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Just as a chef is kind to his trainee when he reminds him that he has forgotten to put eggs in his sponge mixture, so we speak from charity, not from hard-heartedness, when we give people precise instructions about the Faith, and tell them what behaviour is sinful in the sight of God.
It can be a good idea to clear out possessions once again, first to help people in need, but also to spare other people the task if ill-health makes it likely that other people will have to do the same job for us one day soon.
When people show true kindness and compassion towards the sick, disabled, injured or dying, and care for them tenderly until God choose to call the sick person away from earthly life, they show respect for life; and they show out God's love which is in their hearts.
Just as a dying sinner can (by God's grace) be saved from Hell by the visit of a charitable person, such as a nurse, for example, who pauses to pray with him, so sinners can be held back from committing mortal sin if we pause to 'offer up' our sufferings in intercession.
Some people have travelled far, to spread the Gospel; yet we do not have to do magnificent things in order to please Christ. A simple act of love, for example - keeping someone company at a meal, or on a journey, can be as great, in Christ's sight, as the work of spreading the Gospel throughout the land, and can bring about as much good, in souls.
Where people build modern towns, and good housing, they sometimes become proud of their achievements. But the best test of a modern community is to see how it treats its poorest and most helpless members. Of what use is a modern street to a disabled person who cannot cross a high kerb?
A person who decides, for love of Christ, to seek out the most lonely or weary people at a celebration, or those who have travelled far, is 'like a Jesus' for others, giving companionship and joy - and in doing so pleasing our Saviour.
A charitable person teaches children how to behave in God's house and how to pray; and she therefore helps them to find inner peace in the Presence of their Saviour. It is not charitable to let a child run riot and disturb other people, in a place specially consecrated for Christian prayer.
It is the Catholic Church which keeps asunder the cloud of ignorance and hopelessness which once covered the world. In every age, despite the sins of her members, she does what Jesus did in His earthly life. By His Spirit's guidance and power, she teaches truth, forgives, heals, prays, offers the Holy Sacrifice, helps the poor, and makes people holy.
When a 'child of God' offers in conversation not words of charity or compassion, but malicious gossip or salacious comments, that soul is like a holy shrine from which now emerges no spring, no living water of grace, but from which oozes drops of evil-smelling puss. Such a serious infection needs powerful help.
People who like to engage in malicious gossip, or scandalous or salacious conversations, are like people choosing to stand in a filthy alley which is befouled underfoot, instead of in a beautiful meeting place in fresh air and sunlight.
Lourdes is not just an example of care of the sick. In looking at the Domaine in Lourdes, we have a picture of the Church which is in the world but not of it. We have a place for the sacraments, and for Reconciliation, a place for Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, a place for devotion to Mary, a place where contemplatives pray for Church members - and much mutual help between pilgrims during our pilgrimage, including care of strangers.
The Lord illustrated for me the result of prayer. When I prayed for a troubled soul, the Lord showed me that He was sitting between me and that person, with His arm round each of us. The troubled person had been brought closer to Christ by my intercessionary prayer; and I had been drawn closer to Christ through my act of charity.
He sat in the depth of despair, in Hell, wondering how he could have been so foolish to have thought that his ways of acting were better than the ways of charity, peace, kindness and healing.
I 'saw' falling straight into Hell, at death, an unrepentant soul who had kidnapped and abused a child, for his own pleasure, and with no charity towards all involved who would suffer from his actions.
As God looks upon the world, He sees how few of us believe in His goodness, how few of us expect answers to prayer, how few of us have prayed with faith in the merits of His Son Jesus, Who died for us. Our faith has not developed because we have not really given our whole lives to God, in regular prayer and works of charity.
People who want to arrive at the beautiful city beyond the mountains - in Heaven - need to take advice about the route from One who knows about it and speaks with authority. God the Son has shown in the way to Heaven, the Way of faith, hope and love, in charity and truth. People are foolish who say they can go in any direction.
Sick people have no special right to enter Heaven just because they have suffered much, no matter what sentimental onlookers say. The sick, too, are called to holiness. They need to believe, to think and act with charity, and to persevere, in order to be saved. Yet they have had greater than usual opportunities to do penance, by accepting their sufferings in patience.
The Deposit of Faith is handed on in the Catholic Church from age to age. Some other Christians teach some of the truths which the Church proclaims - but the Church has no need to go to other Christians to learn what she should teach. Her teachings stem from Christ and the Apostles. Yet individual Catholics can learn from the virtuous example of charity, patience, etc. given by other individual Christians.
The Godhead is like a bright cloud which loving people can enter, in prayer. For those who yearn for entry, but who fail to care for their neighbour in earthly life, there seems to be no way 'in': no possibility of union in contemplation, unless they first learn how to love.
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