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.”
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. 😉
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.
Music by: Glenstal Abbey Ireland
But remember to witness to the power of the Beatitudes…
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