Mary’s Beatitude

Mary’s Beatitude

“Hail Mary … blessed are you among women” we say when reciting the “Hail Mary” prayer. That Mary of Nazareth is a blessed woman, we have no doubt about. The real question is how is Mary blessed? In what does Mary’s beatitude (blessedness) primarily consist in? Some might say that Mary is blessed because she is the mother of Jesus: like the woman in the crowd who, filled with emotion upon seeing Jesus, cries out, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you!” (cfr Lk 11:27). It’s possible that this woman – perhaps herself a mother – was filled with admiration and holy envy of the Woman who gave birth to the Messiah, who gave God the Son His human nature. But lest we remain with the understanding that Mary is blessed principally for being the...

Learn from Me for I am meek and lowly of heart

Learn from Me for I am meek and lowly of heart

Matthew 11:25-30 “Which is the feature that stands out most in the everyday behavior of the Pope (Benedict XVI)?” I ask his secretary Mons. Alfred Xuereb, our friend since the days when he worked at the Lateran University. “The meekness … I’ve never seen this Pope lose his patience, raise his voice, or be aggressive … not even in the most difficult and painful circumstances of his heavy ministry. Pope Benedict is very controlled,  master of himself, polite and humane in the way he acts and in the way he speaks. In short, he is a meek and humble man.” Meekness is a virtue of which little is spoken. It is not to be identified with weakness, with deference, with resignation, with the renunciation of struggle; meekness wins the battles...

Blessed are you when they persecute you

Blessed are you when they persecute you

Matthew 5:11-12 March 2012 – Cardinal O’Brien, president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, openly declares himself against the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples. Immediately he is attacked by the mainstream media, in particular by the singer Will Young who in a BBC interview defines the cardinal an “awful man” and his words “disgusting, repugnant, and archaic.” The cardinal affirms a fundamental truth and is publicly insulted! I have been a priest for only ten months, but I have several experiences in which they insulted me… walking around the streets of Rome in a collar is not always easy! One day, I was on a sidewalk downtown when passing by a group of young people, I heard them snicker, “Priest, pedophile.” Often I meet people...

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers

Matthew 5:9 The story is about a young man who had a special desire in his heart. He wanted to change the world and see peace among people and nations. Filled with good will, he set out, trying to convince groups and individuals about his idea. Despite having put forth much effort, his results were lacking. He then decided to move things down a notch: he would try to change people within his own city. Needless to say, this new goal proved impossible to reach. He then focused his attention on his neighborhood. Yet, despite the passion and the strength that he put into his project, he once again had to accept defeat. He eventually settled on a simple idea: changing people within his own family. He thought to himself, “If only I could change the way my relatives go...

Blessed are the pure of heart

Blessed are the pure of heart

Matthew 5:8   I have never been a particularly sporty person. At school, my friends would run cross-country to qualify in the top six. Every year, I was amazed to have arrived at the finish line and find myself still alive. My friends were amazed instead to find an A on my P.E. report. Our P.E. teacher took the opportunity to teach one of life’s lessons: “everyone’s physical abilities and results are different but what I wanted to award is the effort, passion, and enthusiasm with which one approaches the activities. We can call it the heart-factor.” Jesus, too, when he proclaimed the beatitudes, took into consideration the heart-factor. Not as the condition for an A+ on the report card, but for the most immense joy of man: to see God. A pure...

Blessed are the merciful

Blessed are the merciful

Matthew 5:7   In the Beatitudes our Lord taught us, we see a sequence of fundamental means to happiness. Each of them has a reward attached that the Lord promises to those who seek to live them out. It is only in the beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” that we receive what we give. What is it about mercy that creates this reciprocal exchange? A priest once shared with us that the more he grows in the spiritual life, the more he is convinced that mercy is the key to unlock Christianity. I personally have to confess that I never quite understood mercy. I remember being confronted with this realization as I struggled to plan a Bible Study on mercy while I was in college. ‘What is mercy?’ I wondered. It had become a word too...