Father Geiermann has stated that the object of our union with God is our happiness. He shows how we attain various degrees of happiness by practicing the virtues Christ recommended in the Beatitudes. He explains: “The Beatitudes are both the laws of spiritual development and the standard of Christian perfection. . . . Our natural powers can not be merely pent up by negative perfection. They are active, and must attain their perfection along virtuous channels before they can enjoy the full blessings of the Beatitudes. On this account none of the Beatitudes is merely negative, but each places a definite happiness before us which we can possess and enjoy only in proportion to the perfection with which we have practised the corresponding virtues.”
Christ declared: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). Father Geiermann comments: “On the very threshold of life we are tempted by the world in the manner most calculated to turn us from the narrow way. Before we have had experience or developed strength of character, the world invites us on the one hand to a life of indulgence and dissipation, and on the other hand threatens us with its undying enmity. In our day the inventions of science seem to have conspired with the world to enervate us by ministering to our comfort and pleasure. And yet it will ever be true that our contentment consists in having as few wants as possible, and our perfection, as far as the things of this world are concerned, in loving and living the poverty of the lowly Saviour, yes, in actually loving the effects of poverty, such as cold, hunger, thirst, plain clothes, hard labor, and an humble and despised life, as they enter into our daily experience. This utter detachment from earthly things is impossible without a preceding and corresponding attachment to God, especially by perfect hope.”
“The first beatitude, therefore, emphasizes the special happiness, the reward of perfect hope. This flows from that intimate union with God which makes us indifferent to all earthly things, and enables us to conform to His holy will and trust in His aid, even when, humanly speaking, there is no hope. ‘Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Mt 6:33).”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).