From a Latin root that means "blessed" or "happy." It refers to statements in the OT and NT which begin with a similar form: "Blessed are . . ., for. . . ." Emphasis in the OT is on the present state of the person addressed who has earned this special blessed status in relation to God. In the NT beatitudes, the blessing is based in the future, usually indicated by the coming of the Kingdom of God. The most quoted beatitudes are at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke. These beatitudes are spoken by Jesus to his disciples. The beatitudes are usually interpreted as paradox, comparing the difference between present and future. Those who suffer or are poor now are blessed (or happy) because they are destined to be saved in the future when the Kingdom arrives. The mercifulness and goodness of God will be demonstrated in the future.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.