The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages.  But what is “beatitude,” anyway?   In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.

If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.”  According to St. Matthew’s gospel you’d be right, but not according to Luke.  At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit.  Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Luke 1: 45).

Is Marian devotion important in Christian life?  This has been a bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants for nearly 500 years.

Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke.  First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:29).  Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.”  Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.  Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

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