psychomachia, or Battle/Contest of the Soul, he describes the battle of good virtues and evil vices in the early fifth century AD, which, with it’s great popularity in the Middle Ages, helped to spread the concept of holy virtue throughout Europe.

This led to Pope Gregory I releasing his list of Seven Deadly (Capital) Sins in AD 590, which we know as envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.

To combat them, the Seven Capital Virtues became identified as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.

It is said that by practicing them, we protect against temptation from the Seven Deadly Sins.

These 42 quotes from books explore each one of the capital virtues.

KINDNESS (To protect against Envy)

1. “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

2. “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
R.J. Palacio, Wonder

3. “But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.”
Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth

4. “I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”
Mother Teresa, A Gift for God: Prayers and Meditations

5. “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Dalai Lama XIV, The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings By and About the Dalai Lama

6. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Wendy Mass, The Candymakers

TEMPERANCE (To protect against Gluttony)

7. “The moral, I suppose, would be that the first requirements for a heroic career are the knightly virtues of loyalty, temperance, and courage.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

8. “Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

9. “You decide your own level of involvement.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

10. “The biggest enemies of willpower: temptation, self-criticism, and stress. (…) these three skills —self-awareness, self-care, and remembering what matter most— are the foundation for self-control.”
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

11. “Sometimes, you must refrain from doing things you want so bad.”
Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

12. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

CHARITY (To protect against Greed)

13. “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery

14. “What virtue is there in a man who demonstrates goodness because he has been bred to it? It is his habit from youth. But a man who has known unkindness and want, for him to be kind and charitable to those who have been the cause of his misfortunes, that is a virtuous man.”
Deanna Raybourn, Silent on the Moor

15. “If we want well-being for all people, then we must share what we have with our neighbors, and they must share with their neighbors, and every recipient of kindness and charity must continue to share until all—worldwide—are partakers and benefactors of true generosity. Human well-being does not exist in consort with selfishness.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, Being Bold: Quotes, Poetry, & Motivations for Every Day of the Year

16. “The greatest thing you can do in this life is give. Give life, give your love, your compassion, and even forgiveness. When you begin taking more than you give, your life will fall out of balance. Remember that.”
Dannika Dark, The Vow

17. “The only time to look down on your neighbor is when you’re bending over to help them.”
Linda Castillo, Outsider

18. “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

CHASTITY (To protect against Lust)

19. “Chastity is not an attribute of body, but soul.”
Udai Yadla, A Walk in the Rain

20. “Chastity is the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.”
Remy de Gourmont, Philosophic Nights in Paris: Being Selections from Promenades Philosophiques

21. “The price the Virgin demanded was purity, and the way the educators of Catholic children have interpreted this for nearly two thousand years is sexual chastity. Impurity, we were taught, follows from many sins, but all are secondary to the principal impulse of the devil in the soul–lust.”
Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary

22. “Chastity may be a fetish invented by certain societies for unknown reasons.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

23. “It’s true, I’d planned to wait”
Kiera Cass, The Heir

24. “Don’t be impressed by the fact that a guy doesn’t pressure you. He doesn’t get any points for that. It’s his duty as a gentleman. Besides, he should be encouraging you to be pure, not waiting for you to give in.”
Jason Evert, How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul

HUMILITY (To protect against Pride)

25. “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

26. “…talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.”
Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

27. “There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.”
Nelson Mandela, Conversations With Myself

28. “Humility has nothing to do with depreciating ourselves and our gifts in ways we know to be untrue. Even “humble” attitudes can be masks of pride. Humility is that freedom from our self which enables us to be in positions in which we have neither recognition nor importance, neither power nor visibility, and even experience deprivation, and yet have joy and delight. It is the freedom of knowing that we are not in the center of the universe, not even in the center of our own private universe.”
David F. Wells, Losing Our Virtue

29. “It is good to be taught humility when we are young. If we do not exeperience pain as children, we will cause pain as adults.”
Darren Shan, Birth of a Killer

30. “Those who achieve the extraordinary are usually the most ordinary because they have nothing to prove to anybody. Be Humble.”
Aaron Lauritsen, 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip

DILIGENCE (To protect against Sloth)

31. “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”
Samuel Johnson, The Life Of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 4

32. “Often the only difference between victory and defeat; success and failure; or love and loss might be the diligence with which we pursue something.”
Eldon Henson, Achieving your best day yet!: A more fulfilling career… a more impactful life

33. “Never procrastinate. Never say you’ll do it tomorrow or the next day. Slow workers never fill their barns. Neither do procrastinators. Diligence does the job.”
Hesiod, Work and Days

34. “This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun.”
Madeline Miller, Circe

35. “A person who remains focused and works diligently will eventually develop essential skills and expertise.”
Sunday Adelaja, The Danger Of Monoculturalism In The XXI Century

36. “Trying to do things they can’t yet do, failing, and learning what they need to do differently is exactly the way that experts practice.”
Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

PATIENCE (To protect against Wrath)

37. “I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

38. “I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience… Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

39. “Inner peace is impossible without patience. Wisdom requires patience. Spiritual growth implies the mastery of patience. Patience allows the unfolding of destiny to proceed at its won unhurried pace.”
Brian Weiss, Muchas Vidas, Muchos Maestros

40. “We are all damaged. We have all been hurt. We have all had to learn painful lessons. We are all recovering from some mistake, loss, betrayal, abuse, injustice or misfortune. All of life is a process of recovery that never ends. We each must find ways to accept and move through the pain and to pick ourselves back up. For each pang of grief, depression, doubt or despair there is an inverse toward renewal coming to you in time. Each tragedy is an announcement that some good will indeed come in time. Be patient with yourself.”
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

41. “You’re trying to eat grass that isn’t there. Why don’t you give it a chance to grow?”
Richard Adams, Watership Down

42. “Why is patience so important?”
“Because it makes us pay attention.”

Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

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