Dear Catholic Exchange:
I have been asked to teach the meaning of the “Beatitudes” in our confirmation class. Can you give me some pointers on how to do this? I am not a teacher, merely a parent.
Dear Betty Marie,
Peace in Christ!
Depending upon the age group, there are many different ways to present the Beatitudes. Regardless of the age, you may want to start by reading the passage itself from Matthew. In addition, a short definition of “beatitude” would be in order. Beatitude refers to perfect happiness. Beatitude, however, is not just happiness in the sense of having pleasing circumstances or material security, but a happiness in relation to the possession of the “good.” The “good” refers to the “end” or goal the fulfillment of each person's life in the plan of God. Thus, the eight Beatitudes given by Jesus represent the way of life one must pursue in order to attain ultimate happiness.
The first resource we suggest is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1716-28. This is a short section, and yet it requires careful reading. This section on beatitude has a depth and richness to unveil if read with meditation and prayer, imploring the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Praying the Beatitudes by Max Oliva, S.J. is a highly recommended book published by Ignatius Press. Mother Teresa and the Beatitudes, edited by Eileen and Kathleen Egan, also published by Ignatius, provides spiritual reflections by Mother Teresa on the Beatitudes.
We also recommend The Gospel of Matthew in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch provide some excellent and readable commentary. The section on the Beatitudes provides some short commentary and then an explanation of each individual Beatitude. All of the books mentioned thus far can be ordered directly from Ignatius Press by calling 1-800-651-1531 or from the website: www.ignatius.com.
Finally, the Catechism of St. Pius X has a section on the Beatitudes available on line at www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/pius/pbeatitu.htm. The Catholic Encyclopedia has an article on the Beatitudes that can be accessed online at www.newadvent.org/cathen/02371a.htm.
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