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The Catholic Faith should make Saints of us, people baptised, forgiven, transformed, enlightened, and worthy to worship on the threshold of Heaven, before the altar, until the time God calls us home to Heaven. The watered-down Faith sometimes offered today, which minimises the supernatural and even fails to request that candidates and catechumens give up their sins, is almost on a level with a Boy-Scout manual which requests good deeds but not faith or contrition.
It is not enough to be content to be spiritual. Some people want to worship God, and serve Him, without being asked to believe in important doctrines; yet sound doctrine provides the framework and the strength to persevere in our spiritual life. If we know the truth we are set free to build with confidence, and to believe that our house of faith will last until we reach Heaven.
In Mediaeval times, people were taught the truth about the Mass, the central act of our religion, and the greatest means of praising God - through His Son, and His Son's Holy Sacrifice, re-presented in the presence of the Saints, the Holy Souls and the Angels. What is important are prayer, adoration, and the knowledge that we join in the worship of Heaven. (It is because most children are taught only that the Mass is a community meal, that there are so many images given, through Radiant Light, of every aspect of the Holy Sacrifice. The Lord wants every effort made to teach the truth about these Holy Mysteries.)
Christ wants us to see this image, from Him, about the irreverence and silliness often seen in Church at what is a memorial of His Passion and Death! Those Catholics who wanted complete change in the Church after the Second Vatican Council tried to build a new road for everyone to follow, with changed doctrines and distorted attitudes; yet the one true Church continued to practice reverent worship, around them, and to teach truth in faith and morals.
There exists in the Church widespread ignorance about reverence. It is a cause for sadness when a woman appears in church for the Sacred Liturgy whilst bare-shouldered, and showing no concern for the people who will be distracted by her appearance. She might not be entirely to blame; but in her immodesty she shows little respect for her all-holy Creator to Whom all worship is directed.
We should not stroll through church as if through a market. Every Catholic church is a holy temple for God, sanctified by having being consecrated by a Bishop as a place for solemn worship, and sanctified by the Real Presence there of Jesus Christ, in sacramental form. All who enter, therefore, should show respect both for God and fellow worshippers, so neither offending God by irreverence or immodest attire, nor distracting others.
A Christian in a state of grace is intimately united with the Triune God. By Baptism, all sin is washed away from the soul, the person is made a member of the Church; Baptism brings the life of God to shine within the soul through the presence there of the Blessed Trinity: called the Divine Indwelling. No longer need people go to a special Temple in order to pray - though we have churches for our public worship as the Body of Christ: consecrated places where Christ is Really Present, in the tabernacle, in the Blessed Sacrament.
There are tragic consequences when people misunderstand the word 'ecumenism'. Some Catholics suppose that they can go where they choose, for Sunday worship; yet whenever a minister without valid orders presides at a service, Christ is not made sacramentally Present. No Catholic should miss Mass, by choosing non-Catholic prayer instead.
We are wise if we adopt a habit of prayer, shutting the door so that we can pray in our 'secret place', as Christ suggested. It is a good preparation for fruitful prayer at Mass. It can also mean that we worship God with our bodies, too, as we feel able to bow, or prostrate ourselves in private before our all-holy God and Saviour.
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.
We can look at Pope Benedict, to see a good example of how to relate to people of other religions. He is kind to everyone, and visits other buildings, but does not join in what is called "inter-faith" worship, which is a betrayal of Christian faith and practice, as is plain from the Scriptures and the constant teaching of the Church.
We must be faithful to the plain message of the Gospels, the Epistles, and the plain teaching of the Church through the ages. No Christian should take part in the worship of other religions, or make gestures that would be interpreted as being participation in such worship. God has shown us, through His Son, how to worship. We cannot abandon Christ and remain holy.
Some Christians hope in vain for re-union with the Catholic Church, while they cling to mistaken beliefs about morality, or continue to believe that their ministers have valid orders. It's as though they want to worship God in communion with Catholics, but have erected or maintained a screen or wall, which has the appearance of beautiful church architecture, but which in fact separates them from the full life of the Church, and from her teaching and liturgical life.
In all sorts of buildings where people gather to worship with those of the same beliefs, there can be found aspects of truth; yet the Truth that God the Father wants everyone to know is that His Son has been sent into our world, as man, to save sinners and to bring us to Eternal Life. Only in one place - the Catholic Church - is the Truth shown out in its fullness, and the full means of Salvation given.
Just as skiers might find themselves on a dangerous slope, so, we can find ourselves in spiritual danger through, for example, current wrong ideas about morality, or through worship with pagans, or through unholy behaviour in the home such as neglect of prayer, or self-indulgence or pornographic television viewing.
In St. Joseph's shrine, in Missouri, for example, people of earlier centuries were immersed in Catholic imagery and culture. Absorbing it, they were helped to withstand the alien culture outside the places of worship. Today, we need to be so immersed; and since so many of our Catholic churches have been stripped bare of imagery, that is both inspiring and educational, God has provided both truth and beauty in the Radiant Light collection of pictures, in which anyone on-line can be immersed.
Christ rejected Satan's offer to give Him the glory of the kingdoms of the world, if Christ would worship him - and then Christ gave a demonstration of humility, to help us, since He knows that the most common temptation of weak human beings is to pride, and self-sufficiency. Other weak people are tempted to despondency, thinking themselves unlovable. These too need Christ's powerful help.
Christ looks on with gladness when we keep His Commandments, out of love for Him; but it is a cause for sadness, in His sight, that many Catholics praise people who are fervent in obeying the second Great Commandment about love for neighbour, but are scornful about people who are fervent about the First Great Commandment, and who are concerned for the honour of God, the dignity of Catholic worship, and the faithful handing-on of revealed Truth. Those are even called fundamentalists!
Famous people need to act with special prudence and caution. One of the spiritual dangers that many people encounter is the danger of being swept through much of earthly life on a river of fame. Pop stars, royalty, comedians, politicians, influential lives, and sports stars and others, will risk the loss of grace, and even eternal life, if they forget the purpose of life, which is union with God, in His service, and not self-worship.
We are glad when people are happy, in church; reverence in Church cannot be separated from dignity, however; and when young people show their delight in the arrival of church banners by loud shrieking and whistling - as if greeting footballers before a game - they demonstrate their ignorance, and their poor catechesis. It is tragic that these Catholics do not yet know how to prepare for the reverent worship of almighty God.
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