Be-Attitude: Poor In Spirit-Lord I Need You

The Beatitudes
Music: Revolutionary Road by: Thomas Newman
YouTube Channel: luckyseville

Blessed John Paul II “saw the ‘poor in spirit’ as those souls who had a deep sense of the interior life, and, consequently, an acute awareness into the interior attitude of faith. As his post-Vatican II work, Sources of Renewal, stated: this is quintessential to the realization of the universal call to holiness, and the springtime of the Church. The beloved pope defined the interior attitude of faith as an active relationship with Christ, but not yet in-action; the attitude that involved ‘taking up a position,’ and being ready to act, in accordance with it.”

On reflecting on the meaning on what it means to be poor in spirit, I came across Pope Francis’ World Youth Day 2014 message. I believe what he shared is better then anything I could say. I could not say it much better than he, for to be poor in spirit is an interior attitude. One that the chronically and seriously ill must have if they even hope to have joy in their life.

Pope Francis talks about how it takes courage to be poor in spirit. I love Pope Francis and so here are his words below to challenge you. I pray they give you courage in your daily struggles and suffering. They have encouraged me.

Challenge of the Week: Read them with love and intentional purpose. He writes in a way that is easy to follow and very precise theologically. I will break up his words with images to rest and reflect on through out his statement. When you come to a picture stop and think out the words he has spoken to you.

the beatitudes 2

Dear Young Friends,

How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day. It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples. May we perceive this call as the most important thing in our lives and share this gift with others, those near and far, even to the distant geographical and existential peripheries of our world.

The next stop on our intercontinental youth pilgrimage will be in Krakow in 2016. As a way of accompanying our journey together, for the next three years I would like to reflect with you on the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (5:1-12). This year we will begin by reflecting on the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). For 2015 I suggest: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). Then, in 2016, our theme will be: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).

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1. The revolutionary power of the Beatitudes
It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, preached on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There was a very large crowd, so Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples. That is why it is known as “the Sermon on the Mount”. In the Bible, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.

In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, persecutions, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.

The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, “losers”. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.

Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path (cf. Jn 6:67). Simon Peter had the courage to reply: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). If you too are able to say “yes” to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.

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2. The courage to be happy
What does it mean to be “blessed” (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and “thinking small” when it come to the meaning of life.

Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati once said, “To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live” (Letter to I. Bonini, 27 February 1925). In his homily on the day of Piergiorgio Frassati’s beatification (20 May 1990), John Paul II called him “a man of the Beatitudes” (AAS 82 [1990], 1518).

If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts, you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the “low cost” offers and approaches all around you. When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions, and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who “has everything”, but is weary and weak.

Saint John, writing to young people, told them: “You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn 2:14). Young people who choose Christ are strong: they are fed by his word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with other things! Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!

pope-francis_kissing baby

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit…
The first Beatitude, our theme for the next World Youth Day, says that the poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. At a time when so many people are suffering as a result of the financial crisis, it might seem strange to link poverty and happiness. How can we consider poverty a blessing?

First of all, let us try to understand what it means to be “poor in spirit”. When the Son of God became man, he chose the path of poverty and self-emptying. As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Philippians: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness” (2:5-7). Jesus is God who strips himself of his glory. Here we see God’s choice to be poor: he was rich and yet he became poor in order to enrich us through his poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). This is the mystery we contemplate in the crib when we see the Son of God lying in a manger, and later on the cross, where his self-emptying reaches its culmination.

The Greek adjective ptochós (poor) does not have a purely material meaning. It means “a beggar”, and it should be seen as linked to the Jewish notion of the anawim, “God’s poor”. It suggests lowliness, a sense of one’s limitations and existential poverty. The anawim trust in the Lord, and they know that they can count on him.

As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus clearly saw, by his incarnation Jesus came among us as a poor beggar, asking for our love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “man is a beggar before God” (No. 2559) and that prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst and our own thirst (No. 2560).

Saint Francis of Assisi understood perfectly the secret of the Beatitude of the poor in spirit. Indeed, when Jesus spoke to him through the leper and from the crucifix, Francis recognized both God’s grandeur and his own lowliness. In his prayer, the Poor Man of Assisi would spend hours asking the Lord: “Who are you?” “Who am I?” He renounced an affluent and carefree life in order to marry “Lady Poverty”, to imitate Jesus and to follow the Gospel to the letter. Francis lived in imitation of Christ in his poverty and in love for the poor – for him the two were inextricably linked – like two sides of one coin.

You might ask me, then: What can we do, specifically, to make poverty in spirit a way of life, a real part of our own lives? I will reply by saying three things.

First of all, try to be free with regard to material things. The Lord calls us to a Gospel lifestyle marked by sobriety, by a refusal to yield to the culture of consumerism. This means being concerned with the essentials and learning to do without all those unneeded extras which hem us in. Let us learn to be detached from possessiveness and from the idolatry of money and lavish spending. Let us put Jesus first. He can free us from the kinds of idol-worship which enslave us. Put your trust in God, dear young friends! He knows and loves us, and he never forgets us. Just as he provides for the lilies of the field (cf. Mt 6:28), so he will make sure that we lack nothing. If we are to come through the financial crisis, we must be also ready to change our lifestyle and avoid so much wastefulness. Just as we need the courage to be happy, we also need the courage to live simply.

Second, if we are to live by this Beatitude, all of us need to experience a conversion in the way we see the poor. We have to care for them and be sensitive to their spiritual and material needs. To you young people I especially entrust the task of restoring solidarity to the heart of human culture. Faced with old and new forms of poverty – unemployment, migration and addictions of various kinds – we have the duty to be alert and thoughtful, avoiding the temptation to remain indifferent. We have to remember all those who feel unloved, who have no hope for the future and who have given up on life out of discouragement, disappointment or fear. We have to learn to be on the side of the poor, and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor! Let us go out to meet them, look into their eyes and listen to them. The poor provide us with a concrete opportunity to encounter Christ himself, and to touch his suffering flesh.

However – and this is my third point – the poor are not just people to whom we can give something. They have much to offer us and to teach us. How much we have to learn from the wisdom of the poor! Think about it: several hundred years ago a saint, Benedict Joseph Labré, who lived on the streets of Rome from the alms he received, became a spiritual guide to all sorts of people, including nobles and prelates. In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people’s value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person, a person lacking material possessions, always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector (cf. Lk 18:9-14), Jesus holds the tax-collector up as a model because of his humility and his acknowledgment that he is a sinner. The widow who gave her last two coins to the temple treasury is an example of the generosity of all those who have next to nothing and yet give away everything they have (Lk 21:1-4).

Pope Francis

4. … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
The central theme of the Gospel is the kingdom of God. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person; he is Immanuel, God-with-us. And it is in the human heart that the kingdom, God’s sovereignty, takes root and grows. The kingdom is at once both gift and promise. It has already been given to us in Jesus, but it has yet to be realized in its fullness. That is why we pray to the Father each day: “Thy kingdom come”.
There is a close connection between poverty and evangelization, between the theme of the last World Youth Day – “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations!” (Mt 28:19) – and the theme for this year: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). The Lord wants a poor Church which evangelizes the poor. When Jesus sent the Twelve out on mission, he said to them: “Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the labourers deserve their food” (Mt 10:9-10). Evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God. The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold onto. Evangelization in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy.

We have seen, then, that the Beatitude of the poor in spirit shapes our relationship with God, with material goods and with the poor. With the example and words of Jesus before us, we realize how much we need to be converted, so that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more! The saints can best help us to understand the profound meaning of the Beatitudes. So the canonization of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, will be an event marked by immense joy. He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.

This month of April marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee Cross of the Redemption to the young. That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents. The Pope’s words on that Easter Sunday in 1984 remain memorable: “My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found”.

Dear friends, the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, poor in spirit, is also the song of everyone who lives by the Beatitudes. The joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God, like the heart of Our Lady, whom all generations call “blessed” (cf. Lk 1:48). May Mary, Mother of the poor and Star of the new evangelization help us to live the Gospel, to embody the Beatitudes in our lives, and to have the courage always to be happy.

From the Vatican, 21 January 2014, Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

FRANCIS

(Just a little message of joy to our Holy Father, happy one year anniversary Papa! We Love You!)

daisy_purple_IMG_22297_1Let Us Pray: Join in prayer with Pope Francis:

“Enkindle in all of us a renewed desire for holiness: may our words glow with the splendor of truth, may our works resound with the song of charity, may purity and chastity live in our bodies and in our hearts, may our lives express the presence of all the beauty of the gospel, Help us to attentively listen to the voice of the Lord: let not the cry of the poor ever leave us indifferent, may the suffering of the sick and of those who are in need not find us inattentive, may the solitude of the elderly and the weakness of children move us, may every human life be loved and respected by all, Don’t let us forget the meaning of our earthly journey: may the noble light of faith illumine our days, the consoling strength of hope orient our steps, the consoling warmth of love animate our heart, may our eyes always remain fixed there, in God, where there is true joy.” [AMEN}

~Pope Francis I, Rome, on

A Video from WYD 2013 to fill your heart with a poverty of spirit and to embrace Joy in everything.

World Youth Day 2013 – Adoration with the Holy Father

Wow did you see the poverty in spirit? That complete dependence upon God. Watch it again, see those bishops, those young eyes, hear the power of need in Matt Maher praying that song in complete humility.

God bless and know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Be-Atitude: Getting out of a funk.

You Are Blessed – by Robyn Collins and Beau Hoffman
Sung by: Brooke Voland
From: Robyn Blaikie Collins Channel

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”  

~ Romans 8: 35-37.

This week is the beginning of Lent, a season where we reflect upon how we have faltered on our journey of faith. During Lent we have the common tradition of giving something up as a sign of penance. A penance is the practice of self-denial with the end in growing closer to Christ. Sometimes this tradition becomes so common to us it becomes reduced to a habit that we do each year. As people living with severe illness and pain we have given up much. We should strive to leave our comfort zone and engage in doing something for Lent.

When I was sixteen I remember reflecting on what was keeping my relationship with Jesus in a stagnation. What was interfering with our relationship? What was I neglecting? I found that things were not a problem but interior attitudes that kept from following Christ faithfully. As a teenager I found that I was giving attitude to my family. Our home life was strained. Part of the cause was my own attitudes and dealing with raw emotions and mood swings related to steroid treatments. I decided to give something to Jesus for Lent. To work on giving up my own wants, fasting from hardness of heart towards family members.

I made the commitment to either hug or tell each of my family members at least once a day that I loved them during Lent. There were days when this was a real challenge and sacrifice. Imagine my little brother bickering over what shows we would watch after school, it would have been so easy to join the common sibling quarrel. Instead I would give him a hug and the remote and we would watch what he wanted to watch. This little act did not follow my nature, but I found the act of penance liberating. I started to find many little ways to change my attitude to draw me closer to Jesus and heal my family life.

It was so much better than giving up chocolate or some other frivolous thing. It began to get easier as each week of Lent passed. My behavior change so drastically that my brother was worried. On a day I was eating candy my brother caught me and told my parents at the dinner table that I was eating things that I normally didn’t eat during lent. I told my family what I was doing for Lent instead of giving up something. My relationships at home and with Christ grew greatly during that season long ago.

This Lent I am fasting from “me”-attitudes and will embrace the “Be”-attitudes for Lent. I have been living alone for several years and got use to having control in everyday things. Due to illness and financial hardship my parents graciously opened their home to help me. I am well aware of the sacrifices that this puts on them. I need to rise to the occasion. I need some edges rubbed off my flawed personality to fast from impatience, need for control, to become slow to anger and to die unto myself.

When I took a graduate course on Catholic Moral Theology years ago, we read a profound little book by Service Pinckaers. He shared how we should hear these words of the Sermon on the Mount like those who first heard them “with the same faith and hope for a cure; for before Him we are all sick and in need of a physician.” (“The Pursuit of Happiness ~ God’s Way: Living the Beatitudes”, 9)

See the beatitudes are a way of being and following Christ in our everyday lives. He was the very embodiment of the beatitudes. Just stop what you are feeling now. Ask for Jesus to open your heart and hear him afresh. To heal your cold dry bones. Just imagine seeing Christ like those who first saw him walking through the streets. Witness him healing the sick, the dying, and the brokenhearted. Imagine being in the crowd of thousands gathered around Him hearing those profound beatitudes for the first time.

Let us reflect on what those words really mean. Watch the video below by a confirmation catechist for seventh grade youths. I pray you are given more insight into their deep meanings.

Blessed Are They
Music by:David Has
From: Lerik Dee Channel

Wow every time I watch that video I’m reminded of something I need to work on myself. I also happen to really love that David Has hymn. My heart is lifted when I sing it too. But let’s get back to this reflection.

See the beatitudes are so hopeful. They tells us about the blessings God has in store for those who live in union with him. Those of us who suffer with chronic and severe illness find great comfort in these words. Because at the simplest levels he is talking about us. We are poor, broken, mourning, etc. The beatitudes “put into our hearts an astounding hope, new, strong, and capable of carrying us through the worst trials.” (Pinckaers, 35)

They are also a challenge for us. Really, because we suffer so much and he is not talking about physical but how our hearts are. See we have and opportunity through the be-attitudes to become more like Christ. This is the great mystery of redemptive suffering we are invited to enter into through our very lives. Our  “suffering, which leaves our mouths the taste of ashes, [becomes], at the heart of our life, the crucible in which the gold of a new love is formed.” (Pinckaers, 87)

A catechist, Gilles Cote, talks about how the beatitudes are the blue prints of becoming true disciples of Christ, “clones of Jesus.” By embracing the be-attitudes for Lent we are giving Christ permission to use our suffering for the best purposes. This will also be a great benefit to ourselves.

Now imagine the effect your be-attitudes could be in the midst of where you are each day; in a hospital bed, at a doctor’s clinic, in the pharmacy line, or infusion center? How could you become a living sign of hope through your broken body with a smile and simple joy radiating from you? Can you imagine that?

Challenge of the Week: Read the quote below from a great saint.

“Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want. Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared with its opposite. Now the opposite of beatitude is misery. Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”

~St. Gregory of Nyssa

See those of us with chronic or serious illness are in pain anyway. We are going to suffer. Through the “be”-attitudes though we make the choice not to be afflicted in misery but to willingly live in joy and hope. So pick one of the “be”-attitudes that you are going to pray for in your heart. Give it a chance to change your Lenten journey to grow more like Christ.

Below is a picture of The Beatitudes. Depending on your device you should be able to save it. Use the picture as a wallpaper on your device. You could print it too. Keep it with your bible, prayer space or better yet hang the beatitudes on your hospital bed rails. Keep them close. Grow in them. And if someone asks, share what you are Doing for Lent! Witness to the joy in your heart. 😉

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Let Us Pray!

My Jesus enkindle my heart to become more like You. As I reflect on the meaning of the beatitudes in my life, move me to open my heart to Your movements. Help me to grow more into the beatitudes and that life will witness to the changes You have made in me. Help me to experience the joy that even illness, pain, and suffering can not destroy. Amen!

Need something to rest in. Rest in the video below.

The Beatitudes
Music by: Glenstal Abbey Ireland
From:Expostfactum Channel

But remember to witness to the power of the Beatitudes…

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