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A priest fulfils the Will of Christ, and becomes joyful, when he has begun to accept the Cross, in being conformed to Christ in a sinful world. By his union with Christ, and His imitation of Christ, he can be freed to do what he is called to do, which is not primarily to help people with their earthly cares, but above all to bring them and himself towards holiness and salvation, and thereby to play his part in God's plan of salvation.
This is a picture of a mind, as someone wonders if he can avoid a moral obligation. Although we can freely make any one of several decisions, in following a good career, or choosing a spouse, for example; yet when we are reluctant to act, in moral issues, we often see that there is only one way - Christ's Way - by which we can please God, do good, help others, and gain or re-gain our peace of conscience. He can give us the courage to walk where He leads us. We can avoid our kaleidoscope of temptations, and call on Christ to lead us: to holiness and Heaven.
Have we climbed the mountain of holiness, by God's grace, ready to arrive peacefully at the door to Heaven? God asks us to ask ourselves: Do I love God with my whole heart? Do I favour His Will, above all things? If we do not love God and want to thank and praise Him, we are not ready for Heaven; but what if He should suddenly call us, to leave this earthly life? Wise people get ready, now.
God sees an extraordinary sight, as He looks down upon countless members of the Church who plan their own lives, according to their own ideas and desires, yet deign to give only a moment of their time, now and then, for prayer, unaware of His immense holiness, or His Sovereignty as well as His love.
In Christ's sight, a person shows lack of love and respect for Christ when he is unwilling to prepare for an intimate encounter with his Saviour and God in Holy Communion. That preparation, for all who have gravely sinned, should consist of seeking forgiveness in Confession, called the Sacrament of Penance. In a state of grace, a person approaches Christ as if clothed in a pure garment of holiness, not the filthy rags of unrepented sin.
Some people cannot be bothered to prepare for Holy Communion, or for death. It is impossible for a person befouled with serious sin to enter Heaven. It's as though, when a person has not repented, but dies, he moves towards God whilst still clothed in filthy rags, whereas those who have repented are wearing clean garments. They have been made pure and holy, by Christ, and are worthy to enter Heaven's purity and holiness.
Older children deserve to hear the truth: "If you throw away your life - your spiritual life - by immorality, drunkenness, pornography or violence, it will be impossible to regain holiness by your own power. You can then only hope to reach Heaven one day if you receive from God the grace to repent: a grace perhaps brought to you through the prayers and penances of people who care about you.
By our intercessions we can bring Divine grace upon a person trapped in a 'cloud' of sin. By Divine power, that person can be helped to see the spiritual danger he is in, so close to being lost in the Abyss. As his cloud of ignorance is blown away, or his sinful desires, he is helped to make wise choices about loving God and striving for holiness.
The Church agrees with the oft-spoken truth, that the family is the 'building-block' of society. God wants to lead people to holiness, in and through His Son, usually in ordinary ways, in families; but Satan is always at work to wreck God's plan by encouraging people to desert the family, or neglect them, or to be rebellious, or to have abortions.
Christ died and rose again, to save sinners. He has called men, through the ages, to serve as priests in His Church, to save sinners. If, in their preaching, their celebration of the Sacraments, and their pastoral work, they are not saving sinners from the consequences of their sins, they are failing in their duty. It is not enough to be kind, yet to be off-hand about doctrine, feeble in efforts to draw people from sin to holiness.
Just as a scientist, using an illuminated magnifying lens, can see hair-line cracks, and other dangers to hygiene, invisible to the naked eye, so the Lord can illuminate our souls in prayer; and the Divine, healing light that shines within our souls when we bring our sins, hurts and problems to God is a powerful means of achieving purity and holiness.
The Ministerial Priesthood is such an extraordinarily-privileged state that a man is foolish if he accepts that privilege, then neglects his duties. It is a cause for sadness, also, when a man believes that he cannot fulfil that vocation and asks to be laicized. Although he can be saved, if he continues to live as a faithful Catholic, he will not enjoy the sort of glorious entry into Heaven that a faithful priest enjoys, unless he has reached the height of holiness and humility before he dies.
A man who expects to hear the truth about sin and salvation, Church and evangelisation, holiness and Heaven, will often be disappointed at ecumenical gatherings where people are afraid of appearing divisive. They stick to safe subjects such as consumerism, pollution, nuclear war, and global warming, while people long to be helped to understand the meaning of 'Church', or helped in their personal spiritual journeys.
Just as people who follow a bridle path upwards, across the hills, in fine weather, can enjoy a beautiful view, so, people who 'ascend' in prayer, by the Lord's power, as they spend more time with Him, can see and understand spiritual things more clearly; but it is not always pleasant. Perhaps they see faults they had not previously noticed; but this is part of the process of growing in holiness.
It can seem as though our life's arrangements and relationships are destroyed in a moment, like a bombed out city from which we flee. But sometimes our crises have been permitted by God so that we can flee all that was worldly and sinful. Then we are freed to 'build' a new life of holiness and peace.
Some good souls cannot go straight to Heaven. It is common to hear people say, with a smile, that they will have to go to Purgatory, that they know they are not saints. Yet it is a tragedy, in their eyes, when they arrive, to be held captive there, as they see at last what lack of love for God, or laziness, kept them from achieving real holiness. What remorse they feel there, when they see that they could have become worthy to leap straight from earthly life into the embrace of their Saviour, Jesus.
God is all holiness, purity, goodness and radiance. When we die, shall we be sufficiently like Him to be able to reach out to Him with joy, or to do so after some preparation? If our immediate reaction will be complete rejection of God there will be no place to go except down, away from Him into the Abyss.
Priests should set an example of holiness and purity, neither giving up nor watering down the Faith, nor developing a worldly spirit in order to be popular. They will do little good if they are disloyal to the Saviour, Who asks them to imitate Him, and keep people safe from Hell.
When we talk about the Magisterium we mean that it is Christ Who has given us the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops, to teach us the truth handed on in Sacred Scripture and in the Sacred Tradition. They teach us right from wrong. To spend a life-time arguing about their sure teaching is to waste valuable time, which we could have spent striving for holiness in the service of God and neighbour.
The Blessed Virgin Mary surpasses all the other Saints so much, in holiness, that she is as far 'above' them as a viewing platform is far above a deep valley. Truly, she is worthy of our deep veneration, though not to be adored as we adore her Divine Son.
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