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Some of the Clergy have become dispirited by the state of the Catholic Church, which is damaged by dissent, rebellion, disobedient laity, and some Bishops too timid to teach the Faith in its fullness. The great temptation is to walk away, to enjoy the world's pleasures. But Christ asks them to turn to Him, for the power to bring about renewal.
Christ asked us to reflect upon which of several priests is the one most like Him. It is the one who teaches the truth about God and man, sin and salvation, Heaven and Hell, though also teaching about love for God and neighbour. A kind attitude in a priest is not enough. Boy Scouts can be kind. A priest must hand on the Truth as Christ did, to make Him known.
It is only too easy for weak human beings to put themselves under Satan's influence, first, by some little sins which then lead to serious sins. He becomes their chief guide, and leader, instead of Christ. The only way of escape is through complete repentance of all sin, and then adherence to God and His laws. People in trouble deserve to hear this.
We are not all chosen to be official 'Evangelisers'; yet those who experience the peace-of-soul, spiritual growth and intellectual delight of the true Faith, and who are grateful for life in Christ, are not acting kindly if they don't share the Faith at suitable opportunities, or if they even advise other people to keep on with their mistaken beliefs or superstitious practices. It's as if people on their way to a warm climate can choose whether to take pity on a family they see, huddled in a snowfield, or can ignore them whilst rejoicing in their own good fortune.
Through Christ and His Church, we can avoid confusion, and avoid Hell. God longs for Catholic priests and Bishops to teach the simple truth, in ecumenical relationships as well as Church events: that God became man, founded one Church, which is still here, teaching the truth, forgiving sins, making people holy, and preparing them to lead holy lives and then to enter Heaven, to be with God, the Saints and the Angels forever.
Christ asks His friends to be brave in speaking the truth about God and goodness; but He also asks us to be prudent. We need not feel guilty about avoiding trouble and controversy when this is possible without cowardice. He Himself ran away or hid, to avoid death, when He had stirred up anger by His words, but when it was too early to fulfil His great plan.
Christ has ordained certain men to be as 'other Christs' amongst us, to guide and govern us. We are not wrong to speak with gentleness and truth about words publicly offered by a priest or Bishop which are heretical or foolish; but Christ is grieved when He sees His priests needlessly criticized for personal appearance or habits, or cruelly slandered.
A priest or Bishop who speaks only of generalities, year after year, when he meets with Protestant Ministers, is failing in his duty. To practice ecumenism does not mean never mentioning the glorious truth that Christ founded one united Church, upon Peter: a Church which exists today, with its door open, for everyone willing to come in and practice the Faith, guided by her sure teachings.
The Lord does not give great tasks to those unwilling to fulfil ordinary tasks. If people are not willing to look after their own relations - especially old parents, and young children - they are not going to be able to speak up with confidence, to other people, about the Christian life being a way of self-giving and charity.
It is part of being faithful to Christ: expecting ourselves sometimes to be mocked or betrayed, since even He suffered scorn and betrayal in His life-time. But our suffering is not fruitless, if we offer it up, in union with Him.
Heroic people in England and Wales have defended the truths of the Catholic Faith, throughout fifteen hundred years - St. Thomas More and St. Margaret Clitheroe amongst them. In our day, brave witness is necessary if people are to realise that it is wrong to kill unborn babies, and that marriage requires a man and a woman to keep their vows, and live together in charity, open to life, in an exclusive relationship which is life-long.
Christians should ask for the grace to be charitable; but this does not mean that we must fail to speak necessary truths in order to spare people's feelings. Charity without truth is merely flattery, or leads us to placate those who need help in order to change. We should be as simple and straightforward as Christ, in our speech: kind and gentle, but unafraid to offer unpopular truths.
When Roman soldiers scourged and crucified Jesus, it was plain that they were killing an innocent man. They saw it as their job. No nurse or medical student or other health-care person in training should simply see it as another job, if they are taught how to perform or to assist at an abortion. With a moment's thought, each can see that it is the killing of the innocent.
We, in the Church, have a duty to share the truth about God's love for us all, shown out in Jesus; but if we are afraid, we cannot expect people to take an interest in what we say. We must choose whether to remain 'hidden', as if behind a huge hedge, urging others in a general way: "I know the truth", or "Jesus is God-made-man" - or we can step out to meet people face to face and speak joyfully about having learned about the Way to Heaven.
St. John Vianney's burning desire was to share the Faith and to save souls. His first preparation for his priestly task was to pray to the Lord, at the tabernacle, pleading for his flock, and also making a worthy preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which he would offer for his parish as well as the whole Church.
We are told by some critics that we use an old-fashioned phrase if we say we hope to save souls, by the grace of Christ. But that is what we do indeed achieve, by His grace, if we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and guide people away from sinful ways of living that are like a cul-de-sac ending in the Abyss.
People urge us to live in fear of global warming or disease, and expect us to make huge sacrifices for their causes. Yet if Christians urge people to change the sinful behaviour that plainly damages their lives, their families, and society, they are accused of not respecting the freedom and diversity of their fellow creatures!
There are people who repeat the truth about mortal sin, insisting that it is only mortal if it was committed with full knowledge and content. But this is not to say that people are blameless for their ignorance about certain sins, for example. In unclear cases, it's as if people have been saved from spiritual death but are still in need of help if they are to lead holy lives, close to Christ. It's as if they hold onto tree-roots, above the Abyss.
People who spread the Faith, working to draw others from sinful acts and ways of life are acting, in the moral sphere, are as if drawing people away from a street that moves so swiftly downwards that people inevitably fall or crash. Of course, indirect evangelisation too is valuable, through good example, faithful work, and prayers and penances.
Christ said: 'Eat what is set before you. Take no spare tunic'; so when Christ sent out His disciples to preach the good news of the Kingdom, He gave them precise instructions, to help them. He can not fail to help those He chooses, and sends out, even today, even if the circumstances, and the instructions, are different.
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