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Prayer and penance, faith and love, are essential. A person who hopes to reach the highest stages of the spiritual life, and Heaven, whilst ill-prepared and ill-disciplined, and self-centered in his opinions and plans is like a man who declares that he will climb Mount Everest by his own methods, and who sets out ill-equipped, and wearing flip-flops on his feet.
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.
A person who wishes to enjoy perfect union with God in Heaven must achieve - by God's Grace - towering heights of holiness. No penance done, nor great works accomplished, nor lengthy prayers prayed, can prepare any Catholic for Heaven who has refused to give up his serious sins. Indeed, no-one in serious sin can enter.
Whoever 'offers up' her suffering in union with Christ in His Passion, and prays for people in need, can be sure of bringing help to sinners, or the sick or lonely, and others. It's as if those needy souls are brought close to God, in a great procession, as His healing light shines upon them - even if the one praying has no idea who is being helped.
It is true that Jesus healed everyone. But we cannot accuse sick people who fail to improve, after prayer, of having little faith. The Lord permits some people to bear sufferings so that - just like Him, on the Cross - they might do penance for the sins of other people. Others are allowed, by the Lord, a time in which to reflect on their lives and to amend their sinful ways. Others, by patience in sickness, set a good example.
What a lot of work must be done by a newly-converted soul who wants to make progress in the spiritual life, and please God by every thought, word and deed. A convert's penances, prayers and mortifications are like the hard work a gardener does, who clears the ground around a new plant, and prunes it, to make it grow strong and true.
Whenever a person offers up, in union with Christ in His Passion, some painful or distressing experience or state or event, in patience, to help sinners, someone in spiritual danger is saved from falling into Hell. The prayers we offer in Jesus' name are powerful, especially when we do penance for those who refuse to do so.
A person who wishes to show respect and honour towards the King, who is God the Father, as she approaches Him whilst she is accompanied by Christ the Prince, is willing to be suitably robed for the occasion, when she makes her requests. She clothes herself in garments offered to her: garments of penance, reverence, contrition, trust and love.
Just as a person who tries to clean the outside wall of a house has little success with a garden hose but amazing results from a power-hose, so a sinner who is ashamed but does not bother to go to confession remains stained with sin, whereas one who is cleaned in the Confessional in the Sacrament of Penance emerges with a soul made glorious by Divine action.
Through the Liturgy, if we are prayerful, contrite and obedient to Christ, the Father can lift us closer to Heaven
The Mass is a solemn and sacred representation of the once-for-all Sacrifice of Jesus Christ: God-made-man. Yet there are people who come to Mass and Holy Communion who are still in their sins: their grave sins. It is not fitting to receive Christ, unless a person has been purified by contrition, Reconciliation, and acts of penance.
Christ sees that there are many who come to church and to Holy Communion who are still in their serious sins. It is true that He loves everyone; but He invites to Holy Communion those who are sorry for their sins, and who have been reconciled with Him through His Church, and who have been purified by His grace and their penances.
By prayer and penance, which includes the offering-up of daily troubles, we can help to rescue people in danger of Hell, people who are unworried about mortal sin. It's as though such people are playing cards deep underground, unaware of the danger they are in; and the one who prays and does penance is crawling through a tunnel, to pull them out, to reach God's light and love.
When a monk or nun or devout lay-person offers prayers and penances in order to draw a soul away away from mortal sin, into a state of grace, it's as though that sinner has been pushed along in a dangerous coal-mine, helped to reach the main shaft leading upwards so that he can reach God's light, and freedom.
We might not always see the results of our prayer, but when a monk or nun or devout lay-person rescues a soul from sin by offering prayers and penances on his behalf, it's as though he had brought that soul from the depths of a dangerous mine, to emerge into sunlight, greeted by a joyful crowd: the Saints and Angels.
People who live in the depths of sin, through drink, drugs, immoral relationships or pornography or other habits that alienate them from God, are like people lost in a smoke filled mine: unable to see how dangerous is their state or to find their way back to God's light. They desperately need the help of others' prayers and sufferings.
Christ invites every woman who has had an abortion to turn to Him, and not to lose hope. He loves her. She need only say to Him: "I did wrong, and I am sorry!" to show her regret and repentance. Christ wants the Clergy to speak more about the Sacrament of Penance, and about how the sin of abortion can be forgiven.
A person who has had an abortion has only to repent, and to say 'sorry', to the Lord, and she will be forgiven. It is best if she receives the graces of the sacrament of Penance, and is thoroughly reconciled to God and the Church.
The Father in Heaven loves all His creatures, but He looks with delight and wonder upon the soul of a person newly-forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance; and like a mother full of wonder at her new-born baby's delightful fingers and toes, God looks with wonder upon the penitent's virtues and good resolutions.
It has always been true; and it is true today: that a person who turns to God in sorrow for her sins, repenting, is forgiven. This is true even of grave sins such as abortion. People who receive forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance can be certain that their sins have been wiped away, and their souls made beautiful in God's sight.
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