The month of November begins with one of the most important holy days of the entire year, All Saints Day, November 1, when we honor those who have gone before us, lived good and holy lives, and been taken to heaven where they are gathered around God’s throne and can see God as God really is. While it is proper to remember the great faith and good works of these outstanding men and women, this feast is also a reminder to each of us to live good and holy lives ourselves so that one day we might join the saints in perpetual light.
The journey from this life to the next can be long, with many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it is imperative to stay on the right road. Fortunately, Jesus has given us a roadmap to guide us on the way, the Beatitudes, the eight spiritual ideals that point in the right direction.
The first sign on the path to holiness reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who trust completely and totally in God and are detached from material possessions. The second extols mourners, those who endure hardships and losses with courage, learn compassion, and console others who have suffered misfortune with kindness. The third commends the humble, meek, or lowly, those who have set aside all inclinations to selfishness and pride, are alert and sensitive to others, would prefer to serve rather than be served, and are delighted to help shoulder the burdens and lighten the loads of their neighbors. The fourth advises “hunger for righteousness,” those who have an intense desire to know what God wants, are glad to obey God’s will, keep themselves free of all wrongdoing, fearlessly speak the truth, and uphold justice.
Jesus goes on to highlight the merciful, those who are patient, slow to anger, do not rush to judgment, give the benefit of the doubt, are not eager to punish, able to grant pardon, and willing to associate with and serve those who have made bad choices. Next, “the single-hearted” are those who are undivided, who devote themselves exclusively to God, or put another way, “the clean of heart,” those who strive to lead a virtuous life, wish to be in the state of grace and remain pure and innocent, blameless and undefiled. Peacemakers are those who help to reconcile differences, foster harmony, and build the common good. Finally, “those who are persecuted for holiness” are willing to suffer for doing what is good and right. These spiritual ideals serve as the roadmap for traveling through our life on earth as we continue toward our final destination, sainthood in heaven with almighty God.