Blessed Are the Meek

Today’s Beatitude (Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5) continues Jesus’ tradition of transmuting lead into gold. Just as nobody wants to be poor and nobody wants to mourn, so nobody wants to be “meek”. That’s because we think of the meek as doormats and dartboards. We assume the […]

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

The second beatitude says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). I remember it like yesterday. The insistent kitchen phone was ringing on the other side of the wall as I woke. I had gone to bed exhausted with sorrow and fear the night before, having returned from the hospital […]

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

The first beatitude teaches us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The Gospel calls us to a paradox in its teaching on poverty. First, it bids us recognize in the face of the poor the face of Christ. Our culture is resistant to this idea and […]

Introduction to the Beatitudes

Over the past couple of weeks, we took a good long look at one of the legs of Catholic moral teaching: the Ten Commandments. Some people have the notion that the Ten Commandments are pretty much all you need for Catholic moral teaching. Hew to them and you’ll be a moral person—and being a moral […]

Ten Commandments: The Tenth Commandment

As we noted last week, the Catholic tradition of catechesis has tended to break up Exodus 20:17 into two commandments. The Ninth Commandment bids us not to covet our neighbor’s spouse. The focus of the tenth commandment is on coveting his stuff. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet … his […]

Ten Commandments: The Ninth Commandment

As we come to the Ninth Commandment we again arrive in disputed territory. As you will recall, the Ten Commandments can be and have been split up differently so as to yield ten and not eleven commandments. Some Protestants break apart the First Commandment (yielding what I call the 1.5 Commandment against graven images). The […]

Ten Commandments: The Eighth Commandment

It is a curious fact that the same book of Exodus which informs us of the command, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16) begins with the story of a good solid practical lie: Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and […]

Ten Commandments: The Seventh Commandment

“You shall not steal,” says Exodus 20:15. Once again, the Decalogue faces us with an injunction that seems like common sense (and is) but which is also fraught with all sorts of difficulties and distinctions. Consider, for instance, the fact that a Catholic writer like me has the obligation to never write an original thought […]

Ten Commandments: The Sixth Commandment

Our culture pretty much winks at adultery these days. It winks sort of like Maurice Chevalier, lecherously ogling “girls, girls, girls” in some old musical number. Adultery is sold as a charming but lovable fault, as with that adorable rascal Bill Clinton. Or else it is sold as exciting and sexy, as with Brangelina. Citing […]