Our Lord fasted and prayed for forty days before beginning his public life of preaching the Gospel. In Lent we accompany him in prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the great feast of Easter. In this meditation we consider how:
Inspired by Christ’s example, our prayer and fasting will help us overcome the many temptations we face in life.
When we live Lent well, we grow in self-mastery and experience the joy of the resurrection every day.
Lent spurs us on to new growth in the spiritual life and prepares us for our final meeting with Our Lord.
Texts of Pope Francis and St Peter Chrysologus show us the importance and unity of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
There are many practical ways of living each of these aspects of Lent.
At the beginning of another year we use texts of Scripture and St Josemaria Escriva to pray about what our goals and resolutions ought to be, especially that most important goal of 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 in heaven.
We don’t know how long God has given us to live on this earth and therefore we must struggle to be ready to meet him every day.
Many souls depend on the life of each of us.
Holiness is a struggle, a battle, against the world, the flesh and the devil.
Athletes discipline themselves and train hard to win a crown that fades, whereas ours is imperishable: eternal life.
It has often been said that the quality of our interior life is the quality of our prayer. In this meditation we use especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church and St Josemaria’s book The Way to consider how we can improve our personal conversation with God in mental prayer through such means as:
Saying slowly and with attention the words of the Introductory Prayer
Responding promptly to the initiative of God, who invites us to pray
Engaging in the “battle of prayer”, whether we feel like it or not
Committing ourselves to regular times for prayer and being faithful to them
Everyone loves Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. In this meditation we use the Catechism of the Catholic Churchand texts of St Josemaria to pray about why God became man and the consequences this has for us. According to the Catechism, God became man for four reasons:
Pope Francis called the Communion of Saints one of the most consoling truths of our faith. Indeed it is. In this meditation we use texts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St Bernard, St Therese of Lisieux, St Josemaria, Pope Francis and Kimberly Hahn to pray about this union of the saints in heaven, the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth, all helping one another on the way to heaven. We consider how:
The Communion of Saints is both communion in holy things and communion of holy persons.
We should endeavour to grow in holiness and increase our desire to be one day with the saints in heaven.
We should pray much for the souls in purgatory.
We should pray for those on earth and help them to come close to God so that they too may be one day in heaven.
By our good deeds we contribute to the Communion of Saints and by our sins we withdraw from it.
Jesus warned his followers on one occasion that they would be hated and persecuted for the sake of his name. Today this is happening on a grand scale, in part because the Catholic Church is the largest single religion in the world and in part because the Church stands firmly for what the world is against: the sanctity of life and of marriage, the importance of chastity, the rights of parents in the education of their children… In this meditation we use Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate to consider how:
The Church is being attacked for its stand on many issues
The world needs what the Church teaches in order to find the happiness and peace it desires
We must learn what the Church teaches and defend this teaching with charity and strength
We must seek holiness, “the most attractive face of the Church” in order to show the world the beauty of our faith and to avoid being swept along by the current of the world
We all have situations in which we wish something were different but we are not in a position to change it by ourselves: our job, finances, health, relationships, etc. In these circumstances we can sometimes become discouraged. It is then that we need to grow in hope, to trust more in God. In this meditation we pray about this important virtue, drawing on Scripture, the Catechism, Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi and St Josemaria’s book The Way to consider:
The nature of hope
How God is always with us and will give us what is best
How we should know that God is close to us especially when we are suffering
Jesus told the apostles in the Last Supper that they had not chosen him, but that he had chosen them for a particular mission: to go out and bear fruit. God has created each individual for a purpose: to fulfil some definite part of his plan for the salvation of all souls. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture. St John Henry Newman, Pope Francis and St Josemaria to see how:
God has a particular plan for each of us, which only we can fulfil
To fulfil this plan we must first seek holiness, love for God which consists in doing his will
If we think ourselves unworthy and incapable, so were the apostles
Many great things depend on whether we fulfil the mission God has planned for us