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Living as if trapped in an underground cave, a person who is full of self-pity has a spiritual ailment. That person deserves sympathy, and perhaps rest, and practical help; but self-pity is damaging in that the one so afflicted is usually not very thankful for what is genuinely good in life: including the gift of life; and it cuts off the preoccupied one from sharing the interests, joys and sorrows of other people.
Marriage can bring tremendous joys, but there are dangers to avoid: sins to be avoided in order to lead holy married lives, to create a holy family, and to help one another, by God's grace, to be worthy of Heaven. The downward path which leads to darkness represents the way taken when people disobey God by contraceptive use, or deviant sex, or adultery, or other forms of grave betrayal or uncharity.
Though we do not usually see them, the Saints and Angels are very close to us, urging us on, as we follow the path to Heaven in this dark world. They delight in our successes in the spiritual life. Their companionship is not enjoyed by people who take the wrong path which leads down low, as if into a ditch, as they try to hide their sins from God.
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.
We need to pray for ourselves, and for others. We must remember that a simple choice lies before each of us, whether to follow the Way that leads to life: Christ's Way - or to follow the other fork in the road, into a dark path that leads downwards, amongst trees, where people try to hide their sins from God. Only one Way leads towards Heaven.
It is possible for us to persevere in naked faith, serving God and our neighbour with love, aiming for sanctity, hoping for Heaven, even when it seems as if we have no evidence of support, no signs that we are on the right path. Naked faith means clinging to what we believe to be good, and doing good, by the strength given to us by Christ and His Church.
It is a marvellous thing, to teach, preach or evangelise. Just as there are dark streets and alleys where no-one feels safe, and sensible people are glad to be shown the way to the well-lit reads nearby, so, in the moral sphere, wise people respond to any invitation to leave the dark paths on which they walk at present, to enter the Way of Christ, which is the sure way to Heaven, lit by Divine Light.
When we feel nearly overcome by the troubles of the world, or temptations from Satan, we can turn to Our Lady, Who loves to help us by her prayers. It's as if she raises her hand to God, who sends down grace that causes a pathway to appear amidst the tangle of coils in which we feel trapped. With such help we can be freed from anxiety and helped to endure our pains.
By humility we can advance in holiness. No matter what way of life we believe the Lord calls us to, we sometimes act like the man in Christ's Gospel story. We might assure Christ that we will obey Him, yet then walk away, or we might refuse to serve - then regret our decision, and come back, contrite, like the man who returned, as Christ said, to do his father's will. Whoever returns like this gives joy to Christ, and follows the right path.
Even when we are sincere about our conversion, and we come into full Communion, determined to follow Christ and to grow in holiness, on the path to Heaven, we might still be laden with fears, bad habits, resentments or misapprehensions, from which Christ can gradually deliver us, if we surrender to Him more and more bravely, for love of Him. Near the journey's end, we might be carrying only a small 'handbag'!
We are right to pray for prisoners, as we think of one needy group of people, then another, as we make our intercessions; yet the worst sort of 'captivity' is brought about by grave sin, when a person imprisons himself through freely deciding to do what is gravely sinful, or to neglect an important good. The good news is that, helped by Divine Grace, he can repent, and open the door of his 'prison', and set out on the path to Heaven.
If we love Christ and trust in Him, we can hurl ourselves - by His grace - into His loving heart, in prayer, as if into an Abyss of light, in total surrender but real unknowing, and real acceptance of Christ's plans for us, whatever these might be. He is utterly trustworthy, even if He leads us along unexpected paths.
How to know Jesus Christ
Finding Christ, Finding Life: a talk by Elizabeth Wang, given at the French Church, Leicester Square, London, 2006. INTRODUCTION. You probably know that I’m an artist. The project I’m busy with, now...
Holiness, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is the complete version of the pamphlet entitled 'SPEAK ABOUT HOLINESS'. It is based on a talk given by Elizabeth Wang. Preface. This little book contains the full version of the text I wrot...
What is Mary Like? by Elizabeth Wang
This text is the complete version of the pamphlet WHAT IS MARY LIKE? “Now having met together; they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘...
The Purpose of the Priesthood, by Elizabeth Wang
‘The Purpose of the Priesthood contains encouragement and advice for Catholic priests. It reminds them about the central meaning of the Priesthood, and about the need to teach the Catholic Faith in it...
How to Pray: Basics, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 2 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), pages 9-18, entitled 'How to Pray'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deepen you...
How to Pray: Perseverance, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 3 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), pages 19-30, entitled 'How to Persevere'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deep...
How to Pray: Stages of the Spiritual Life
This text is published as Chapters 7 and 8 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations). An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deepen your prayer life. 7 ABOUT THE JO...
Autobiography of Elizabeth Wang, Part 1
This text forms part of Elizabeth Wang's Falling in Love: A Spiritual Autobiography (1999). It tells the story of her life and of her spiritual journey as she came to know Christ and His Church. You ...
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