Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to share this sample chapter of our friend and CatholicMom.com contributor Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s new book, Feeding Your Family’s Soul, published by Paraclete Press. If you’re looking for ways to bless your family meal time in the midst of September busy-ness, this book is for you! –Barb
Chapter Two: The Beatitudes
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:1–3 (nrsv)
Decide if you’ll enlist helpers to assist with making the fun recipe and for help with setting the table. If time allows, read the Contemplate passage above and think about it during the day. Also, read the Dinner Table Teaching in advance of your dinner time.
(to be read out loud by parent or guardian or by all)
Dear Lord, Jesus, please visit our family, blessed with one another and with food to eat. Please take care of those who are lacking in food and do not have a family. Grace Before Meals. Hail Mary.
DINNER TABLE TEACHING
Read the Contemplate passage and this Dinner Table Teaching out loud to the family.
Jesus taught the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5:1–10). Beatitude means a state of deep joy and happiness. Jesus impressed upon his followers that authentic Christian discipleship is based on the Beatitudes and that they would be happy in this life and the next if they followed them.
He also said that the Beatitudes fulfill God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants. Faithful followers of Jesus will enjoy meaningful rewards despite the challenges they endure. Jesus further taught His followers that love is at the heart of all Christian commandments. The Beatitudes are as follows:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matt. 5:3–10 Douay-Rheims)
Ask the children to share their thoughts.
What does it mean to hunger and thirst for justice? Parents, help the kids out with this.
Who are the clean of heart? Are you?
Do you know anyone who has suffered persecution for justice’s sake?
Do you think some of the saints might have suffered in this way? Is there someone you can think of who might be currently suffering persecution for being a Christian? Parents can tell the children about Christians who were persecuted and who are being persecuted.
(to pray together out loud)
Grace After Meals. Teach us, Lord, to follow you always, even when it is difficult, even when we are criticized. Our Father.
Look over the optional activities below and discuss them with the family to see if you can carry them out during the upcoming week.
Each evening of the upcoming week at the dinner table, pray this simple prayer.
Lord, Jesus, I want to follow You. Lead me so that I may lead others to You. Please bless and give strength to the persecuted. Amen.
This activity is for anyone in the family, or it can be carried out together. Ponder someone you know who has been mourning. Devise a plan (simple or more involved) that you can carry out to bring them comfort. It can be as simple as an e-mail or a phone call.
This activity is for anyone in the family.
If possible, find some time this week to read over the Beatitudes again and contemplate each one slowly. If you’d like, imagine yourself sitting at Jesus’s feet as He is telling you how to live a life of beatitude. After sitting quietly, praying, and meditating on the Beatitudes, choose one or two that especially seem to be speaking to your heart, and ponder ways you can live them more fully and deeply.
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Copyright 2016 Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. Reprinted from Feeding Your Family’s Soul with the kind permission of Paraclete Press.