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The Moral Life – by Elizabeth Wang

(This text forms Chapter 6 of the book HOW TO PRAY PART 2: LITURGY AND MORALS. See Publications).

The Way Of Life And Truth

a) Life In The Spirit.

True children of God.

Some of you might wonder why a book which is called 'How to Pray' (Part Two) should end with a chapter on the moral life. It's not because I have anything new to say about the subjects I'll mention a little further on; on the contrary, I believe that a quiet but firm re-statement of the constant teachings of the Church is much needed at the present time, wherever the Catholic Faith is being taught; yet I believe that such a re-statement is especially appropriate in a book about prayer.

At different stages of our lives, so many of us have been ignorant of Church teachings, or uncertain about them, or disobedient; and it's only when we have formed a clear idea of the meaning of 'life-in-Christ' that we have decided to make a fresh start. We rely on Christ's power, as we try to live as true children of God should live; and we learn to approach God in prayer with real trust and confidence. We take part in liturgical prayer with gratitude and joy; and the more we understand our Faith, with its privileges and duties and obligations, the more determined and hopeful becomes our striving after holiness, the greater is our joy in our Faith, and the greater is our determination to remain faithful.

When we think about the Christian life, and moral issues, it's probably true to say that we've all absorbed a few 'basics', whatever our backgrounds.

There can be few Catholics - indeed, few Christians or few persons of any faith - who aren't aware that Christians are commanded to love God and their neighbour (Mt 22:37-40). Most Christians, probably, realise that they should pray to God as to a Father, and that they should avoid evil and try to do good. Who can there be who hasn't heard that we must love our neighbour, forgive our enemies and feed the poor? St. Paul describes the meaning of love quite marvellously, in his first letter to the Corinthians, where he mentions various gifts we might have, yet insists on the supreme importance of love.

"IF I HAVE ALL THE ELOQUENCE OF MEN OR OF ANGELS, BUT SPEAK WITHOUT LOVE, I AM SIMPLY A GONG BOOMING OR A CYMBAL CLASHING. IF I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY, UNDERSTANDING ALL THE MYSTERIES THERE ARE, AND KNOWING EVERYTHING, AND IF I HAVE FAITH IN ALL ITS FULLNESS, TO MOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT WITHOUT LOVE, THEN I AM NOTHING AT ALL. IF I GIVE AWAY ALL THAT I POSSESS, PIECE BY PIECE, AND IF I EVEN LET THEM TAKE MY BODY TO BURN IT, BUT AM WITHOUT LOVE, IT WILL DO ME NO GOOD WHATEVER. (1 Co 13:1-3).

Then St Paul continues:

LOVE IS ALWAYS PATIENT AND KIND; IT IS NEVER JEALOUS; LOVE IS NEVER BOASTFUL OR CONCEITED; IT IS NEVER RUDE OR SELFISH; IT DOES NOT TAKE OFFENCE, AND IS NOT RESENTFUL. LOVE TAKES NO PLEASURE IN OTHER PEOPLE'S SINS BUT DELIGHTS IN TRUTH; IT IS ALWAYS READY TO EXCUSE, TO TRUST, TO HOPE, AND TO ENDURE WHAT- EVER COMES.

LOVE DOES NOT COME TO AN END. BUT IF THERE ARE GIFTS OF PROPHECY, THE TIME WILL COME WHEN THEY MUST FAIL; OR THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES, IT WILL NOT CONTINUE FOR EVER; AND KNOWLEDGE - FOR THIS, TOO, THE TIME WILL COME WHEN IT MUST FAIL. FOR OUR KNOWLEDGE IS IMPERFECT AND OUR PROPHESYING IS IMPERFECT; BUT ONCE PERFECTION COMES, ALL IMPERFECT THINGS WILL DISAPPEAR. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I USED TO TALK LIKE A CHILD, AND THINK LIKE A CHILD, AND ARGUE LIKE A CHILD, BUT NOW I AM A MAN, ALL CHILDISH WAYS ARE PUT BEHIND ME. NOW WE ARE SEEING A DIM REFLECTION IN A MIRROR; BUT THEN WE SHALL BE SEEING FACE TO FACE. THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE NOW IS IMPERFECT; BUT THEN I SHALL KNOW AS FULLY AS I AM KNOWN.

IN SHORT, THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT LAST: FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE; AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE." (1 Co 13:4-13).

Growth in holiness.

Sad to say, it's widely put about today that we love other people by cultivating warm feelings towards them. There's little mention of encouraging one another towards happiness by encouraging one another to grow in holiness, which is the only state in which we can be perfectly and permanently fulfilled and joyful. Also, there's widespread ignorance and apathy, today, of other important facets of the moral life; and although it's true that good-hearted people who lead apparently scandalous lives can progress a long way 'towards' God - since "LOVE COVERS OVER MANY A SIN" (1 P 4:8) - it's Christ's wish that ignorance be replaced by knowledge of the truth about what sort of lives Christ wants us all to lead; and He wants the apathy to be replaced by fervour.

Christ wants to transform us - to make each one of us "A NEW CREATION", as St. Paul explains in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Co 4:17). Then we'll be fervent in prayer; and we'll yearn to serve Christ as He deserves and to obey His Commandments out of love for Him.

To sum up, Christ is longing for us to become holy, so that we'll be perfectly fulfilled, and immensely happy, but above all so that we'll give glory to the Father Who made us, Who loves us, and Who therefore sent His Son to Earth to redeem and transform us; and so we need to know what is sinful and what isn't; then we'll be able to walk forward upon a well-lit path - though relying, of course, on the grace of Christ given to us in prayer and the sacraments and not on 'will-power' or sheer determination.

Our holiness.

Where do we begin, if we want to search for information about the sort of outlook and behaviour which will please Christ and which is appropriate for 'God's children'?

No Catholic who has read the Holy Scriptures, or books of meditation, can have failed to come across a list of the 'Beatitudes'. These precepts of Christ, which are found as slightly different versions in two of the Gospels, are widely admired both inside and outside the Church, as providing a picture of blessedness which cannot be improved upon. In St. Matthew's Gospel we read:-

'HOW HAPPY ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT;
THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
HAPPY THE GENTLE:
THEY SHALL HAVE THE EARTH FOR THEIR HERITAGE.
HAPPY THOSE WHO MOURN:
THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED.
HAPPY THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR WHAT IS RIGHT:
THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED.
HAPPY THE MERCIFUL:
THEY SHALL HAVE MERCY SHOWN THEM.
HAPPY THE PURE IN HEART:
THEY SHALL SEE GOD.
HAPPY THE PEACEMAKERS:
THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD.
HAPPY THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED IN THE CAUSE OF RIGHT:
THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Mt 5:3-10).

These precepts, with the whole of the 'Sermon on the Mount,' are sublime. Isn't it astonishing that God Himself - the Incarnate Son of God, Christ - has been loving and humble enough to come and meet with frail human beings, to explain what sort of lives are most admirable and worthwhile?

Yet there are people who imagine that in giving us those precepts Christ meant to provide a substitute for the Law which, in earlier times, had been given from Heaven to the Chosen People (Ex 20:1-21). Some people urge us to sweep away a clear moral code about what we should and shouldn't think, do and say, and to substitute for it merely a perpetually-affectionate attitude towards Mankind, with no norms of restraint on certain types of behaviour, nor any practical duties to be undertaken which aren't directly mentioned in Christ's list. Christ Himself told us on that same occasion, however, that how we do or don't behave has tremendous significance. Christ said:-

"YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. A CITY BUILT ON A HILL-TOP CANNOT BE HIDDEN. NO ONE LIGHTS A LAMP TO PUT IT UNDER THE TUB; THEY PUT IT ON THE LAMP-STAND WHERE IT SHINES FOR EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE. IN THE SAME WAY YOUR LIGHT MUST SHINE IN THE SIGHT OF MEN, SO THAT, SEEING YOUR GOOD WORKS, THEY MAY GIVE THE PRAISE TO YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN." (MT 5:13-16).

Then He added:-

"DO NOT IMAGINE THAT I HAVE COME TO ABOLISH THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS. I HAVE COME NOT TO ABOLISH BUT TO COMPLETE THEM. I TELL YOU SOLEMNLY, TILL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR, NOT ONE DOT, NOT ONE LITTLE STROKE, SHALL DISAPPEAR FROM THE LAW UNTIL ITS PURPOSE IS ACHIEVED. THEREFORE, THE MAN WHO INFRINGES EVEN ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHES OTHERS TO DO THE SAME WILL BE CONSIDERED THE LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; BUT THE MAN WHO KEEPS THEM AND TEACHES THEM WILL BE CONSIDERED GREAT IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Mt 5:17-19).

It seems obvious that if we want to please Christ, we'll want to know about His Commandments in detail, so that we "KEEP" and "TEACH" nothing misguided, sinful or dangerous, but only what is good and fruitful in Christ's sight; and it's through the teaching authority of the Catholic Church today that we can find sure guidance on every important issue.

b) The Law Of The Gospel.

The Old Law: a preparation for the Gospel.

There's no better way of finding out what Christ and His Church mean by 'Law' than by looking at our Catechism. In a lucid sixty-one-page section called "Life in the Spirit" we can learn how the Law given to Moses has not been abolished by Christ's coming, but perfected. We learn:-

"According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual and good, yet still imperfect". (CCC: 1963).

"The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel." (CCC:1964).

"The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It works through charity; it uses the Sermon of the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it. 'If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount, as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, he will doubtless find there … the perfect way of the Christian life … This sermon contains … all the precepts needed to shape one's life.' " (CCC:1966).

"The Law of the Gospel 'fulfils', refines, surpasses and leads the Old Law to its perfection. In the Beatitudes, the New Law fulfils the divine promises by elevating and orientating them toward the 'kingdom of heaven'. It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith - the poor, the humble, the afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of Christ - and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom." (CCC:1967).

"The Law of the Gospel fulfils the commandments of the Law. The Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure, where faith, hope and charity are formed, and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity." (CCC:1968)

Then we're told, further on, why the Catholic Church has the right and the duty to give us clear teaching not just about broad principles but about every detail of the moral life - so that we can more perfectly pursue true life in Christ. We're told:-

"It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptised, that the Christian fulfils his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of 'the law of Christ'. From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the 'way'. From the Church he learns the example of holiness and … discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual tradition and long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral cycle." (CCC:2030)

The Magisterium of the Church.

From a few further short paragraphs we can learn even more about the Church's authority, given by Christ, and about how the Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant provide the foundation for our Christian moral teachings.

"The moral life is spiritual worship. We 'present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God', within the Body of Christ that we form and in communion with the offering of his Eucharist. In the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments, prayer and teaching are conjoined with the grace of Christ to enlighten and nourish Christian activity. As does the whole of the Christian life, the moral life finds its source and summit in the Eucharistic sacrifice." (CCC:2031)

"The Church, the 'pillar and bulwark of the truth', 'has received the solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth'. 'To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgements on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.' " (CCC:2032)

The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the 'deposit' of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men." (CCC:2033)

"The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are 'authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice'. The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teaches the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for." (CCC:2034)

Docility and obedience.

Then, in the next paragraph of the Catechism, there's a supremely important statement which should be pondered and absorbed by all who dissent from the teaching of Christ's Church. We're told:-

"The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God." (CCC:2036)

"The law of God entrusted to the Church is taught to the faithful as the way of life and truth. The faithful therefore have the right to be instructed in the divine saving precepts that purify judgement and, with grace, heal wounded human reason. They have the duty of observing the constitutions and decrees conveyed by the legitimate authority of the Church. Even if they concern disciplinary matters, these determinations call for docility in charity." (CCC:2037)

The 'docility' just described is the sort of docility found in Christ, Whose obedience during His Earthly life to His Father in Heaven wasn't something weak and spineless, but was a perfect gift from a generous heart; and so it should be with us, when we have been granted the gift of faith in God and in His Son and in the Holy Spirit, when we have examined the teachings of Christ's Church which is now guided by that same Spirit, when we have freely accepted the duties and responsibilities of 'life in Christ', when we so love Christ that we yearn to keep His Commandments, and when we have realised the truth of Christ's words: "CUT OFF FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING" (Jn 15:5).

St. Paul said: "FOR IT IS WHEN I AM WEAK THAT I AM STRONG" (2 Co 12:10); and he didn't let his weakness drive him to despair. It drove him to Christ, Who very powerfully helped him; and so with us. Once we've recognised our weakness, we can eagerly approach the sacraments to find the grace and light and strength and joy for which we're yearning because these are gifts from Christ, and they're very powerful and effective.

c) The Ten Commandments.

Recommendations and warnings.

It doesn't seem necessary to write much more on this subject because I believe it's more important to present Church teachings than to comment on them; so here's a list of God's Commandments, as listed in the Catechism. Each Commandment has a reference number; and each is described as encouraging us towards certain sorts of good thoughts or actions whilst also warning us against various sorts of evil behaviour.

The Ten Commandments (with CCC reference numbers) are as follows:-

1st : "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve". (CCC:2084ff)

It encompasses: Faith, Hope, Charity.

It recommends: Belief in God. Acceptance of His authority. Adoration of Him. Prayer to Him. Promises to serve Him. Sacrifices in His honour.

It warns against: Indifference. Presumption. Despair. Luke-warmness. Voluntary doubt.



1st also: "You shall have no other Gods before me". (CCC:2110ff)

It encompasses: Good acts.

It recommends: Virtue of religion which leads us to render to God what we owe him in justice

It warns against: Superstition. Idolatry. Atheism. Divinisation. Tempting God. Sacrilege.



2nd: "The name of the Lord is holy". (CCC:2142ff)

It encompasses: Respect for God.

It recommends: Courage in faith. A sense of the sacred. Faithfulness to promises.

It warns against: Blasphemy. Unfaithfulness. False oaths.



3rd: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". (CCC:2168ff)

It encompasses: The Seventh Day.

It recommends: A day of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Mass attendance. Celebration of the Resurrection, (and holy days of obligation.)

It warns against: 'Private' religion. Unnecessary Sunday work.



4th: "Honour your mother and father". (CCC:2197ff)

It encompasses: Respect for our parents who are the closest of our 'neighbours'.

It recommends: Positive duties to be performed: to parents and also to elders in society and to persons in authority.

It warns against: Disrespect to family life. State interference in things to do with marriage and child-bearing. Disobedience of children.



5th: "You shall not kill". (CCC:2258)

It encompasses: Sacredness of human life.

It recommends: Legitimate defence of one's person against attack. Temperance. Avoidance of war. Respect for dead, also.

It warns against: Infanticide; Fratricide. Abortion. Suicide. Scandal. Kidnapping.



6th "You shall not commit adultery". (CCC:2331ff)

It encompasses: Whole of human sexuality.

It recommends: The capacity and responsibility of love and communion. Imitation of Creator's generosity and fecundity. Chastity/self-mastery. Fidelity.

It warns against: Lust. Masturbation. Fornication. Pornography. Prostitution. Contraception. Rape. Adultery. Divorce. Homosexual practises.



7th: "You shall not steal". (CCC:2401ff)

It encompasses: Stewardship of the Earth and resources.

It recommends: Temperance. Right to private property. Good social doctrine. Persons more valued than profit. Just wages. Justice between nations. Love for the poor.

It warns against: Unjustly taking or keeping goods of neighbours, or wronging him with respect to his goods. Debts. Excessive gambling. Harsh treatment of animals. Lack of mercy. Breaking of contracts.



8th: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour". (CCC:2464ff)

It encompasses: All aspects of truth.

It recommends: Bearing witness to truth. Supreme witness of martyrdom, when necessary. Respect for truth. Honest judgements.

It warns against: Lying. Boasting. Calumny. Violation of secrecy. Wrong use of media. Art, if against beauty and truth.



9th: "You shall not covet your neighbour's wife …". (CCC:2514ff)

It encompasses: The demands of God's holiness: chastity, love of truth, orthodoxy of faith.

It recommends: Purity of heart, body, faith, by: chastity, pure intention, discipline, prayer, modesty, good social climate.

It warns against: Concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life.



10th: "Thou shall not covet … anything that is your neighbour's" (CCC:2534ff)

It encompasses: Covetousness of goods, as the root of, theft, robbery, fraud.

It recommends: Struggle against limitless desires. Poverty of spirit. Desire to see God: which is the "True desire of man" which can be quenched by the "water of Eternal life" (Jn 4:14)

It warns against: Greed. Avarice. Envy. Profiteering.



d) Conscience.

The authoritative teaching of the Magisterium.

In every age, there are members of the Catholic Church who fail to believe in some of the Church's teaching, or protest that it's unnecessarily harsh, or flatly contradict it; so it's as well for us to know exactly what the Church teaches about the place of conscience in our attitude toward the teachings of Christ's Church and in the decisions we make on all sorts of moral issues. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us all:-

" … the conscience of each person should avoid confining itself to individualistic considerations in its moral judgements of the person's own acts. As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions. Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.

Thus a true filial spirit towards the Church can develop among Christians. It is the normal flowering of the baptismal grace which has begotten us in the womb of the Church and made us members of the Body of Christ. In her motherly care, the Church grants us the mercy of God which prevails over all our sins, and is especially at work in the sacrament of Reconciliation. With a mother's foresight, she also lavishes on us day after day in her liturgy the nourishment of the Word and Eucharist of the Lord." (CCC:2039-2040).

And a little further on, we're reminded that the teaching authority of the Church comes from Christ. We read:-

"The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed." (CCC:2035)

"The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God." (CCC:2036)

"The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of faith cannot be preserved, expounded or observed." (CCC:2051)

e) The Precepts Of The Church.

The duties of the Faithful.

It seems wise to introduce a few paragraphs here about the precepts of the Church. In order to give us clear guidance in every-day life, the Church gives us not only a full understanding of God's Commandments; she asks us to obey Church laws and precepts; and although many Catholics say that they don't know the Commandments, an even greater number - in my experience - profess their ignorance of the precepts which I've listed below.

By the precepts which the Church asks us to obey, we are encouraged to keep at least "the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth of love of God and neighbour" (CCC:2041); and the Catechism provides us with some details (CCC:2042-43):-

"The first precept ('You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labour') requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from these works and activities which would impede such a sanctification of these days.

The second precept ('You shall confess your sins at least once a year') ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept ('You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season') guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and centre of the Christian liturgy.

The fourth precept ('You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence') ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

The fifth precept ('You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church') means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability."

Building up the Kingdom.

As part of our 'whole-life' Christian commitment we are urged to take some part in "the Church's mission in the world" (CCC:2044) - though in a way appropriate to our state of life - and also to "[build] up the Church" by the constancy of our convictions and by our moral life (CCC:2045) and so to "hasten the coming of the Reign of God, 'a kingdom of justice, love and peace.'" (CCC:2046).

Everyone in the Church has a part to play in increasing the good of all, and in minimising harm. The Church tells us:-

"In the work of teaching and applying Christian morality, the Church needs the dedication of pastors, the knowledge of theologians and the contribution of all Christians and men of good will. Faith and the practice of the Gospel provide each person with an experience of life 'in Christ', who enlightens him and makes him able to evaluate the divine and human realities according to the Spirit of God. Thus the Holy Spirit can use the humblest to enlighten the learned and those in the highest positions." (CCC:2038).

f) A God Of Compassion.

Frail and sinful human nature.

As a last word after what might seem to be a daunting list of recommendations and prohibitions, I surely can't do better than add a reminder of what God Himself has told us about His nature, and our frailty. To everyone who is tempted to think that he or she is too sinful to approach God, or cannot possibly be changed, or can never find the courage to take the first step towards change, God is saying, of Himself, through the Holy Scriptures:

"YAHWEH IS TENDER AND COMPASSIONATE,
SLOW TO ANGER, MOST LOVING …
HE NEVER TREATS US, NEVER PUNISHES US,
AS OUR GUILT AND OUR SINS DESERVE.
NO LESS THAN THE HEIGHT OF HEAVEN OVER EARTH
IS THE GREATNESS OF HIS LOVE FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM;
HE TAKES OUR SINS FARTHER AWAY
THAN THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST.
AS TENDERLY AS A FATHER TREATS HIS CHILD- REN,
SO YAHWEH TREATS THOSE WHO FEAR HIM;
HE KNOWS WHAT WE ARE MADE OF,
HE REMEMBERS WE ARE DUST." (Ps 103:8, 10-14)

Encouragement, and mercy.

Even our Saintly spiritual ancestors needed encouragement. To the Apostles who were apparently facing life-without-Christ, Christ our God said, in His last discourse:-

"IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.
I SHALL ASK THE FATHER,
AND HE WILL GIVE YOU ANOTHER ADVO- CATE
TO BE WITH YOU FOR EVER,
THAT SPIRIT OF TRUTH
WHOM THE WORLD CAN NEVER RECEIVE
SINCE IT NEITHER SEES NOR KNOWS HIM;
BUT YOU KNOW HIM,
BECAUSE HE IS WITH YOU, HE IS IN YOU." (Jn 14:15-17)

Christ also said:-

"ANYBODY WHO RECEIVES MY COMMANDMENTS AND KEEPS THEM 
WILL BE ONE WHO LOVES ME;
AND ANYBODY WHO LOVES ME WILL BE LOVED BY MY FATHER,
AND I SHALL LOVE HIM AND SHOW MYSELF TO HIM." (Jn 14:21)

The Pharisee and the publican.

It's important that we remember, however, that the Christ Who said so much about His Commandments is a tender and loving teacher. He has explained that, in His sight, humility is more important than apparent righteousness combined with self-satisfaction.

In St. Luke's Gospel we can read, of Christ:-

"HE SPOKE THE FOLLOWING PARABLE TO SOME PEOPLE WHO PRIDED THEMSELVES ON BEING VIRTUOUS AND DESPISED EVERYONE ELSE. 'TWO MEN WENT UP TO THE TEMPLE TO PRAY, ONE A PHARISEE, THE OTHER A TAX COLLECTOR. THE PHARISEE STOOD THERE AND SAID THIS PRAYER TO HIMSELF, "I THANK YOU, GOD, THAT I AM NOT GRASPING, UNJUST, ADULTEROUS LIKE THE REST OF MANKIND, AND PARTICULARLY THAT I AM NOT LIKE THIS TAX COLLECTOR HERE. I FAST TWICE A WEEK; I PAY TITHES ON ALL I GET." THE TAX COLLECTOR STOOD SOME DISTANCE AWAY, NOT DARING EVEN TO RAISE HIS EYES TO HEAVEN; BUT HE BEAT HIS BREAST AND SAID, "GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER". THIS MAN, I TELL YOU, WENT HOME AGAIN AT RIGHTS WITH GOD; THE OTHER DID NOT. FOR EVERYONE WHO EXALTS HIMSELF WILL BE HUMBLED, BUT THE MAN WHO HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED.' " (Lk 18:9-14).

Reason for hope.

To those of us who struggle to serve God the Christian life can seem either daunting or glorious depending on our mood, perhaps, or our spiritual state; yet it's surely good to pause at regular intervals, to take a common-sense look at our relationship to God our loving Creator and Redeemer. Let's examine a few logical steps. If we followed them our spiritual life would be marvellously renewed even amidst hardships.

Surely it's true that if we genuinely love God, we shall pray to Him.

If we yearn to grow closer to Him, we shall want to learn how to please Him.

If we believe that Christ founded One, holy Church, and guides it still, and asks us all to accept her authoritative teachings, we shall listen to His Church, to find out more about Him and about His plans for our lives. We shall follow her recommendations, and therefore follow the example of the Saints. We shall turn to Christ in prayer, and in the sacraments, to find the grace and strength to do His Will; and we can be sure - because Christ told us so - that He will reward us for our efforts.

If we keep on turning to God, and keep on trying to do His Will in everything, we shall be drawn ever more surely towards intimate friendship with Him.

If we base our lives upon trying to show love for God and for our neighbour, with fervent prayer and penance and acts of charity, we shall more and more joyfully turn to the Father in every need, despite trials and purifications.

If we cling to God in love and trust in every circumstance, we shall become confident in the friendship of Christ His Son, and joyful in our true Communion with the Saints in Heaven. We'll be certain of the power of the Holy Spirit Who first called us to become true 'children of God'; and He will lead us one day into a life of prayer which is immensely joyful and fruitful; and He will eventually banish all fear and heartache.

This is what God is like - God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: He is the loving and Holy One Who is worthy of every sacrifice, and worthy of our whole heart and our whole devotion. He is the One Who, in the end, can "WIPE AWAY ALL TEARS" (Rv 7:17); and we can be sure that He is leading everyone who is faithful towards unending bliss, since "IF WE ARE CHILDREN WE ARE HEIRS AS WELL: HEIRS OF GOD AND CO-HEIRS WITH CHRIST, SHARING HIS SUFFERINGS" - even our struggles in prayer and our battles to become holy - "SO AS TO SHARE HIS GLORY" (Rm 8:17).

Message

ELIZABETH WANG – MAY SHE REST IN PEACE

We are sorry to have to share the news that Elizabeth died on Saturday evening, 10th September. 2016 She died peacefully, in her own room at home, with all her immediate family around her bedside. Some of you will have heard that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only three months ago, so the end has come very quickly. It was only six weeks ago that she was on pilgrimage to Lourdes with her family and diocese. In many ways the swiftness has been a mercy, and it’s a consolation for all of us that her suffering is now at an end.

We are especially grateful for these last few days. We have had so much time together as a family – talking, listening, praying – and with the four grandchildren constantly running around. Elizabeth was surrounded by so much love, and she gave us so much love, even in her weakness and vulnerability. She has been looked after by many kind people with such tenderness. She received the last sacraments from Stephen, and we were able to celebrate Mass together in her room just a few hours before she died. She was at peace and longing to meet the Lord.

She will be missed so much, but we are full of such gratitude to God for the gift of her life, and for her faith. She had such a love for Christ, for his Church, and for his Blessed Mother Mary, and this has touched us all.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this illness. Please pray for her and for all those who mourn her now, especially our father Kin. Please pray for the continuing work and mission of Radiant Light, which was so close to her heart. With our best wishes and our prayers for you and your intentions.

Fr Stephen Wang, Chris Wang, Mary Figg

 

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS:

The main FUNERAL SERVICE (a Requiem Mass) is on Thursday 22 September at 11am at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rothamsted Avenue, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2BY, followed by the burial at Westfield Road Cemetery, Harpenden, Herts AL5 4JT, followed by a reception (venue to be confirmed). Everyone is welcome.

You are also welcome to join us the evening before (Wednesday 21 September) at 7pm at the same church for the RECEPTION OF THE BODY AND VIGIL MASS.

The church is a short walk (8 mins) from Harpenden rail station. For parking: note that after 10.30am you can park on the single yellow lines further up Rothamsted Ave and along Avenue St Nicholas nearby; and there is a public car park on Amenbury Lane 5 mins away.

PRIESTS WISHING TO CONCELEBRATE AT EITHER MASS:

  • Please bring an alb and a purple chasuble (or stole)

 


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