Summer Beatitudes Project: The Three Floors


Here it is.  Our chart for getting to heaven!


 Father Philip Dion’s book Keys to the Third Floor: How to Live Religious Life provides a wonderful blueprint for how to keep your life centered around Christ.  Part of what I love about this book is the simplicity of the concepts, and the three floor analogy that provides such a clear mental picture of what Father Dion is trying to convey.  While reading the book for yourself will give you the fullest picture of my family’s summer project (try an online used/rare book seller or check with your local library), I will provide explanations of what our family is taking away from it throughout a series of posts this summer.  At the very least, I hope to provide some food for thought and inspiration for continuing on your journey to holiness.

Early on in his book, Father Dion explains that the way we choose to live our lives could be categorized into three different types, or floors:

Floor 1–Those whose only aim in life is to feel good.

–primary objective is to have a good time

–capital sins of gluttony and sloth are masters

–when we seek only to feel good and suddenly lose what was creating that effect, we often feel sad.

or as I explained it to my children:

–if we feel like eating a lot of candy, we do

–if we don’t feel like sharing our toys, we don’t

–we drew a sad face to represent how we sometimes feel when our candy or toys are taken away from us.

But is this how God wants us to act?

Floor 2–Those whose only aim in life is to look good.

–want to be successful at any cost

–aim is riches and reputation

–motivated by capital sins of pride, covetousness, and envy

–goal is to be regarded as a “success” and won’t do much good work that is “hidden”

–When we seek only to look good and suddenly come face to face with a loss of power, reputation, or money, we often feel mad.

or as I explained it to my children:

–we want to wear the “cool” clothes all of the time, when some of the money we use to buy them could be used to help those in need

–we want to play the latest video games, even if their content is questionable

–we only want to do something nice for someone if other people will see us do it

–we drew a mad face to represent how we sometimes feel when we can’t have the clothes or video games we want.

But is this how God wants us to act?

Floor 3–Those whose aim in life is to be good.

–live by virtues of faith, hope, and charity

–single aim in life is to do God’s will

–when we seek God’s will alone, it doesn’t matter what hardships come our way, we feel a deep sense of joy as we endure them for our Lord and, therefore, feel glad.

or as I explained it to my children:

–we try to only do what God wants us to do

–we do the right thing whether anyone else sees us doing it or not

–we always try to show God’s love to everyone we meet

–we are willing to sacrifice what we want for the good of other people (like sharing our toys, spending time playing with a younger sibling even when we would rather be doing something else, etc.)

–we drew a glad face to represent the way we feel when we share our toys or do something nice for someone else, even when it’s hard.  If we truly love God, we feel glad when we do something that He wants us to do.

After explaining each of these floors to my children, they had fun drawing pictures to represent each concept.  They also quickly agreed that it is best to be good.

I also pointed out (as Father Dion does in his book), that we all live on each floor from time to time.  I have to admit that I’m often on the first floor when my alarm goes off in the morning (it feels so good to sleep!), or when there’s a big piece of chocolate cake sitting in front of me (it feels so good to indulge my tastebuds, sometimes to excess).

But our goal is to grow in holiness and spend more and more of our time living on the third floor and seeking only to do God’s will.

My children loved drawing and decorating their house, and were thrilled to hear they will be earning real keys to fill a keychain as they practice the virtues that will help them live on the third floor.  (more on those keys and virtues later)

Do you want to feel good, look good, or be good?

Do you want to be sad, mad, or glad?

These are the questions to ponder as we continue through our Summer Beatitudes Project.



About Charisse Tierney

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband and six children. Charisse and her husband, Rob, teach Natural Family Planning for the Couple to Couple League and have experience teaching Theology of the Body for Teens to high school and middle school students through their parish in Kansas. Charisse holds bachelor and master degrees in music performance. A professionally trained clarinetist and pianist, Charisse has always held a deep love for writing and her Catholic faith. Charisse is a contributing author of The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and writes for Family Foundations magazine. She can also be found at
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