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.


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 


‘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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The Beatitudes as imitatio Christi

By Sr Tamsin Mary Geach

The First of a series of talks given at the Studium Catholicum , Helsinki, Lent 2018

(Youtube version here with some extra material)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The chief difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity is not a system of thought, according to which you gradually perfect yourself.  Rather it is an invitation to relationship with God the Father in the God the Holy Spirit, through God the Son.

Yet here in chapter five of St. Matthew’s Gospel we do have what looks like a systematised programme for action.  And so indeed it is, but that is not all that it is.  As it says in the Catchism of the Catholic Church,paragraph 1717 ‘The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. 

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