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
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:
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 laici, to 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.
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 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.
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
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