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The Lord sees irreverent Catholics, and He asks, Who are those people who refuse to bend the knee, and kneel before Him in prayer? Who are they, who fail to adore Christ, Really Present in the Holy Eucharist? Who are they, who offer praise which is banal, or careless, or frivolous or vain, to their God and Creator?
If Christ were to walk through our towns, discerning the attitudes of the Catholics gathered within Catholic churches, He would see people at Mass for all sorts of reasons, and mixed motives - but He would be thrilled by the small number who are present because they love Him, long to be closer to Him, and strive to do His Will.
Whenever we turn to Jesus with sincere hearts, He pours out His graces upon us: His power and His spiritual gifts; yet the greater the number of needy people we 'carry' to Him in our hearts, in prayer, the greater the number of graces.
People forget that the vows or promises they have made in church, in either marriage or religious life or Priesthood, are vows made to almighty God. To break those vows selfishly is to act against God. A special vocation cannot be treated as a merry-go-round, on which people enjoy themselves for a while, but leave when they are bored, or dislike the music or the same views at each turn.
Some people refuse to open their hearts to God about their fears, sins and weaknesses, even though they go through the motions of leading ordinary lives as faithful Catholics. It's as if their soul is like a garden, hidden behind locked gates - the will - as they keep God out, but also keep out His wisdom and His consolations.
It is horrible, in God's sight, that when He had sent His Son to earth, to work miracles of healing before conquering sin and death, to found a Church to bring forgiveness to sinners, and to make possible the miracle of the Mass - and when it is God Who gives to each of us in the gift of life - it is horrible that, on a Sunday, a Catholic might say, "I can't be bothered by the Mass. I want to go, for example, to something more interesting, like a garden centre". What astounding contempt for our Divine Creator.
Christ's self-sacrifice, for the fulfilment of the Father's plan, was total. A priest, more than anyone, can only benefit his Sacred Ministry fully and the people he serves if he imitates His Master's self-sacrificing love even to accepting celibacy, willingly, so that he is totally committed to Christ and His Church, without reserve.
Christ wants everyone to know and serve Him, in His Church. Everyone who claims to know Christ's Will, and professes a desire to lead people to Christ, must examine his conscience. He must answer to God for what he sees in his own heart. Each of us knows if we are really urging people to turn to Christ, or are encouraging indifferentism, saying it doesn't really matter about commitment or Baptism.
Whether we are lay-persons, or Clergy - even Cardinals - every committed Christian should examine his or her conscience, to see whether, in a time of indifferentism, each is leading people to surrender to Christ: not to a Christ of the imagination, but to the only Christ, the One guiding His Church, sharing His life in her sacraments and wanting us all to obey and love Him.
The closer is our union with Christ, in prayer and in everyday life, the greater is our understanding of Sacred Scripture. It can seem as if, by reading the Gospels, we are given a glimpse into Christ's life, Christ's mind, and Christ's purposes; and we seem to be brought even closer to Him by our act of reading with devotion.
A Bishop is ordained to the fullness of the Priesthood so that he can teach the truths of the Faith with a sincere heart. When a Bishop ceases to believe in the moral teachings of the Church, or her articles of faith, and also criticizes the discipline of the Church which he should uphold, his best course is to resign. Teaching the Faith should be central to his life, not a half-hearted, occasional, sad duty.
As we pray in the name of Christ to God our Father, the most important thing about prayer is that we approach God with hearts open to His love, willing to learn from Him, and reverent, humble, contrite and grateful. Books can be useful, if they give us words in which to clothe our thoughts, for a sincere offering to God; but books are useless, if we read to God but do so without humility, without trust, or without willingness to love, forgive and serve our neighbour.
To pray sincere prayers in the name of Jesus is like being lifted to the top of a high tower, to be poised at the edge of a great abyss, yet confident that the Holy Spirit will carry our prayer to the unseen Father of Light. It is the same Holy Spirit Who carries a soul across the Abyss at death. Woe to those who do not possess the Spirit! We must never drive Him out, but repent like little children, confident of finding forgiveness, and new hope.
Some people say: "How cruel of God, to allow anyone to suffer in Hell". Rather, we should say, "How amazing it is, that, after repentance, weak, sinful people should be allowed to serve God, and then fly into the glory of Heaven, to live with Him in bliss, forever, with all the Saints!" Sad to say, some people who say they want to go to Heaven are not willing to believe in Christ, or do the Will of Christ, Who has opened Heaven for repentant sinners.
It's as if the Holy Souls are invited to wait, on a ledge, able to see the Abyss from which God has saved them. They cannot yet enter Heaven. Some people need a lengthy purification because, when on earth, they made compromises with the world which were scandalous or shameful, in the sight of God, Who sees everything. When our attempts to 'fit in' lead us to scorn or disobey God's Commandments, we shall have a prolonged Purgatory to endure, to be made worthy of Heaven, even when we have confessed our sins before we die.
God sees an extraordinary sight, as He looks down upon countless members of the Church who plan their own lives, according to their own ideas and desires, yet deign to give only a moment of their time, now and then, for prayer, unaware of His immense holiness, or His Sovereignty as well as His love.
It is possible to receive little benefit from the sacraments. There are some elderly Catholics who have practiced the Faith for decades, but who are spiritually immature, and lacking in virtue. If they believe they have been harmed or insulted they shriek with indignation. This is because they have not practiced sincere prayer, and have failed to practice the virtues and to advance in sanctity.
Christ loves and honours His beloved Mother Mary. He wants us to love and honour her, and to give her special honour in and through the Church. He delights in seeing Popes and Bishops set an example in this, by their sincere prayers and other acts of devotion at Marian shrines, and before images of Our Blessed Lady.
Christ wants us to realise that the worst thing for Him to endure, in the events leading up to His trial, was not the roar of the crowd, but the desertion of His friends, which wounded His heart.
God does not look upon us with distaste because we have distractions in prayer. He understands our nature. Just as one of us, reading peacefully in a hot climate, might be merely amused, not annoyed, by the little lizards which dart around our feet, on the stone pavement, so God looks on us with affection as He sees us praying sincere prayers although these are interrupted by minor distractions.
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