Today’s Catechism sections discuss “Christian Beatitude”. Supporting material comes from St. Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies”.

III. Christian Beatitude

1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:
- the coming of the Kingdom of God;16
- the vision of God: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God"17
- entering into the joy of the Lord;18
- entering into God's rest:19

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?20

1721 God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life.21 With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ22 and into the joy of the Trinitarian life.

1722 Such beatitude surpasses the understanding and powers of man. It comes from an entirely free gift of God: whence it is called supernatural, as is the grace that disposes man to enter into the divine joy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

It is true, because of the greatness and inexpressible glory of God, that "man shall not see me and live," for the Father cannot be grasped. But because of God's love and goodness toward us, and because he can do all things, he goes so far as to grant those who love him the privilege of seeing him.... For "what is impossible for men is possible for God."23

1723 The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement - however beneficial it may be - such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love:

All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability.... It is a homage resulting from a profound faith ... that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second.... Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world - it may be called "newspaper fame" - has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration.24

1724 The Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the apostolic catechesis describe for us the paths that lead to the Kingdom of heaven. Sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we tread them, step by step, by everyday acts. By the working of the Word of Christ, we slowly bear fruit in the Church to the glory of God.25

IN BRIEF

1727 The beatitude of eternal life is a gratuitous gift of God. It is supernatural, as is the grace that leads us there.

1728 The Beatitudes confront us with decisive choices concerning earthly goods; they purify our hearts in order to teach us to love God above all things.

1729 The beatitude of heaven sets the standards for discernment in the use of earthly goods in keeping with the law of God.

In “Against Heresies” (4, 20, 5), St. Irenaeus discusses the “vision of God”.

5. These things did the prophets set forth in a prophetical manner; but they did not, as some allege, [proclaim] that He who was seen by the prophets was a different [God], the Father of all being invisible. Yet this is what those [heretics] declare, who are altogether ignorant of the nature of prophecy. For prophecy is a prediction of things future, that is, a setting forth beforehand of those things which shall be afterwards. The prophets, then, indicated beforehand that God should be seen by men; as the Lord also says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 But in respect to His greatness, and His wonderful glory, no man shall see God and live, Exodus 33:20 for the Father is incomprehensible; but in regard to His love, and kindness, and as to His infinite power, even this He grants to those who love Him, that is, to see God, which thing the prophets did also predict. For those things that are impossible with men, are possible with God. Luke 18:27 For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He wills, and as He wills. For God is powerful in all things, having been seen at that time indeed, prophetically through the Spirit, and seen, too, adoptively through the Son; and He shall also be seen paternally in the kingdom of heaven, the Spirit truly preparing man in the Son of God, and the Son leading him to the Father, while the Father, too, confers [upon him] incorruption for eternal life, which comes to every one from the fact of his seeing God. For as those who see the light are within the light, and partake of its brilliancy; even so, those who see God are in God, and receive of His splendour. But [His] splendour vivifies them; those, therefore, who see God, do receive life. And for this reason, He, [although] beyond comprehension, and boundless and invisible, rendered Himself visible, and comprehensible, and within the capacity of those who believe, that He might vivify those who receive and behold Him through faith. For as His greatness is past finding out, so also His goodness is beyond expression; by which having been seen, He bestows life upon those who see Him. It is not possible to live apart from life, and the means of life is found in fellowship with God; but fellowship with God is to know God, and to enjoy His goodness.

Footnotes

16 Cf. ⇒ Mt 4:17.
17 ⇒ Mt 5:8; cf. ⇒ 1 Jn 2; ⇒ 1 Cor 13:12.
18 ⇒ Mt 25:21-23.
19 Cf. ⇒ Heb 4:7-11.
20 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.
21 ⇒ 2 Pet 1:4; cf. ⇒ Jn 17:3.
22 Cf. ⇒ Rom 8:18.
23 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,20,5: PG 7/1, 1034-1035.
24 John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle," in Discourses to Mixed Congregations (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906) V, 89-90.
25 Cf. the parable of the sower: ⇒ Mt 13:3-23.