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We should recognise what God can do in our lives, at our consent. When a grateful person believes in Christ, surrenders to His wishes, and with prayer, penance and acts of charity allows Christ to transform her, whatever the cost, Christ works an amazing transformation. To change a person with sinful ways into someone who lives for the glory of the Blessed Trinity is like changing a go-kart into a Rolls Royce.
Catholics who work in mission and evangelisation can often be seen as calling out into the dark, in the heights of a great cavern, as they look down to the depths where many people are hiding away from God. Someone in this sort of Apostolate should have a burning desire to share the good news about God's love for us, about the forgiveness of sins, and about the graces made available through Christ and His Church, to bring us back to God and to prepare us for Eternity.
Many priests should preach more than at present about Confession. Just as an ordinary housewife can tell if her neighbours are alive and active, if she sees their washing pegged out on the line each day, so a priest knows that many of his parishioners are fervent about Christ and Salvation if they provide evidence by going to regular Confession, as well as doing good for others. What should a priest think if almost no-one goes to the Sacrament of Penance, but everyone goes to Holy Communion?
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.
Wise people look at human life from the perspective of Eternity. We are right to try to be free of our ailments and handicaps - which seem like a great 'cloud' above us - as we move through life, towards Eternity. But even people who are, for example, deaf, or have speech problems, should be confident about life. What is important is communion with God, Who can 'hear' a single thought. Our ailments need not stop us from being close to Him, until our lives end in His presence, where He welcomes His friends into His embrace, in perfect communion, for all Eternity, all 'clouds' dispersed.
Already, God sees the end of each of us. From Eternity, God can see, all at once, the whole of human history. He sees which human beings have persevered in the 'race' to holiness and triumph, and which have come to grief through their own sin and foolishness, and have also set a bad example. This is true of the lowliest amongst us, and of clergy as well. Each of us must be alert, because, by some carelessness, or a moment's selfishness, we can drastically alter our direction, take a foolish course, and even lead others astray.
Christ makes the souls of sinners beautiful by His grace; and we sinful people can make our souls very beautiful by our trust in Him. When we really believe in His love for us, and act as though we believe that - confident in the power of prayer, and of the action of Divine Grace - our soul is like a beautiful temple, in His sight.
It is important that we persevere in our intercessions for the needy. There are many people who have not yet accepted the truth about God's love for them, His desire to free them from their sins, and the need for repentance and prayer, so that they can share God's life, through Christ, and follow the sure Way to holiness and Heaven. Without the life of grace, within them, people are trapped in sin and ignorance, as if in semi-darkness, in an area of chaos and hopelessness, beneath a shining highway.
Satan is tireless in his efforts to corrupt and endanger God's friends. There is a holy Way on which we can walk: a way of light and peace, on which we can walk in the knowledge and love of God, confident that by His grace and mercy we are making our way towards Heaven. Yet we must be vigilant until the moment of death, determined not to allow Satan's tricks, or our own weaknesses and sinful instincts, to draw us off that road.
Christ wants us to realise that wherever there is suffering and injustice, His love is needed: His love, and respect for all who are generally treated as inferior or even worthless: girls and women, the uneducated or sick or disabled, or people of another race or background. A really just society is one that follows the teachings of Christ. We can ask, as a 'measure' of justice anywhere on earth, 'How are women treated in their families?'
Christ is explaining to all who are called to be celibate priests that in their celibate state they can imitate Him, by His grace, not treating celibacy as a burden but a help to total self-donation to God, in the Church. They can be confident of receiving the necessary graces; and seminarians have the inestimable privilege of having Jesus Christ Really Present amongst them in the Blessed Sacrament of the tabernacle and altar.
Children deserve to have peaceful childhoods, with mixed work and fun. Can anyone who really cares about little children want them to learn about sex and reproduction? They are too young. It is their parents' task, for later on - and not something for early years, discussed and illustrated in mixed classes, with little or no moral content. What would our reaction be, if children came across pictures of body parts and sex techniques and contraceptive devices?
There is more to voting that supporting an attractive person. Policies matter. The Lord invites us to reflect on this matter, as we try to decide whom to vote for, in elections for Government: Are these people, or those, the more likely to encourage in our country the sort of life and behaviour that pleases God? Do politicians who support family life also desire to help the weak and needy? Do politicians seeking power want to promote further abortion provision, and contraceptive provision to children, whilst not favouring marriage? We need to support those who do good.
The fact that the Catholic Church is persecuted is a sign that she shares in the sufferings of her Master, as the True Church that has been criticised in every age. If the people of the world were to march past us, criticising Catholics, even the very last of the persons would have something bad to say about the Church; but the Church consists of the Saints and the Holy Souls too. We must not lose heart, but trust in the promises of our Saviour, and in His graces.
All sad and wounded persons can find help through prayer. Every victim of abuse by a priest can find help and strength if he will turn to Our Blessed Lady, who will lead him towards her son. Healing rays of Divine Grace can work marvels in the hearts, minds and souls of those wounded in childhood, and still preoccupied, today, with horrible memories. God can even help them to live out their faith by forgiving their abusers.
All over the world, people pray prayers, sending them up towards God the Father Who hears everything. But when there are prayers that rise up in the Name of Jesus by people faithful to Jesus, it's as if Jesus Himself is rising up to intercede with the Father, Who cannot fail to hear and answer such prayers; hence our confidence, if we live in a state of grace.
Some of us imagine that if we have set out on a sinful way of life we can never escape from it - as if we have entered a train that is carrying us away to our doom; but even trains have an emergency cord to pull, if we are brave. And in the spiritual life, we can decide, of our free will, to co-operate with Divine Grace, and to 'stop in our tracks', to change our way.
Whenever we offer up our sufferings, willingly accepting them in union with Christ in His Passion, we can know that we win graces for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, or for people on earth who are trapped in sin. We enable someone, somewhere, to leave gloom behind and to move towards the light of Heaven. We do their penance, for them.
Whenever we offer up, in prayer, in union with Christ our Saviour, whatever sufferings we currently try to endure with patience, we are helping souls in danger of spiritual disaster. It's as if we are calling out - by the power of Christ - to someone who is about to descend a flight of steps that lead down to Hell. It's as if we are calling out - 'Don't go down there; it's a dead end!' By the grace of Christ, and our prayer, we can help people to turn back to Christ.
We might even risk our salvation if, on Sundays or holy days, we choose to miss Mass, in order to amuse ourselves, or for trivial reasons. Unless we are caring for the sick, for example, or are ourselves sick or without transport, it is to refuse to obey the First Commandment and the Church's command. It is to act as if we have no need of the graces that Christ offers, and no need of His prayer that we achieve Salvation.
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