I didn’t intend to read Living the Beatitudes: A Journey to Life in Christ, by J. Brian Bransfield (Pauline Books & Media, 2011), right now, but in another devotional, I came across the Beatitudes. There was a question for reflection along the lines of, “Am I taking time to really reflect on and live the Beatitudes? How can I do it more deeply?” This book came to mind, and it was as wonderful a journey as I thought it would be.
Bransfield lays out the book using the Samaritan woman at the well (from John 4) as the basis. He spends the first four chapters examining her meeting with Jesus and the image of the fountain and well. In the last eight chapters, he uses the foundation he builds at the beginning to consider the Beatitudes. He also ties in the virtues and deadly sins with each Beatitude.
Bransfield’s examination of the Samaritan woman in the first four chapters is poignant and beautifully written. His examination of sin is the best I’ve read in a long time (maybe ever).One morning, after my morning reading, I couldn’t help but share this on Facebook:
When we make the Sign of the Cross our hand moves from our forehead to waist to shoulders while we announce: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” This action and phrase begins the Mass, other liturgical celebrations, and our prayers. It is used for blessings. These words and actions are not just ritualized ceremony, but they actually bring something about. They confess our faith in the Triune God and unite us to him. Where God is present, evil cannot be present; therefore these words and actions enfold us in the presence of God and thus drive away the influence of evil.
I haven’t crossed myself the same since.
I found myself dog-earing and marking this book–it’s great reading. Though it’s written accessibly and even poetically, it’s not “popular spirituality lite” at all. I found myself stretching and growing as I journeyed with Bransfield, and it was fun. (OK, so maybe that makes me weird.)
Very highly recommended. It would be great for Lent, for a group study, or just for your own personal growth.