The desire for happiness

The desire for happiness

The beatitude we are promised, according to the Church, confronts us with decisive moral choices, writes Cathal Barry

The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfil the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of Heaven,” the key Church teaching document states.

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
  • Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven – Mt 5:3-12.

The Beatitudes, according to Church teaching, depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.

“They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints,” the Catechism states.

The Beatitudes, according to the Church, respond to the natural desire for happiness. “This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the one who alone can fulfil it,” the Catechism says.

The Church also teaches that the Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts.

“This vocation is addressed to each individual personally, but also to the Church as a whole, the new people made up of those who have accepted the promise and live from it in faith,” the Catechism states.

The beatitude we are promised, according to the Church, confronts us with decisive moral choices.

“It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be – such as science, technology and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love.”