The Fifth Beatitude

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).

“Justice and mercy are so united, that the one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice, profusion.” -Glossa Ordinaria

“The merciful is he who has a sad heart; he counts others’ misery his own, and is sad at their grief as at his own.” -Remigius of Auxerre

“Mercy here is not said only of alms, but is in every sin of a brother, if we bear one another’s burdens.” -St. Jerome

“He pronounces those blessed who succour the wretched, because they are rewarded in being themselves delivered from all misery; as it follows, ‘for they shall obtain mercy.’” -St. Augustine

“So greatly is God pleased with our feelings of benevolence towards all men, that He will bestow His own mercy only on the merciful.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“The reward here seems at first to be only an equal return; but indeed it is much more; for human mercy and divine mercy are not to be put on an equality.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Justly is mercy dealt out to the merciful, that they should receive more than they had deserved; and as he who has more than enough receives more than he who has only enough, so the glory of mercy is greater than of the things hitherto mentioned.” -Glossa apud Anselm

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Fourth Beatitude

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6).

“As soon as I have wept for my sins, I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He who is afflicted with any sore disease, hath no hunger.” -St. Ambrose

“It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.” -St. Jerome

“He hungers after righteousness who desires to walk according to the righteousness of God; he thirsts after righteousness who desires to get the knowledge thereof.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“As He was going on to speak of mercy, He shows beforehand of what kind our mercy should be, that it should not be of the gains of plunder or covetousness; hence He ascribes to righteousness that which is peculiar to avarice, namely, to hunger and thirst.” -St. John Chrysostom

“The blessedness which He appropriates to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shows that the deep longing of the saints for the doctrine of God shall receive perfect replenishment in heaven; then they shall be filled.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“Such is the bounty of a rewarding God, that His gifts are greater than the desires of the saints.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“He speaks of food with which they shall be filled at this present; to wit, that food of which the Lord spake, ‘My food is to do the will of my Father,’ that is, righteousness, and that water of which whoever drinks it shall be in him ‘a well of water springing up to life eternal.’” -St. Augustine

“This is again a promise of a temporal reward; for as covetousness is thought to make many rich, He affirms on the contrary that righteousness rather makes rich, for he who loves righteousness possesses all things in safety.” -St. John Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Third Beatitude

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5).

“When I have learned contentment in poverty, the next lesson is to govern my heart and temper. For what good is it to me to be without worldly things, unless I have besides a meek spirit?” -St. Ambrose

“Soften therefore your temper that you be not angry, at least that you ‘be angry, and sin not.’ It is a noble thing to govern passion by reason; nor is it a less virtue to check anger, than to be entirely without anger, since one is esteemed the sign of a weak, the other of a strong, mind.” -St. Ambrose

The earth is “that earth of which it is said in the Psalms, ‘Thy lot is in the land of the living’ (Ps 142:5), meaning the fixedness of a perpetual inheritance, in which the soul that hath good dispositions rests as in its own place, as the body does in an earthly possession, . . . such is the rest and the life of the saints.” -St. Augustine

“As by the gentleness of our minds Christ dwells in us, we also shall be clothed with the glory of His renewed body.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“Because it is commonly supposed that he who is meek loses all that he possesses, Christ here gives a contrary promise, that he who is not forward shall possess his own in security.” -St. John Chrysostom

“The meek, who have possessed themselves, shall possess hereafter the inheritance of the Father; to possess is more than to have, for we have many things which we lose immediately.” -Glossa Ordinaria

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Second Beatitude

“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4).

“They who weep for their own sins are blessed, but much more so who weep for others’ sins.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“The mourning here meant is not for the dead by common course of nature, but for the dead in sins, and vices.” -St. Jerome

“The comfort of mourners is the ceasing of their mourning; they then who mourn their own sins shall be consoled when they have received remittance thereof.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“God’s mercies are always greater than our troubles.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Mourning is sorrow for the loss of what is dear; but those that are turned to God lose the things that they held dear in this world; and as they have now no longer any joy in such things as before they had joy in, their sorrow may not be healed till there is formed within them a love of eternal things. They shall then be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who is therefore chiefly called, The Paraclete, that is, ‘Comforter’; so that for the loss of their temporal joys, they shall gain eternal joys.” -St. Augustine

“By mourning, two kinds of sorrow are intended; one for the miseries of this world, one for lack of heavenly things. . . . This kind of mourning none have but the poor and the meek, who as not loving the world acknowledge themselves miserable, and therefore desire heaven. Suitably, therefore, consolation is promised to them that mourn, that he who has sorrow at this present may have joy hereafter.” -Glossa apud Anselm

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The First Beatitude

Here and in the next several posts, we shall hear various saints and sages comment on the Beatitudes, which Jesus Christ revealed in His Sermon on the Mount. St. Matthew recounts that memorable event: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:1-3)

“By not choosing His seat in the city, and the market place, but on a mountain in a desert, He has taught us to do nothing with ostentation.” -St. John Chrysostom

“‘His disciples came to him,’ that they who in spirit approached more nearly to keeping His commandments, should also approach Him nearest with their bodily presence.” -St. Augustine

“Mystically, this sitting down of Christ is His incarnation; had He not taken flesh on Him, mankind could not have come unto Him.” -Rabanus Maurus

“When the Lord on the mountain is about to utter His sublime precepts, it is said, ‘Opening his mouth he taught them,’ He who had before opened the mouth of the Prophets.” -St. Gregory the Great

“He sometimes teaches by opening His mouth in speech, sometimes by that voice which resounds from His works.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Augmentation of spirit generally implies insolence and pride. For in common speech the proud are said to have a great spirit, . . . they are swollen, puffed up. Here therefore by ‘poor in spirit’ are rightly understood lowly, fearing God, not having a puffed up spirit.” – St. Augustine

“The blessing is on those who humble themselves by their own choice. Thus He begins at once at the root, pulling up pride which is the root and source of all evil, setting up as its opposite humility as a firm foundation. If this be well laid, other virtues may be firmly built thereon; if that be sapped, whatever good you gather upon it perishes.” – St. John Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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The Mystical Body

Father Cassilly says that the children of the family of God are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and they fall into three groups: the blessed in heaven, the souls awaiting release from purgatory, and the wayfarers on earth. Theologians call these, respectively, The Church Triumphant, The Church Suffering, and The Church Militant.

Father Cassilly writes: “From this close union with Christ, our Head, results the consoling doctrine of the Communion of Saints, by which all the members of this mystical body, the saints in heaven, the suffering souls in purgatory and the militant saints on earth are bound together under Christ’s headship.”

“There is between us all a communication of good. We mutually help and assist one another by our prayers and merits, so far as this is necessary or possible. And thus no Christian stands alone; he leans upon others stronger than himself. The sanctity of the saints in a measure is ours, to use and share, to emulate and imitate, to intercede for us in heaven. We can draw on the spiritual treasury of the Church, in which are contained the infinite merits of Christ, the merits of His blessed Mother, and the superabundant satisfaction of the saints.”

“The heritage of the Church is ours, the preaching and witness of the Apostles, the teaching and writing of the Fathers, Doctors and theologians, the glorious struggles and victories of the martyrs and confessors, the mighty works of the religious orders and missionaries, the continuous testimony of miracles, the zeal, charity and penance of countless Christian men and women throughout the ages—they all belong to us, to instruct and uplift us and help toward our sanctification. The ministry of the priesthood is ours. The priest is given us to take away our sins, to feed us with the Bread of Life, instruct us in doctrine and open for us the gate of heaven.”

“The saints in heaven belong to us. Where we are they once were, and where they are we hope one day to be. They are now our willing servants. We call upon the saints and angels and they hear us, conveying our messages before God and doing our bidding. They keep watch and ward over us, protecting us from harm, and obtain favors untold for us in our pilgrimage through life. Thrice blessed are we to be members of the great Christian family, to be part of that golden living chain of saints which reaches from heaven, wraps round the earth, and extends to the somber precincts of purgatory.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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Children Great and Small

Father Cassilly writes: “Both St. John and St. Paul, after the example of our Lord Himself, call the Christians ‘little children.’ There is quite a difference between little and older children. . . . The child, according to the golden-tongued Doctor, retains no memory of injuries, and, though punished by its mother, still clings to her. And if you show it a queen crowned with jewels and gorgeously attired, it will not leave its mother in her frayed and patched gown. It chooses things not for their richness or elegance but from affection, and desires only what is needful.”

“And we must become like little children, so Christ tells us, if we would enter into the kingdom of heaven. We must become lowly and humble in our own eyes, simple, innocent and straightforward, setting aside the wisdom of the world and the prudence of the flesh. No matter how old we are in years, we must retain the candor and simplicity of childhood in our conduct toward others, and discard worldly standards of judgment which are largely based on what is artificial and adventitious. The world pays court to the rich and prosperous and influential, disregarding the poor, the unfortunate and helpless.” But the true Christian “will see Christ in all.”

“One of the pleasures of children is the companionship of those of their own age. . . . The Christian is not doomed to be an only child, he has a vast multitude of brothers and sisters, all who are connected with him by faith. . . . We all have the same spiritual regeneration in grace, the common means of salvation, namely, the sacraments and the word of God, and finally the same destiny. We all gather at the Eucharistic table, and, partaking of one Bread, become ourselves ‘one bread, one body’ (1 Cor 10:17). Thus closely united we are ever sure of sympathy from others in sorrow and trial and of help in our undertakings. Our interests lie in common, the welfare of each being involved in that of all.”

“To show the close union that subsists between Christians, St. Paul calls them the members of Christ’s mystical body, the Church, of which Christ is the Head (1 Cor 12:12-31). And as in the human body the eye sees not for itself alone but for the whole body, as ear and hand and foot mutually minister to one another, and suffer and rejoice with a suffering or rejoicing member, so we Christians must minister to and assist, rejoice and suffer with, our fellow Christians.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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