In the words of St John Paul II “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family”. Yet the family today is under attack in many ways. If it is to fulfil its mission, the family can turn to the Holy Family of Nazareth for inspiration and strength. In this meditation we use texts from St John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis to consider:
The beauty of the Holy Family, model of all families
The attack on the family in today’s world
The vital importance of the family for the wellbeing of the spouses, the children and society
Some ways the family can model itself on the Holy Family and thus fulfil its mission more effectively.
At Christmas we have the wonderful custom of giving gifts to others. But the first Christmas gift came from God himself, who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son to dwell amongst us and redeem us by his death on the Cross. In this meditation we consider:
The Gospel passage of St Luke narrating the birth of Christ in Bethlehem
The Prologue of the Gospel of St John telling us who the Child born in Bethlehem is
The many benefits that flow from the Incarnation of God in Jesus
How we can show our gratitude for God’s Gift by welcoming Christ into our life, speaking to him in prayer, doing promptly what he asks of us, giving ourselves to him through those around us and sharing the Gift with others by bringing them to Christ
In Advent we look with hope and expectation towards the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas and his second coming at the end of time. But we can also prepare for his daily coming into our soul in prayer and Holy Communion and his coming at the end of our life to welcome us into eternity. In this meditation we consider:
How much God loved us in taking our human nature in order to redeem us
How from the earliest centuries the Church has lived Advent as a season of penance
How in Advent we can struggle to improve in the same three areas as we do in Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving
How through this struggle we clean out the stable of our soul so that Our Lord finds it a more worthy dwelling place
One day God will call each of us through the gateway of death into the next life where, after a particular judgment, we will enter into heaven, either immediately or through the purification of purgatory, or we will go to eternal damnation in hell. Meditating on these realities helps us to focus our lives so that we can be found worthy of heaven when we die. In this meditation we use the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of saints to consider:
Death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life
In the particular judgment we will see our life as God sees us and we can prepare for it by being sincere here on earth
Hell is a reality and we should do everything possible to avoid going there
If our soul is not completely pure when we die we will be purified in the fire of God’s love in purgatory
We should pray very much for the souls in purgatory
Our goal is the supreme, definitive happiness of heaven, where we will see God face to face.
God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, and Jesus loved us so much that he suffered and died on the cross for us. Jesus invites us to love him in return but we so often show him by our sins that we love him too little. In this meditation we consider how:
We cannot avoid all sins – even the saints in heaven committed them – but we can try harder to avoid sinning.
God expects more from us than from many others.
We should strive especially to avoid committing mortal sins and deliberate venial sins.
We should identify the occasions of our sins and strive to avoid them.
We should foster true contrition for our sins.
We should do penance to make up at least in part for our sins and to strengthen our will to resist future temptations.
We should strive to go regularly to the sacrament of penance, knowing that there God always pours out his mercy on us.
In the ups and downs of life there are many events which are not in our control, where we can only put our hope in God. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture and Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Saved by hope to put our life on a sure foundation. We consider that:
The foundation of our hope is God, who is always with us.
Our hope in God enables us to find peace and joy even amidst the uncertainties and sufferings of life.
The ultimate object of our hope is eternal life with God in heaven.
Many passages in Scripture speak to us of hope.
We can grow in hope through prayer in its various forms.
Mary, our Mother, is our hope: she brings us hope in the person of Jesus, she lives hope herself in many moments, and she intercedes powerfully for us in heaven.