Friday, January 05, 2007

The Beatitudes of the Deliverance Form Sin. - part 2.

The beatitudes of the deliverance from sin correspond to the purgative way, which is proper to beginners and which is prolonged in the way the proficients and the perfect ought to follow. Whereas the world declares that happiness is in the abundance of exterior goods, of riches, and in honours, Christ states without any other preamble, with the calm assurance of absolute truth: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
Each beatitude has many degrees. Happy they who are poor without murmuring, without impatience, without jealousy, even if bread should be lacking, and who work while placing their trust in God. Blessed are they who, tough more fortunate, have not the spirit of riches, pomp, and pride, but are detached from the goods of the earth. More fortunate still are they who will leave all to follow Christ, who will make themselves voluntarily poor, and who will truly live according to the spirit of this vocation. They will receive the hundredfold on earth and eternal life. These poor are they who, under the inspiration of the gift of fear, follow the road which the soul dilates more and more, whereas the broad road of the world leads to hell and perdition. Elsewhere Christ declares: "Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger." Luke 6:25. On the other hand, blessed is the poverty which, as the life of St. Francis of Assisi shows, opens the kingdom of God that is infinitely superior to all wealth, to the miserable riches in which the world seek happiness.
Blessed are the poor, or humble of heart, who do not cling to the goods of the body, or to those of the spirit, or to reputation, or to honour, and who seek only the kingdom of God.
The desire of riches divides men, engenders quarrells, lawsuits, violence, and war among nations; but Christ says: "Blessed are the meek, for they possess the land." Blessed are they who do not become irritated against their brethren, who do not seek to take vengeance on their enemies, to dominate others. "If one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other" Matt. 5:39 Blessed are the meek who do not judge rushly, who do not see in their neighbour a rival to be supplanted but a brother to be helped, a child of the same heavenly Father. The gift of piety inspires this meekness in us with a filial affection toward God our common Father. The meek are not stubbornly attached to their own judgment; they express themselves quite simply in a straightforward manner, and do not feel the need to call heaven to witness in trivial matters. Matt 5:34. To be thus supernaturally meek, even with those who are acrimonious, demands a great union with Him who said: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart";
with Him who did not crush the broken or extinguish the smoking flax. According to Bousset, the broken reed is sometimes our angry neighbour, who is broken by his own anger. We must not crush him by taking vengeance on him. Christ has been compared to the lamb which lets irself be led to the slaughter without uttering a complaint. The meekness we are discussing is not that which does not offend anyone because it is afraid of everything; rather, it is virtue which presupposes a great love of God and of one's neighbour, the flower of charity, as St Francis de Sales says. Moreover, it succeeds in stating the whole truth, in making counsel and even reproaches acceptable; for he who receives them feels that they are inspired by a great love. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land, the true, promised land. Even now they possess spiritually the hearts that trust in them.
Whereas the world says that happiness lies in pleasures, Christ declares: "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted". To the evil rich man it was said: "Thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Luke 16:25 Blessed are they, who like the beggar Lazarus, suffer patiently without consolation from men, for their tears are seen by God. More blessed still are those who weep for their sins, and through an inspiration of the gift of knowledge know experimentally that sin is the greatest of evils, and by their tears obtain its pardon. Lastly, more blessed, says St Catherine of Siena, are those who weep for love at the sight of the infinite mercy, of the goodness of the Saviour, of the tenderness of the good Shepherd, who sacrifices Himself for His sheep. These receive even here on earth consolation infinitely superior to that which the world can give.

Such are the beatitudes which are found in the flight and deliverance from sin.