Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:5
Having seen how the poor in spirit and the meek are blessed, the third beatitude is for those who mourn. Why do we mourn? We mourn an illness or injury, for something something deer to us, for the loss of a loved one, and out of compassion for someone else’s suffering. Therefore, we always mourn the loss of something good, and no one mourns the loss of something bad. We can mourn in a way that causes us to turn in on ourselves in self-pity and self-righteousness, or we can try to do something about it (but that’s the next beatitude, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness).
St. Augustine said, “Mourning is sorrow for the loss of what is dear; but those that are turned to God lose the things that they held dear in this world; and as they have now no longer any joy in such things as before they had joy in, their sorrow may not be healed till there is formed within them a love of eternal things. They then shall be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who is therefore chiefly called, The Paraclete, that is, ‘Comforter;’ so that for the loss of their temperal joys, they shall gain eternal joys.” Through poverty and meekness, we have learned to give up the good things of this life, and this leads to the mourning of the third beatitude. When we give up the love of worldly things, God will comfort us by giving us heavenly joys. The season of Lent is a perfect example of this. During Lent we fast from good things, things that bring us joy, like meat on Fridays, sweets, television, or whatever you’ve sacrificed. We still have longings for those things, but each time we should remind oursleves that we gave them up because we love God more than them, and this will increase our hunger for God, whom we will receive at Easter.
St. Ambrose said, “When you have done this much, attained both poverty and meekness, remember that you are a sinner, mourn your sins,” and St. Hilary, “Those that mourn, that is, not loss of kindred, affronts, or losses, but who weep for past sins.” We mourn for losses, and our sins cost us the grace of God and the joys of heaven. We should mourn when we realize what our sins cost us. That mourning can help motivate us to flee from sin and everything that leads us to sin, to have a conversion of life, and to turn to the Lord. When we learn to mourn our sins God will comfort us with growth in holiness and, eventually, eternal life in heaven.
St. Jerome said, “For the mourning here meant is not for th dead by common course of nature, but the dead in sins, and vices. Thus Samuel mourned for Saul, thus the Apostle Paul mourned for those who had not performed penance after uncleanness.” It is greater to mourn for another’s loss than for one’s own, so the mourning for our own sins turns into mourning for the sins of others. We mourn for what they have lost by their sins. When we love one another as Christ has loved us, then we want what is best for one another, and what is best is heaven and the love of God. We are not like those who say that God hates sinners. On the contrary, God loves each one of us and has offered us eternal life through the forgiveness of sins which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, won for us by His Cross and Resurrection.
As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rm 8:12-17).
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.