Mary our Mother

Mother Mary, St Mary is mother of God, as she is mother of Jesus Christ

Our Mother Mary is mother of God, through her giving birth to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

 

As he came to the end of his life on the cross, Jesus entrusted St John, and all of us, into the care of his Mother Mary. Our Lady looks after us and is truly our Mother. In this meditation we consider how:

  • In giving birth to Jesus in Bethlehem Mary became the mother of the whole Mystical Body of the Church
  • At Calvary Mary suffered unspeakably with Jesus for all mankind and this moves her to love us all the more
  • Mary draws sinners to Jesus
  • Mary exercises her motherly role with the apostles and with all of us
  • Mary intercedes for us before Jesus as “supplicating omnipotence”
  • We should take Mary into our own keeping, as St John did, through the various Marian prayers and customs, especially the rosary

The road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus is one of the more renowned stories of Jesus's appearing to his disciples after His resurrection.

Jesus walked with two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The latter did not recognise him until later when he sat with them and broke bread.

 

On the first Easter Sunday, two disciples left Jerusalem discouraged because the one they hoped would redeem Israel had died. On their way to Emmaus, Jesus walked beside them and explained the Scriptures to them. These two in some way represent all of us. We too have our times of trial, of worry, of discouragement, and Jesus seeks us out, even though we do not recognise him. In this meditation we consider how:

 

  • We all have our crosses, our difficulties in life, which can make us discouraged or worried
  • Jesus does not leave us alone but seeks us out and walks beside us
  • We find Jesus in our prayer and in others who are there to help us
  • We too can be there for others who are going through difficult times

The Resurrection and faith

Easter Sunday is a celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Christ is risen is part of the Easter message. His prophecy is fulfilled.

 

The Resurrection of Christ on that first Easter Sunday saw the disciples at first doubting and then, when Christ appeared to them, believing. It shows us that faith is indeed a gift. In this meditation we use passages of Scripture to consider:

 

  • The great importance of the virtue of faith
  • How faith is a gift that many have, some have never had and others have lost
  • That we should thank God for the gift of faith
  • That we should do everything possible to strengthen our faith and help it grow, especially by praying with faith and receiving the sacraments regularly

Holy Week close to Christ

Holy week starts with Palm Sunday.

    Jesus enters Jerusalem and is well received, a feast we celebrate on Palm Sunday–the start of Holy Week.

 

In Holy Week we follow Christ from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through his institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood on Holy Thursday, to his passion and death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. If we follow him closely throughout our life we will not abandon him as did the apostles and we will rise to eternal life with him when we die. In this meditation we consider how we should:

  • acknowledge our weakness and our possibility of denying Our Lord as did Peter
  • attend Mass often and receive Holy Communion well in order to strengthen our love for Jesus
  • stay awake in our prayer in order to draw ever closer to Christ
  • follow Christ closely, not at a distance, avoiding lukewarmness
  • avoid attachment to creature comforts and things in order to have our heart free to love God
  • take up our cross daily and follow our Lord in his passion
  • follow Christ closely throughout our life in order to rise with him to eternal life

 

Love one another

Christ washing the feet of his disciples

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, washing the feet of his disciples, the night before he suffered and died on the cross.

 

Before beginning his Passion, Christ washed the feet of his disciples and gave us the new commandment to love one another as he has loved us. In this meditation, using texts from Scripture and St Josemaria we consider how:

  • Christ poured himself out in love for others, loving them to the end by his death on the Cross
  • God has loved us first and so the more we love him the easier it will be to love others
  • Love begins in the family, with those closest to us
  • We should learn to spend time, to listen, to be kind, to forgive
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta teaches us how to love
  • We should love even our enemies
  • We can change our world for the better by building a civilization of love

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, shwoing St Gabriel announcing to Mary the good news.

The annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel telling out Holy Mother the good news of her being chosen to be the mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

On the feast of the Annunciation we celebrate Mary’s yes to God, which brought the Son of God into the world and our redemption near at hand. It was a momentous moment in the history of salvation and it all depended on the response of a young girl. In this meditation we consider:

  • Why we needed to be redeemed and why God chose this way to bring it about
  • The call of Mary and Joseph from all eternity to fulfil their roles
  • The eminent virtues of Mary and Joseph
  • The significance of the angel’s message to Mary
  • A prayer to Mary by St Bernard calling upon her to say yes
  • Mary’s response and our own promptness and saying yes to God

Pope Francis four years on

Pope Francis is the current pope

Pope Francis is now on his fifth year of his papacy. He replaced Benedict XVI four years ago.

Pope Francis recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of his election. What are we to make of his pontificate, which has been marked by both notable achievements and considerable controversy? I offer here a few thoughts which can help to focus our thoughts on this “pope of surprises”. It was sent recently to Catholic newspapers in answer to a question.

In the four years that Pope Francis been in office, I have heard all sorts of things about him: that he is a great pope, a liberal, a heretic or even that his election was not valid. What should I think about him and how should I react to all this?

 I too have heard all these remarks and I can understand how many people are confused over this pope, who has been described as a “pope of surprises”. How should we react?

First, we cannot question the validity of his election. Everything was handled according to the norms for papal elections, no one questioned the validity of the election at the time and we should not do so now. The Holy Spirit inspired the cardinals to give us the pope God wants for us.

Second, Pope Francis has done the world of good for the Church. From the beginning he endeared himself to the Church and the world by his smile, his outgoing manner, his simple lifestyle, his choosing to live in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican rather than in the papal apartments so that he could be closer to the people, his obvious love for the poor and marginalised, his appeal to mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rules, and so much more.

He is truly popular, not only with Catholics but also with many non-Catholics. When he became the first pope to open an Instagram account in March 2016 he broke all records, gaining over one million followers in under twelve hours. He was Time magazines man of the year in 2013 and many other publications have featured him on their front cover.

Pope Francis has given us some memorable teaching. His first encyclical, Lumen Fidei on the important virtue of faith, came out in June 2013 only a few months after his election. His Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium came in November 2013 and gave great impetus and practical indications for spreading the Gospel more effectively in today’s world, particularly through the joy of our life. Evangelisation, which is central to the mission of the Church – “the Church exists to evangelise”, wrote Pope Paul VI – is vital for the Church at the present time and Pope Francis has made it a central theme of his pontificate.

His second encyclical Laudato si’ on care for the environment, our common home, came in June 2015. It was widely acclaimed and pointed to our need to be responsible stewards of the planet God gave us. This issue too is important at the present time, but many critics seized on certain opinionable statements on which we are free to disagree with the pope in any case, and overlooked the core perennial teaching.

One of the biggest targets for the pope’s critics was his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetita on the family, which came in April 2016. The critics focussed on one particular footnote and a few other statements in Chapter 8, which seemed to open the door to giving Communion to the divorced and remarried civilly, and which have indeed given rise to great divisions among cardinals and bishops. But leaving those statements aside, Amoris Laetitia is a marvellous document on marriage, full of practical hints on how to help couples and families stay together and grow in love in these challenging times. Everyone should read it.

And what to say about the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which helped us experience God’s mercy particularly through the sacrament of Penance and to show more mercy to others?

Is the pope a liberal? You cannot apply political terms like this to any pope. They simply don’t apply. If to be a liberal is to be concerned for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the refugees, the marginalised and the environment, then yes the pope is liberal. But what could be more conservative or traditional than Pope Francis’ repeated references to the devil, to the need for confession, to devotion to St Joseph, Our Lady and the Eucharist, to upholding Catholic teaching on birth control, abortion and the impossibility of ordaining women to the priesthood?

And Pope Francis is certainly not a heretic. There is nothing to suggest that. He might be unclear at times but he is not a heretic.

What we should all do is heed his constant petition: “Pray for me”. If someone is worried about the direction the pope is taking on a particular issue, or is happy with what he is doing, we can all pray for him. That is the best way to help him.