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The Church prays for the soul of the deceased friend or relation at a Requiem Mass, and calls out, "Open the gates of Paradise" for that faithful servant. Let us remain hopeful of one day entering those gates, to live forever in the loving embrace of the Three Divine Persons, One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Just as a doctor with a patient in poor health can be pessimistic, or can choose to say: "There is life still. Celebrate it, even if we don't know what the future holds", so a Catholic can say either: "The Church is failing; we have fewer priests", or, "God exists, Christ is alive and at work in the Church, which is growing word-wide. We can meet Christ in Person in the Blessed Sacrament!" The hopeful Catholic gives joy, as well as truth.
Christ looks down from Heaven upon women who have had abortions. He longs for each one to repent of having allowed the precious little body of her baby to be thrown away like garbage. He knows that through repentance each one can receive forgiveness and peace from Him, and lead a fulfilling life in His love, and service, and in new hope.
In Hell, nothing can be more horrible than the sadism practiced on unrepentant sinners by the demons. People go on ghost trains on earth, or watch horror films, knowing that the horrible shocks and surprises will end. In Hell, unhappy souls have no hope of rescue. By their own fault, they have surrendered to evil, and are trapped with evil forever.
There are many people facing decline and death, and who do not say a word to their Creator, Who made them, and the whole universe, and Who holds us all in existence. Even the pagans call out to their creator; but many modern, supposedly well-educated people keep a sad silence, in their agonies, and so do not receive the comfort God can give - and the hope of Heaven.
Even when people persist in disbelief or grave sin, there is hope that a person can be saved - provided he repents before he dies. Christ continues, to the last moment of such a person's life, to encourage him to turn to Him. If someone has never heard of Christ, Christ will even appear to him as that person dies, to give him the opportunity to repent and believe - or else to fall away forever.
God is good, and just; therefore everyone who dies receives a just judgement; and even people who commit suicide are judged by Him. He understands the pain and sorrow that cause some people almost to lose hope of finding joy; but it is wrong for anyone to reject the gift of life and to kill himself, or to ask other people to take his life because he is very sick or disabled.
It is a terrible thing, to be unprepared for death and Heaven. A man can decide to become a great actor, a successful business man, or a brilliant guitarist - or might have some other ambition. But if all his energies are poured into the success of his ambition he will risk his soul. He will arrive at middle-age or old age having made no spiritual progress, and if indeed he has not lost all hope of salvation he will have a mountain to climb in Purgatory.
It is nice to be in a warm room, at Christmas, yet if we go out into the garden at night, we might wonder what someone might think of our world, if he had come down from a far-away star. For Christ, coming from Heaven was like coming from a star of light and grace to a world of sinful people, many of whom persecuted and killed Him - but could not prevent His Resurrection. All who believe that He came from Heaven to save us from sin can be transformed by His power, and have a sure hope of reaching Heaven.
A person who is lonely at Christmas needs help; but the greatest help would be for him to believe that Christ was born into our world at Christmas not for mankind as a group, but in order to transform and make joyful each beloved individual - including that person who is sad, whether from loss of faith, or grievous sin, or bereavement, or other reasons.
Christ invited us to set aside our distractions at Mass, and to rejoice that He is now amongst us in glory, now that His painful Work on earth had been completed, with His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. He wants His triumph to give us hope in our struggles against sin and hopelessness. With His power, we can persevere.
St. Michael the Archangel swoops down in a great fire of charity to help or rescue those endangered friends and followers of Christ who have called upon him for protection against the evil one's assaults, or for help in overcoming temptations. He prays for us, and offers reminders of God's goodness, and of the hope of Heaven.
Without trust in God, people turn away from Him, by a free choice. Millions of people have died with little faith or hope, and have left nothing good on earth. But the work of the Saints endures. Those self-centred people have had nowhere to go except on a single journey, chosen by them, away from God, to the depths of Hell. But the good that the Saints do lives after them, renews the Church, helps the needy, and changes attitudes across the world. The Gospel needs to be preached to the ends of the earth, to bring hope, and joy.
The journey to Heaven is, for most people, a slow and arduous climb. Christ wants each of us to believe in His love, to persevere in faith, hope, love and humility, and to avoid pride and vainglory. People who want to be Saints think more about God's goodness that about their own gifts, talents, plans and ambitions.
It can be distressining, to see people we know apparently taking the wrong road, away from Christ, and Heaven. Only God knows their final destination; and we are right to hope, and to intercede for them; however, some people use their gift of free-will deliberately to disobey Christ, act unjustly, or ignore the teachings of the Church about charity, and penance; and, like Christ, we must accept that they have made their own choices, even foolish ones.
To pray sincere prayers in the name of Jesus is like being lifted to the top of a high tower, to be poised at the edge of a great abyss, yet confident that the Holy Spirit will carry our prayer to the unseen Father of Light. It is the same Holy Spirit Who carries a soul across the Abyss at death. Woe to those who do not possess the Spirit! We must never drive Him out, but repent like little children, confident of finding forgiveness, and new hope.
People who persist in mortal sin, careless of the danger to their souls, and of the risk of damnation, are as if living on narrow ledges just above the great Abyss which separates earth from Heaven. They have no hope of crossing the Abyss, unless they are drawn up by God's grace and the prayers of the faithful to level ground, which is a state of grace. From there, they can allow the Spirit to carry them to Heaven; but if they stay on the ledges, then die, they will immediately fall into Hell below.
Whether we are single or married, called to the lay state, or single and called to Priesthood or the Religious Life, we are invited by God to have firm faith in His power to help us. It's as if He has arms full of gifts such as courage, hope, greater faith, and love and humility. If we ask for them, He will lavish them upon us, so that we can be good and obedient like Christ.
Many of the Clergy preach a truncated Faith. There is little preaching today on important issues of sexual morality: sins which are common-place, such as adultery, pre-marital sex, contraceptive use and much more. In Christ's sight, a Bishop who does not teach the Faith in its fullness and lead people away from sin and hopelessness is still a beloved 'child', but is as useless as a shopkeeper who refuses to sell things.
Each Saint in Heaven is like a flame of pure praise in a great fire of praise of the Father. We hope to join them, and to be reunited with friends and relations, who have loved God. The truth about Heaven is that whoever does not love God, and does not want to praise Him, does not enter - by the free choice he has made to exclude himself.
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