Meditations on the Beatitudes

OLC Logo

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom

At the 2011 AGM of Our Lady’s Catechists a workshop was held during which participants were asked to reflect on the Beatitudes. We discussed the first Beatitude as one large group, but then split into smaller groups to reflect on the remaining Beatitudes. At the end of the workshop, each group shared their thoughts with the main group, providing us with a much broader range of understandings.

Looking back at the event, it became clear that our materials could be adapted for group-work or individual reflection, so we are making them available for you to download in three files. Please choose the file type that is most appropriate for your situation:

  • Introduction in Word or PDF format, for groups or individuals
  • Presentation, for use with groups, in PowerPoint or PDF format
  • Meditation worksheets, for groups or individuals, in Word or PDF format

The Introduction, contains much of the material on this web page, but in a format that you can print out more easily.

The Presentation is for use with groups in rooms where there is access to projection facilities. It sets the scene and explains how the topic may be handled, using the first beatitude as an example. If you are leading a group it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the presentation first, and being in PowerPoint format, you may well be able to add your own thoughts to it.

The Meditation Sheets are needed for both group and individual study. They provide a series of thoughts and questions you may ask yourself about each beatitude. It is important that the exercises has proper meaning for the person completing it.

Before you download and start work on these resources, you may benefit for reading the introduction below.

Introduction

The Beatitudes are one of the best known parts of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, but although we are all very familiar with them, how much time do we spend thinking about them and their meaning? The following reflection should help you or your group to explore the beatitudes more closely.

Prayer

As with all reading of scripture it is a good idea to start by asking the Holy Spirit to understand the message God has for us.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
Amen.

Background

In Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, which takes up chapters 5 to 7, begins with the Beatitudes. Luke’s Gospel also has Beatitudes, but only 4 compared to the 8 of Matthew. So what is beatitude? The beginning of each Beatitude has been variously translated, eg. blessed, happy or congratulations.

Beatitude can be described as a sharing in the Divine Life which ultimately leads to eternal happiness. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (CCC), states, “They, (the Beatitudes) respond to the desire for happiness that God has placed in the human heart.” (CCC 1725) To be blessed is something that we all desire as St John Chrysostom explains, “To be blessed is so great a good that bad men and good men wish for it”.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus offers us a way of life that promises eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. However, while they provide a way of life that promises salvation, they also provide peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations on this earth. They contain the essence of spiritual life. As the Catechism tells us, the Beatitudes purify our hearts in order to teach us to love God above all things. (CCC 1728)

The Beatitudes. Matthew 5:1-12

  • When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying,
  • 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.

Taken from The New Revised Standard Version