The Ladder of the Beatitudes
ABOUT THE BOOK
Drawing on stories from the lives of the saints, scripture, and everyday life, Jim Forest opens up the mysteries of the beatitudes. These ancient blessings, with which Christ began his Sermon on the Mount, are all aspects of communion with God. As Forest shows, they are like rungs on a ladder, each one leading to the next. They appear at the doorway of the New Testament to provide an easily memorized summary of everything that follows, right down to the crucifixion (“Blessed are you who are persecuted”) and the resurrection (“Rejoice and be glad”).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Forest (born 2 November 1941) is a writer, lay theologian, educator, peace activist. Since 1989, a year after his reception into the Orthodox Church, he has been international secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship as well as editor of its quarterly journal, In Communion. In 1964, while still a Roman Catholic, he was a founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship. In the late sixties and mid-seventies, he also worked with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, first as Vietnam Program coordinator and later as editor of Fellowship magazine. From 1977 through 1988, he was Secretary General of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, work which brought him to the Netherlands. He received the Peacemaker AwTo read more about Jim, click here; at the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to biographical pages and essays. Jim Forest is on Facebook.
MY OWN THOUGHTS
This is a very good book to meditate on the landmark of the Gospel: The Beatitudes. I like Jim’s style very much, the way he has recourse to spiritual authors of the East and the West, as well as literature, interesting people he met, or personal experience, to comment on the Beatitudes and lead us deep into their reality. Whether you are Christian Orthodox, or from any other Christian denomination, it’s good to regularly meditate on the Beatitudes, and this book will do it beautifully for you.
EXCERPTS THAT I LIKED
“The gospel according to Giselbertus [the sculptor at the Autun Cathedral] is that we are in heaven whenever we see Christ or are aware of his presence. Heaven is participation in God’s being”. p.33
“We learn from the first beatitude that those whose treasure is God are already within the borders of the kingdom of heaven.” p.33
“The kingdom of God is simply life in Christ – not a concept of Christ or trying to live according to principles we think of as Christian, but living in his presence, being aware of him in the things and people that surround us, no matter where we are.” p.36
“Purification of the heart is the endless struggle of seeking a more God-centered life. It is the minute-to-minute discipline of trying to be aware of God’s presence that the heart has no space for our own worries, ambitions, or attention to appearances. Prayer is essential to this endeavor, whether reciting prayers we know by heart or spontaneous prayer or reading or music or using any of the senses with a heightened awareness of the sacred. Prayer refers to all we do in order to turn our attention toward God.” p.96
“Those who build peace with others are also repairing their relationship with God.” p.130
I also like very much this passage on p. 142, where Jim Forest proposes the Beatitudes as reflection preparing for the Scarment of Confession:
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