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. To live Advent well, It is good to consider it like a “little Lent”. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture, St Cyril of Jerusalem and St Bernard of Clairvaux to consider how we can do this:
Learning from Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple has much to tell us. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture, St Augustine, St John Chrysostom and St Josemaria to reflect on how:
We too should endeavour to pray before the Blessed Sacrament whenever possible
The Pharisee’s pride and self-righteousness make his good deeds of less value
We should never judge others the way the Pharisee did
The tax collector teaches us the great importance of humility
We should regard all our virtues and good deeds as gifts from God.
We are all sinners and we should ask God to forgive us, as the tax collector did
We should do penance for our sins and go regularly to confession
Our Lord invites us, if we would be his disciples, to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him. We do this especially in Lent but we should do it throughout the year. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture and of St Josemaria Escriva to consider how:
Jesus Christ, out of love for us, took up the cross in his passion and death, and he suffered more than we ever will
There are many reasons for, and benefits from, living self-denial
Self-denial is essential for holiness
We can live self-denial in many ordinary ways
We should accept in a spirit of penance the crosses life brings
Those who live self-denial find joy in this life and in the next
Our Lord invited us, if we would be his disciples, to take up our cross and follow him. A few days later he manifested his divinity to three of his apostles in the Transfiguration, as we will see him in his glory in heaven. In this meditation, using texts from Scripture, St Josemaria and St John Vianney, we consider how:
Our pathway to heaven passes by way of the cross
The cross is truly a blessing, in that it purifies us and it can be offered up for others
The cross is a manifestation of God’s love for us
When we have a cross to bear, we can think that Christ suffered more than we ever will, and that many others are suffering more than we are
If we love the crosses life brings, we will find joy in them and they will unite us with Christ
We should seek the cross too through mortification and penance
Christ gives us the parable of the sower, who sows seed on different types of soil, yielding different results. In this meditation we consider how we can all be, at times, each of the different types of soil:
The path, when we turn a deaf ear to Christ’s promptings
The rocky ground, when we begin something with enthusiasm but then give up because it was too hard
The thorns, when we are drawn away from God by the attraction of the world
The good soil, when we respond to God with generosity and yield a rich harvest
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