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In various societies and cultures, people are confused, and need help in bringing order to their stormy lives. The task of artists is to help people to see what is good, true and noble - even by sometimes depicting what draws people away from the good, though not through any obsession with what is grotesque, demeaning or sadistic. Such images can harm flawed human beings.
People who love Christ never love Him with a selfish love, but always want others to know Him too. It's as if the journey to Heaven goes through a bright corridor, in which fervent people frequently look back, to make sure that the people they love are following the same way. If not, they help them by their loving intercessions.
Just as desperate drifters all over the world might travel the highways of rich countries but have little hope, so, people who are spiritually lost might be in danger of despair. Yet to turn to God is to change things, by His grace. With encouragement from sincere God-loving people, those in turmoil can see a prospect of change.
St. John Vianney's burning desire was to share the Faith and to save souls. His first preparation for his priestly task was to pray to the Lord, at the tabernacle, pleading for his flock, and also making a worthy preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which he would offer for his parish as well as the whole Church.
We are told by some critics that we use an old-fashioned phrase if we say we hope to save souls, by the grace of Christ. But that is what we do indeed achieve, by His grace, if we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and guide people away from sinful ways of living that are like a cul-de-sac ending in the Abyss.
Christ told His followers: "Ask the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers to the Harvest". He did not say: "It doesn't matter if people don't hear about the Kingdom, or never hear about the importance of Baptism". Dialogue, today, with people of various religions must never be seen as a substitute for Evangelisation and Mission, which Christ always wants His people to undertake.
God asks us: 'In how many Catholic homes is the Faith really practiced?' All who work to share the Faith should be certain that God is pleased with their efforts. Change and decline alternate with stable periods of joy, in human history. We can picture, in one age, pagan worship at Stonehenge, but then the life and work of Christ - followed by the stoning of St. Stephen, and, much later, a triumphant sculpture of Christ placed on high in Rio di Janeiro. And today? Weak faith, again, in very many places.
Anyone who speaks for Christ, in everyday evangelisation, or a special mission, should set a good example, and should be free from the 'burdens' of anxiety, or personal plans, or great worries - or great possessions. Simplicity of life should be the aim, so that he or she can do the Lord's work unhindered.
People who spread the Faith, working to draw others from sinful acts and ways of life are acting, in the moral sphere, are as if drawing people away from a street that moves so swiftly downwards that people inevitably fall or crash. Of course, indirect evangelisation too is valuable, through good example, faithful work, and prayers and penances.
It is a marvellous thing, to teach, preach or evangelise. Just as there are dark streets and alleys where no-one feels safe, and sensible people are glad to be shown the way to the well-lit reads nearby, so, in the moral sphere, wise people respond to any invitation to leave the dark paths on which they walk at present, to enter the Way of Christ, which is the sure way to Heaven, lit by Divine Light.
It might seem as if a viper has leaped out from his lair, to wound us. If we work for Christ, spreading the Gospel, we are going to be opposed, by people on earth and by Satan. We are wise if we recognise the truth, that harsh words or actions which cause us to suffer are caused by people acting from their sinful nature, as we sometimes do; so we forgive them, and turn to God for the courage to go on.
Faith is a gift from God, but it comes when people who have heard the story of God's action proclaimed, accept the grace to believe it. That story or proclamation is about God's plan of Salvation. It includes His gradual Revelation of Himself to Abraham, Moses, and others, and His Revelation in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is God-made-man, and who lived on earth, and died, and rose from the dead, to conquer sin and death, to save sinners.
St. Paul spoke, by the altar of the 'Unknown God'. Like St. Paul, we should admire the efforts of people of other religions to search for God; yet like him, we should seize opportunities of telling people who have never heard the good news, about what God has done for us, in love for us, through Jesus Christ, who came through Mary.
Christ wants priests to be identifiable as priests by their clerical wear, all around the world, so that people everywhere have a means of knowing that Christ is caring for them in a special way by placing these 'other Christs' amongst them. This need not mean that priests should be confrontational - and there are exceptional circumstances where visibility is imprudent.
Catholics who work in mission and evangelisation can often be seen as calling out into the dark, in the heights of a great cavern, as they look down to the depths where many people are hiding away from God. Someone in this sort of Apostolate should have a burning desire to share the good news about God's love for us, about the forgiveness of sins, and about the graces made available through Christ and His Church, to bring us back to God and to prepare us for Eternity.
No-one in the Church should deny the importance of Missionary work. Those who revere Truth and love their fellow humans love to share the Truth about God's Love, made plain in Jesus Christ, our Saviour. There is a place for Dialogue with people of other religions; but if people called to evangelise are content to talk each time, without sharing the Faith, they have forgotten God's plan for their lives. They are foolish if they remain deaf to the Holy Spirit.
There are millions of people in the world who have been deprived of knowledge, or opportunities for advancement, or freedom of various sorts, or the Gospel, living in poverty, or under atheistic governments, for example. Yet the internet is bringing a huge amount of knowledge to these millions, in an extraordinary manner. Though there are evil influences on the web, the Gospel is being told through it - and it is powerfully told, for example, through the pictures and teachings of 'Radiant Light'.
If we share our faith we ought not to complicate matters. Without being over-eager, or tactless, we ought to seize every suitable opportunity to share the Good News about our Faith: about the existence of God, the one, true God who has come down to share our lives, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Everyone can have the power, from Him, through His Church, to conquer sin and misery, to do good, and to look forward to Heaven.
A Picture of a Faithful Diocese
A short piece of writing by Elizabeth Wang about how the Catholic faith can be lived and celebrated within a Faithful Diocese, and the responsibilities of all the faithful - and especially bishops - t...
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