My Beatitudes – An All Saints’ Day Reflection

Note: November 1, All Saints’ Day, according to the calendar of Western Christendom, is that day of celebration of all the saints (“saint” being a New Testament appellation for the Christian); the followers of Jesus, past, present, and yet to come. In many church lectionaries, one of the appointed biblical texts is the Beatitudes.

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (La sermon des béatitudes) (1886), James Tissot (1836-1902)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5.1-11).

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And, in so saying, Jesus overturned every worldly notion not only of what it is to be blessed, happy, but also what it is to be faithful, successful. For the Beatitudes are not prescriptions of what to do, but rather descriptions of how to be; how to live life in this world. A world, since the loss of the Garden of Eden, that has fallen and continues to fall far short of the dream of God at the dawn of creation.

Not that I can (or even dare think that I can) improve on Jesus’ teaching, considering this world in which we live and contemplating my life, that is, how I strive to live my life, as my All Saints’ Day meditation, I wrote and now share my personal beatitudes.

thinking

Blessed am I when I recognize my need, my dependence on all creation and all humankind and, therefore, perceive earth as fragile and the world a global village deserving, demanding my care and compassion.

Blessed am I when my love and justice, my kindness and fairness are unfettered and, therefore, freely offered to all.

Blessed am I when I do not prejudge another because of culture, class, creed, or color, sex or sexual identity and, therefore, I, by my preferences or prejudices, do not raise or reduce my estimation of any individual because of one or more characteristics, however naturally human.

Blessed am I when I forgive others and myself when we, acting out of hurt, fear, and anger, do harm to others and ourselves.

Blessed am I, when amid conflict, I behold all sides of an argument, and then, for the sake of all, seek to interpret and translate all facets of the dispute so to promote mutual understanding.

question mark

What are your beatitudes; your descriptions of what it is for you to be blessed, happy and how you live faithfully, successfully?

 

Illustration: The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886), James Tissot (1836-1902)

6 thoughts on “My Beatitudes – An All Saints’ Day Reflection

  1. Dear Paul,

    I love your idea of “personal beatitudes,” and I highly endorse the ones you offered for yourself. Thank you for the challenge of creating my own. I used it as a prompt for journaling this morning. Here is what I came up with:

    Blessed am I when I remain conscious of my unbreakable connection to and dependence upon all that is: the cosmos, the earth and all that it contains, and all of my fellow human beings.

    Blessed am I when I am able to live in the humility of realizing my weaknesses, my dependence, and my failings and yet not ever despair that I am worthless or undeserving of love and respect.

    Blessed am I when I remember to be grateful for the gift of my life, for each new day, for those people, things, and ideas in my life that give it meaning and purpose, and for an ever-intriguing, ever-challenging, and ever-giving world in which to live.

    Blessed am I when I remember the gift of forgiveness, both that which I have received for my many failings in this life, and that which I am free to offer when I judge that I have been hurt, disappointed, or forgotten.

    Blessed am I when I remember that I am a child of God and worthy of dignity, respect, and love and likewise, as a child of God, have a deep obligation to offer that same dignity, respect, and love to the earth and all that it contains and to all of my fellow human beings.

    I will continue to add to the list as I think through this challenge. Thank you, as always, for adding meaning to my remembrance of All Saints’ Day.

    Love,

    Karen

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  2. Wow Paul and Karen,

    Your beatitudes are amazing!! I’ll be saving both of these. I intended to do this yesterday, but everything that could go wrong yesterday did so…. so I waited until my mind was fresh and a little more clear!

    Blessed am I when I allow nature to overtake my mind, body and soul so I can feel God’s presence more deeply through the beauty of this world.

    Blessed am I when I recognize that I can’t just enjoy nature, but must also work to preserve and save it for future generations.

    Blessed am I for the opportunities to touch lives and share hope with caregivers from all walks of life around the country.

    Blessed am I when I can forgive those who have hurt me in thought, word and deed, and can love them even if they don’t love me.

    Blessed am I when I recognize all the gifts of others and how they use their gifts in this world, making me more aware and focused on using my gifts in the right way.

    Blessed am I when I seek out help when I need it, recognizing that God doesn’t intend for me to carry burdens alone.

    Blessed am I when I listen without judgment, treat others the way that God treats me and let go of things over which I have no control.

    Like Karen, I’ll keep focusing on this throughout this month and will add to my list because it’s a GREAT discipline to focus on!!

    Needed this! Much love!!

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  3. Karen and Loretta, I thank you for responding to my closing question, which – not until I reflected on what I had written – did not occur to me to add.

    I thank you, each and both, most especially because, as I have come to know you, in reading your beatitudes, I can hear your voices. By this mean not only, merely the sound of your voices, which, by my memory, I, indeed, can and do recall, but rather…but also I can discern your inner voices of your spirits and souls. In other words, your beatitudes, for each of you for me, ring with the tenor and temper of who you are as I perceive you. And all this is to say that, for me – and I know I’m rambling here, but I’m trying to get at something within that reflecting on what you’ve written has stirred up! – your beatitudes are authentic expressions of your personhoods. They are veritable windows into your hearts and minds. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such gracious gifts.

    A final thought, for now, as you write, Karen, “I will continue to add to the list as I think through this challenge” and, Loretta, as you write, “I’ll keep focusing on this throughout this month and will add to my list because it’s a GREAT discipline to focus on!!” you, each and both, challenge me to revisit this exercise, indeed, this spiritual discipline. I’d not thought of adding to my list. Now, with your loving encouragements, I will.

    Love, always and in all ways,
    Paul

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    1. Dear Paul and Loretta,

      Blessed am I when dear friends bless me and my life with their beatitudes and help to call forth my own. May our recognition and claiming of these truths, which both guide and express us, continue for as long as we live.

      Much love,

      Karen

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  4. “May our recognition and claiming of these truths, which both guide and express us, continue for as long as we live.” Amen, dear Karen, amen…

    And your phrase, “which both guide and express us,” hearkening unto the innate e’er present duality of/in a recognized and stated personal truth, stirs in me afresh an acknowledgement of the power of language/words with which we always simultaneously conceive (form, frame) an idea and communicate it to/with others, and they, in receiving our communication, always simultaneously seek to understand our expressed word/idea and form their own…

    Thank you for this reminder.

    Love

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    1. Absolutely right on, Paul. I’m always surprised again by the conscious realization that I’ve learned what I most deeply believe by hearing myself say it. Some truths, I think, really are written on our hearts, but we must summon the energy and the will to read the writing. That’s one of the things I love about friends like you and Loretta; you provide so many wonderful opportunities for reading my own heart by showing me so well what’s written on yours.

      With love and gratitude,

      Karen

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