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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

The value of self-denial

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary

Our Lord Jesus crucified

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

The value of temptations

Christ sends Satan away after His temptation

A depiction of Christ’s temptation

We all experience temptations. They are a consequence of original sin and of our being subject to the world, the flesh and the devil. But in addition to being sources of sin, temptations can also be sources of sanctity. In this meditation we consider:

  • Christ’s temptations in the desert, which are very similar to our own
  • Christ’s example in overcoming the temptations
  • How we can use temptations to grow in sanctity and human virtues
  • What we can do to overcome temptations

With Christ in Lent

Face of Christ in the Passion

A depiction of Jesus Christ’s passion

Lent presents a splendid opportunity to grow closer to God spiritually, to accompany Our Lord through the Cross to the Resurrection. In this meditation we consider how:

  • Lent symbolises our life on earth with its trials and tribulations  and Easter symbolises the joy of our life with God in heaven
  •  In Lent we quicken the pace of our life towards our encounter with Christ at the end of our life
  • Our prayer and fasting with Christ in his forty days in the desert strengthen us to resist temptations, as Christ did
  • Christ’s love for us “to the end” moves us to show our love for him by living Lent well
  • Lent is a time for repentance and the resolution to try harder to avoid sin
  • We can live Lent through the three traditional ways of prayer, fasting and works of charity

Living the Beatitudes

The Sermon on the Mount

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, giving the beatitudes during the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the eight Beatitudes, eight attitudes or dispositions that should characterise every follower of Christ, of whom they are a portrait. In this meditation we consider how:

  • The Beatitudes should characterise every Christian
  • They contrast notably with the ways of the world
  • If we live them well we will grow in holiness
  • We will show the world a better way to live
  • We will find the true happiness we are seeking

Beginning a new year

At the beginning of another year, we use texts of Scripture and St Josemaria Escriva to pray about what our goals and resolutions might be, especially that most important goal of growing in holiness so as to deserve 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 forever in heaven
  • We should make good use of every moment of the day since we don’t know how long God has given us on this earth
  • Many souls depend on the life of each of us
  • Holiness is a struggle, a battle, against the world, the flesh and the devil
  • We should have the determination of athletes, who discipline themselves and train hard to win a crown that fades, whereas ours is imperishable: eternal life.

Self-giving at Christmas

The visitation, when Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth

Mary visits her kinswoman, Elizabeth.

The first Christmas gift was Jesus Christ himself: “So much did God love the world that he sent his only-begotten Son.” In this meditation we use Mary’s visitation to her kinswoman Elizabeth and other texts of Scripture to consider how we can respond to that gift by:

  • Giving ourselves to God through our life of prayer, penance and charity
  • Growing in joy by knowing God close to us
  • Bringing Christ to others, as Mary did, by our generous  self-giving to them
  • Bringing joy to others in the Christmas season by bringing Christ to them through our smile, our generosity and our kindness