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The journey to union with God is only a slow journey, if a person is half-hearted in serving Him and fearful of His demands. The one who surrenders completely to God by obedience to Him in everyday life makes swift progress in prayer, as if travelling in a fast vehicle, not on foot.
The eye has a simple function: to enable us to see; yet its working depends on millions of cells in the brain and the optic nerve. The Godhead is simple; yet God has millions of means of dealing with human beings, in order to help us; so our Religion is not simple - although it's purpose is simple: to bring us to Eternal union with God.
What must it be like for people who die, and who finally realise that Jesus is indeed the Son of God: Jesus Christ, Whom they have ignored or contradicted in their earthly lives, perhaps from ignorance? Imagine their pain, realising that they could have spent a life-time on earth indwelt by the Blessed Trinity, and living in a loving union with God.
The Godhead is like a pure, holy Fire of love; and all who have been purified can enter that love, after death, without pain or fear. They have been so transformed by Christ, and through prayer and penance, that they resemble God; and in their union with God they experience the bliss and peace of heaven.
Mankind has travelled a long road, since our first parents sinned, and turned a corner, exiled from God's presence. Another corner was turned when God made a Covenant with Abraham, and taught His People, and promised a Saviour. Another corner was turned with the arrival of Jesus, God and man, Saviour, Who died for our sins, to bring forgiveness, and union with the Father for all believers. To ignore Jesus and to prefer inter-faith prayer, in which He is not mentioned, is to deny the Christian faith; it says, in effect, that for union with God, and salvation,
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!
In Christ's sight, a person is in a pitiable state who does not believe in the existence of God, or Heaven - or Jesus Christ, or Judgement. This means that such a person is ignorant of, or opposed to, the main purpose of life, which is union with God, in His service, both in this life and in the next.
The Lord sees how tirelessly people search the streets for a suitable place in which to live; yet He wishes we would all expend as much time and energy on searching for the meaning of life - which He has revealed to us as being union with God in this life and in Eternity, through having our sins forgiven, through faith in Jesus Christ.
For progress in prayer, and union with God, we ought to trust God, and be willing to be converted, again. People who don't want God don't pray much, or well, even if they believe in God. They don't want God's light to shine into their souls, encouraging them to give up their bad habits, unloving attitudes, selfish plans or uncharitable schemes. It's as though they keep the 'door' of their souls almost shut; alas, they themselves shut out God's graces in this way.
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.
Everyone will one day give an account of his life to God. Whether he is a President of a great nation or a slave from a poor cabin, everyone must find out the results of his own behaviour - and discover whether or not he is a real friend of God, and worthy to accept the free gift of union with God and the Saints in Heaven.
Even if a man were to walk barefoot round the whole world, on hot coals, to prove himself worthy of union with the Divine, he would not be successful. No-one can make himself pleasing to God by his own efforts, although it pleases the Father when people try to do what is right. Union with God is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in a living faith, which leads believers to reproduce in their lives the good works that Jesus did.
If a person imagines that he can achieve union with God by his own strenuous efforts, he is mistaken. Christ, God and man, has told us so, and invites us to have faith in Him and to share His Divine life through Baptism. We can do penance for sin; but no-one achieves union by building a tower to be closer to Heaven, or by walking painfully, barefoot, round the world, or by walking on hot coals or by any other efforts.
Everyone who hopes for union with God in Heaven should ask himself, is he the sort of person who will be happy there: pure-in-heart, peaceful, holy? People who are more anxious about fulfilling their earthly desires and ambitions - including sexual desires - than about honouring God by obeying His laws are not making the necessary preparation for the reception of the gift of salvation.
Only through our union with God, strengthened in prayer, can we become holy. It pleases God when we make time for prayer in our busy lives, making a deliberate plan about when we will pray, or how often, or for how long. This can be a flexible plan, but should be put in place no matter how many ordinary duties we must carry out, or social events, or special acts of charity.
Union with God is only achieved in and through the Person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, and not through any self-chosen method of our own, whether arduous tasks or terrible penances.
If we ask, God will rescue us wherther we are priests or laity. To live in alienation from God is like living, spiritually, in an Arctic world, cold and barren, swept away by icy winds, and not supportive of life. To choose to leave that world, by turning to God in trust and penitence is to find the road, that leads to Heaven: a road which is icy at first, but which leads to a warmer 'climate', and towards perfect union with God.
Wise people look at human life from the perspective of Eternity. We are right to try to be free of our ailments and handicaps - which seem like a great 'cloud' above us - as we move through life, towards Eternity. But even people who are, for example, deaf, or have speech problems, should be confident about life. What is important is communion with God, Who can 'hear' a single thought. Our ailments need not stop us from being close to Him, until our lives end in His presence, where He welcomes His friends into His embrace, in perfect communion, for all Eternity, all 'clouds' dispersed.
Just as it is impossible for any of us, by our own power, to leap over a far-off planet, so it is impossible for us, by our own efforts, to achieve union with God. We need His grace, simply to be able to want to approach! Then further graces, in order to respond to His loving invitation. But with His help, we can pray, learn to live in charity, and become holy.
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.
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