The “way” of the Beatitudes is “at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.” (Catechism, p. 426) My understanding of their role in the Conversion Journey of every Christian has been shaped by many years of lived experience and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (List of Beatitudes, p. 427) The November 2010 edition of the magazine The Word Among Us, and the March 14, 2010 edition of the newspaper Our Sunday Visitor served as sources of specific ways to live out the Beatitudes in the Twenty First Century.
The Beatitudes reveal “the face of Christ” and shed light on the life and attitudes characteristic of the actively lived “Christian life.” (Catechism, pp. 427-28) Beatitudes are all about leading us to that final eternal beatitude or happiness. We are called to happiness now. We see death as a beginning. Life is not ended but merely changed. We experience joy and beatitude in pursuing our goal to know God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), love him, and serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in Heaven.
The Beatitudes are the ground of our hope. But we need to be willing to suffer, to walk the way of the cross behind Jesus as the necessary road to our following him to that Beatitude, eternal happiness in Heaven, through living out the Beatitude during our earth lives. Refusal to suffer, making pleasure our driving goal is the basis of sin and makes it impossible to live the way of the Beatitudes. How do we live out the Beatitudes in our everyday lives? Let’s examine each Beatitude briefly and look at ways we can implement it (them) in our daily activities.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” “To get at the heart of this Beatitude, we need to rephrase it a bit to read, Blessed are the single hearted.” (Word Among Us, p. 56) We must place Jesus and his teaching first in our lives. Jesus has a plan for each of us. He wants each of us to be the best person we can be. This means continual prayer to know his will and then surrender ourselves completely to it. Living each day the best way we know how accompanied by prayer is the ordinary way his will is slowly revealed to us.
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted…Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” These two Beatitudes work together. (Word Among Us, p. 58) We show active concern over the sometimes desperate life circumstances of the poor by such actions as volunteering to serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and voting for programs that keep the poor alive while they are being given the training needed to get a job and become self sufficient. Mercy involves a hand out and a hand up!
1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, English Translation for U.S.A., Liguori Publications, Mo. 1994. Beatitudes, Article 2, paragraphs 1716-24, pp. 426-29.
2. “The Ten Commandments of Catholic Social Teaching,” Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Indiana, March 14, 2010, pp. 9-11.
3. “St John Bosco’s Way of the Beatitudes,” The Word Among Us, Ijamsville, Md., November 2010, pp. 56-60.