To prepare for his public life, Our Lord spent forty days in prayer and fasting. This is the origin of the forty days of Lent in preparation for Easter, to be spent in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In this meditation we consider how:
After forty days in the desert Christ rejected the temptations of Satan, showing us how we too can reject temptations to sin.
The word “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Lencten”, meaning “springtime”, and if we live Lent well we will have a springtime of new life in our soul.
To live Lent well we should strive to do something specific in the traditional areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
The Second Vatican Council, using some words of St Josemaria Escriva, called the Mass the centre and root of the interior life. If we make the Mass our centre and root, we will attend it better and we will unite all our acitivities with it. In this meditation we consider how:
Christ sent the apostles out to the whole world to teach all nations. They went out and in just over three hundred years, amidst bitter persecution of Christians, the Roman Empire declared itself officially Christian. Christendom, a Europe with Christian laws and customs, would last for over a thousand years, and from Europe the faith spread to the rest of the world. Today, however, we see the erosion of Christian values all over the western world. Many people through up their hands in despair, thinking there is nothing they can do. But there is much we can do. In this meditation we use texts of St John Paul II, especially his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, to consider how:
We must first live out our faith to the full, seeking true holiness of life
We must do everything we can to ensure that Christian values continue to influence public life in our country
We can fight for the dignity of the human person, for the defence of life from conception to natural death, for marriage and the family, and for a more Christian presence in the media and internet, in education, and in legislation.
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