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It is a tragedy when a massive natural disaster strikes, and people on earth are suddenly orphaned, bereaved, or injured or lost; but it is an even greater disaster that so many of those who have died have gone to God whilst unprepared, or living in mortal sin. How fortunate are all who have led holy lives.
When large numbers of people die in natural disasters, it must not be forgotten that each one is going to be judged. Each individual has died in a particular state of spiritual health or spiritual alienation. It matters very much, how we live our lives. Are we really to meet God with joy, if He calls us, today?
It is tragic that so many people are trapped underground in natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes; yet the worst disaster is to become trapped in the deep caverns of Hell, for Eternity, as are all who do not reach out to help the young and needy but rather prey on them: by child abuse, abortion, sex trafficking, pornographers, people who enjoy sadistic pornography, and others - if these sinners do not repent before they die.
We have witnessed desperate people calling out to their beloved friends and relations who are trapped underground after an earthquake. The Lord would like us to be as fervent in calling out to Him in prayer, interceding for the Holy Souls who are 'trapped underground' in Purgatory, being purified, and prepared for Heaven's glory
Just as laws made by God control the movements of the planets, so the laws of natural law - from God - can guide us in the activities of our lives. We bring disaster upon ourselves if we try to ignore the natural law, and the Commandments, and we contribute to the destruction and decay of a whole society.
Catholics who make marriage vows or religious vows and live in love, and chastity, are on a straight road towards Heaven. But all who commit unchaste acts or develop unchaste relationships are causing a disaster for themselves and for any others involved, distressing all onlookers. They halt their progress to Heaven as surely as a lorry, crashed into the central barrier, has halted its delivery of goods.
There was a disaster, long ago, which affected the whole of nature. From the time of the Original Sin of our first parents, the natural world has been full of danger, with the savagery of beasts and birds, despite their beauty, and the menace of poisonous creatures, as well as tidal waves and electric storms.
It is as if the Holy Souls are undergoing purification by reflecting, just below Heaven, within sight of the Abyss that leads to Hell, how good God is, who has rescued them from sin and disaster. They are helped by our prayers - and by the prayers of the Saints, which are like lifelines: long ropes let down from Heaven, so that the Holy Souls can be pulled up to glory.
When a person has come close to spiritual disaster, and has lived as if in an icy wilderness of isolation, cold, pain and hardship, it can seem impossible to believe that another 'world' exists, of joy, peace, warmth and fruitfulness. With faith in God's love, trust in His power, and prayer, we can allow God to change our inner landscape from cold to warm, and change even the pattern of our ordinary days.
Just as a skier cannot avoid occasional falls, we cannot live on earth without troubles of one sort or another; but we can act, by God's grace, to avoid the greatest of all disasters, which would be to end up in the pit of Hell, by our own fault, and not reach Heaven. It is by faith in God, and doing His Will, in response to His call, that we can allow Him to make us holy. Then, by prayer and acts of charity, we prepare for life in Heaven, no matter what temporary problems we endure in this world.
Everyone receives a just judgement, at death. The Blessed Trinity, our God, is infinitely compassionate and merciful, but does not over-ride our freedom, by which we choose to follow the path to life, opened by Christ, or choose to walk away, to sin, and to end in the Abyss, in a disaster of our own making.
Christ wants us to avoid the ultimate disaster. Christ leads us by love, encouraging us to follow the Way to Heaven, helped by His guidelines and graces; but those who persist in disobedience and foolishness, ignoring His Commandments and decrees, or neglecting prayer, or corrupting others, or being irreverent towards His Sacred Ministers, or persisting, without repentance, in any grave sin, are allowed to follow their own paths. Alas, these lead to the great sewer which carries souls to Hell.
One of the main duties of a Bishop is to teach the Faith. In doing so, and teaching the Faith in its fullness, it's as if he is leading people away from spiritual and moral danger, away from the cliff-edge which represents spiritual and moral disaster and - for those who are unrepentant when they die - the way down to Hell.
Some people distance themselves from God: those who see children as a nuisance, pregnancy as a disaster, and who are actively involved in supporting or providing direct abortions, as well as people who enjoy pornographic images of abused, defenceless children, and those who maliciously corrupt or abuse children for sexual pleasure. Unless they repent before they die, they will find themselves completely separated from God, by their own fault, forever.
We should pray for people without faith. People who don't love God or keep the Commandments are as if floating along on the great river of life, mostly unconcerned about the future, but likely to be carried as if over a great waterfall to disaster, when they die, unless they seek help from Heaven. They cannot save themselves by mere will-power, or good works alone.
In some disasters, such as a flood, when townspeople are hoping to be rescued and fed, one person might wait in patience; but another might look at her and think, "How can she smile, and sit peacefully there, when I am so miserable?" In his self-pity and anger he might lash out, or decide to steal something he does not need; and thus it is in everyday life, as well, amongst Christians.
Carelessness can be the first step on a path that leads to terrible results. Carelessness about life leads to the deaths of innocent babies by abortion. Carelessness about our neighbour's welfare leads to silence when they are harmed by an evil regime. Carelessness in catechesis can lead to gross irreverence towards Christ our God and Saviour, and to uncharity towards the neighbour who prays - and even to carelessness about the moral law, and about sin and death.
A grave, unconquered sin, in the life of an apparently good and peaceful person is like a fire which burns uncontrolled in a mine beneath the surface. Even if the flames are not visible, the fire will weaken the ground above, to cause eventual subsidence and disaster - unless it is recognised and put out, by repentance and forgiveness.
Some converts who entered the Church in the 1960s and 1970s found the Truths of the Faith, and the sacraments, and Christ Himself, Really Present. Yet they found themselves in an icy landscape; the ice and snow represent what Christ then saw: the icy hearts of those who were itching for inappropriate changes, and who, by strange acts and exaggerations, caused a thousand disasters, including, in part, a de-sacralisation of the words and gestures of the Mass.
Whenever there is a natural disaster in a poverty-stricken country, it should be borne in mind that, amongst the dead, are many who were responsible for the dreadful corruption, crime, poverty and injustice. No-one who has made himself rich or secure by sin can protect himself against sudden death, and Judgement.
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