What Are The Beatitudes?

The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus' preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are found in Matthew 5: 3-12.

The Beatitudes are also an excellent way to meditate upon and make an Examination of Conscience.

* Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Examination of Conscience:
What are my priorities?
Do I focus too much on the things of this earth?
Do I share my gifts, talents, time, and treasure to help build the Kingdom of God here on earth?

* Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Examination of Conscience:
Do I take the time for prayer, calling out to God in my need?
Do I, in turn, try to assist those who are suffering?

* Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Examination of Conscience:
Do I ever look down on others because they may not look or act like me?
Do I treat other people fairly - at work, at school, at home?
Do I think that I have all the answers?
Are my close relationships nurtured by mutual respect?

* Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Examination of Conscience:
When I see or hear stories of people suffering injustice, what is my response?
Do the places where I allocate my money reflect a thirst for justice?

* Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Examination of Conscience:
When I am wronged, am I willing to forgive?
Am I currently holding any grudges against anyone?

* Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Examination of Conscience:
Do I respect the gift of my body, created in God's image?
When I hear a dirty or racist joke, do I turn away?

* Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Examination of Conscience:
Do I work for peace in my community, neighborhood, and family?

* Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Examination of Conscience:
If a conversation about religion begins in the workplace or a social event, am I willing to add my own concerns, based on my Catholic faith, to that conversation?
Am I willing to take a stand that is unpopular, but is based on gospel values?

* 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.
Examination of Conscience:
Am I willing to forgive others when they speak about me harshly?
Is my life on this earth focused on the life to come?

Q: Why did Jesus Christ propose the Beatitudes to us?

A: Jesus Christ proposed the Beatitudes to us to make us detest the maxims of the world, and to invite us to love and practice the maxims of the gospel.

Q: Who are they whom the world calls happy?

A: The world calls those happy who abound in riches and honors, who lead a pleasant life, and who meet with no occasions of suffering.

Q: Who are the poor in spirit whom Jesus Christ calls blessed?

A: The poor in spirit are, according to the gospel, those whose hearts are detached from riches; who make good use of riches should they have any; who do not seek them too eagerly, if they have none; and who suffer the loss of such things with resignation when deprived of them.

Q: Who are the meek?

A: The meek are those who act tenderly towards their neighbor, bear patiently with his defects, and accept the offenses and injuries they receive from him without contention, resentment, or vengeance.

Q: Who are they that mourn, yet are called happy?

A: They that mourn, yet are called happy, are they who suffer tribulations with resignation, and who mourn over sins committed, over the evils and scandals that prevail in the world, over Paradise because it is so distant, and over the danger there is of losing it.

Q: Who are they that hunger and thirst after justice?

A: They that hunger and thirst after justice, are those who ardently desire to increase daily more and more in divine grace and in the exercise of good and virtuous works.

Q: Who are the merciful?

A: The merciful are those who love their neighbor in God and for God's sake, compassionate his miseries, spiritual as well as corporal, and endeavor to succor him according to their means and position.

Q: Who are the clean of heart?

A: The clean of heart are those who retain no affection for sin and keep aloof from it, and who above all else avoid every sort of impurity.

Q: Who are the peacemakers?

A: The peacemakers are those who preserve peace with their neighbor and with themselves, and who endeavor to bring about peace and concord between those who are at variance.

Q: Who are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake?

A: They who suffer persecution for justice' sake are those who patiently bear derision, reproof, and persecution for the sake of the faith and of the law of Jesus Christ.

Q: What do the various rewards promised by Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes denote?

A: The various rewards promised by Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes all denote under different names the eternal glory of Paradise.

Q: Do the Beatitudes procure us the glory of Paradise alone?

A: The Beatitudes not only procure us the glory of Paradise, but are also the means of leading a happy life, as far as this is possible here on earth.

Q: Do those who follow the path of the Beatitudes receive any reward in this life?

A: Yes, certainly; those who follow the path of the Beatitudes do receive a reward even in this life, inasmuch as they enjoy interior peace and contentment, which is the beginning, even though an imperfect one, of the happiness of heaven.

Q: Can those who follow the maxims of the world be called truly happy?

A: No, because they have no true peace of soul, and are in danger of being lost eternally.


Some resource information above courtesy of the Nazareth Resource Library
(c) copyright 1996 by James Akin. All Rights Reserved.