Maria V. Gallagher recommends Mother Mary Francis' reflections on the Beatitudes as a spiritual summer read.
I have always been fascinated by the Beatitudes. They establish guardrails for living a life of purpose and meaning, and I appreciate their positive approach. Still, I hunger to learn more about these Biblical imperatives, which is why I was eager to read the new book Blessed Are You: Reflections on the Beatitudes by Mother Mary Francis.
Mother Mary Francis has a distinctive voice and a unique perspective which color the pages of her impressive work. Consider this insight on “Blessed are the meek”:
The meek are the self-possessed, which is to say that they are God-possessed, since God has been allowed to possess their ‘selves.’” So often, we consider possession to be a negative state of affairs, but Mother Mary Francis shows us that, in the proper context, possession—especially possession by God—is a fundamental good.
Mother Mary Francis is also quite insightful when it comes to explaining the worth of the beatitude to “hunger and thirst after justice.” She notes that we have to be careful to discern whether we are truly in line with God’s desire when righting alleged wrongs. As she writes:
The thing is, the voice of my own spirit can sound surprisingly like the voice of the Holy Spirit if I am not all that keen at discernment.
She goes on to say, “God speaks in a low voice.” This passage caused me to reflect on the many times I have gone off on a tangent, sure that I was doing the appropriate thing, only to find out later how misguided I was. I must admit I struggle mightily with discernment, but perhaps, with Mother Mary Francis’ guidance, I can become a better student of the craft.
Likewise, I have to battle my inner demons to follow the Scriptural prescriptive to be merciful—and to accept mercy as a frail sinner. I found Mother Mary Francis’ reflection on mercy to be particularly soul-stirring:
Mercy unrestrained, prodigal, modest—this is what fetches up out of our darks and deeps the realization of our need for mercy and how totally unmerited mercy always is, if it really is mercy.
Looking out on the world today, I can see how greatly mercy is needed, and how truly beautiful a gift it is.
Mother Mary Francis in her wisdom shows us how pursuing the Beatitudes can increase our happiness — even in the midst of mourning. In a society that seems so starved of authentic joy, such an insight is a true treasure.
Whether your summer takes you to the beach or to the backyard, consider taking along the little book Blessed Are You. It just may be the guidebook you need to refresh your spiritual perspective!
Copyright 2021 Maria V. Gallagher
Image: Frank McKenna (2016), Unsplash
About the Author
Maria V. Gallagher spends her days advocating for women, children, and families. She is the mother of a beautiful ballerina and a member of the worldwide Cursillo movement. In her spare time, Maria likes to blog, walk, sing, dance, and fill the room with laughter. Read her work at MariaVGallagher.com.