Tag Archives: joy

Joy to the world

Christmas is a time of great joy, joy because we celebrate the entry of Christ  into the world as our Saviour. But in a real sense, everyday is Christmas because Christ is always with us. In this meditation we consider the importance of being always cheerful, of radiating our joy to others. We consider:

  • Texts of Scripture that speak to us of the joy surrounding the birth of Christ
  • How Mary brought joy to Elizabeth and John the Baptist in her womb
  • How we find our joy “in the Lord”, as St Paul writes
  • Texts of St Josemaria, St John Chrysostom, Pope Francis and Rose Kennedy that speak of joy
  • How we can be cheerful even when we are in a bad mood, or are experiencing difficulties
  • How important it is to radiate joy to those around us

Meditation “The joy of mortification”

We don’t usually look on self-denial or mortification as bringing us joy, but it does – both here and hereafter. In this meditation we consider:

  • Why a disciple of Jesus Christ should live self-denial
  • How mortification is essential for holiness
  • Eight benefits of mortification
  • How we can find areas for mortification in our spiritual life, in the fulfillment of our duties and in kindness towards others
  • How we can accept in a spirit of penance the crosses life brings
  • How those who live self-denial always find joy

 

Christmas meditation on “Lessons from the manger”

The birth of Christ in the stable of Bethlehem has much to teach us. In this meditation we consider seven lessons Christ 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

Preparing for Christmas with Our Lady

Now that we are in Advent, we want to prepare well for Christmas. A good way to do this is by the hand of Our Lady. After all, she too prepared for the birth of Christ. In this meditation we consider nine lessons Our Lady gives us about how to prepare for this great feast:

  • Avoiding sin and going to confession
  • Docility to the will of God
  • Charity with others
  • Spreading joy
  • Presence of God
  • Not complaining about hardship
  • Penance
  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Bringing Christ to others

Alleluia

Now that we are in the Easter season and saying “Alleluia” very often, many people wonder what this word actually means. Here is an answer from one of my columns in Catholic newspapers. It is question 268 in my book Question Time 2. 

The word “Alleluia”, sometimes spelled “Halleluia” or “Halleluja”, means essentially “Praise the Lord” or “Hail the one who is”. It is made up of the Hebrew verb for praise (“Allelu”) and the proper name of God, “the One who is” (“ia”), as in the name Yahweh. The latter recalls the answer God gave when Moses asked him for his name: “I am who I am”, Yahweh (Ex 3:14). The word “ia” is thus not the generic name for God, but the specific name for the God who revealed himself to the Israelites as “I am”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on the name of God: “In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (‘I AM HE WHO IS’, or ‘I AM WHO I AM’), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery… God, who reveals his name as ‘I AM’, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them” (CCC 206-207).

The expression “Alleluia”, incorporating this specific divine name, is found in the Old Testament in several places. For example, in the Book of Tobias we read: “The gates of Jerusalem will sing hymns of joy, and all her houses will cry, ‘Hallelujah! Blessed be the God of Israel!’ and the blessed will bless the holy name forever and ever” (Tob 13:17). The English translation used here renders “ia” as “the God of Israel”. And it is clear that “Hallelujah” is a cry of praise, of great rejoicing, of blessing God’s holy name.

The expression appears again at the beginning and end of Psalm 113, or in other versions of the Bible such as the Vulgate or Septuagint, at the beginning of Psalm 114. At the end of that psalm we find: “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” (Ps 113:9) Again, the expression “Praise the Lord”, or “Halleluja”, comes at a time of particular rejoicing, when a barren woman has conceived a child. The expression “Praise the Lord” comes as the last verse of the so-called “Hallel” psalms, or psalms of praise: Psalms 113-118. It also occurs frequently in Psalms 146-150 at the end of the psalter.

In the New Testament, “Hallelujah” occurs only in the Book of Revelation, in the description of the praise given to God in the heavenly liturgy. For example, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgments are true and just…’” (Rev 19:1-2). The expression comes several more times in the same chapter, including: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready…’” (Rev 19:6-7).

As we see in these texts, “Alleluia” or “Hallelujah” is always used as a hymn of praise of almighty God in the context of worship and great rejoicing. It was used in the Hebrew liturgy and it was incorporated untranslated into the very earliest Christian liturgical texts. For Christians, especially at Easter time, the word takes on the added meaning of a hymn of praise to God for the glorious Resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. “Alleluia” is thus our supreme expression of rejoicing, praise and thanksgiving. We should unite our hearts and minds with our lips when we pronounce this word, lifting up our hearts in exultant praise of God.

St Augustine sums it up: “So now, my brethren, I urge you to praise God: this is what we all say to one another when we say Alleluia. ‘Praise the Lord,’ you say to the one you are addressing, and he says the same to you; and by urging one another in this way, people do what they are urging the other to do. Praise God with the whole of yourselves; it is not only your tongue and your voice that should praise him, but your conscience your life, your deeds” (On Psalm 148, 1-2).

Meditation on living Lent well

Lent for some is a season of sombre self-denial to which they do not look forward. In this meditation we consider how Lent can be a time of real renewal and spiritual joy, looking at various ways we can live the three aspects of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so as to derive the maximum benefit from this fruitful time.

Meditation on spiritual struggle

We all want to be happy, not only here on earth but especially in heaven. And we want to have a positive influence on others, especially those closest to us. In order to achieve this we must struggle to draw ever closer to God, to grow in holiness. In this meditation we consider the importance of our spiritual struggle and how to go about it.