Beatitude Three: Blessed are the Meek (Upcoming)

May 21 – Saturday (10am Pacific – 1pm Eastern)
TBD, OFS – Guide for discussion

Individuals are invited to attend whatever monthly sessions they can to pray and reflect on the Beatitudes. Obtain the Zoom link by sending a request to patriciaelizabethgrace7@gmail.com

Beatitude Two: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

April 30 – Saturday (12pm Pacific – 3pm Eastern)
Carolyn Townes, OFS – Guide for discussion

Summary of Session:

Spirituality and JPIC: The Beatitudes

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Opening Prayer:

Lord God, you are attentive to the voice of our pleading.

Your Son, Jesus assured us that when we mourn, we will be comforted.
Let us find in your Son and our Savior
comfort in our sadness, certainty in our doubt,
and courage to live through our darkest hour.
Make our faith strong through Christ out Lord, Amen.

In the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” I love the Message translation which says: “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

The world does not reward the kind of living Jesus is talking about, but God does! The world says are you blessed when all your dreams come true. You are blessed when everything goes your way. Jesus said happy are the sad and blessed are the broken-hearted.

What I particularly love about this beatitude is that Jesus does not say that we should not mourn, he says we are blessed when we mourn. And when we mourn, we will be comforted. The interesting thing is you are comforted when you mourn, but not when you grieve. Mourning happens in public – during the initial stages of loss, at the public displays of the loss, i.e., the funeral. It is acceptable to mourn because everyone mourns together. But what happens after the funeral, after everyone goes home and you are still left with your loss? Then, you are expected, like everyone else, to get over and get on with life. But those of us who have experienced a personal loss, know that is not the case. We are left with the void, the emptiness, the deep sorrow that the world does not want to see.

But each and every one of us has a story – a story of a personal loss. Be it, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a home, the loss of a beloved pet, the loss of your health, the loss of your identity, the loss of your safety and security, the loss of a relationship, and the list goes one. Each one of these losses is personal and unique to the individual. No two people grieve alike – even if the loss seems the same. Two mothers, both loss children. They will both grieve that loss, but they will not grieve that loss the same – because their relationships with their children was unique to each of them. So, it is never helpful to say to someone, “I know how you feel!” No, you don’t know how anyone else feels.

Those who mourn and grieve, are often the forgotten. They look fine. There are no visible scars. They look just like everyone else. But the scars and the wounds that permeate their living, moving and being are scars and wounds not visible with the naked eye. They are the scars and wounds that pierce the soul – each and every day. And you must release these feelings that keep those wounds alive and festering.

It is when you speak of these wounds and hurts with a trusted person, that healing begins. The Psalmist prayed, “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep down inside me. I moaned all day long” (Ps. 32:3). An old adage says when you share your grief, it is halved. But when you share your joy, it is doubled. In order to be comforted, to feel comforted, you must share your grief, your hurts, your sorrows with someone who will receive them with love and care. Grief never goes away. You grieve to the extent that you love. The hurt softens but the loss is always felt.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. God uses tears to heal our broken hearts. Well-meaning people may say, “Don’t cry,” but the Apostle Paul said to weep, but not as those who have no hope. Peter, Isaiah, King David, and others grieved over their sins and failings. Jeremiah wept over a nation. Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. We should be saddened by the things that sadden God.

You have heard it said that God turns our pain into our purpose; our mess into our message; and our test into our testimony. You have heard mine today and I pray that the Holy Spirit grant you the grace to turn your pain and sorrow into the joy of helping others. Never allow your sorrow to turn into bitterness and despair. Always remember, we are an Easter people, a Resurrection people, a people of hope. And God blesses those who mourn, giving them comfort and respite when they need it most.

© 2022 Carolyn D. Townes, OFS

Individuals are invited to attend whatever monthly sessions they can to pray and reflect on the Beatitudes. Obtain the Zoom link by sending a request to patriciaelizabethgrace7@gmail.com

Beatitude One: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

March 26 – Saturday (2pm Pacific – 5pm Eastern)
Donna Hollis, OFS – Guide for discussion

Summary of Session:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We gathered as a Franciscan Family for a reflection of this first Beatitude as found in Matthew 5:3 and in Luke 6:20. Donna Hollis, OFS, National Councilor, led us in our reflection. A short summary follows.

In the opening prayer, reminded us that our Lord’s steadfast love endures forever. We prayed to place our trust in Him as we face our challenges and trials. We lifted up those who are downtrodden and prayed that Our Lord will give hope to the weary, help to the poor, comfort to the afflicted. We prayed to be worthy servants and messengers of love and peace, nurtured by the indwelling Holy Spirit within each of us.

Donna then reflected that the word “hope” has been a constant for her during the two years of Covid. The word signaled to her that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. She then offered for our consideration that our hope is built in the rediscovery of our brothers and sisters, realizing that we are all interconnected and necessary in the Kingdom of God. God is our source of hope and we can find true joy in our relationship with Him and in our relationships with others. Donna reminded us that the Christmas letter from our Ministers General called us to know that Hope is bold, it speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our hearts.

The Beatitudes are at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus spoke them to us as map to him. To be Poor in Spirit is to know our own poverty, and to recognize our need for God. Our treasure is found in God’s faithfulness and love. Our poverty of spirit is a deeper understanding and surrender to our total dependence before God. Our God is a kind, loving and generous God who wants to give everything to us and to all of His children. We are called to be alert to the needs of others, to know and embrace that we are members of the whole human family, and to pray, as St. Francis did, that God may show us what we are to do to serve Him and His kingdom.

Donna then divided us into small groups to reflect upon the opportunities we have to serve those in need, to ask us to consider seeing the whole person in need, not just the need, to think on how we can encourage and animate so as to give the person in need strength for the journey, and to consider what help we need from God to carry forth His love and protection into the world. Finally, how would each of us personalize this Beatitude, allowing it to serve as guidance to us on our journey of faith?

Our closing prayer was Be Thou My Vision as sung by Nathan Pacheco. In conclusion, Donna reminded us:

“Be strong, be very strong. Take courage in being courageous with your actions, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

How wonderful it was to gather on February 19 and begin our Year of Hope, studying, praying, reflecting upon, and living the Beatitudes. I so look forward to the rest of the year.

There is so much written about these wonderful words of Jesus. We will be focusing on the Beatitudes as found in the Gospel of Matthew. I suggest we work from the book by Father Jacques Philippe: The Eight Doors of the Kingdom, published in 2018 by Scepter Publications.

Father Michael Crosby, OFM Cap has also written a wonderful book on the Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Vision for the Church in an Unjust World.

One of our sisters brought to my attention Our Holy Father Pope Francis’ reflections on the Beatitudes. POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE from the Library of the Apostolic Palace. I am attaching them here and below.

Of course, we will read and reflect upon the Beatitudes as found in scripture. So, dear sisters and brothers, feel free to read, reflect, or engage in whatever spiritual practice helps guide you. The only requirement for joining in is your beautiful Franciscan heart.

Our next session will be for one hour on March 26 at 2:00 Pacific Time. Donna Hollis, OFS, will guide us in a discussion of Beatitude One: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit. I will send the link soon.

Our Seraphic Father, St. Francis, smiles as he sees us gathering in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and celebrating our Franciscan way of life.

Prayers for the Ukraine and for our world.

See you soon.

Peace and All Good
Patricia Grace

Attachment: BeatitudesPopeFrancis

Individuals are invited to attend whatever monthly sessions they can to pray and reflect on the Beatitudes. Obtain the Zoom link by sending a request to patriciaelizabethgrace7@gmail.com

Introduction

February 19 – Saturday  (10pm Pacific – 1pm Eastern)
Patricia Grace, OFS – Guide for Discussion

A Year of Hope: Living the Beatitudes
Summary of Introductory Session: February 19, 2022

The focus group on Spirituality and JPIC convened a year long study entitled:     A Year of Hope: Living the Beatitudes. Patricia Grace, OFS, and Donna Hollis, OFS, are the animators. We began on February 19, 2022 and intend to meet for an hour for the next nine months to read, reflect, pray, and discuss the eight Beatitudes as found in the Gospel of Matthew. We will finalize our year with a summary session in November.

On February 19, we began our session with our Franciscan ritual opening, since this was, indeed, a Franciscan fraternal gathering, simply in another form. After our ritual, Carolyn Townes, our National JPIC Animator, led us in prayer.  We then sat in silence for a moment while we settled into the sacred space and prepared to begin our reflection. A short summary follows.

Patricia Grace led us in a reflection, setting the context for our year of prayer. One of the most basic and essential understandings from St. Francis is that life is all about love: Love the Lord, Love His Kingdom, Love the Earth. This understanding guides our lives and guides our work for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation. When we embrace this understanding and reach for guidance, we encounter a loving Lord who reveals himself to us in nature, in the wisdom writings of the Church, in our Catechism, in our wonderful Rule and, most importantly, in scripture. Our beloved St. Francis called us to live our lives starting with the Gospel, then taking its message into our lives, and taking our lives back to the Gospel for deeper reflection and understanding.

Therefore, when we consider Hope, cultivating it, nurturing, and living in it, we go to the Gospel and there we find the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew 5: 3-12. There, the gospel sets forth eight blessings. We paused here in our discussion to reflect upon the word “Blessed.” What does it mean? What did it mean to Jesus when he spoke it? What does it mean to us as we take it into our hearts, minds, and lives? Many thoughts were offered for translation including happy, joyful, loving, aligned with the will of God, to name a few. As we move through the year we will reflect on the essence of the word “Blessed” that resonates most stronger for each of us.

We recognized that although the Beatitudes are poetic and pious, their beauty and piety are found in their truth. They serve as the essence of our personal and spiritual development, the foundation for building harmony within our communities of family, fraternity, towns, and world, and our grounding of the concept of the common good. They teach us how to live in ever deepening faith and service, as we seek the vision of God’s Kingdom on earth.

Each month over the next eight we will read and reflect upon one of the Beatitudes as part of our personal spiritual practice. We will join together, then, for an hour to share our developing understandings. Each session will begin in prayer, have a reflection, a discussion, and close in prayer. Different animators will lead each month. Patricia explained that you may join in as you wish and share as you feel called to share. You are always welcome.

Donna Hollis ended our time with a beautiful prayer and our Ritual Closing.

Peace and All Good,
Patricia Grace, OFS

Attachment: First Session Summary-Download PDF

A 10-month study of the Beatitudes begins on Zoom on Saturday, Feb. 19. Called “2022:  A Year of Hope, Spirituality and JPIC Living the Beatitudes,” the sessions are sponsored by the National Executive Council.

Times will vary each session, check the schedule.

Individuals are invited to attend whatever monthly sessions they can to pray and reflect on the Beatitudes.  Obtain the Zoom link by sending a request to patriciaelizabethgrace7@gmail.com