Beatitudes, unconsciously

Letter B, Spanish Miniaturist, 1480-1500

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

All the way to heaven is heaven,

because you said, “I am the way.”
                       – Catherine of Sienna

One of the most interesting sermons I ever heard was at a monastic profession. The preacher described the journey of the man being received as a monk, in terms of the Beatitudes. Once the man experienced pureness of heart, that is, humility and knowing his need of God, his journey was set in motion. Then, he mourned, for himself and others. He learned meekness, that is, his arrogance began to slip away, and at the same time he longed for holiness and righteousness. He began thinking of others more than himself (mercy) and gave himself to others more freely. As he continued dropping his pretensions, he showed purity of heart in spite of himself. And living into the Christian imperative, he took on activism and peace-making which attracts inevitable condemnation and persecution. Unconsciously, he embodied the Beatitudes through his conversion and growing in grace through the stages of his adult life.

The Beatitudes as a kind of ladder of perfection is not a new idea. Dante describes the angels singing a particular Beatitude at each cornice of the Mount of Purgatory as souls, released from their need of purification, ascend to heaven. Ambrose describes the stages of perfection as one Beatitude rests upon the other. Augustine has fun pairing the Beatitudes with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But I like what Catherine of Sienna says. All the way to heaven is heaven, because you said, “I am the way.” As I strive to live into the Christ life, I taste heaven at each increment of grace, and, I hope, I inadvertently let loose a little of paradise into the world, even if I’m not conscious of either receiving or giving.

One Response to “Beatitudes, unconsciously”

  1. claire Says:

    Oh, you certainly are letting loose a little of paradise into the world 🙂 Every week, repeatedly.

    Thank you, merci.

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