Tag Archives: St Augustine

Love, sin and repentance

 

The parable of the prodigal son is mercy perosnified.

God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, and Jesus loved us so much that he suffered and died on the cross for us. Jesus invites us to love him in return but we so often show him by our sins that we love him too little. In this meditation we consider how:

  • We cannot avoid all sins – even the saints in heaven committed them – but we can try harder to avoid sinning.
  • God expects more from us than from many others.
  • We should strive especially to avoid committing mortal sins and deliberate venial sins.
  • We should identify the occasions of our sins and strive to avoid them.
  • We should foster true contrition for our sins.
  • We should do penance to make up at least in part for our sins and to strengthen our will to resist future temptations.
  • We should strive to go regularly to the sacrament of penance, knowing that there God always pours out his mercy on us.

Faith in the Church

St Peter’s Basilica

 

The Church has been under fierce attack in recent months with news of widespread sexual abuse by clergy and cover ups by the hierarchy, leading many people to become discouraged and critical of the Church. In this meditation we look at the situation with eyes of faith, considering how:

  • In the history of the Church there have been many crises, some of them much worse than the present one.
  • The Church has always been made up of sinners.
  • The Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, goes beyond the faithful on earth who make her up at any one time.
  • The Church is founded on rock and will last until the end of time.
  • The British historian Thomas Macaulay and St Josemaria Escriva examine the history of the Church and see an institution which has predated all other institutions on earth and will outlast them all.
  • Pope Francis has called on all the faithful to pray very much and do penance for the Church.

Contemplatives in the middle of the world

Mary and Jesus praying

A contemplative person is more patient, peaceful, kind and cheerful. Picture shows the young Jesus praying beside her mother.

 

 

St Josemaria taught that all Christians can be contemplatives in the middle of the world: that they can find God and be aware of his presence in every activity. This is within the reach of all but it requires effort on our part. In this meditation we will consider how:

  • Jesus promised the apostles, and us, that he would be with us always, until the end of the world.
  • God is with us in many different ways.
  • Like St Augustine, we often have to say that God was with us but we were not with him.
  • In order to grow in contemplative life it is important to live well our regular times of prayer and space them out throughout the day.
  • We can intersperse our regular times of prayer with aspirations.
  • A contemplative person is more patient, peaceful, kind and cheerful.

 

Love for the Blessed Trinity

We pray to the one God and we sometimes relate to each of the divine Persons individually but how often do we consider the great mystery of the three Persons in one God, the Blessed Trinity? In this meditation we consider:

  • An argument of Fray Luis of Granada on how God communicates his infinite goodness in the Blessed Trinity
  • The indwelling of the three Divine Persons in our soul
  • St Augustine’s search for God outside himself when God was present within him
  • St Elizabeth of the Trinity’s beautiful prayer to the Blessed Trinity
  • St Gregory of Nazianzus’ entrusting of the Profession of Faith to catechumens in Constantinople
  • Simple and practical ways we can be more aware of the Blessed Trinity in our lives

Christ our Light

Resurrection of Christ

Christ’s resurrection on the first Easter Sunday

At a time of much spiritual darkness and evil in the world, the light of the risen Christ at Easter brings light and hope to all. In this meditation we consider:

  • Christ’s resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
  • The risen Christ has overcome the world
  • We have received the light at Baptism but can lose it through sin
  • We should return to the light through confession and help others to do so
  • We should keep our light burning and make it grow ever more brightly
  • We should share our light with many others

Meditation “Blessed the merciful”

The parable of the prodigal son is mercy perosnified.

A great example of mercy is the parable of the prodigal son.

Now that the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis has begun, it is good to meditate on this important virtue so that we can discover new and better ways to live it out in our daily lives. In this meditation we will consider:

  • How God is merciful to us
  • What the Scriptures say about mercy
  • The nature of mercy
  • Why it is so important that we live mercy ourselves
  • The seven corporal works of mercy
  • The seven spiritual works of mercy

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).