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Our loving Father in Heaven invites us to share our lives with Him. We can be confident that He is just, kind and merciful, just like Jesus His Son; yet we are often afraid to show Him what our lives are really like. What do we try to keep secret from Him? What dark areas do we hide? Are we really sincere, as we say we are doing His Will and loving Him and our neighbour?
If we have faith in Christ, and a fervent spiritual life, we can become like the healthy mustard-plant that Christ described, in which 'the birds of the air can rest'; but if we have very little faith in Him, and are full of self-pity about our difficulties, resentful of the crosses we carry, and prickly towards our neighbour, we are like a thorn bush amidst all the beauty and life that is seen around us.
God asks us: 'In how many Catholic homes is the Faith really practiced?' All who work to share the Faith should be certain that God is pleased with their efforts. Change and decline alternate with stable periods of joy, in human history. We can picture, in one age, pagan worship at Stonehenge, but then the life and work of Christ - followed by the stoning of St. Stephen, and, much later, a triumphant sculpture of Christ placed on high in Rio di Janeiro. And today? Weak faith, again, in very many places.
By every sincere, humble act of contrition, it's as if we make it possible to enjoy a higher degree of glory in Heaven, when the Lord eventually brings us home. What a thought! What a help for us, in our search for sanctity.
Just as Christ was touched by the people who lowered their sick friend through the roof, so that he could be healed, so He is touched when we bring our sick or sad friends to Him, through our intercessions. Through our faith, and His merciful love, people in need receive help, even if we cannot yet see the results.
Sin is like a spiritual leprosy that can be marvellously banished through our sincere repentance. Christ forgives every repentant sinner; and He is deeply touched when people then turn to Him in gratitude and love.
There is no doubt that our priests deserve care and respect both from their parishioners and their Bishops, as well as sufficient rest, and free time. Yet priestly life can only be renewed, where priests are dispirited or dejected, if there is also a humble, sincere, renewal of trusting prayer to Christ, and devotion to His Holy Mother Mary.
The soul of a fervent person in a state of grace is not like the cold, half-dead soul of someone whose love for God has grown cold. It is like a Cathedral, in that it is a beautiful soul, a worthy place in which to welcome Christ in every Communion: a place in which the Holy Spirit can move freely, inspiring that person to offer sincere prayers, and to do good works.
Even when we are sincere about our conversion, and we come into full Communion, determined to follow Christ and to grow in holiness, on the path to Heaven, we might still be laden with fears, bad habits, resentments or misapprehensions, from which Christ can gradually deliver us, if we surrender to Him more and more bravely, for love of Him. Near the journey's end, we might be carrying only a small 'handbag'!
When we begin again in the spiritual life, and by sincere prayer we cross a chasm that separated us in our mediocrity from the climb to sanctity, we should be glad and grateful; but we must not suppose that our difficulties are over. There is still a long way to go before we reach holiness or Heaven. Patience and fortitude are essential.
If we pray sincerely, with faith in Christ, interceding for someone in need, it's as though we are looking through the 'roof' into that person's life, drawing aside the roof, so that the light of Heaven can shine in, and that person will be helped to turn to Christ, in her need.
There are some people earnestly in need of the intercessions of the faithful. Those needing help are not just the people who do not yet know Christ, but also those Christians who ignore their spiritual obligations. In Christ's sight, it's as though these choose to live in the gutter, since they rarely, if ever, confess their sins, or offer sincere prayers.
We are not wrong to say that there is 'one true Church'. That is the phrase used within the Mass, in our official prayers. It is the simple truth about the one Church founded by Christ so that He can give the sacraments to all who believe in him and do his will. Other groups called 'churches' are groups of sincere people who do not, however, enjoy Catholic privileges, or the constant and true teachings that Catholics enjoy.
Within the soul, as if in a bright interior chamber where the contemplative meets Christ in prayer, it's as if there is a secret chamber into which Christ can draw that person, to bring her to meet the Holy Spirit and the Father too, and to share Christ's secrets, about the life of God and the life of grace. Only those people who have sincerely tried to live in charity, humility and purity can enjoy such intimacy with God.
There is something sad about the problem of scruples. Isn't it strange that a person can see it as odd, to go to a Doctor for a proven remedy, but then to believe that she, the patient, will be the only person whom it will not help, but cannot see that it is equally odd to confess to a priest, sincerely, believing in the power of the Sacrament, but then believing that she, the penitent, is the only person who remains unforgiven, and probably estranged from God! This is to have a serious spiritual ailment, and lack of trust in Divine Love.
We are not expected to be imprudent or foolish; yet Christ delights in seeing people treat one another with respect, with displays of sincere kindness towards everyone, whether employers or employees, older people or young, in imitation of Christ, Who loves everyone.
Christ delights in our friendship! And Christ welcomes our sincere prayers: the ones we offer 'outside' the Mass as well as during the Mass. Every brief prayer honours Him as we go about our work, or pause for a moment before meals, or in our leisure. Yet He is especially delighted by our willingness to make a spiritual Communion. It's as if we open wide our heart, to say, Lord, shall I speak to You or shall I listen? What is your Will?
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, ‘...
How to Pray: Basics, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 2 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), pages 9-18, entitled 'How to Pray'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deepen you...
How to Pray: The Mass, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 4 and 5 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), pages 31-38, entitled 'How to Pray the Mass'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about h...
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