Friday, August 28, 2009

What is a Beatitude?

Beatitude is not a word used in our normal conversation. It is a word that is not easily translated into English. Sometimes it is defined as happiness, but this grossly misses the mark. Saint Gregory defines it as follows:

"Possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want."

It is not just goodness but a goodness "from which nothing is absent " that is good. It's hard to imagine the magnitude of this goodness. What then is truly blessed to be called a Beatitude?

Saint Gregory tells us,
"the one thing truly blessed is the Divinity itself. Whatever else we may suppose It to be, this pure life, the ineffable and incomprehensible good, is beatitude. It is... grace , wisdom, and power; this true light that is the fount of all goodness, mighty above all else; the one thing lovable which is always the same, rejoicing without end in infinite happiness. Even is one has said about It all one can, yet one has said nothing worthy of It."

Gregory is teaching us that the idea of a Beatitude is nothing like an emotional state of human happiness which comes and goes. It is the infinite goodness and perfection we find only in the Divine. So How can we ever be deemed worthy to be called blessed? Saint Gregory reminds us that we are created in the image of God and therefore we should be called blessed when we live up to this image within. But we know, as he points out, that this perfect image has been disfigured by our sinfulness. This is the whole reason for the Incarnation of Christ, His teaching, crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and the establishment of His Church. He came to cleanse us and restore us to the perfect image we had at the time of creation. In the Beatitudes we find the characteristics we must have to gain this blessedness. They provide the path to Theosis or union with God.

Gregory writes,
"But as he who fashioned man made him in the image of God; in a derived sense that which is called by this name should also be held blessed, inasmuch as he participates in the true beatitude... When we have put off the shame of sin, we shall be restored once more to the blessed form."

2 comments:

  1. All my life I heard about beatitudes but did not know or think to know what the definition would be. I went to an event where beatitudes were demonstrated but not explained. So I am searching for the definition or meaning the word beatitude and more important Jesus's word about beatitudes in Matthew & Luke. Thank-you

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