Jesus Speaks: The Beatitudes

Today was the second session of the Fall Reflection Series I am offering this fall at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.  The reflection series is titled Jesus Speaks and it is designed to deepen our appreciation of fundamental Christian teachings drawn from the words of Christ.  Each session includes a talk, time for individual reflection and some sharing of the prayer experience.

The focus of today’s session was The Beatitudes. Pope Benedict XIV wrote that “the Beatitudes express the meaning of discipleship.” They are meant, not as a series of sweet platitudes, but as ways we ought to orient and live our lives.

Since I have given so many talks on the Beatitudes, I decided to do something different today. For each of the Beatitudes, I invited the participants to share something of their understanding before offering some thoughts of my own. It was a rich discussion and I think broadened how many (including myself) thought of some of the Beatitudes.

At the end of our discussion, I distributed prayer material on the Beatitudes participants may want to pray with this week. You can find a copy of the that handout material is here.

If you wish to hear a recording of a talk I have given on the Beatitudes, you can find one here.

Our session continues next week with a focus on the Eucharist.

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2 thoughts on “Jesus Speaks: The Beatitudes

  1. A wonderful exercise – thank you . . .

    The text and questions on page-3 of the handout: ‘Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit’ do create a swirl of emotions and thought.

    It is true that we will never find rest in ourselves. Just as physical rest requires surrender to awareness, spiritual rest requires surrender to God, or something many ‘name’ that is bigger than self.

    A word choice exercise to ponder that links the paragraph above to the one below . . .

    When reflecting upon ‘Poverty of Spirit’ a greater challenge might be to consider why that as long as we believe in our total dependence on God and that “at the core of our existence, a transcendental neediness holds sway” we will never experience the sweet serenity God promised.

  2. Many of the students and young adults encountered in life struggle with the absolutes declared by religion, spiritual leaders and older adults – the words spoken and preached that are declarative invoking conditions attached to the human condition. . .

    The short phrase, “Total dependence on God,” connotes so much more than initial reaction declares.

    From a faith perspective, our earthly existence is a gift from God – totally dependent on Him. From a Christian perspective at the moment of death, our new life, our eternal life, the place prepared for us is once again totally dependent on God. However, is our earthly life totally dependent on Him?

    At birth we enter the world as a ‘perfect’ creation capable of committing human transgressions – of ‘sinning.’ Is not one of life’s greatest challenges struggling with ‘offerings’ of our life to God before we often offer it to Him, for the final time, with our last breath of true contrition?

    As long as we cling to life, claim ownership of our life, we are restlessly, constantly seeking and needing the graces many Christians call Sacramental. The Good Lord, through the Holy Spirit, is patiently attentive to the pendulum swings called life continually refreshing thought with the Spirit’s inspiration.

    Responding intuitively to the urgings of the Holy Spirit, at moments when life has truly been surrendered, fills our heart with Blessings of grace and draws us to partake of Sacramental grace. The moments when our mind edits our heart and intuitive response is expressed in ‘self’ – during moments we reclaim our lives – the pendulum swings opposite and we find ourselves ‘seeking’ and needing’ once again – forth and back the pendulum of life swings.

    At birth, each child is endowed and filled completely with God’s unconditional Love and Gift of the Holy Spirit, nothing more do we require – other than the Blessings of Grace replenished when we pour ourselves out completely in Love, Mercy and Charity on His behalf.

    We have been ‘called’ and the Good Lord will patiently continue to call us to Himself as our pendulum of life continues to swing – swings that are often ‘dependent, on ‘our’ own urgings and actions. . .

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