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Christ asked me to set a good example as I mixed with the people at the youth Festival at Walsingham. It is Important that adults go to the sacraments and set a good example for the next generation of Catholics, in everyday life and at youth-orientated Church events; and they can be inspired by the example of others.
It is a terrible thing, for a person to die, who has tried to lead a good life but who has refused to believe in the Catholic Church, to discover that everything to do with the Catholic Faith is true: The Risen Jesus, the Church, the Papacy, the constant teachings about union with God, morality, and the sacraments and prayer!
Just as no driver is allowed to risk lives on the road, without having been prepared and instructed, so, no-one making vows in the Church, for marriage or Religious Life, which can affect other lives for a life-time and even for Eternity, should do so without first receiving preparation and instruction by the clergy or by loyal, practicing Catholics, authorised by the clergy.
People forget that the vows or promises they have made in church, in either marriage or religious life or Priesthood, are vows made to almighty God. To break those vows selfishly is to act against God. A special vocation cannot be treated as a merry-go-round, on which people enjoy themselves for a while, but leave when they are bored, or dislike the music or the same views at each turn.
A person who neglects his own soul by neglecting prayer and the sacraments, becoming lukewarm towards his Saviour and lukewarm or cold towards his neighbour, has a soul like a neglected road. Without care or repair, a road soon decays, to become riddled with potholes, covered in weeds, stones, dead branches and puddles.
Christ looks on with sadness when He sees people being received into the Church who have not been encouraged towards a radical conversion, but who enter the Church to receive the sacraments while persevering in behaviour which is, objectively speaking, gravely sinful, for example, co-habitation and contraceptive use.
To be baptised is to have received a wonderful gift of Divine Life. But many people outside the visible Communion of the Catholic Church receive no clear instruction about faith, and holy living, as their own leaders argue about the need for sacraments, and about sexual morality. It is sometimes as tragic a state as if a person had received a wonderful computer, but without a user's manual. It could remain inactive or ever useless.
Just as a person with a computer but no instruction manual presses various buttons but has no help from the computer until the booklet arrives, so many persons baptised outside the visible Communion of the Catholic Church have received a valuable gift, and try to live according to the various theories of various Christian leaders, who argue about faith and morals; but only when they are received into full Communion do they receive clear instruction about holy living, and receive the power from God in the Sacraments.
Just as a conifer develops good health, and fruit, if it is well-nourished and watered, but dies if it lacks nourishment, or is poisoned by a neighbour, so the person full of grace produces good works, if nourished on prayer and the sacraments, but suffers spiritual death if it fails to take necessary nourishment of the sacraments or accepts the 'poison' which is the devil's temptations to sin.
Whether we are lay-persons, or Clergy - even Cardinals - every committed Christian should examine his or her conscience, to see whether, in a time of indifferentism, each is leading people to surrender to Christ: not to a Christ of the imagination, but to the only Christ, the One guiding His Church, sharing His life in her sacraments and wanting us all to obey and love Him.
A Catholic who ignores the Church's moral teachings, and the sacraments, is as much in danger as a person in the sanctuary at Lourdes, in winter, who decides to leave the town and stroll outwards, to go into the mountains, whilst not wearing sensible clothing. Just as the pilgrim might die of exposure, the unfaithful soul might die in mortal sin, and enter Hell.
If we look beyond our Christmas decorations towards the Heavens, it can remind us of the gap between human beings and the Godhead: a gap we could not bridge through our own strength, which is why Christ came down to earth, and was born of Mary: to rescue us from weakness and sin. He founded a Church, so that by His power, given in the sacraments, we can be made holy, worthy of union with the Blessed Trinity and of Heaven.
After coming to earth, as man, Christ founded a Church, to continue His teaching: to hand on the truth about sin and goodness, to give power in the sacraments to be freed from sin and made holy. Catholics who refuse to believe in Church teachings on grave matters, and so do not avoid those sins, are like people who smash some of the rungs on the ladder by which they imagined they would reach Heaven; but by their own fault they make that ascent impossible, unless they repair it.
Although brave or ambitious people might travel to the moon, or explore the whole world, in dangerous conditions, or record the world's flora or fauna, it is the work of the Saints that endures. They have received unparalleled Power: the power of God, in the Sacred Host in Holy Communion. Through prayer and the sacraments they are transformed, and empowered to do the Work of God, which affects the Church and the world.
The soul of a person who lives to please and obey Christ is like a fertile valley. Although enemies might rain down missiles from above, behind the mountain tops, they cannot conquer, if that devoted soul relies on God's grace, given in prayer and the sacraments. This keeps the valley peaceful and beautiful, whether the enemies are the worldly-wise, or the demons who bring torments and temptations.
Christ's friends live as if within a bight cloud, of God's love. When we live in union with God in everyday life, nourished by the Sacraments, forgiven and in a state of grace, we do not need to see the path ahead, before we can love and serve God well. We don't need to picture the future. Even if we are uncertain of His plans for us, or unsure of our vocation, we should be confident that here, from moment to moment, we can delight Him by doing His Will, in our ordinary circumstances.
Just as the one way by which a person can lose weight is by eating less food, so the one way in which to emerge from spiritual and emotional unease is doing what wise people in the Church have always done: by using the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance ('Confession') and Mass with Holy Communion.
A person who feels trapped in bad habits and misery is like a man in a dark hut in the middle of a snow-field; but if he uses a generator to blast hot air at the snow he can make a pathway to a warm area - just as people who use the sacraments, and prayer, can make dramatic changes, by God's grace, to their sad, guilty lives.
We must never forget how powerful are the sacraments. Death is the 'cut-off' point: the moment in which we lose our ability to decide for God, or against Him. There are few death-bed conversions. Usually, as people live, so they die, either loving God or focussed upon their own desires. This is all the more reason for asking a priest to anoint a sick or dying person. Christ, through this holy sacrament, can free from sin someone who was about to fall into Hell.
A surgeon takes tremendous care in his preparations for his work, just as a good mother takes great care, in cleanliness and nutrition, as she prepares food for a little child; and even greater care is necessary when everyone prepares for an event that is not only important, but sacred: receiving Christ in Holy Communion, or taking part in any of the Sacraments, in which our all-holy, glorious God is at work.
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