Beginning a new year

At the beginning of another year, we use texts of Scripture and St Josemaria Escriva to pray about what our goals and resolutions might be, especially that most important goal of growing in holiness so as to deserve eternal life with God in heaven. We consider:

  • The very reason for our existence is to know, love and serve God on earth in order to be happy with him forever in heaven
  • We should make good use of every moment of the day since we don’t know how long God has given us on this earth
  • Many souls depend on the life of each of us
  • Holiness is a struggle, a battle, against the world, the flesh and the devil
  • We should have the determination of athletes, who discipline themselves and train hard to win a crown that fades, whereas ours is imperishable: eternal life.

Lessons from the manger

Nativity scene in Bethlehem showing he Holy Family

Our lord, Jesus Christ, was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

The birth of Christ in the stable of Bethlehem has much to teach us. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture to consider seven lessons which the infant Jesus teaches us from the manger:

  1. Love
  2. Spiritual childhood
  3. Contemplation
  4. Humility
  5. Detachment from comforts
  6. Zeal for souls
  7. Peace and joy

Self-giving at Christmas

The visitation, when Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth

Mary visits her kinswoman, Elizabeth.

The first Christmas gift was Jesus Christ himself: “So much did God love the world that he sent his only-begotten Son.” In this meditation we use Mary’s visitation to her kinswoman Elizabeth and other texts of Scripture to consider how we can respond to that gift by:

  • Giving ourselves to God through our life of prayer, penance and charity
  • Growing in joy by knowing God close to us
  • Bringing Christ to others, as Mary did, by our generous  self-giving to them
  • Bringing joy to others in the Christmas season by bringing Christ to them through our smile, our generosity and our kindness

Living Advent well

The birth of Christ, the first Christmas is what Advent prepares us for.

A depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ

In Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ in history, which we celebrate at Christmas, and for his coming in glory at the end of time. We can also prepare for his coming daily into our hearts and for his coming at the end of our life to call us to our eternal home. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture, St Cyril of Jerusalem and St Bernard of Clairvaux to consider how we can do this:

  • Accompanying Mary and Joseph in their journey to Bethlehem
  • Improving our life of prayer
  • Living a generous spirit of penance
  • Showing more love to those around us

United in the Communion of Saints

A depection of the Communion of Saints

Communion of Saints

One of the most consoling truths of our faith is the reality of the Communion of Saints – the Church triumphant in heaven, the Church suffering in purgatory, and the Church militant on earth, all helping one another. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism, St Bernard, St Thomas More, St Therese of Lisieux and St Josemaria to consider how:

  • The saints in heaven “fix the Church more firmly in holiness” by their example and prayer for us
  • We should have as the goal of our life to be with them for all eternity
  • The souls in purgatory suffer greatly and are exceedingly happy, relying on our prayer for them and interceding for us before God
  • In the Church militant, we are helped by the prayers of all in this Communion and we should feel responsible to help the others by our struggle for holiness and our prayers and works.

Devotion to the Souls in Purgatory

Purgatory is a reality but because we cannot see the souls being purified there we tend to forget them. In this meditation we pray about the importance of having great devotion to the holy souls. Using texts of Scripture, the Catechism, Pope Benedict XVI, St Thomas More, St Josemaria, St Augustine and others, we consider that:

  • It is difficult to go straight to heaven when we die because the soul must be perfectly purified
  • The souls in purgatory suffer greatly from the pain of fire and from not being able to be with the God they love so much
  • At the same time they are exceedingly happy
  • From the earliest days, the Church has prayed for those who have died
  • Our devotion to the souls in Purgatory helps them and makes it easier for us to avoid going there ourselves

The Rosary, a powerful prayer

The Rosary, which developed out of Christian piety over the centuries, has shown itself to be a very powerful prayer. In this meditation we consider how:
  • The Rosary gradually developed over the centuries
  • St Dominic used the Rosary to win over the heretics of his day
  • The Rosary has been credited with winning military battles, including that of Lepanto
  • Following Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, the Rosaries said for the conversion of Russia helped bring down the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe
  • The Rosary is powerful in uniting families
  • The  Rosary helps those who say it to grow in holiness

Devotion to the Holy Angels

Angels are real. They appear throughout the Bible, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. Because we can’t see them, we can easily forget them. In this meditation we pray about how to increase our devotion to the angels, using texts of Scripture, St Josemaria Escriva and St John Vianney, to consider:

  • The Church’s teaching on the angels in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The angels’ presence surrounding the tabernacle and in the Mass
  • St Raphael as an example of the protection and many services of our guardian angel
  • St Gabriel, as a messenger who passes on to us inspirations from God
  • St Michael, who defeats Satan and who protects us in times of temptation

Using our talents

Christ teaching the apostles

In the parable of the talents, one servant received five talents, another two and another one. So too, we have all received many, and different, talents from God, for which we will give an account at the end of our life. In this meditation we consider how:

  • We have all received many talents from God: our life, family, faith, intelligence, education, skills, etc.
  • Some of these are more important than others and we should use them accordingly
  • At the end of life we will be judged, not on whether we did better than someone else, but on whether we used well the talents God gave each of us
  • We should not give in to the temptation to bury, or not use well, certain talents because it would be “too hard”
  • We should especially develop those talents related to our relationship with God, our family and friends, and our work

Always optimistic

As we go through life we often find ourselves tossed on the stormy seas and we can become discouraged, sad, and even depressed. The Covid pandemic adds to those troubles. In a situation like this, we need an attitude not of pessimism and sadness but of optimism and happiness. In this meditation we consider how:

  • Christ is always with us, no matter how bad the situation is, and he can calm every storm
  • Nothing is impossible for God
  • There is a bright side to every dark situation
  • God has a plan for our life, including our suffering, which we will see only at the end
  • We should give thanks for what we have instead of lamenting what we have not
  • Many people are far worse off than we are
  • God always brings good out of evil
  • In the end the eternal joy of heaven awaits us