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What Do the Church Fathers Say About the Beatitudes?

St. Ambrose

The Gospel reading for All Saints is Matthew 5:1-12a, the Beatitudes. Here’s how a host of Church Fathers reflect on the first few verses:

By not choosing His seat in the city, and the market place, but on a mountain in a desert, He has taught us to do nothing with ostentation, and to depart from crowds, above all when we are to be employed in philosophy, or in speaking of serious things.

St. John Chysostom, quoted in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, as translated by St. John Henry Newman

When I have learned contentment in poverty, the next lesson is to govern my heart and temper. For what good is it to me to be without worldly things, unless I have besides a meek spirit? It suitably follows therefore, Blessed are the meek… Soften therefore your temper that you be not angry, at least that you be angry, and sin not. It is a noble thing to govern passion by reason; nor is it a less virtue to check anger, than to be entirely without anger, since one is esteemed the sign of a weak, the other of a strong, mind.

St. Ambrose, quoted in the same.

It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.

St. Jerom, quoted in the same

Peace is the fixedness of order; by order, I mean an arrangement of things like and unlike giving to each its own place. And as there is no man who would not willingly have joy, so is there no man who would not have peace; since even those who go to war desire nothing more than by war to come to a glorious peace.

St. Augustine, quoted in the same

Read more in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, which is included in all Verbum 9 Standard and Ordinariate software levels.

Three Readings on Today’s Gospel from Sts. Jerome, Hilary, and Thomas Aquinas

St. Jerome on the battering-ram of affection

Joachim Patinier - St. Jerome
Joachim Patinier, Saint Jerome

The day will come later when you shall return in triumph to your true country, when, crowned as a man of might, you shall walk the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem. Then you shall share with Paul the franchise of that city, and ask the same privilege for your parents. Yes, and for me also you shall intercede, who urged you on to victory. I know full well the fetters which you will say impede you. My breast is not of iron nor my heart of stone. I was not born from a rock or suckled by Hyrcanian tigers. I too have passed through all this. Your widowed sister clings to you to-day with loving arms; the house-slaves, in whose company you grew to manhood, cry ‘To what master are you leaving us?’ Your old nurse and her husband, who have the next claim to your affection after your own father, exclaim, ‘Wait for a few months till we die and then give us burial.’ Perhaps your foster mother with sagging breasts and wrinkled face may remind you of your old lullaby and sing it once again. Your tutors even, if they wish, may say with Virgil:
‘On you the whole house resting leans.’
The love of Christ and the fear of hell easily break such bonds as these.
But, you will say, the Scripture bids us to obey our parents. Nay, whosoever loves his parents more than Christ loses his own soul. The enemy takes up his sword to slay me: shall I think of my mother’s tears? Shall I desert from my army because of my father, to whom in Christ’s cause I owe no rites of burial, although in Christ’s cause I owe them to all men? Peter with his craven counsel was an offence to Our Lord before His passion. Paul’s answer to his brother s, who would have stayed his journey to Jerusalem, was this: ‘What mean ye, to weep and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ The battering-ram of affection which shakes faith must be beaten back by the wall of the Gospel: ‘My mother and my brethren are these, whosoever do the will of my father which is in heaven.’ If men believe in Christ, they should cheer me on as I go to fight in His name. If they do not believe, ‘let the dead bury their dead.’

St. Jerome, Letter to Heliodorus on the Ascetic Life, A.D. 374 (Open in Verbum)

St. Jerome’s Letters and other works are on sale through the end of the week.

St. Thérèse’s First Confession

Well instructed as to what I was to do, I entered the confessional, and turning round to the priest, so as to see him better, I made my confession and received absolution in a spirit of lively faith—my sister having assured me that at this solemn moment the tears of the Holy Child Jesus would purify my soul. I remember well that he exhorted me above all to a tender devotion towards Our Lady, and I promised to redouble my love for her who already filled so large a place in my heart. Then I passed him my Rosary to be blessed, and came out of the Confessional more joyful and lighthearted than I had ever felt before. It was evening, and as soon as I got to a street lamp I stopped and took the newly blessed Rosary out of my pocket, turning it over and over. “What are you looking at, Thérèse, dear?” asked Pauline. “I am seeing what a blessed Rosary looks like.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul

St. Thérèse’s The Story of a Soul is on sale for the next week, alongside these works by St. Jerome, whose Memorial was yesterday:

Loving What St. Jerome Loved

Caravaggio, St. Jerome Writing

Today, on the Memorial of St. Jerome, Pope Francis released the Apostolic Letter Scripturae Sacrae Affectus to mark the sixteen hundredth anniversary of his death.

The letter chronicles the saint’s journey around the ancient Mediterranean and Near East to visit and study with the great spiritual teachers and scholars of the age and his unceasing writing, reading, and translating.

Pope Francis closes his letter with an evocation of St. Jerome’s love of Scripture and learning and a call for a return to serious study by contemporary Christians:

One of the problems we face today, not only in religion, is illiteracy: the hermeneutic skills that make us credible interpreters and translators of our own cultural tradition are in short supply. I would like to pose a challenge to young people in particular: begin exploring your heritage. Christianity makes you heirs of an unsurpassed cultural patrimony of which you must take ownership. Be passionate about this history which is yours.

Pope Francis, Scripturae Sacrae Affectus

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. To help Catholics heed the call of Pope Francis to read and learn the cultural patrimony of the Church, these works by St. Thérèse and St. Jerome are on sale for the next week:

What Can We Truly Know about St. Joseph?

Verbum’s Saint of the Month is St. Joseph, husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. [Read more…]

Ending Soon: Feud of the Fathers Sale

Your chance to save on Church Fathers like St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Irenaeus, and more ends on March 31.

Thanks to your votes, St. Augustine was named the winner of Verbum’s Feud of the Fathers. Now through Sunday, you can save 40% on this 14-volume collection filled with many of St. Augustine’s most respected works. [Read more…]

What St. Joseph Rendered to God, Others, and Himself

In honor of Verbum’s Saint of the Month, we present this excerpt that reveals the depth of Joseph’s character in relation to God, to others, and to himself. [Read more…]

Writer, Theologian, and Doctor of the Church: St. Peter Damian

Each month in 2019, Verbum will be highlighting one saint’s life, work, theology, and impact on the Church. This month’s saint, St. Peter Damian, was a Benedictine monk and Doctor of the Church known for his eloquent preaching and voluminous writing. [Read more…]

Discover January’s Saint of the Month: St. Thomas Aquinas

Each month in 2019, Verbum will be highlighting one saint’s life, work, theology, and impact on the Church. This month’s saint, Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most influential philosophers and theologians of all time.

Lived: 1225–March 7, 1274
Feast Day: January 28
Patronage: Academics, apologists, philosophers, and theologians [Read more…]

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