What is it that makes us happy? What is it that makes us so blessed? Happiness and blessedness are a great deal more than any yearnings of the heart.

The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. He teaches us that if we follow the beatitudes, we will find peace and happiness. The beatitudes according to St. Luke, is certainly attention-grabbing, as Jesus proclaims as blessed those who do not appear to be blessed in the eyes of the world, and warns those who appear to be the most blessed. Why does he say that the poor, the hungry, those who mourn, those who are despised and excluded are the blessed? Why is he saying woe to those who are wealthy, well-fed, laughing, and whose names are well-known?

Our founder, Francisco Palau, wrote in one of his letters “Vie with one another to be the poorest; boast of being despised; be poor if you wish to be rich.” He goes on, “If you do not desire anything, you will have everything; if you strip yourselves of everything, you will be clothed with God;” “when none of you has anything, you will be always united and at peace with Jesus Christ” (cf. Letter 7, 2). For him, by practicing these virtues, we will live in peace and we build up a house where God dwells.  Likewise, in following Jesus radically, we must cut all chains and threads that keep us from being blessed and truly happy. As prophet Jeremiah also reminds us, if we are putting our trust in anything or anyone other than God, we will be cursed rather than blessed.

May we not overlook the greatest treasure of all. It is to grow in love, love for God, and neighbors without counting the cost. It is not only an option to love and be blessed every day, but it is a choice to put love into action. To put the mission at the center of our lives, to value communion and to weave new relationships, and to reach out to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters especially to those who are in the peripheries. After all, this is what life is about, the very reason for our existence.

If we honestly examine our hearts, we will find that we are richer by a great deal of baggage, that we do not love well, even to those closest to us, and that we are often incredibly self-centered and complacent. What it is that truly makes us happy and blessed? It is to be rooted and connected to the Mainstream even amid our vulnerabilities, emptiness, and poverty.  So that, when the heat comes, we will not be frightened; and in times of dryness, we will not be distressed but we’ll still bear fruit.

Let us turn to God, and in our need, we implore him to change our stony heart into one of compassionate and full of genuine love, a heart that trusts and hopes in the Lord.


“Queen of Carmel” community

Lucena, Philippines