Tag Archives: St John Paul II

Fasting in Lent

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
  • Words of St Francis de Sales on the spirit of fasting
  • Practical ways we can live fasting in Lent

Holy Mass, centre and root of the interior life

Pope St John Paul II saying mass

 

 

 

The Second Vatican Council, using some words of St Josemaria Escriva, called the Mass the centre and root of the interior life. If we make the Mass our centre and root, we will attend it better and we will unite all our acitivities with it. In this meditation we consider how:

  • The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary made present on the altar
  • It is the Church’s most powerful prayer and we can unite our own intentions with those of the Mass
  • The Mass is the centre of all the sacraments and we can strive to make it the centre of our day and the focal point of  all our activities
  • As the root of the interior life the Mass strengthens our faith by anchoring us firmly in Jesus Christ
  • Through the root of the Mass we receive nourishment for our soul through the prayers, readings and especially Holy Communion
  • We should strive to be truly Eucharistic souls

Rechristianising society

Christ sent the apostles out to the whole world to teach all nations. They went out and in just over three hundred years, amidst bitter persecution of Christians, the Roman Empire declared itself officially Christian. Christendom, a Europe with Christian laws and customs, would last for over a thousand years, and from Europe the faith spread to the rest of the world. Today, however, we see the erosion of Christian values all over the western world. Many people through up their hands in despair, thinking there is nothing they can do. But there is much we can do. In this meditation we use texts of St John Paul II, especially his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laicito consider how:

  • We must first live out our faith to the full, seeking true holiness of life
  • We must do everything we can to ensure that Christian values continue to influence public life in our country
  • We can fight for the dignity of the human person, for the defence of life from conception to natural death, for marriage and the family, and for a more Christian presence in the media and internet, in education, and in legislation.

 

The Holy Family, model of all families

 

 

In the words of St John Paul II “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family”. Yet the family today is under attack in many ways. If it is to fulfil its mission, the family can turn to the Holy Family of Nazareth for inspiration and strength. In this meditation we use texts from St John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis to consider:

  • The beauty of the Holy Family, model of all families
  • The attack on the family in today’s world
  • The vital importance of the family for the wellbeing of the spouses, the children and society
  • Some ways the family can model itself on the Holy Family and thus fulfil its mission more effectively.

The mission of the laity in the world

The lay members of Christ’s Faithful People (Christifideles Laici), whose “Vocation and Mission in the Church and in the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council” was the topic of the 1987 Synod of Bishops, are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the labourers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel.

They used to joke that the role of the laity was “to pray, pay and obey”! In this meditation we use the words of Our Lord in the Last Supper, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium and St John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Christifideles laici to consider the great mission of the lay faithful:

  • The laity have a true vocation, a calling from God to engage in the affairs of the world and order them according to the will of God.
  • The Letter of Diognetus from the early Church describes how Christians are the soul of the world.
  • In order to be effective in their mission, the lay faithful should have a truly lay mentality consisting of seven aspects, including interest in the affairs of the world, a deep interior life, a solid doctrinal formation, an effort to be involved in secular activities and respect for the opinions of others in temporal matters.

Formation in Christ

Christ teaching the apostles

Before the apostles were sent out to evangelize, he spent time in their formation.

 

 

We are called to live out our faith and share it with others, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. To do this effectively in a society which is increasingly ignorant of and even hostile to Christian values we need formation. In this meditation we consider how:

  • Christ spent time forming the apostles before sending them out to all nations
  • We too are called to go out and help others find God and to make our culture more Christian
  • For this we need  a deep spiritual, doctrinal, human and apostolic formation
  • Pope St John Paul II writes of the need for formation in his Apostolic Exhortation “Christifideles laici
  • We can receive this formation in a variety of ways

Love for the priesthood

Icon of Christ the eternal high priest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can sometimes take our priests for granted, or even complain about them. In this meditation we look at what our priests do for us and how we can help them. We consider:

  • Jesus Christ, the eternal high priest, instituted the priesthood to continue his priestly ministry down the ages
  • Priests do so much for us: celebrating the sacrifice of the Mass in order to offer this pure sacrifice to the Father, to leave Christ in the tabernacle and give him to us in holy Communion; forgiving our sins, anointing us when we are in danger of death, teaching us the faith…
  • St John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, has beautiful things to say about the priesthood
  • St John Paul II wrote wonderfully about what people expect from priests
  • We should give thanks for our priests and pray for them so that they will be holy and faithful
  • We should pray too for seminarians, for young men considering a priestly vocation and for families, the seedbed of vocations