Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Beatitudes

What are the Beatitudes? What do they mean for us today? How can we “seek” being “blessed”. Our Lord opens the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 5: 3-10)

Some people claim that the Beatitudes are the new “10 Commandments”. The Beatitudes are not so much a replacement as they are a continuation of the New Covenant. Jesus says:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven…(Mathew 5: 17-19)
The bottom line here is that with salvation, more is required of us in our lives. Our purpose in life, of course, is to get to heaven, and hopefully bring those around with us on our journey.
New Advent does a great job summarizing the beatitudes
(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02371a.htm) . They do a great job, so I won’t spend too much time doing this. I would suggest taking a brief look at the webpage though.

The Lord is telling us, through his teaching, how to gain heaven. Is this not what we want? I certainly hope that this is our ultimate goal. If the 10 commandments are the traffic rules, the Beatitudes are the road map. Beyond directions to heaven, they provide HOPE. If I am poor in spirit (simply stated as being humble before the Lord), I will gain heaven. How about for those who mourn…to be comforted…not by a friend, or a priest, or a spouse, but by ALL the Angels and Saints in Heaven; and God himself. If that’s not comforting, I don’t know what is. We see an underlying theme here as turning oneself completely to the Lord. Is this easy? NO WAY JOSE! The great saints struggled with this, and we are most certainly going to struggle. To live perfectly by all of these, all of the time would certainly be a feat. I don’t believe, however, that that is the point. The point is to make the journey. Whether one follows St. Francis of Assisi with a hair shirt or joins St. Therese of Liseuxe’s “little way”, we all struggle. Throughout the journey, we must offer our struggles to the Lord. “Lord Jesus Christ, only son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”. This little prayer from the Eastern Church packs a big punch in a little package. If we struggle on our journey to heaven, we show that we are human. The only perfect human being was Mary, the mother of our Lord. God stopped making perfect people after her. The beauty, however, is that Mary will help us along the way (please refer to Your Mama Wears Combat Boots in the Archives for more). If we keep the map out, focus on Christ, we will get to our final destination. We will someday be in that Beatific Presence of God and hear the beautiful words, “Well Done!”
The Catechism certainly is not silent on this. 2548 states:
Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. “The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude…whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive.
St Augustine is quoted in #2550:
There will true glory be, where no one will be praised by mistake or flattery; true honor will not be refused to the worthy, nor granted to the unworthy; likewise, no one unworthy will pretend to be worthy, where only those who are worthy will be admitted. There true peace will reign, where no one will experience opposition either from self or others. God himself will be virtue’s reward; he gives virtue and has promised to give himself as the best and greatest reward that could exist…”I shall be their God and they will be my people…”This is also the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “ So that God may be all in all.” God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all.

Our struggle to let go of the world; of our “worldliness”, will bring us to happiness. Remember the first disciples had to leave everything behind; family, boats, nets, etc. They depended on these things to survive, to make a living. They traded these things in for Jesus. Does this mean that you must stop reading this, take the computer you are on and take it to your local church…no! It means that you must not be attached to these things. Don’t live for your house, your car, your IPOD, vacations, etc. Live for Christ. Use your material things for good. Live moderately, be happy, and remember that everything you have is on loan from GOD. Peace and Love of Christ be with you.


Anonymous said...

Just browsing your site

Every blessing
Maria in the UK

Catholic Commuter said...

God Bless.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the help and ispiration..i am preparing my ccd class on the beatitudes and this helps me so much as to explain them to the childre.. come holy spirit