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Wise people reflect, and actively prepare for Heaven. As we occupy ourselves with ordinary concerns, it's as if we are on a walkway which moves slowly towards the moment of our death. Then, the quality of our relationship with God will be revealed - or even the lack of one. Some people will see God and leap into His embrace. Others gladly surrender to purification, ashamed at not being ready for Heaven. Others continue to do what they did on earth, ignoring or despising God, and freely walking away on the steep road to Hell.
If we were able to look over a huge hedge that surrounds Heaven, we would see gleaming squares and bright fountains where people can stroll in perfect companionship, if they are not busy praising God. Heaven is beautiful, and goes on forever; but everyone who enters must have a beautiful, holy soul. Wise people try, by God's grace, to get ready in good time.
We act like wise 'children of God', if we go to Mary, our Blessed Mother, seeking her help in approaching the Father through Christ, in prayer. She can help us to purify our intention, to clarify our thoughts, and to prepare a Gift for the Lord, the gift being the thoughts, words, offerings we offer each day, perhaps with a special degree of hope, patience, or long-suffering.
It is true that Holy Souls in Purgatory are safe in God's care, and certain to go to Heaven when they have been made ready to enter. But some are so long in Purgatory that they look on, over and over again, as other souls speed away to Heaven. It's as if those guilty of grave sin, but saved at the last moment of life by the Last Sacraments, have to watch one train after another go to Heaven without them. Their purification is very lengthy. They, especially, need our prayers.
Few of us sufficiently appreciate our good fortune. To be baptised, and purified, and a member of the Church, is to be guaranteed a hearing, when we pray. It's as if each of us is held in Christ's arms, as He says to the Father: 'She is Mine. Hear her. Do as she asks!' The state of such a person is more secure that the state of a person who does not know Christ but calls out in prayer, uncertain that he is heard.
Helped by our prayers, offered in the name of Christ, the Holy Souls make their way towards Heaven. All those who are about to be welcomed into Heaven are by now carefree, purified, and no longer remorseful or saddened by their sins. They see Heaven as an undeserved free gift, so their hearts and minds are full of thanks and praise - just like the Saints whose company they are about to enjoy.
We learned that God's presence was experienced long ago amidst thunder and fire, on Sinai. People today who live in serious sin and are afraid of God, feel as though He is a God of terror and fire. All who have been purified in Baptism - or, later, in Reconciliation - can realise that God is love: a tender love, in which He enfolds those who trust in Him and strive to do His Will. Their souls are at peace.
We are sometimes impatient, expecting instant intimacy with Christ, and sweet spiritual experiences; but Christ purifies those who love Him. Those experiences of repentance and remorse can seem like a journey through a minefield; yet the bliss of known union with Christ is given as a gift to those who persevere through the 'dark nights' of the soul.
Some souls lead lives of such resolute self-will that, instead of being full of Divine warmth and glory they are like snowy waste-lands, where the snow is frozen on the trees, or even like those places in Siberia where the permafrost never melts. These souls will need a lengthy purification in Purgatory - if they die in a state of grace; not mortal sin. Their love for God has grown very cold.
We should not forget our departed friends and relations. The Holy Souls in Purgatory are safe in God's care, as their purification prepares them for the glory of Heaven; yet they yearn to benefit from our intercessary prayers. They are helped to move closer to Heaven, by our prayers for their souls, as we pray in the name of Christ, Who wants everyone to act, to help them.
We can rightly picture ourselves as very small and weak, unable by our own power to life ourselves up to share God's life, and unworthy of union, without the forgiveness and purification that he can give. Yet the Holy Spirit can raise us up.
If we are in need of purification in Purgatory, when we die, we should welcome it, because we would be unable to bear the sight of God's glory; so our purification can be seen as a sort of acclimatisation. When we are ready, we emerge, joyfully, longing to enter Heaven, just as a diver ends his slow acclimatisation by bursting joyfully though the surface of the water to be greeted by his friends.
We can picture Heaven as being like another country. Wise people who want to enter a new country have some humility, and are willing to allow their documents to be examined, to see if they are in order. We are foolish if we expect to drift into Heaven if we have made no preparations for our new way of life, have no humility, and rely only on God's kindness towards us, while forgetting His blazing holiness, that only the holy can understand!
Obstinate souls require firm 'treatment'. A soul that is well-cared for, in the sense of being pleasing to God because of its purity, humility and love, is like a beautiful lawn that is pleasant to walk upon; but a soul that neglects its spiritual health is like a place of dry grass broken up by patches of mud. It needs to be well-dug before new seed can be sown; and that 'digging' might take the form of an apparent catastrophe in ordinary life.
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: Preparation, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 1 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), entitled 'How to Prepare'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deepen your prayer...
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...
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