"Strive for Peace with all men, and for that Holiness without which no man shall see God."
Our Lord's sermon on the Mount is recorded in St. Matthew's gospel, Chapter 5 Verses 1-12. The Eight Beatitudes were not just a talk Christ gave to the people, otherwise the Evangelist would not have recorded the sermon. Our Lord was telling the people that it was important to live a good and holy life, but the reward would not always come during your lifetime. The saints lived the beatitudes. In the presentation, as I gave it, I talked about each beatitude individually, taking examples from the lives of the saints, when possible, then showing you how you could apply them to your own daily lives.
The eight beatitudes were a radical and new concept. The Jewish people's mentality was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. You were not to love your enemy, and if you were born poor, sick and persecuted, then surely God was punishing you or your parents or their parents for some sin! When Our Lord gave the people the Eight Beatitudes, it was very difficult concept for them to accept.
Now I know what your are thinking, I know the eight beatitudes. I learned them in catechism and I hear them at least once a year at Mass on Sunday. My goal is to give you a different approach or perspective on the beatitudes, and then how you can apply them to your day to day living.
In the first beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The poor in spirit is a humble spirit; a spirit not set upon riches. The desire for wealth, riches, greed, and especially power are Satan's most successful vices! Politicians want power, political leaders want power, the modernists and the liberalists who are trying to destroy the church want power. Along with that power, comes the need for wealth, and riches. History is full of the consequences of this horrible vice. Few souls follow the narrow path of being poor in spirit. The Church's greatest saints were lovers of poverty. The saint that should come to everyone's mind is St. Francis of Assisi, who called poverty, "Lady Poverty". If the saints were born into wealthy families, they usually gave away their wealth. St. Francis of Assisi was a wealthy man, yet he gave away his wealth in order to become poor in spirit. The saints did not ran away from wealth because it was evil. Money in itself is not evil. When God gives a certain person wealth, he does not give it to them or bestow it upon them because they are special. God has made these people stewards of that wealth and they will be responsible to God in eternity for how they handled that wealth. Did they share it with others, or did they hoard it, did they keep it for their own personal use, or did they give it away, distributing it to the poor and needy? As you are reading this, you must realize that we are all stewards of the gifts God has given us. The degree of each of our gifts varies, some have more than others; hence they have more to answer for when they die. The saints understood this principle and this is why they gave away their wealth. They were imitating Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." When Jesus lived on this earth, he was poor and humble in spirit.
In order to understand St. Francis's love of poverty, you need to know Saint Francis. He was called the Little Poor Man, because he renounced his inheritance and all earthly possessions, giving himself up completely to the practice of poverty, living a life poorer than the poor whom he served. On the feast of St. Matthias in the year of 1209, the gospel for the feast day was Matt. 10:7-19. "And going, preach, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand ... Freely have you received, freely give...Do not possess gold ... nor two coats nor shoes nor a staff ... Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves ..." These words went straight to the heart of Francis and he took them literally, for he gave away his shoes, staff and leathern girdle, keeping only an undyed woollen dress and a cord. This was to become the habit of his friars.
His love of poverty was seen in his own writings. He strongly disapproved of those in his order who owned three garments and used finer clothing than what was necessary. He said that any need revealed by a love of pleasure and not by reason was the sign of a dead spirit, for 'when the spirit becomes lukewarm and inward graces grows cold, it follows that flesh and blood seek their own pleasures.' 1
I have a great love for Saint Francis, because I am a Secular Franciscan. A Secular Franciscan is a religious order that is part of the family of Saint Francis. The secular Franciscans are composed of lay men and women, married or single, and from all walks of life. We do not expressly take a vow of poverty like our brother or sister religious' do. Our vow consists of living within our means. We are not supposed to keep up with the Jones, so to speak. If the carpeting in our home is two, three or even five years old and still in good condition, we do not replace it just because we are tired of it or we want the latest style. Living this beatitude means not buying out of excess, but buying out of need.
This beatitude also makes us realize the need to help others less fortunate than we are. Saint Francis once met a very poor man, and looking at his companions he said, "This man's poverty brings great shame on us, and is a stern rebuke to our own. For since I have chosen holy poverty as my lady, my delight, and my spiritual and bodily treasure, I feel the greatest shame when I find someone poorer than myself."2
An example of this today is Mother Teresa who has embraced poverty by working with the poorest of the poor.
Francis' own words on this beatitude are something to meditate upon. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. There are many who are regular in saying their prayers and Offices, and who discipline their bodies by fasts and austerities. But if a single word is uttered that offends them, or they are deprived of anything, they are immediately provoked and offended. People of this sort are not poor in spirit, for one who is truly poor in spirit despises himself and shows charity towards those who strike him in the face."3 This is the ultimate definition of what it means to be poor in spirit.
All of us are familiar with the kind of life St. Francis lived. Obviously we cannot all live in this manner. But how is this beatitude telling us to live? We are to live within our means, not to strive after and desire material possessions, just for the sake of owning them. In the end, who ends up owning whom? You do not possess the objects, they possess you. Think about this example, do you get so upset with yourself that you loose your temper because you can not find a misplaced object? What if a child accidentally breaks a valued object, do you become enraged to the point that the child is psychologically and mentally damaged by your temper? Have you allowed your sense of values to become so distorted that you can not see the difference. It is at this point that the possessed now owns the possessor. We are not to hoard our wealth, but to share with those who have not.
I heard an interesting story concerning Mother Teresa and the minister of the government of Canada. Before introducing her, the minister praised her virtues and her love of the poor. As Mother Teresa approached the man, she felt his suit and said what fine material it was. The man responded rather proudly that it was a very expensive suit. She looked at him and said, a less expensive suit would have sufficed and the rest of the money could have been given to the poor.
How often do we go beyond what is necessary? The wealth and possessions we are storing up here on earth will not go with us into eternity, only your soul and your good words and your sins. In the gospels, Our Lord talks of the man who stored up all his wealth in barns and stood looking back at what he had accumulated. Our Lord said 'Foolish man for tonight you are to die and give an account of yourself before God.' What good was that man's wealth? Remember what Jesus said in the gospels, "What good is it if man gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his immortal soul?"
In the gospels it is written, of a young man who came to Jesus, and kneeling before him, said, "Good Master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?" Jesus answered: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." The young man asked: "Which commandants?" Jesus said to him: "Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Honor thy father and thy mother; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The young man replied; "All these I have kept from my youth." Jesus, knowing that this was true, looked tenderly upon him, and said; "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: Then come and follow Me." Hearing these words, the young man went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. Had the young man despised his wealth, and followed Jesus, he would now be a saint in Heaven, and even renowned on earth; As it is, we can not tell whether he died in the grace of God or not.4
To be poor in spirit is to empty ourselves of self-love in order that God can enter in and live in us. We must give up our attachment to all things, possessions, people, and plans. Literally anything that comes between you and Christ, anything that prevents you from following Him. God cannot enter into a heart that is filled with these attachments because there is no room for Him. Our attachments are to the things and not to God. When we allow these things to keep God out of our hearts, when we do not follow the teachings of the Gospels, and the teachings of the Church, then there is no room for God in our heart. Therefore we are not truly being poor in spirit. We are allowed to own possessions, God gave them to us, He created them, and they are good. But when they stop being our possessions and start being our obsessions, that is when we are no longer poor in spirit.
Many saints were poor in spirit, but St. Francis is the model for this beatitude. In our age of materialism, the idea of keeping ahead of the Jones is so ingrained in our mentality, that this beatitude is not only forgotten, but it is scorned and ridiculed. Today we have before us another Saint Francis, and lover of Lady Poverty, Mother Teresa. Both of them, St. Francis and Mother Teresa, had and have as their model, Jesus Christ.
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the sorrowful, for they shall be comforted."
All of us have suffered the loss of a loved one, family or friend. No one is exempt from this suffering in this life. The saints knew and understood this loss. They took literally Our Lord's words to heart, "I am the resurrection and the life". Jesus said if we believe in Him, we would live forever. It is because of Christ's suffering and death on the cross, that Death has lost its sting and no longer has a hold on us. In the Byzantine Rite, during Easter, we sing, "Oh Death where is your Victory? Oh Death where is your sting?"
The best example of this beatitude is the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one will ever suffer the loss that she suffered at the foot of the cross. Think of it, she not only lost her Son, but also God at the foot of the cross. The following words are of great consolation to those in mourning. "O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow". These very words are engraved at the base of a life size statue of Our Lady of Sorrows holding the dead body of her Son. The statue can be seen at the miraculous shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio.
The very title of the shrine indicates to whom we should go to in times of sorrow; the Mother of God! How often do we forget to turn to her when our hearts are aching? In the epistle of James 5:13 it is written, "Is any of you sad? Let him pray!" This is the heart of this beatitude. Our Lord's own words tell us to do this. Matt.11:28, "Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you."
Sacred Scripture is full of God's promise to console those in sorrow. In Jn16:20, "Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Apoc.21:4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, no sorrow shall be anymore, for the former things are passed away." St. Paul in his second letter to the Cor.1:7, "That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation." And again in Jn16:22,. "So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you."
Please note that in all the above quotes, they state that first there must be suffering and then consolation. You can not have one, the consolation, without the other first, suffering. This is a very important concept. Earth is not our permanent home. We live in this valley of tears, where we are just travelers until we reach our heavenly home. To be a follower of Christ, we must expect to have sorrows, trials and sufferings.
Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine, spent many years in sorrow over the soul of her son. She prayed for over 30 years for his conversion. She was comforted in her lifetime. Her sorrow was turned into joy, when Augustine was converted and baptized. We all know that Saint Augustine went on to become one of the greatest saints of the Church.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was a wife, a mother and the founder of a religious order. She loved her husband deeply. They had four children. They offered each to God and dedicated them to the Blessed Virgin. In the autumn of 1601, her husband, the Baron de Chantal was accidently shot while hunting with two friends and died nine days later. St. Jane took her sorrow to God. After recovering from the shock, she put aside her expensive clothes and prayed to God that He might tell her what was His Will concerning her life. It was not until a short time later that she met St. Francis de Sales, who was to become her spiritual director, and her guide in the founding of the Order of the Visitation. Before this was to come about, St. Jane suffered the lose of her children. Yet in all instances, she took her sorrow to God. These are just a few of the saints who had great sorrow in their lives. They always handled their grief by turning it over to God.
This beatitude also applies to those who are not sorrowing. Scriptures tells us that as Christians we should comfort the afflicted. "Be not wanting in comforting them that weep, and walk with them that mourn." (Ecclus. 7:38) How do you comfort the sorrowing? By seeing Christ in every person we meet. This can be very difficult, because it is easy to see Christ in people who are kind and loving. It is not easy to see Christ in strangers. The most difficult person to see Christ in is your family, especially the member of the family who irritates you, the brother or sister who fought with you, the mother you felt loved your brother or sister more than you, the in-law you simply can not stand. It is interesting, people think they can see Christ in everyone. But when it comes right down to it, it is difficult. You truly see Christ in these people when they are hurting or in great sorrow, and you comfort them, because you are comforting Christ. It is during these times we need to remember His words, "If you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to Me!'
St. Camillus of Lellis, born in 1550 in Italy, spent his life helping those in sorrow. He went to Rome, where he served the incurably sick for four years in St. James Hospital. At this time in history the sick and the suffering received minimal if practically no care at all. St. Camillus was inspired in 1582 to found the congregation known as the Ministers of the Sick. These men would devote themselves to nursing the sick out of fervent charity. Saint Vincent de Paul living about the same time as St. Camillus, spent his life in giving to the poor and helping those in sorrow and great suffering. St. Vincent would go through the streets of Paris seeking children who were left there to die. He took in the poor, sick, and the suffering people. He founded the Society of Charity, a group of pious ladies in France, who nursed the sick. The Society grew until it became known as the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent is best known as the friend and protector of the multitude of helpless abandoned infants in the streets of Paris.
This is how the saints lived. St. Francis of Assisi had a great fear of leprosy and lepers. He felt he had to over come this fear, or he would never see Christ in his fellow man. One day a leper approached him, Francis' first instinct was to avoid him. Instead he realized he had to see Christ in him. He approached him, he embraced him, hugged and kissed him, then gave him his cloak. According to the story the leper at that point turned into Christ! After that Francis had no problem with seeing Christ in everyone he met. You now need to ask yourself, who is my Leper?
The best way to see Christ in someone you do not like, is to pray for them everyday. You can not pray for someone day in and day out, even if it is one Hail Mary, without learning to love them.
You are probably thinking, this looks great on paper but it is different when you are actually in sorrow. By studying the saints you learn how they handled their sorrow. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, was a princess, wife, and mother who loved her husband dearly. Yet when he died unexpectedly in the Crusades, her grief was so great, for a time she was inconsolable. Her strength did not come from herself, but from God. It was her faith and total trust in God's Divine Providence that enabled her to go on living. Grieving is a healing process, but we must remember that our consolation will not come completely in this life but in the next!
You are allowed to grieve, but do not hang on to it. My grandmother told me a true story illustrating this point. My Grandfather had a brother named Valent, who died when he was eighteen years old. His Aunt Helen, loved Valent so much that she cried almost continually for him after he died. One day she saw Valent standing at the top of the stairs soaking wet. She looked up and said, "Ah, what is this?" He said, "Will you quit crying over me and let me go in peace and dry out?" She never cried for him again.
Today people are refusing to participate in the sufferings of Jesus. Every time you look at the crucifix, it should be a reminder of God's great love for us. Our sufferings will never be what Jesus endured for us on the cross. Everyone is a unique individual and so are our backgrounds. We have God's promise that we will never be tried beyond our strength, because God's grace is sufficient.
At Lourdes Our Lady promised St. Bernadette happiness, but not in this life. She suffered much during her life on this earth. She had Tuberculosis of the bone, a very painful disease, yet she never once complained. She suffered mentality because of the jealousy of others, yet again she never once complained. She united her sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus on the cross. St. Bernadette now knows the joy of this beatitude in heaven; Blessed are the sorrowing; they shall be comforted.
There is yet another group of people today who are living this beatitude. I am referring to the Catholics who are mourning the loss of how they use to practice their Faith. The Modernists (I speak on this in detail in another chapter) are trying to destroy the Catholic Church. It is up to us Catholics loyal to the Holy Father and the teaching authority of the Church to fight back. There are those who are persecuted in their own parishes for refusing to follow the modernists reforms or heresies. They are mourning the loss of their Church.
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the Pure of Heart."
I read a very interesting article in the Catholic Digest by Patrick O'Connor, S.S.C. entitled "Is Your Faith Wavering?" In the article he tells during the depression, of a young man accosting him in Chicago, asking for money to buy a meal. He was getting ready to eat himself and asked the man to join him at a nearby cafe. While eating the man told him that he had been a Catholic, once an altar boy, but had left the Church while a university student. Father asked what had first prompted him to give up his religion. The man replied that it was something said by his psychology professor. It proved to be a statement with no religious implications and properly understood, quite reasonable. Father O'Connor then asked, "You need not answer this, but about the time you were losing your faith maybe you were slipping in the matter of morals." The man said, "I won't answer that." The article finished by stating, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God, by faith in this life, by vision in the next."
This is interesting, because everyone knows that to see God, one must be very pure, without sin. I had never heard or read of this beatitude with this reference; loss of faith because of immoral living. This happens because you are no longer living the Gospel. Everything you believe in gradually slips away from you. When Our Lord preached this beatitude, I am sure He had this very thought in mind. If you allow yourself to slip and lose you purity, your clean heart, you will find it easier to stay in that condition than to change. It starts to become a habit. You do it just a little bit more each day until finally you no longer practice virtue. You are now no longer in the state of grace and because of this, your faith becomes weaker. Faith is something you have got to practice. It is a gift from God. Make frequent acts of Faith. 'My God I believe! My Jesus I believe, even though I am having trouble. My God I believe, help my unbelief!' You have got to practice this virtue. Use it or you will lose it!
The saints knew this. They would rather die than lose their purity. St. Maria Goretti died rather than sin against the sixth commandment. She was stabbed repeatedly by her assailant, lingering on in pain for days before she died. In imitation of Jesus, she forgave the man who killed her. Forty years later when she was canonized a saint, her mother was present at her daughter's canonization. The man who killed her, repented and changed his life. She was only 12 years old when she died and yet she is the model of virtue and purity for our youth today.
Her heroic example is ignored by many today. There are so many unwed teenage mothers. Everywhere we look we are assaulted by immoral, impure and dirty books, movies and T.V. shows. I went into a Dairy Mart not too long ago. As I went to pay for my milk, there behind the counter, in plain view, were Playboy, Penthouse and other pornographic magazines. What is that kind of material doing in a neighborhood grocery store?
I recently went to a Church festival and one of the games was popping balloons with darts. The various prizes were posters. Several of them were marked for 18 years of age and older. They were posters of naked men and women. It is sad to say that this particular festival was at a Catholic Church. How many of our youth today are being lead astray, their purity destroyed by the immorality of this world? All of this is being done for the almighty dollar!
That is the key here, money! People do not care what they do, as long as they make money! This goes back to the first beatitude, you can not just live one of these beatitudes! They all tie in together! If you are poor in spirit, you will not be greedy, if you are not greedy, you will have a pure heart and keep your faith. They are all interweaved, you can not pull them apart. You can not say, I am only going to live one of the beatitudes.
Purity today is out of style. All you have to do is read the newspaper. When you turn on the news, all you hear is cases of sexual assault, abuse, and sexual promiscuity. The tabloids abound with sensational headlines of who is living with whom. Virginity is not only outdated but it is ridiculed.
Many of the early Christian martyrs were tortured and suffered painful deaths rather than loose their purity. St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, St. Agatha, St. Susanna and St. Philomena are just a few.
St. Agnes suffered martyrdom in Rome in the year 303. When the twelve year old youth was told she was going to be sent to a house of ill-repute if she did not deny her faith, she answered, "You may be able to stain your sword with my blood, but you will never be able to profane my body, consecrated to Christ." She was beheaded after suffering many tortures.
St. Agatha, died for love of chastity. She was stretched on the rack and her breasts were cut off. While in prison, St. Peter, in a vision, comforted and healed her. She was then rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. During this she prayed, "Lord, my Creator, you have protected me from the cradle. You have taken from me the love of the world and given me patience to suffer, receive now my soul." She then died surrendering her pure soul to God.
St. Cecilia, another virgin who consecrated herself to Christ, was ordered by the Prefect to be put to death by the heat of the bath in her own home. She was miraculously preserved, and an executioner was then sent to her home to cut off her head. After three attempts, she was left for dead. She died three days later.
St. Lucy was ordered sacrificed to the pagan gods and refused. Wicked men then attempted to desecrate her purity. By the power of God, she was protected. Enraged, the Prefect ordered a fire kindled around her. When this did not kill her, a sword was thrust through her throat. She died, her pure soul flying straight to heaven.
Sts. Susanna and Philomena were both young virgins, who suffered cruel martyrdoms for the love of Christ. These virgin martyrs shine like the five wise virgins in the gospels, who took the oil of Divine Love in their lamps and went joyfully forth to meet Jesus, their heavenly Bridegroom.
"Blessed are the meek, they shall possess the Land." In today's society to be meek and gentle of heart, is to be someone who is ridiculed, someone who is literally a doormat. But this is not what Our Lord meant by this beatitude!
What does it mean to be meek? It does not mean to be a wishy-washy person, who stands there and let's everybody walk all over him and take advantage of him. Our Lord said, "Learn from Me, I am meek and humble of heart." Our Lord was not someone who was walked all over. He was respected! What did the people say, "Where did this man get His learning?" He spoke with authority, but he was meek and humble of Heart.
John was beloved of Our Lord because of this very trait. He rested his head on Our Lord's Most Sacred Heart at the Last Supper. He was privileged to be at the Crucifixion because of his meek and humble heart. Yet he was not someone who was weak, all you have to do is read his gospel, his epistles and the Book of Revelations which he wrote. He was very firm in his convictions and beliefs. He preached the Gospel with firmness and great love.
Being meek is respecting another's possessions, ideas, and beliefs. It is not imposing your ideas and convictions on others. It is a gentleness, that knows when to give and when to stand firm. It is by our good example, that we convince others of the truth. We need more people like St. John today!
Many saints have been meek and humble of heart. St. Benedict the Moor, was a Negro slave born in 1526 in Sicily. At eighteen he was given his freedom and joined the Order of Friars Minor as a lay brother. His profound humility and meekness touched everyone he met. Although uneducated, he was elected superior of his order. Years later he requested to be put back in the kitchen. He died April 4, 1589. In 1592 his body was found incorrupt.
There were other saints known for their meekness. St. Louis IX, king of France. Under his royal robes he wore the rough Franciscan Habit. Another king, St. Edward of England, was known for his humility and meek nature. Other saints include, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Zita, St. Margaret Mary and St. Catherine Laboure. St. Rita's meek and gentle nature converted her proud and extremely temperamental husband. She lived with his violent outbursts for many years before his conversion.
A beautiful prayer written by St. Pius X's secretary, Cardinal Merry de Val, expresses perfectly what this beatitude means by Blessed are the Meek.
"O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me
From the desire of being loved, deliver me
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me
From the desire of being honored, deliver me
From the desire of being praised, deliver me
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me
From the desire of being approved, deliver me
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me
From the fear of being despised, deliver me
From the fear of being rebuked, deliver me
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me
That others may be loved more than I, deliver me
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others
may increase, and I may decrease,...
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That Others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided
that I may become as holy as I should."
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
I know this sounds like a prayer for humility but a truly humble person is meek and gentle of heart, knowing where all greatness, goodness and grace originates from, God!
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after Justice, (Holiness) for they shall have their fill."
St. Vincent Ferrer of the 14th century, lived not only during the Black Death, but also during the Great Schism. In a vision Our Lord told him, "I have chosen you as the herald of the Gospel, and My Will is that you should go through all of Gaul and Spain preaching the Gospel... My Will is that you should boldly reprove the sins of men, and bid them prepare for the great judgement. Though the wicked may oppose you, fear nothing. I will be with you." Over a period of twenty-one years, he converted tens of thousands of Jews, Mohammedans, Infidels, and heretics.
St. Issac Jogues and Companions endured much suffering and hardship working with the Indians in the New World. With great love he labored for the salvation of his beloved Indians. Even after the Iroquois tortured him, nearly killing him, he still returned to them. His great thirst for holiness and Justice and his love for the Indians eventually led to his and his companions martyrdom in Auriesville, New York.
All the saints lived this beatitude, because they hungered and thirst for Holiness. To become a saint is really quite simple. In imitation of Our Lady, we must say, "Thy Will be done to me according to Thy Word!"
This beatitude today is being practiced by Christians all over the world. Those in communist countries (especially China). All these people want, is to be able to worship God freely. This is denied them. They are imprisoned and unjustly accused and persecuted.
Many though hunger for the justice of the kingdom of God. This kind of hunger is the love we should have for our fellow man. This applies to the two great commandments, Love of God and love of neighbor. When this a reality then there will no longer be those who hunger and thirst after Justice.
The injustice comes from people not loving their neighbor, wanting power, wanting to rule over all. This is where the injustice comes from. When we truly live this beatitude, we won't have people clamoring for Justice. You won't have your courts over full and over docked, the prisons over flowing, because people will love their neighbor as themselves. You need to ask yourself, would I want this done to me? Would I do this to Jesus? If Jesus were standing here right now, how would I act? These are questions everyone needs to ask themselves!
The key here is love. This is what the beatitudes are all about. Where there is love, there will not be these injustices.
"Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy."
The Our Father, taught to us by Our Lord, tells us we are to forgive our trespassers. If we can not forgive, how can we be merciful? It is inconceivable how anyone can be so ruthless and power hungry that they can not be merciful. All of us have some kind of compassion in our hearts and that is why I find it incredible when the leaders of oppressed nations in the world commit the atrocities they do against humanity. You wonder, MY GOD, where is their mercy and love?
This is one of the main problems of the world today, lack of forgiveness and mercy. Everyone is quick to judge and condemn. They harden their hearts, like the scribes and pharisees of Our Lord's day. They forget, but by the grace of God, there go I. The Indians have an old saying that before you judge and condemn a man, you must walk in his moccasins for one mile. I guarantee if you could walk in another's shoes for one mile, you would not judge him.
There but by the grace of God, go I! Think of that and then you will not judge, you will not condemn, and you will not criticize, you will forgive! How many grudges people have held in their hearts, by not talking to certain family members. They will not forgive. Forgiveness is mercy! A merciful person truly loves his neighbor because he sees Christ in him. Our Lord heard the prayer of the Publican, because he was merciful! He prayed, " Lord be merciful to me a sinner!" He could not have been given God's mercy unless he was first himself merciful with others. He knew what it is was give and receive mercy and that is why he received mercy from God.
St. Patrick was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland. For six years he suffered and prayed for his freedom. After his escape, he studied and was ordained a priest. Later he was consecrated a Bishop. He forgave those who enslaved him and went back to Ireland. He spent sixty years working in Ireland for the salvation of the Irish people.
One of the most interesting stories I read about being merciful took place in the life of St. John Gualbert. He was born in Florence, Italy in 999. One Good Friday he heard the sermon on how Christ forgave his enemies while He hung on the cross. While walking home, he meditated on this thought. Suddenly he found himself face to face with his brother's murderer. Back then it was your duty and a custom to avenge such a death. John was determined and ready to kill the man. The man fell to his knees, his arms stretched out in the form of a cross, and begged John to spare his life for the sake of Jesus Crucified. John said to the man, "I can refuse nothing that is asked of me for the sake of Jesus Christ. I not only give you your life, but also my friendship forever. Pray for me that God may pardon me my sin." Later at a Benedictine Monastery while kneeling before the Crucifix, John was praying for pardon for his sins. Looking up at the crucifix, he saw Jesus miraculously bow His head, granting the pardon John had requested. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!
In the Gospels, the parable of the man who owed money to a king and was going to be sent to prison unless he paid his debt illustrates this point. The man pleaded with the king for mercy and it was granted to him. That very man then turned around and refused to give the same mercy that was granted him to another man requesting mercy from him. The king, upon hearing this, threw the man into prison. The king represents God. We must remember, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy! Watch out you unmerciful person, you shall not obtain mercy when you need it. It is in the Our Father and in the gospel. This is something to meditate often upon!
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
In every family, there is someone, an aunt, cousin, brother, someone who soothes the ruffled feathers of the injured members of a family argument. We may not realize it, but they are peacemakers.
In the history of the church, we have had saints who have been peacemakers. St. Elizabeth of Portugal, (queen of Portugal) wife, mother and saint, is known as the saint of Peacemakers. She spent her entire life making peace between husbands and wives, between families, between feudal lords, princes and kings of countries.
St. Rita of Cascia's parents, Antonio and Amata Mancina, were called the "Peacemakers of Christ" for their many successful efforts in reconciling enemies and settling disputes.
St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, was chosen General of his Order. It was because of his untiring efforts that the many internal dissensions were settled and peace was finally restored to the Order.
Truly one of the great peacemakers was St. Catherine of Sienna. She settled many disputes between the warring principalities in Italy. It was during this time there were two claimants for the throne of St. Peter. She defended the Church, made peace and was instrumental in bringing back to Rome, Pope Gregory XI from Avignon, France. Thus ending the 70 year old Avignon exile. She was a great peacemaker, mystic, writer and defender of the Church; for this she has been proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
It is interesting that Our Lord calls the Peacemakers, children of God. An innocent child is at peace with himself and those around him. Little children, even when they do fight, make up and do not hold grudges. You must start small like a child. Where should peace be first established before you go out and practice this virtue, (this beatitude), in your own heart! If you do not have God's peace within you, you are not going to be a peacemaker! The peace that you have in your heart will embrace everyone you meet. They will be attracted to you because of the joy, peace, and love that comes from within you. People naturally want to be around someone like this. There is no hostility, only the joy of God's love. This is why they are peacemakers! You will become a peacemaker when you take the peace that is in your heart, and give it to everyone you meet.
"Blessed are you that suffer persecution for justice sake, for the kingdom of heaven is yours."
Many saints have suffered persecution for Justice sake. Their shining examples are models for us today. St. John Chrysostom denounced the vices of his day, for this he was banished and exiled. While in exile he continued to openly condemn the many sins of the day. He suffered extreme hardships and died in exile saying, "Glory be to God for all things."
We are all familiar with the story of St. Joan of Arc, the maid of France. After saving her country, she was betrayed by her country men into the hands of the enemy, the English. Accused of being a witch, she was burned at the stake.
St. Thomas More served God first, his king second. For this he was beheaded. St. Thomas Buchet, Archbishop of Canterbury, another English saint, chose also to serve God first, then his king. For six years he suffered persecutions, part of it in exile. In 1170 he was killed at the altar.
St. Josaphat of Lithuania, was persecuted by the schismatics because of his apostolic zeal. In 1623 the persecution ended for St. Josaphat, by an ax stroke and a bullet. He is known for his untiring efforts in trying to unite the schismatic Greek Church with Rome. Five years after his death, his body was found incorrupt.
In today's world we do not have to look or go far where this beatitude is concerned. Anyone who is a good Catholic is being persecuted by the modernists and liberalists, immoral people, satanists, anyone who does not want you to be good moral Catholic. When you stand up for your faith you are ridiculed, made fun of, and told you are ignorant. The values and morals that Jesus taught are being attacked on all sides. A good example was something my 14 year old son told me a few months ago. He had just recently seen the movie, "Ghost", starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Briefly, the movie was about a man who was killed and then as a ghost tried to help his girlfriend, whom he loved very much, from being harmed. The movie very graphically portrayed evil and its punishment. The evildoers were drug pushers and murderers. They showed these evil men being dragged to hell by the devils upon their unrepented deaths. The good people were shown being taken to heaven. At the end of the movie, Demi Moore finally sees Patrick Swayze. He is being taken to heaven, and he tells her that their love will never die but will continue to grow until she joins him.
As we left the movie my son said to me, "I don't understand why that man went to heaven?" He continued, "You know, mom, they portrayed him as a good Christian." Which the character was, he didn't do anything seriously wrong.
I then said to my son, "What do you mean?" I knew what he was going to say.
"He was not married to that woman when he died, he was living in sin! They are making it look like it is all right to live with someone, without being married, and still be able to go to heaven. He was not suppose to go to heaven," he replied.
They are making it a seem that if you live a good life, but mess up a little, it is ok. You are still a good person. You did not murder anyone, you did not push drugs. This is not what the gospel teaches us though. We can not do things in halves. We are either for God or against God.
The youth today who tries to be pure and good is ridiculed and persecuted by his peers. The young man who chooses not to curse and swear and listen to dirty jokes at work is persecuted by his fellow employees. My friend who works at the mill is made fun of because she refuses to listen to dirty conversations. She is ridiculed for carrying and praying her rosary.
The person who chooses to dress proper and not indecent is made fun of. They are told they are old fashioned. The person who attends daily mass or prays the rosary is persecuted. They are accused of being a 'holy roller', or told, 'who do you think you are, somebody holy?' My response to accusations like that is, 'I go to mass everyday because I need it. The Eucharist is my spiritual food. It is not because I am holy that I attend daily mass or pray the rosary everyday, it is because I am a sinner'. People who are persecuted in this manner are truly living this beatitude. We do not need to suffer physical persecution to fulfill this beatitude. Living in this immoral and godless society is comparable to those being persecuted for their faith in other countries where they do not have freedom of religion. Too often we think of this beatitude applying only to the early Church and the martyrs. Today more than ever we need to stand up for what we believe in. To be moral and pure, good and honest, is asking for persecution. That you are standing out there and saying 'OK’, take your biggest blow at me.' The reward for standing up and living the gospel according to the beatitudes, is not given in this life, but in the next; Heaven!
We should always be thinking, this is but a vale of tears, this is just a testing ground, heaven is my true home. Keep that thought always with you. The saints did this, how do you think they withstood the persecutions and trials they endured. That is the only way they could have done it, keeping heaven always before them. Start reading good spiritual books, go to mass often, pray, talk and associate with people who think and feel like you do, so you can support each other. You can not keep your faith strong by yourself. You need God's grace and the help of others who believe as you do.
Our Lord finished the sermon by saying,
"Blessed are they when others shall revile you and persecute you and spread all kinds of evil against you; for my sake. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great."
You have done it for Jesus' sake and He can not be out done in generosity. You are not the first, nor will you be the last. You have the example of Our Lord and His grace. Rejoice and be glad for you are truly beloved of Our Lord.
In closing I would like to relate to a story about St. Teresa of Avila. It was raining hard and she was trying to cross a creek and in the process her carriage broke and she fell in the water. She stood up, soaking wet, and said out loud, looking up to heaven, "Why God? WHY? I have had enough" Our Lord said to her, "This how I treat all my friends. The more I love them, the more I send them these beautiful little crosses and trials."
St. Teresa, with her sense of humor replied, "No wonder you have so few friends?"
Saint Paul confirmed this in his letter to the Hebrews, "My son, do not neglect the discipline of the Lord, nor lose heart when he reproves you. For whom the Lord loves, he chastises, and He scourges every son whom He receives." (Heb. 12:4-6)
Remember this when trials come into your life. God must love me a lot! Read the book of Job when you think you are suffering and enduring many trials and crosses. The Lord God giveth and taketh, blessed be the name of the Lord. I deserve worse. My sins are so great, I deserve worse. I could be worse off than I am. If you could see your sins and how they offend an infinitely good God, the little that you have to endure in this life would seem like nothing. Remember this and you will find yourself saying, one less day in purgatory. Thank you Lord!
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
As many books as you can on the lives of the saints.