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July 8, 2015 + Earthly and Heavenly Beatitude

by St. John of Kronstadt

... There is no other path to beatitude, as Christ says Himself: I am the way the truth and the life: no one comes unto the Father, but by Me (Jn. 14:6). I am the door: by me if any one enter in, he shall be saved (Jn. 10:9).

How each of us thirsts for beatitude! How everyone fears and fleas sorrows and sicknesses! Unfortunately, however, we want and seek beatitude on earth, where it cannot be found, and not in heaven, where it abides unto the ages. We fear and flee sorrows and sicknesses, but they are, if not actually necessary, then at least useful for us, because they heal the immortal soul which is ailing from many various passions. What beatitude can there be in exile or in prison? After all, this is our state. All of us have been exiled from paradise for our sins into this world as if into a prison.

... Yes, God did leave us some innocent comforts in this world to relieve our wanderer's path and our sorrows. But we must use these consolations in great moderation and not cleave unto them in any way. Instead, we must strive all the harder to attain the beatitude promised us through the narrow path of toil, vigil, prayers, restraint, purity, and every virtue, which is impossible to pursue successfully without great sorrows and temptations. Our true, full, and everlasting beatitude is in Heaven, where the all-blessed God dwells in unapproachable lights, where dwells Hierarchs, Martyrs, Monastics, Righteous, and all the Saints, where the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Most Holy Mother of God, rules together with Her Son. The beatitude we can find here is earthly, fleshly, ephemeral, fleeting as a dream; it is often coarse and impure as well. Only true virtue can be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude here on earth.

Smart Parenting XX + Applying Christ's Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are the Pure of Heart for They Shall See God

by Fr. George Morelli

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8)

In a previous article (Morelli, 2012) I discussed the importance of Christ delivering the Beatitudes while on the summit of the mount. My commentary was based on Forest's (1999) insight that the 'mount" as an object that is high and points to heaven, and was, as such, purposely chosen by Christ. Forest writes: "Mountains are images of earth reaching toward heaven, thus places of encounter between Creator and creature." This is most fitting because it relates to the spiritual preparation needed to "see God."

St. Gregory of Nyssa (1954) refers to this symbolism of the mount in his Homily VI on this Beatitude. First, St. Gregory takes the perspective of God's vision, from above, of His creation beneath Him:

When from the sublime words of the Lord resembling the summit of a mountain I looked down into the ineffable depths of His thoughts, my mind had the experience of a man who gazes from a high ridge into the immense sea below him.

Smart Parenting XVIII + Applying Christ's Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are the Merciful for They Shall Obtain Mercy

Praying for God's MercyPraying for God's Mercyby Fr. George Morelli

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy." (Mt. 5:7)

St. Gregory of Nyssa (1954), the Church Father who has written such extensive Homilies on Christ's Beatitudes, instructs us that this Beatitude on mercy, among all of them, points us in a singular way to the core of who God is. He emphasizes that this "Beatitude is the property of God par excellence."

The saint then tells us of the challenge to us that is inherent in this spiritual perception. He asks:

If, therefore, the term "merciful" is suited to God, what else does the Word invite you to become but God, since you ought to model yourself on the property of the Godhead?

Once we have attained being merciful, then we are deemed worthy of Beatitude, because we have attained that which is characteristic of the Divine Nature. Mercy is one of God’s Divine characteristics that He has revealed to mankind. As the prophet David tells us: "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies." (Ps 24: 10). And in another psalm David cries out: "O Lord, thy mercy is in heaven, and thy truth reacheth, even to the clouds." (Ps 35: 6). This is beautifully described by St. Isaac of Syria, who in his 1st Ascetical Homily (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2011) tells us:

Do you wish to commune with God in your mind by receiving a perception of that delight . . .? Pursue mercy; for when something that is like unto God is found in you, then that holy beauty is depicted by Him. For the whole sum of the deeds of mercy immediately brings the soul into communion with the unity of the glory of the Godhead's splendor.

Smart Parenting XXVII + Applying Christ's Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are They Who Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness

by Fr. George Morelli

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."  (Mt. 5:6)

The terms righteousness or the righteous that we read often in Sacred Scripture and spiritual reading are frequently ill-understood. This fourth beatitude from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5: 6) can help us understand the depth of spiritual meaning of righteousness.

Firstly, it is not something merely external or superficial or as defined in the dictionary as simply being "morally upright." Our Lord starts out this beatitude by connecting righteousness with hungering and thirsting for it. This means that righteousness must come from the depths of our spirit, that is to say the center of our minds and the depths of our hearts.

Smart Parenting XXVI + Applying Christ’s Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are The Meek

by Fr. George Morelli

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  (Mt. 5:5)

Meekness is not a personality characteristic or, in fact, a virtue valued in modern society. If anything, it would be an attribute to be avoided.  Surely, in the common secular understanding of this term, parents would mostly likely want to avoid raising children to be "meek." A glance at a typical dictionaryi definition of this word indicates that meekness is associated with being cowed, submissive, spiritless and tame. Worldly success, on the other hand, would be enhanced by traits just the opposite of meekness: being aggressive, spirited and/or exciting.

St. Gregory of NyssaSt. Gregory of NyssaWhat Spiritual Meekness is not

The Holy Spirit-inspired spiritual perception of St. Gregory of Nyssa, however, gives an entirely different meaning to the teaching on meekness that Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ gave to His Disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. .

Mount of the Beatitudes ChurchMount of the Beatitudes ChurchSt. Gregory certainly does not mean meekness in the modern societal sense I mentioned above. In fact, he specifically dismisses the spiritual meaning of meekness as that which "is done quietly and slowly." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, 1954) Just the opposite, St. Gregory in his homily on meekness goes on to reference St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor 9: 24), saying "he advises us to increase our speed; So run, he says, that you may obtain."

Honing in on the meaning of Spiritual Meekness

Smart Parenting XXV + Applying Christ’s Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are They Who Mourn

by Fr. George Morelli

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Mt. 5:4)

In the first article I wrote (Morelli, 2012) on applying the Beatitudes to Orthodox Christian parenting I pointed out that it is also no accident that after Christ's time in the wilderness confronting and overcoming the temptations of Satan, the evil one, He was prepared for His public life of teaching. The first of Jesus’ teachings is the Sermon on the Mount, in which He gave us the well known Beatitudes (Mt 5: 1-12).i

Such a period of spiritual preparation for being aware of the enticements of the world, its adversities and how to confront them is not the usual practice of Eastern Christians awaiting Holy Matrimony. Rather, is not uncommon that in preparing for a holy and blessed marriage, the male and female shortly to become one flesh focus their attention on the worldly joy of marriage and relegate the spiritual factors to second place. An emphasis on the worldly aspects of marriage is certainly the main focus of secular society, in which a wedding is, for many, part of an elaborate booming and costly industry.ii Unfortunately, the focus is on merely worldly joy rather than spiritual joy In fact, however, there is an important aspect of spiritual joy that can and should be stressed in a true Orthodox Wedding. A passage in our Orthodox Marriage Service emphasizes such happiness. This is no better expressed than in the prayer sung by the choir after the sharing of The Common Cup:

Applying Christ's Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

by Fr. George Morelli

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)


In previous articles on parenting I have emphasized the importance of making connections between Christ, His Church and the issues and problems that make up modern life (Morelli, 2010). Jesus entry into his public life is recorded by the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. It was at His baptism in the River Jordan by St. John who is called the Baptist. This event is called the Theophany in which Christ's Divinity was proclaimed by His Father as told to us by St. Matthew: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Mt 3: 16-17) The spiritual-theological significance of the Theophany is noted in the beautiful Apolytikion of the Feast:

Holy TheophanyHoly TheophanyWhen Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.

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