In this season of Advent we accompany Our Lady and St Joseph as they make their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. In this meditation we learn from the many aspects of their journey and from their preparations for Jesus’ birth in the stable in Bethlehem how we can live Advent better. It can become a “little Lent” where we find practical ways of improving our:
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.
We all sin, but how much true sorrow do we have? In this meditation we use texts of St Augustine, the Roman Catechism, St John Vianney and St Josemaria Escriva to consider three aspects of penance: the virtue of penance, or sorrow for our sins, the sacrament of penance and the acts of penance, striving to:
Contemplate the sorrowful face of Jesus, as St Peter did
Consider how many sins we have committed and how our sins hurt Our Lord more than those of people who are distant from him
Foster a true purpose of amendment, a sincere resolution to try hard not to sin again
Go regularly to the sacrament of penance and invite others to go with us
Be generous in our acts of penance, of self-denial, as we have been generous in committing sins
Fasting is one of the three focuses of Lent, along with prayer and almsgiving. But how much fasting should we do? The Church asks very little: only to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In this meditation we pray about this important topic, considering:
How much Our Lord suffered for us and how we should respond with generosity
The history of fasting in Lent, from the early centuries to the present
Statements from Pope St John Paul II on generosity in fasting
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.
When on Good Friday Jesus looked at Peter after his three denials, Peter went out and wept bitterly. We too have offended Christ by our sins and we can learn from Peter to be sorry for them. In this meditation we consider:
The value of contemplating Jesus’ sorrowful face in order to be moved to true sorrow for our sins
The spirit of penance: contrition with the resolution to try not to sin again
The sacrament of penance: the importance of receiving this sacrament of mercy regularly and of helping others to do so
The acts of penance: why we need them and what we can do to make up for our sins
Many think only a few extraordinary people are called to sanctity and that it is sufficient for the rest to limit themselves to being good. But God has loved everyone and he wants all to love him with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength. All are called to sanctity and sanctity is within the reach of all. In this meditation we will consider how:
God has called each and everyone from all eternity to fulfill a mission
Christ loves everyone and he wants all to love him in return
To bear fruit we must be branches very united to the vine who is Christ
We are united to Christ through prayer, penance, the sacraments and fulfilling his will