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People who suffer persecution or martyrdom because of their faith in Christ can feel as though they are leaving a garden of earthly delights to enter an endless tunnel of suffering. They can be assured that that tunnel opens out onto an area: not an area like the Colisseum, but a place where Christ, His Mother and all the Saints wait to greet them, and lead them into a life of Eternal bliss.
Christ assures us that we need not feel guilty about weeping occasionally, when we are saddened by incidents or circumstances - though He does ask us not to give in to discouragement but to turn to Him in trusting prayer to find new strength. He Himself was upset when His friend Lazarus died. He understands all our sorrows.
God is good, and just; therefore everyone who dies receives a just judgement; and even people who commit suicide are judged by Him. He understands the pain and sorrow that cause some people almost to lose hope of finding joy; but it is wrong for anyone to reject the gift of life and to kill himself, or to ask other people to take his life because he is very sick or disabled.
No-one ought to suppose that a person who kills himself is wise. In every life, there is some suffering. The way in which we respond to it reveals our character. Whether sick or well, rich or poor, we have free will. We can respond with recognition of what is good in our lives, even in difficulties, or we can give in to self-pity and resentment. All people - including suicides - are judged by God, at death: by God Who is both merciful and just, but who gave life as a gift, not to be carelessly thrown away. Suicide is a sin.
Christ really cares about us; and He cares about our attitude to Him. If we picture Christ in Heaven, as He looks down upon the earth, we can understand how much it delights Him, and warms His heart, when He sees someone who really loves Him, loves the Mass, loves the Clergy, loves the Church, and also endures sufferings with patience, by the grace of Christ, and out of love for Christ.
Our faith will increase, if we accept the truth taught by the Church: that the One Who suffered on the Cross on Calvary, shed His Blood for sinners, and died, is the very Son of God Who comes amongst us at every Mass, made Present at the Consecration, to pray with us, and for us, in the presence of His adoring Angels.
A person who is lonely at Christmas needs help; but the greatest help would be for him to believe that Christ was born into our world at Christmas not for mankind as a group, but in order to transform and make joyful each beloved individual - including that person who is sad, whether from loss of faith, or grievous sin, or bereavement, or other reasons.
Christ invited us to set aside our distractions at Mass, and to rejoice that He is now amongst us in glory, now that His painful Work on earth had been completed, with His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. He wants His triumph to give us hope in our struggles against sin and hopelessness. With His power, we can persevere.
The journey to Heaven is, for most people, a slow and arduous climb. Christ wants each of us to believe in His love, to persevere in faith, hope, love and humility, and to avoid pride and vainglory. People who want to be Saints think more about God's goodness that about their own gifts, talents, plans and ambitions.
There are Holy Souls in Purgatory who never receive any relief from their sufferings through prayers that could have been offered by friends or relations. This is the case when their loved ones don't believe in any prayer, or else live as Christians of other groups but don't believe in prayer for the dead. In anguish, these Holy Souls await help from any of us who will recognise their plight, and will turn to the Father, in Christ's name, to pray
Some people say: 'Why does God let people suffer in Hell. Can't He destroy sinners?' It is not in God's nature to destroy, like a mythical God who is proud of his power. He is all-love, and lovingly reaches out to us through His Son, warning us of the danger of sin and disobedience. The sufferings of Hell are caused by the loss of God, through a person's own fault, and through the demons, who delight in causing pain.
The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. Just as we help the whole Church by our good deeds, thoughts and prayers, we harm the Church by our sins and failings. Even when Catholics call themselves people of 'loyal dissent', they harm the Body of Christ by their disobedience, their disbelief in Christ's teachings, given through the Church, and their lack of charity as they attack the Church and help to undermine the Faith of those who do believe. Christ looks on, as His own children hurt Him.
We help the whole Church by every good thought we have, every good deed we do, every humiliation or pain met with patience not resentment, and every prayer, and every act of humility or reverence; and the Church includes the Holy Souls in Purgatory, many of whom are released into Heaven - by the grace of Christ, because of the good we do.
It was the Father's plan to give His Son to the world through Mary, the Blessed Virgin. Only because of her consent to the Father's plan - which would bring her tremendous suffering as well as joy - did Jesus come to our world: the God-man, to save us from our sins. She is still active, with Christ, as she prays for us, as our Mother.
We can save souls, by the grace of Christ, through our prayers and sacrifices. No matter how sick we are, nor how feeble our efforts, if we offer up our prayers, and our pains as penances for people trapped in sin and in danger of falling into the Abyss (into Hell), and if we offer everything in union with Christ's Sacrifice, we join in His work of salvation.
When a person has come close to spiritual disaster, and has lived as if in an icy wilderness of isolation, cold, pain and hardship, it can seem impossible to believe that another 'world' exists, of joy, peace, warmth and fruitfulness. With faith in God's love, trust in His power, and prayer, we can allow God to change our inner landscape from cold to warm, and change even the pattern of our ordinary days.
Christ did not suffer on earth as man, and endure a terrible death, just to persuade us to be nice people who help other people across roads. He conquered sin and death! He can give us the power to conquer our sins, to be transformed, and to cross the Abyss between earth and Heaven! Salvation is more than an ability to be 'nice'.
We all need the prayers and intercessions of others. There is only one Way across the gulf that separates earth from Heaven, and we shall not cross it when we die if we have wandered away, far from the bridge, looking for all sorts of distractions from our ordinary duties, or avoiding the call of conscience, or unwilling to suffer for Christ by remaining faithful. Perseverance is all-important, by the grace of God.
If we are full of self-pity, no matter how justified it seems, we become inward-looking, focussed not upon Christ or our neighbour but our own feelings of misery. This is spiritually harmful - as if we are sitting on the edge of the Abyss, in danger of falling, not like those other suffering people who say: "I can't do much good, but I'll do the little I can" - on the way to Heaven.
When the first human beings said "No" to God, the all-good, beautiful and holy, it was as if that cry of disobedience reverberated round the whole universe, so shocking was their pride and hard-heartedness. The whole of nature was damaged by the consequences of that Original Sin, at what we call 'the Fall'; and suffering entered our world.
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