It was a list delivered around the world. Pope Francis, who has a humble way of explaining Gospel truths with clarity, suggested 10 ways for “bringing greater joy to one’s life” to an Argentine weekly last month.
Faster than a video of a cat playing the harmonica, the pope’s tips were uploaded on websites, shared online and broadcast around the world. (See the list on page 5.)
Was it because Francis’ tips for increased happiness weren’t particularly religious at first glance?
Live and let live; be good to yourself and others; proceed calmly in life; respect nature, be positive, Sundays should be holidays and the rest of the recommendations don’t sound like “thou shalt not”-commands. Maybe that’s why Francis’ suggestions were so suitable for posting online or on the fridge.
Yet, it’s easy to see the Christian attitudes and beliefs embedded in the pope’s list and to marvel at his canny way of preaching the Gospel in today’s “spiritual but not religious” culture.
However, some will look at Francis’ advice and fail to notice he was talking about “greater” joy, “increased” happiness.
The pope knows the first steps to joy and happiness have already been listed, engraved, printed and posted. Less than 10 days after his happiness list was heard around the world, the pope, speaking Aug. 6 at his weekly audience in Rome, said Christians should memorize not only the Ten Commandments, but the beatitudes.
Pope Francis said Jesus taught the beatitudes as the “path to true happiness” and one reading of them won’t do. He asked the 6,000 people at the audience to memorize them, according to Catholic News Service. The beatitudes are “the path God indicates as his response to the desire for happiness in each person and the perfection of the Commandments,” the pope said. They are also “a portrait of Jesus and his way of life.”
So, Pope Francis knows happiness starts with the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes. If you already know the commandments, the pope wants you to memorize the Jesus’ beatitudes, too.
For quick reference here are the beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12. Feel free to share them on Facebook or on your refrigerator, too.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Ryan is editor/general manager of The Dialog.