Yesterday, at least in England and Wales, the Church kept the feast of All Saints. (Elsewhere the feast was kept on its more usual date of 1st November)
The image on this page is of Rome’s Pantheon, the temple built c20BC and dedicated to all the gods. In 609 it was consecrated as a church by Pope Boniface and dedicated to Our Lady and all martyrs. The dedication includes reference to the martyrs because Pope Boniface had brought to the church, from the catacombs and cemeteries of Rome, 28 wagonloads of the bones of martyrs (and other early Christians?) to be interred there. What had been a temple of all the gods was now the House of God, and house of the Church, house of the saints of God.
The Beatitudes, heard at Mass yesterday, are so familiar. Perhaps in prayer today, read the words of Jesus slowly, hearing the words as if for the first time, registering again surprise, joy, confusion even, as what he is saying and what it means.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill.
There he sat down and was joined by his disciples.
Then he began to speak.
This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’
- Which beatitude challenges you most? Why
- Which beatitude encourages you most? Why?
- Is there a beatitude that you might choose to try to live more fully today? How might you do that?
At the end of your time of reflection, ask the Lord for help and protection for the day, and end by praying the Glory be, giving God praise.
Photograph of the Pantheon/S. Maria ad Martyres (c) 2003, Allen Morris.