Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Beatitudes Explained and More

May 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

Book Club INTERNAL FEATURE IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214

Life of Christ (Week 7 of 27)


The Beatitudes Explained and More

Though I’m enjoying this book immensely, I have to be honest with you: I’m not in a season of my life when reading is easy.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love reading. I self-identify as a reading hobbyist. Asked what my ideal day consists of, I can’t help but include coffee and reading.

But it’s May Madness: school’s out in a few days, my work is piled to my ears, and there are health issues with both humans and farm animals.

In the midst of all of that, curling up with Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ isn’t exactly top of my priority list…until I have to write about it. (For everyone who feeling disheartened about this reading pace: I offer you hope. For those who are way ahead of us, I offer you praise. For those who don’t care, I offer you coffee.)

What I continue to love about this book, though is how accessible it is. I read these chapters in a few days, and I fought every second not to just skim and buzz through them.

And what struck me in this week’s reading was the way the Beatitudes are not so happy-slappy as I always thought.

Now, mind you, I’ve taught lessons on the Beatitudes. I’ve lectured both 5th-graders and Confirmation students about how ground-breaking they were.

But something clicked with me as I read Sheen’s chapter on the Beatitudes.

Two mounts are related as the first and second acts in a two-act drama: the Mount of the Beatitudes and the Mount of Calvary. He who climbed the first to preach the Beatitudes must necessarily climb the second to practice what He preached. The unthinking often say the Sermon on the Mount constitutes the “essence of Christianity.” But let any man put these Beatitudes into practice in his own life, and he too will draw down upon himself the wrath of the world. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from His Crucifixion, any more than day can be separated from night. The day Our Lord taught the Beatitudes, He signed His own death warrant. The sound of nails and hammers digging through human flesh were the echoes thrown back from the mountainside where He told men how to be happy or blessed. Everybody wants to be happy; but His ways were the very opposite of the ways of the world.

Life of Christ, Chapter 11, paragraph 1 [emphasis mine]

OK, so the Beatitudes aren’t popular, but that isn’t all. My heart was moved as I read this explanation:

Why turn the other cheek? Because hate multiplies like a seed. If one preaches hate and violence to ten men in a row, and tells the first man to strike the second, and the second to strike the third, the hatred will envelop all ten. The only way to stop this hate is for one man (say the fifth in line), to turn his other cheek. Then the hatred ends. It is never passed on. Absorb violence for the sake of the Savior, Who will absorb sin and die for it. The Christian law is that the innocent shall suffer for the guilty.

Life of Christ, Chapter 11, paragraph 11

This idea of hate multiplying isn’t rocket science, but it was a thunderbolt to me as I read it.

I’ve lived this in the past. For that matter, I’ve lived this today.

And who hasn’t?

You don’t have to look farther than our news feeds or our playgrounds, really. We may talk of peace, but what’s fun is hate. We may not call it that: we may call it criticism or “keeping it real” or “calling things out.”

“The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries to live up to its values,” Sheen writes.

It’s an important reminder: we aren’t going to get off any easier than He did. And we shouldn’t try.

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 12-14

Discussion Questions:

1. Where’s the hate in your life? How are you watering the seed and what can you do right now to stop? What action can you take…and how soon can you get to Confession?

2. Who needs your love today? What simple act of love can you carry out in the spirit of the Beatitudes?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:

Print Friendly
Profile photo of Sarah Reinhard

About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Mary Therese

    The description of turning the other cheek was something that struck me strongly as well. Maybe it was just his description that made such a strong visual connection for me, but I found it moving to think of being able to *stop* evil in that way. And on the flip side, made me wonder just how much good we could do by one act of kindness that impacts another, and brightens their day (like the ‘random acts of kindness’ that are often talked about.)

    Pondering this, particularly from the “turn the other cheek” standpoint, I realized a major weakness in my life…just every day dealings with the general public. I want to go to the store, transact my business and leave. Don’t talk to me, don’t make eye contact, just let me go. But that’s not a charitable way to handle it, and perhaps my bruskness has the effect of passing along–if not evil–than at the very least indifference or perhaps lukewarmness–neither of which will help me (or the other person!) to get to heaven. Must ponder this some more….

  • Ann Marie Gimbi

    It’s hard to know how to be Christlike these days. Especially in dealing with people who seem to go against everything we’ve been taught as regards sexuality. I shared a public restroom with a Transgender (from male to female) last Wednesday when I was eating out. I really felt uncomfortable in there even though nothing out of the ordinary occurred. I offered a friendly smile, but said nothing, either way. I think that these people are suffering from some kind of a body dysmorphic disorder, similar to anorexics, and need counselling. There is a high rate of suicide among Transgenders after transitioning, when it hits them that they are still unhappy with who they are, even after undergoing drastic surgery. I think we have to accept them on an individual basis, and pray for them. But I also think that there is a very destructive hidden agenda among the LGBT group to sabotage family life and weaken family structures. Strong families form strong countries, and I definitely think that there is a push on to weaken our country by weakening our families. Who’s really behind it? Maybe ISIS, maybe Russia, maybe the evil one himself. What do you say?

  • Elizabeth

    “Absorb violence for the sake of the Savior”…hmm. As a former special education teacher and now caretaker of a husband with Alzheimer’s Disease, I had and have ample opportunities to practice this. Some helpful strategies that I still use: “zipping” the lip; changing the subject; redirecting the attention; quietly leaving the room/area; acknowledging another’s pain or frustration; offering a silent prayer; asking what I can do to help or pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Then there’s WWJD-“what would Jesus do(in this situation)?” The other side of this hate/violence coin is charity/love. Along the line of Mary Therese’s “random acts of kindness” is the concept of “paying it forward” …doing a good deed without asking anything in return, but requesting the recipient to do something for someone else in need. This gave me an idea today. I occasionally hand out energy bars to those holding signs saying they’re hungry or “will work for food” at a major traffic intersection. In a very brief interaction, I ask for their name, hand them a bar and say “God bless you…name.” Next time, I’m going to ask them to do something kind for someone else.

    • LizEst

      Good ideas, Elizabeth. Many who help the homeless and hungry know that they are some of the most generous and caring people around. They often give of what little they have (not unlike the widow’s mite story in the Gospels). For an interesting blog on someone who is running across the United States, and who gives testimony about this in words and pictures, go here: This guy, Dylan Cuddy, has been doing this for almost three months now.

  • marybernadette

    ‘Could this be ‘similar’ to what I believe the Holy Spirit said to me, take it on the chin for Christ and bear wrongs patiently? esp. as I have had a severe anger problem that the Lord is healing me of.’

Skip to toolbar