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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.
We please Christ whenever we act to help and encourage priests in their vocation. We also please Him when we encourage those priests who love to celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is Christ Who has always loved the Mass He instituted, and also developed through His Spirit; and it is Christ Who has inspired Pope Benedict to allow priests the freedom to offer Mass in the Traditional manner.
As generation succeeds generation, so one group of priests succeeds another group - as surely as a Big Wheel turns across the sky. Christ wants the priests in each group to be really united in love for Christ at the Mass, even if some prefer the Novus Ordo and others the Extraordinary Form.
Christ asks all priests to treat one another as brothers in the Priesthood, united in love for Him and for the Mass, and never making life uncomfortable or more difficult for those of them who prefer one form of Mass to another. Christ shows us, through the Pope, that both the Novus Ordo and the 'Extraordinary Form' of the Mass are to be respected as valid, and offered with reverence and love.
When a new Bishop is appointed, he should know what his Master, Christ, is inviting Him to examine, as he begins his care of a new Diocese. The Bishop will ask about his priests, and their well-being. He will look at the Seminary, and its training. He will ensure that catechesis is well-organised, orthodox and wholehearted; and he will see whether the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in a way which gives glory to God, and every possible help for the education and salvation of souls.
There are still many people who have not yet heard the Gospel preached. It is true, as the Church teaches, that it is possible for a person not baptised to be saved. However, this is far less likely than many people suppose, for the simple reason that many non-Christians have committed grave sins - as Christians have - but have never repented. Many have refused to join the Church, or mocked her, or mocked her priests; and of the rest, how many have followed the promptings of their conscience, for a life-time, until death, to do good and to avoid what everyone should know is evil? Only God knows.
There is a tremendous need for intercessary prayer. It is possible for the non-baptised to be saved, if they have never heard the Gospel but have persevered until death in doing good and avoiding evil; but many non-Christians have refused to believe in Christ. Others have committed grave sin and refused to repent. Others have mocked the Church or mocked her priests. Others have ignored the call of conscience, and followed selfish ways, knowing these were wrong. Thousands fall into Hell, everyday, alongside unrepentant Christians.
Real charity, in practice, includes speaking the truth. A member of the Clergy who panders to the desires of the laity not to hear about sin, and who fails to do his duty of issuing warnings, as Christ did, will be held responsible for when people do sin, just as people are held responsible for road-crashes when they have failed to put out signs about road-works, or major junctions.
Christ is glad to see His people arrange for kingly greetings - processions, and trumpets - to be offered to the 'other Christs' He has called to look after His flocks, whether a Bishop or Archbishop. He is the King of Heaven, and these leaders in the Church are representatives of our Heavenly King, and so deserve our respect - including parish priests, also chosen by Christ to lead us.
Good priests live as if in a radiant light, the light of grace, because of their love for Christ, which is shown out in love for the flocks they teach and cherish. Bad priests are like those areas in space called black holes, which emit no light, but draw in what is good, and destroy it.
Every priest needs a spiritual advisor, 'brother' or director. The spiritual life of a priest can suffer for many reasons; yet on examination, a life is seen to resemble a church which simply needs some cleaning and re-decoration, or might even resemble a church whose foundations have been almost destroyed by termites, and need completely replacing, if the church is not to collapse.
Christ holds up St. John Vianney, inviting all priests and Bishops to peer through the mists of time to meet a Saint whose priestly ministry was simple, fervent, Christ-centered, self-forgetful, pure and holy. St John is the ideal patron Saint for all Clergy. Faith and love are important, today, not trying to be being 'relevant'.
St. John Vianney had lots of Confessions to hear, partly because he was brave enough to seek people out in their homes, and to preach about sin and Hell. He did not think it a waste of time to wait in the Confessional at the appointed time until someone came.
When some priests try to appear unnecessarily modern and relevant, Satan is at work today. It is he who persuades so many of the Clergy to water down the Faith, to make compromises with the world, or with other Christians, that are against Church teaching and confuse the Faithful.
It is Satan who helps some of the Clergy to water down the Faith, and to act against the Faith in ways that others do. Christ sees it is as hard for an orthodox priest to speak with a luke-warm Bishop today as it was for Franz Jaggerstatter to speak to the army officer, or St. Thomas More to speak to his king.
It can be hard for some priests as they grow old and frail, and step down from positions of influence, no longer able to preach and command a hearing. Some feel as though, in retirement, they are falling, helpless, towards oblivion; but they should believe that, underneath them, to hold them, are the 'everlasting arms' of God.
Priests should set an example of holiness and purity, neither giving up nor watering down the Faith, nor developing a worldly spirit in order to be popular. They will do little good if they are disloyal to the Saviour, Who asks them to imitate Him, and keep people safe from Hell.
A worldly priest hopes to fit in, more easily, with society; yet he will do no good amongst those with little interest in religion or the moral laws if he seems to be disloyal to Christ, and disloyal to the ideals of charity, simplicity, chastity and humility that he should uphold.
We are used to making kindly judgements, as Christ has requested; but it can happen that a priest grows lukewarm. He acts in a pleasant, affectionate manner, whilst neglecting his prayers, and failing to show people, in private, the respect he shows in public.
As if looking through a colonnade at busy people, a person in the Church who has begun to doubt his vocation feels as if he is isolated, in a dimly-lit place: an outsider, looking inwards, and afraid of greater commitment. Prayer is essential, by him, and for him, if he is to look on his state through the eyes of Christ.
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