The Beatitudes as a pattern for prayer

By Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.

Youtube version here:  Some extra material.

On Monday of last week I was travelling to London and I was handed a free magazine.  Normally I don’t open these things but this time I did.  It was a very worthy magazine, mostly about how to improve - how to eat the best food, drink the best drink, exercise and so on.  I was struck by something that had been bothering me in various explorations of the non-theist aspects of the internet.  There are many pundits who give advice to the young, an it follow more or less this pattern:  If you organize your life and eat well and exercise a lot, if you establish what you really want, and pursue your goals single-mindedly, or even ruthlessly, you will be healthy and wealthy and wise.  Occasionally they mention love or relationships as well. 

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PALM SUNDAY

by Sr.Jadwiga Swiatecka o.p.

I have always found this account of Christ’s last going to Jerusalem for the Passover somewhat odd.  Who is this un-named person who had a donkey conveniently tethered where it could just be taken? Is he the same so-and so (thus, one of the translations) who also got the supper room ready? And had Jesus made some previous arrangement with this man, that he might need to borrow his donkey? Why is he anonymous?  We know that Jesus had been going to the Passover festival since he was twelve, so this would be about the 20th time; and presumably he had been with his disciples at least twice before, if his public ministry lasted about 3 years.  If so, then on the previous occasions he had just walked in.  So why, this time, borrow an ass and ride in on it? 

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The Shape of Holy Week: a journey to Easter

by Sr Ann Catherine Swailes o.p.

The best laid plans, as they say. When I started thinking about this talk, I chose as a title - and it was me that did it, I cant blame anyone else the Shape of Holy Week. What I was planning to do was to provide a kind of sketch of what happens in Holy Week, what we do in Church which is different during these days that are about to begin, and, in that context, provide a few, inevitably very inadequate thoughts that might, if you find any of them at all helpful, be the starting point for reflection between now and Easter on the great mystery of the Lords death and resurrection at the heart of our faith. Im still hoping to try to do that.

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The Beatitudes: A programme for action

by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.

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For audio version click  here.  Quite a lot of extra material!

So far we have seen the Beatitudes as a description of how Christ Himself lived on earth, and we have used them as an examination of conscience.  But both of these entail something further, the invitation to the imitatio Christi. The Beatitudes ‘express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations’ CCC 1717 

And:

‘The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement - however beneficial it may be - such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love’ (CCC1723)

And here I am going to move slightly outside the framework of the Beatitudes, although the commentary of St Thomas upon them does point to the theme I shall pursue:  

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 The Beatitudes as an examination of conscience

by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach

For an audio version of this talk click here

In Summa Theologiae q69 a3 corpus St Thomas sees the beatitudes as being, among other things, an instantiation of the progress of the Spiritual life:  The purgative state – the process of turning away from sin and ceasing to pursue happiness in the wrong place - he sees as belonging to the first three beatitudes.  The next two he regards as relating to the life of active virtue, while the final two he sees as relating to prayer.  I will discuss this schema in more detail in the third talk.  Meanwhile, I want to focus on the Beatitudes as being directed towards our conversion – as capable in general of being used as an examination of conscience, a tool of self-knowledge and a preparation for the sacrament of confession.

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To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.