Summary of The Cross and the Beatitudes by Fulton Sheen

In this book, Fulton Sheen enters into the mystery of our Lord’s final words of the Cross through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Introducing this connection, he states: “Our Lord began his public life on the Mount of the Beatitudes and closed it on the Mount of Calvary.”

The 1st Word

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Jesus was never angry when his Person was attacked, only when holiness was attacked. In following Christ, we must crucify that which makes us think anyone is our enemy. We must follow the path of meekness and find our strength only upon God’s righteousness, the strength that allows us to turn the other cheek, master ourselves, and conquer hate. We must rejoice when hated for Christ’s sake, for their hatred will harm only our pride, not our character; it will cauterize our conceit, but not blemish our soul – for the very insult of the world is the consecration of our goodness.

The 2nd Word

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Mercy, derived from the Latin miserum cor, a sorrowful heart. Mercy is, therefore, a compassionate understanding of another’s unhappiness. Mercy is a compassionate response that seeks to unburden the sorrows of others as if they were our own.

The 3rd Word

“Woman, behold your son… Behold your mother.”

“Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.”

Given a purity that is the purity of Our Lord on the Cross, and you have someone so detached from the ego, so strange to selfishness, so thoughtless of the flesh that he looks upon His Mother, not uniquely as his own, but as the Mother of us all. Perfect purity is perfect selflessness.

The greater the purity, the less the selfishness. He or she who takes it may be free to serve and love not just another man or woman and a few children, but all men and all women and all children in the bonds of charity in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

The 4th Word

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Our Lord, in being utterly forsaken on the Cross, conquered the three kinds of pride: economic pride, social pride, and intellectual pride.

“Poor in spirit” means interior detachment, and as such includes even some who are rich in the world’s goods, for detachment can be practiced by the rich just as avarice can be practiced by the poor.

The 5th Word

“I thirst.”

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.”

The world loves the indifferent, the mediocre, the ordinary, but it hates two classes of people: those who are too good, and those who are too bad.

Strong love makes for strong actions, and the measure of our zeal in bringing souls to the feet of Christ is the measure of our love for him.

The 6th Word

“It is finished.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.”

Jesus has finished his Father’s decade of the sorrowful mysteries and the glorious ones were now about to begin.

“Peace is the tranquility of order” (St. Augustine).

The 7th Word

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”

Our Lord begins with the fast and ends with the feast; the world begins with the feast and ends with the fast.

We cannot have our reward both in heaven and on earth. That is why we believe one of the most tragic words in the life of Our Lord is the word he will say to the worldly at the end of time: “You have already had your reward.”

 

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