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The spirit of Advent

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
  • Improving our life of prayer
  • Living a generous spirit of penance
  • Showing more love to those around us

Prayer for the holy souls

A depiction of purgatory

November is the month in which the Church traditionally intensifies her prayers for the souls in Purgatory. But every day should be for us a day of prayer for the holy souls. There are many souls there now suffering greatly but at the same time exceedingly happy. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism and saints to consider how:

  • The holy souls suffer from the pains of sense, likened to fire, and of loss, of being deprived of union with God
  • The souls in Purgatory are happier than we are on earth, because they are assured of heaven and they love God more than we do
  • We can help the souls in Purgatory by offering our prayers, works and sufferings for them
  • The souls in Purgatory are powerful intercessors for us and we can entrust our intentions to them
  • The holy souls should be able to consider us their “good friends”

One with Christ

A depiction of our Lord, Jesus Christ

Through Baptism we become members of the Mystical Body of Christ. We become one with him. He lives in us and we live in him. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture,  St John Eudes, St Josemaria Escriva and St John Paul II to consider how:

  • We can ask Jesus to let us see with his eyes, hear with his ears, love with his heart and think with his mind
  • We should act in such a way as to make Christ present to those around us
  • We can grow in union with Christ through reading and meditating on the Gospels, receiving him well in Holy Communion, acting as he would act in our situation, and struggling to overcome the defects which obscure his image in us

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, a depiction

The encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well teaches us many lessons. In this meditation we use the passage related by St John to consider how:

  • Jesus in his Providence arranged for the meeting to take place so that he could reveal himself to the Samaritan woman
  • Jesus begins his conversation not by preaching but by asking for a drink of water
  • Like the woman, we too have received “the gift of God”, the gift of grace, of faith, of formation, and we should put it to good use
  • The woman speaks to others of Jesus and brings them to him
  • We too should love all souls, of all backgrounds and religions, and help them come to know and love  Jesus

Sanctifying ordinary life

The holy family of Jesus Mary and Joseph in his workshop

The Holy Family in Nazareth, in Joseph’s workshop

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph spent thirty years doing ordinary tasks in the home of Nazareth to teach us the sanctifying value of ordinary things. In this meditation we pray about how we too can find God in our day-to-day activities. We use texts of St Josemaria Escriva, the Second Vatican Council and St John Paul II to consider how:

  • The Holy Family is our model
  • We can find God not only in church and in our prayers, but in everything we do
  • St John Paul II called St Josemaria “the patron saint of ordinary life”
  • There are various means we can use to find God in our daily activities

Lesssons of the Assumption of Mary

Assumption of Mary Rubens

A depiction of our Lady’s Assumption painted by Rubens

Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven teaches us many lessons. In this meditation we use a text from the book of Revelation to consider some of these lessons:

  • Mary sanctified herself in her ordinary life in the home, as we do
  • She is the new Ark of the Covenant, bringing the very Word of God into the world
  • Mary is rewarded for her humility and docility to God
  • Mary’s Assumption fills us with hope for our own resurrection to eternal life
  • Mary had many crosses on the way, as we will
  • The woman in the book of Revelation overcomes the attacks of the devil, as we must
  • Mary’s intercession for us is all-powerful

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

the Pharisee and the Publican

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

Loving God in the Heart of Jesus

A depiction of our Lord, showing His most sacred Heart

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Our Lord has loved us to the last drop of his blood and water, and he invites us to love him in return. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture, St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Josemaria Escriva to consider how:

  • St John writes in his Gospel that Jesus has loved us “to the end” and in his first Letter that “God is love”.
  • Our Lord asked St Margaret Mary for the feast of the Sacred Heart, in order to increase love for him throughout the world.
  • St Margaret writes in a letter about the three streams that pour out from the heart of Christ.
  • We can grow in love for God and our neighbour in practical ways.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity

The Holy Spirit, also called the Paraclete, is often depicted by a dove

The prophet Isaiah introduces us to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are very important helps in living our spiritual life to the full. In this meditation we use texts of Sacred Scripture to consider:

  • The nature and role of the gifts
  • How they differ from the virtues
  • How each one of the seven gifts helps us in a particular way

Mary, our Mother

From the moment she conceived Jesus in her womb, Mary became the mother of his Mystical Body, the Church, and of all of us. In this meditation we use texts from Sacred Scripture, Pope St John Paul II, Pope St Paul VI, St Josemaria Escriva and St Bernard to consider how:

  • Mary gave birth to Jesus and to the Church in Bethlehem
  • From the Cross at Calvary, Jesus gave Mary to St John, and to each one of us, as our mother
  • Because of the pain she suffered when Christ’s body was pierced with a lance and the Church flowed from his side on Calvary, Mary has a special love for all her children
  • Mary exercises her motherly role in many moments related in the Scriptures
  • We can show our gratitude to Our Lady and honour her through such practices as the Rosary, the Angelus, Marian aspirations and pilgrimages