We are reminded on this day, which begins the season of Lent, that we come from dust, the ash of this earth, and we return to it. No one escapes this ending. This should bring a deep sense of humility and thankfulness to God for the days of life you have been given. But it is also a reminder that none should delay reconciliation with God, because death can come at any hour. Therefore, we should not postpone following the path of Christ if we hope for eternal reunion with God, because time is really not on our side.
These meditations, inspired by those of the Roman Catholic Bishop, Richard Challoner (1691-1781), are designed to help you to be reconciled to God through prayer and repentance. In this way you share in the Passion of Christ and draw, once again, closer to Our Lord. While these meditations are in the Roman Catholic tradition, they all arise from Holy Scripture and the wisdom of saints and celebrated holy men and women. In this way they should be suitable for any Christian or, indeed, for anyone who yearns to move closer to the universal truth and force of life, which is God. Here is found that simple, yet eternal, discovery: all life is one.
There are three meditations to help you examine your life in preparation for Ash Wednesday so that you become aware of how you may have displeased God. We need to remember here that to displease God is, in the end, to displease our true self. This makes us unhappy, so Continue reading How to Use these Meditations→
Consider the dreadful choices we often make, because we do not know the true state of our own self. Even worse, just think back on how many times you did things, which on reflection you should have known were not true of yourself—how you really are and feel and what you deem truly valuable in your life. Your choices, if not true of yourself, cast away both your own past experience as well as the doctrines, values, ethics and morality of your faith, your church and the teaching of Jesus. In short, we often make choices which throw out the baby with the bath water, simply because we ignore the deeper understanding we have of our true self—a self which rest in Christ and is under the will of God.
How many in the world pass their whole lives in ignorance or denial of the truth of that wisdom which proclaims Know thyself! The result for people is often a collapse into sin just for want of looking into themselves with an honest eye and an open heart. So many imagine themselves to be alive when in reality they are dead. (Apoc. 3:1) How many imagine themselves and their souls to be rich and wealthy and in need of Continue reading Preparatory Meditations for Lent→
On this day, consider how God calls you. Come back to me, he says, Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning, and turn to the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-13) You need to hear this call in the depths of your faith and answer it without delay. Do not leave God waiting. Instead, use this day of repentance to put yourself right with him, because nothing is so dear to God as when men and women turn to him with true sorrow for having forgotten his commandments.
We know that God holds such repentance dear to his heart, because Jesus told us plainly that he had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32) Since God knows even our most secret thoughts, there is no way we could ever claim not to be sinners. (Psalm 93) He has called us to be holy and Continue reading On Repentance: Ash Wednesday Meditation→
Fasting is recommended to us in both the Old and New Testaments and by the example of Christ and of his Saints. (Joel 2; Jonas 3) We learn that all who follow Christ are to fast and, moreover, that the devil will not leave us except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 9:15; Mark 9:28) It is made clear that, while we fell from God originally by succumbing to temptations, we return to him by fasting. The gratifying of our sensual appetites most often betrays us both in our flesh and our happiness. It is well known that the unbridled In the discipline of fasting, we overcome them both. In other words, fasting for a Christian is never out of fashion.
Jesus clearly tells us that in order to find mercy we must show mercy. Blessed are the merciful, he explains, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matt. 5:7) The Apostle James tells us of the consequences of those who show no mercy: they will be judged without mercy. (James 2:13) So important is mercy that God himself expressly rejects the fast of those that refuse to show mercy to their neighbour. He declares he will neither hear their prayers nor accept their sacrifices. (Prov. 21:13, Isaiah 1:11/ 15-18) If then, you desire at this Lent time to seek divine mercy for yourself in the forgiveness of your sins, see that your fasting and prayer is accompanied with your own acts of mercy to others.
If you have much, give abundantly and, if you have little, take care even then to be willing to bestow some benefit on others. This is the guidance you need when it comes to acts of mercy. (Tob. 4:9) Such mercy and charity will recommend your fasting and prayer to God who is all charity and whose tender mercies are above all his works.
We worship God in spirit and truth for God is spirit and so our prayers are spiritual offerings and replace ancient sacrifices. (John 4:24) Our new sacrifice, which is prayer, is offered from the heart, fed on faith, prepared by truth, unblemished in innocence, pure in chastity, garlanded with love, which we bring to God’s altar, in procession of good works, to the accompaniment of psalms and hymns. This will obtain for us from God all that we ask. (Tertullian On Prayer) This time of Lent is not just a time for fasting and giving alms, but is also a time of devotion and prayer. Fasting, alms, and prayer, are like three sisters, which go hand in hand. If, then, prayer is necessary at all times and is the very life of a Christian, it is certainly an indispensable duty at this holy time.
But what is prayer? All private prayer of every kind, is a conversation with God and a rising up of the mind and heart to God. By our words we address ourselves to God We present him with our homage, adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. In his presence by our faith, hope, and love, we lay before him all our necessities and Continue reading On Prayer: Meditations for Lent Week 3→
We see in the example of Judas that no state of life or calling, however holy, can secure us from danger. Was not this Apostle, called by Christ and schooled by him in the way of light? Was Judas not called from darkness like the other Apostles? Was not Judas witness to the casting out of demons and the working of miracles? Nevertheless, Judas fell so far from grace as to rise no more. Let anyone, who is sensible, realize on what slippery ground he or she stands in this life, because we are all potentially a Judas. This means that we should distrust ourselves and place all our confidence in God. We must work out our salvation, then, with fear and trembling for the seductions of this world are waiting for us, ready to lead us from God—and even like Judas into death.
But what was it that brought Judas to this evil state? It was the love of money. This he indulged in at first by the opportunity of carrying the common purse of the Apostles. Here he found temptation. Thus by degrees, he fell into evil, which took possession of his soul to the extent that Continue reading On Betrayal: Meditations for Lent Week 4→
First Meditation: On devotion to the Passion of Christ
Meditating on the sufferings and death of Jesus ought to be a principal part of the Christian’s devotion during the time of Lent, because the time is approaching when we commemorate the yearly memory of Christ’s passion. Therefore, we need to focus on the crucified Saviour and make him the object of our devotion. His passion is an ever-flowing source of mercy, grace, and salvation to us, since all that is good flows from his cross. The more we approach him in his sufferings and place ourselves near the cross through our meditations, the more plentifully we partake of that mercy and grace.
First Meditation: Lessons to be learned from Christ in his Passion
In the Passion of Christ, his submission to God’s will is no less admirable than his humility. We learn from his ministry about the place of this kind of submission as well as the place of humility in our lives. (Matt. 11:29) On the Cross, he taught these lessons too, being led like a sheep to the slaughter and not opening his mouth to protest. (Isaiah 53:7) Isaiah foretells for us how Christ will respond at the time of his death: The Lord God has opened my ear and I do not resist for I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have turned not away my face from them that rebuke me, and spit upon me.’ (Isaiah 50:5-6)
The Apostle Peter explains that we have been given these prophetic words as an example that we should follow. He tells us that when Jesus was reviled, he did not revile. When he suffered he threatened not, but delivered himself to those that judged him unjustly.’ (1 Pet. 2:21, 23) Let us learn from the Continue reading On Submission: Meditations for Lent Week 6→