Saturday 15th December 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Overview Of The Eight Beatitudes

April 14, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

The dignity of the human person, as we saw last week, “is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1700). Precisely because he is “endowed with a spiritual soul, with intellect and with free will, the human person is from his very conception ordered to God and destined for eternal beatitude” (CCC, n. 1711).
The dignity of man transcends the rest of the material universe because only he is capable of union with God — through knowledge and love — as his last end. So great is the dignity of the human person that the fathers of the Second Vatican Council were able to unequivocally affirm that he is “the only creature on earth which God willed for itself” (Gaudium et Spes [GS], n. 24 § 3).
To attain the end for which he was created, “man is obliged to follow the moral law, which urges him ‘to do what is good and avoid what is evil’ (cf. GS, n. 16). This law makes itself heard in his conscience” (CCC, n. 1713). Conscience, as defined by the Second Vatican Council, is “the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths” (GS, n. 16).
However, as we also saw last week, it is incumbent on man as a solemn duty to seek the truth and to properly form his conscience — he is responsible for what he should have and could have known. As expressed by Pope St. John Paul II, man’s conscience “compromises its dignity when it is culpably erroneous” (Veritatis Splendor [VS], n. 63 § 2).
The Catechism returns later to the topic of conscience to examine it in more depth, but at this juncture turns its attention to the Beatitudes, which are often referred to as the Magna Charta of Christian perfection. Indeed, “the Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching” (CCC, n. 1716) and provide a synthesis of the whole Gospel message.
Recorded as a series of eight blessings in the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matt. 5:3-12), and as four blessings and opposing woes in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 6:20-26), they were proclaimed by our Lord at the very beginning of His public ministry as a preamble to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).
“Over the centuries,” according to Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, “Christian wisdom has speculated on how the four [St. Luke] are really eight, and how the eight [St. Matthew] can be synthesized into four” (see www.therealpresence.org and look for “Beatitudes” at the site index).
For the purpose of our consideration of the Beatitudes, St. Matthew’s account will henceforth be used.
The Beatitudes reveal in concise terms what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In the first volume of his masterful two-volume work on the spiritual life entitled The Three Ages of the Interior Life (AIL), Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, states that the Beatitudes “wonderfully condense all that constitutes the ideal of Christian life and show all its loftiness” (p. 164).
Fr. Hardon describes them as providing “a portrait of the Person of Jesus Christ and His charity” (Basic Catholic Catechism Course [BCCC], p. 98). The Catechism similarly says that they “depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity” (CCC, n. 1717).
Before proceeding any further, let us look at the etymology of the word “beatitude.” It comes from the Latin beatus, which is translated from the Greek word makarioi and means “blessed” or “happy.”
As defined by Fr. Hardon, beatitude means “happiness or blessedness as the enduring possession of perfect good. Supernatural beatitude is the perfect happiness enjoyed by a nature raised by grace and the light of glory to the eternal vision of God” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 58).
Each of the eight Beatitudes begins with the word “blessed,” is followed by a condition (e.g., to be poor in spirit, to be merciful, to be a peacemaker, etc.), and then ends with the assurance of a reward for those who act in accord with the specified condition.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in the first volume of his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, which he describes in the foreword as “solely an expression of my search ‘for the face of the Lord’ (cf. Psalm 27:8)” (p. xxiii), notes the paradoxical nature of the Beatitudes.
“The Beatitudes, spoken with the community of Jesus’ disciples in view,” writes the former Vicar of Christ, “are paradoxes — the standards of the world are turned upside down as soon as things are seen from the right perspective, which is to say, in terms of God’s values, so different from those of the world. It is precisely those who are poor in worldly terms, those thought of as lost souls, who are the truly fortunate ones, the blessed, who have every reason to rejoice and exult in the midst of their sufferings” (p. 71).
Is there a relationship between the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes? One can see an immediate parallel in that Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive from God the Decalogue, and in like manner, Jesus ascended a mountain to give His followers the eight Beatitudes as a prologue to the Sermon on the Mount. However, “the Beatitudes transcend the Decalogue by calling man to imitate Christ,” teaches Fr. Hardon. “We are still called to obey God, as man was called to do on Mount Sinai, but more importantly, we are called to be transformed into His likeness” (BCCC, p. 98).
Direct confirmation of the continued relevance of the Ten Commandments is insisted upon by Christ Himself soon after He proclaims the Beatitudes:
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18).
In Veritatis Splendor, Pope St. John Paul II elaborates beautifully on the relationship between the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes:
“The Beatitudes are not specifically concerned with certain particular rules of behavior. Rather, they speak of basic attitudes and dispositions in life and therefore they do not coincide exactly with the commandments. On the other hand, there is no separation or opposition between the Beatitudes and the commandments: both refer to the good, to eternal life. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the proclamation of the Beatitudes, but also refers to the commandments (cf. Matt. 5:20-48).
“At the same time, the Sermon on the Mount demonstrates the openness of the Commandments and their orientation towards the horizon of the perfection proper to the Beatitudes. These latter are above all promises, from which there also indirectly flow normative indications for the moral life. In their originality and profundity they are a sort of self-portrait of Christ, and for this very reason are invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ” (VS, n. 16 § 3).
What about the ordering of the Beatitudes? In order to explain their enumeration, St. Thomas Aquinas, following the thought of St. Augustine, teaches that there are three kinds of happiness: the happiness of sensuality, of activity, and of contemplation.
He elaborates by positing that “these three kinds of happiness stand in different relations to future beatitude, by hoping for which we are said to be happy. . . . Sensual happiness, being false and contrary to reason, is an obstacle to future beatitude; while happiness of the active life is a disposition of future beatitude; and contemplative happiness, if perfect, is the very essence of future beatitude, and, if imperfect, is a beginning thereof” (Summa Theologiae I-II, Q. 69, art. 3).

True Happiness

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange admirably summarizes how St. Thomas divides the eight Beatitudes into three groups that correspond to the three types of happiness.
“The first three beatitudes [Matt. 5:3-5] tell of the happiness that is found in the flight from sin and deliverance from it: in poverty accepted for love of God, in meekness, and in the tears of contrition” (AIL, p. 165).
These first three Beatitudes promise a reward to those who are willing to moderate or even forgo sensual pleasures, even legitimate “things,” out of love for God and neighbor.
The next two Beatitudes (Matt. 5:6-7) are those of the active life and “correspond to the thirst for justice and to mercy exercised toward one’s neighbor” (AIL, p. 165). Freed from evil, the Christian who is engaged in the active apostolate devotes himself to the pursuit of good with all the ardor and zeal of his heart.
The next two Beatitudes correspond to “the contemplation of the mysteries of God [Matt. 5:8-9]: the purity of heart which prepares the soul to see God, and the peace that springs from true wisdom” (ibid.).
The eighth and most perfect Beatitude (Matt. 5:10-11), then, unites the preceding seven “in the very midst of persecution endured for justice’ sake. These are the final trials, the conditions of sanctity” (ibid.).
“The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness . . . [that] God has placed in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it” (CCC, n. 1718).
True happiness, or beatitude, is God’s promise to those who live the Beatitudes, an undertaking which is possible only with the help of God’s grace. Over the next few weeks, we will examine each of the Beatitudes and attempt to show how God’s grace can make them a reality in our lives.

+ + +
(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Fr. Weinandy: "What we have learned is that what Pope Francis says has little meaning in and of itself. The real Pope Francis is only seen within his actions, and his actions often are in conflict with his words."

Edward Pentin on Twitter

“Father Weinandy's full remarks on the chances of #PopeFrancis including the issue of homosexuality in the discussions of the February meeting o...

twitter.com

Load More...

President Trump’s Decision to Defund Planned Parenthood of $50-60 Million Likely to Win in Court

President Donald Trump appears likely to win a court battle against the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. At issue are new guidelines for Title X grants, which fund family planning programs across the country. In February, the U.S. Department of Health and…Continue Reading

Pro-LGBT priest promotes ‘rainbow’ rosary with prayers for ‘full acceptance’ of gay couples

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin is promoting on social media a rosary with “rainbow” beads for one of the decades which are to be used, the rosary’s creators say, to pray for the “full…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being…Continue Reading

Vatican’s former doctrine chief: ‘LGBT’ has ‘no place’ in Church documents

VATICAN CITY, November 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An influential cardinal says that pro-homosexual terminology such as “LGBT” has no place in the documents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a recent interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, formerly the Prefect of the…Continue Reading

$25 MILLION PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT TO VATICAN REMAINS UNACCOUNTED FOR

PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) – After Cdl. Donald Wuerl spearheaded a $25 million grant to the Vatican earlier this year through the Papal Foundation, sources confirm the money remains unaccounted for, the Rome hospital designated as beneficiary apparently never having received the grant. Sources also confirm Wuerl…Continue Reading

Cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse addresses US bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal barred from public ministry since 2013 as a result of his systematic cover-up of sex abuse spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore Tuesday, telling the bishops they “need to lead by witness.” In…Continue Reading

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Help Us Break The Silence!

Vatican seized by Silence

The bishops have proven once again that they are unable to address the current crisis facing the Church. It is time for the laity to step up. We are asking you to help us flood the Vatican with this appeal to the Pope for answers. Tell your friends, your family, and your pastor: Encourage all concerned Catholics to sign our petition (see below) to the Holy Father. Please share on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke: ‘Synodality’ suggests some kind of ‘new church’ where pope’s authority is destroyed

LIMERICK, Ireland, (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke has come out criticizing the concept of “synodality” that was barely discussed during the recently concluded “Youth Synod,” but, nevertheless, found its way into the final document, surprising many of the Synod Fathers. “It’s become like a slogan, meant to suggest some kind of new church which is democratic and in which the authority of the Roman Pontiff is relativized and diminished—if not destroyed,” said Card

Facebook unblocks image of Santa kneeling before Baby Jesus after LifeSite report goes viral

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook is no longer censoring an image of Santa Claus kneeling before the Baby Jesus that it had deemed “violent or graphic content” after a report on LifeSiteNews about the matter went viral yesterday. Facebook had obscured the picture, explaining that the “photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to se

Pro-LGBT Catholic prof: Many German bishops don’t believe homosexual acts are wrong

December 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic German ethics professor calls Cardinal Müller’s recent remarks on homosexuality “unbearable” and claims that, just as the Church’s teaching on the death penalty has changed, the teaching on homosexuality is also open to change. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has been under constant sharp criticism since his 21 November interview with LifeSiteNews, in whi

Cardinal accuses EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo of attacking Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has come out swinging against EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, accusing him of reporting “negatively” on as well as “attack[ing]” Pope Francis. The former Archbishop of Durban tweeted last night that Arroyo was like a “throwback” to Northern Ireland’s most notorious anti-Catholic “Ian Paisley & his ilk.” “The World Over” hosted by Raymond A

Advertisement(2)

I Saw An Angel

By DEREK BECHER I saw an angel on the sill, The dawn of Christmas Day; It gazed upon my little crèche And pressed its hands to pray… Her whispered words were weaving Into frost upon the pane; It printed pretty lyrics That the seraph would proclaim. And then she strummed a little harp, So smoothly,…Continue Reading

Federal District Court… Halts HHS Mandate For Six Christian Organizations

DENVER — A federal district court issued an order Tuesday, December 11 that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s abortion-pill mandate against six Christian organizations represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The order also declares that the mandate violates the organizations’ rights protected by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The AAUP: Defender Of Sham Scholarship In The Interest Of Ideology

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Witnessing To Christ In China

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Blood of the Martyrs: Trappist Monks in Communist China by Theresa Marie Moreau; 187 pages, available on Kindle and limited hardcover at Amazon.com. Blood of the Martyrs details the persecution of a group of Cistercian monks following the establishment of the postwar Communist government in China, a government determined to destroy…Continue Reading

When Can Americans Be Arrested In Retaliation For What They Say?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + It may be a prudent policy to always be polite to the police, but does that mean Americans must give up the right to be rude? A question similar to…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Supernatural Faith

By DON FIER A brief and enigmatic scriptural definition of the theological virtue we began to consider last week, faith, is set forth in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Its fundamental importance with regard to man’s attainment of salvation is underscored just a few…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent reply to a person struggling with unholy and impure thoughts during Mass or when reading Scripture or praying the rosary, we quoted a priest as recommending four things: guard your senses, pick a good time to pray, focus on your prayers, and open yourself to God’s grace through the sacraments. One of our readers, an…Continue Reading

Gender Ideology — A Radical Attack On The Family

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission of Human Laife International, www.hli.org. It first appeared at www.hli.org on December 3. Fr. Boquet is the president of HLI.) + + + “Gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion” — Pope Francis. + + + The speed with…Continue Reading

The Lord Is Near

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Zeph. 3:14-18a Phil. 4:4-7 Luke 3:10-18 In the first reading today the Lord instructs Zion to shout for joy, Israel is to be joyful, and Jerusalem is to be glad and exalt. The reasons for this rejoicing are threefold: Israel’s judgment has been removed, God has turned their enemies…Continue Reading

ADD Represents D.C. Church… Atheists’ Lawsuit Would Force Churches To File Tax Returns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a church in Washington, D.C. — The New Macedonia Baptist Church — have filed a motion in federal court to intervene in an atheist group’s lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by Freedom From Religion Foundation attorneys on behalf of Nonbelief Relief, Inc., seeks to more greatly entangle the government with religion by unconstitutionally…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes … Servant Of God Walter Ciszek

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Unless people are faced with no choice in hardship, they will never know just how much pain and suffering they are able to endure, especially with the help of God’s grace. The concentration camps of World War II, the flotillas of Vietnamese boat people escaping a repressive regime, and the horrors of fighting in armed…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading