UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
Friday 28 August 2015
Father Ignatius was at the local Catholic School for his usual Catechism class. This is what happened when a ten years old girl asked him her question.
“Father … is it OK to pray for those people in hell?”
The priest took off his spectacles and cleaned them of imaginary dust in order to gain some thinking time.
“Why do you ask?” he said gently.
“Well …” she hesitated, “we pray for the souls in purgatory so that God forgives them and they go to Heaven.
“Why don’t we pray for those in hell? They were bad when they were alive but now they are dead they are in hell for ever. I feel sorry for them!”
“It’s good of you to feel sorry for them,” replied the priest, “it shows a charitable spirit … it shows you’re very kind and considerate.
“But we must remember this. No one goes to hell by mistake.
“As you say, these people were bad when they lived and they had plenty of opportunities to be good and to do what God asks. They had many chances to repent and ask God to forgive them and to do good. But they disobeyed, time and again, and they turned their back on God.
“God is merciful and He forgives … but He is just too. Those who are in hell have sent themselves there by their behavior.”
Another child raised his hand and asked a question.
“But Father … Sister Josephine when she was here yesterday, she said that Jesus told us to love our enemies. He said to God to forgive them when they put Him on the Cross.
“The people in hell are the enemy of God. Why does God not forgive them? Does He not love them?”
Father Ignatius prayed silently for inspiration before answering.
“Of course He loves them” he replied after a short pause, “God loves everybody because they are His creations. I suspect He even loves those in hell and He is very sad that they are there.
“But there are times in life when people put themselves out of God’s loving nature.
“Let me explain it another way.
“Suppose your parents bought you a puppy for your birthday. You love that puppy very much and you play with him every day. But as he grows up he becomes a little threatening and he growls at everyone. One day he bites your hand. And he continues with this bad behavior to the point where you can’t come near him in case he bites you again.
“For your own safety, and that of others, your parents decide to take the dog away and put him in a Dog Rescue Shelter where he’s looked after by other people.
“It’s the same with us. God loves us all when we’re born and we’re babies. But as we grow up, some people turn against Him and become bad. No matter how often these people are told to do good they never ask God to forgive them and they continue to do bad things all their life.
“When these bad people die they go to hell because of what they have done … God still loves them. Just as you love your dog in the Dog Shelter!
“In fact I believe God grieves for those in hell. He’d rather the place was empty and we were all with Him in Heaven. But some people put themselves in hell by their bad behavior.”
“So do we pray for those in hell or not?” asked the original questioner.
“There is nothing wrong with praying,” Father Ignatius replied, “God will listen to your prayers, as He does all prayers, and will respond in an appropriate and just way. When you pray, say to God how sorry you are that there are people in hell, and ask Him to help you be good all your life.
“Every one of us, young and old, like me, must always pray that we do not give God reason to grieve by behaving badly and ending in hell.”
Tuesday 25 August 2015
The TV crew and resident vet tried to capture him and send him to an animal hospital where he could be treated and looked after until he is strong enough to be released in the wild once again. Every time they approached the wolf cub he bared its teeth and attempted to bite his benefactors. Eventually, he was caught and taken to the hospital where, within weeks, he was well again.
When things go wrong in our lives we too tend to behave like that wolf. We are angry, we’re concerned, frightened even - about the future and about what's happening to us.
And we go on the attack. We believe that God has abandoned us, just like that she-wolf abandoned her cub. We blame Him for what's gone wrong, and we rebel against Him.
When we behave like that, we shut off a channel of communication with God.
When God is temporarily put aside, He doesn’t stop loving us; but we block His influence to do good in our lives.
Like the wolf cub, every time God tries to help us we bare our teeth in anger. Our behaviour is futile and un-productive.
The wolf did not realize that by being caught he’d soon improve his hopeless situation. But we should know better, and trust our Lord rather than lash out at Him without thinking.
“I will be with you always, to the end of time.” Matthew 28:20.
Monday 24 August 2015
Is your life exciting or is it mundane?
Not many of us spend our lives mixing with celebrities and enjoying the material luxuries that this world offers. For most of us life is a simple routine of work, bringing up the family, and a little leisure when we can fit that in. Some people can’t even afford this routine lifestyle, especially if money is short; they have no job or are in poor health.
Compare that to our spiritual life.
Is it barren and completely distant from our Creator? Or do we walk daily hand in hand with Jesus by our side?
How many times during the day do we pray silently, and thank our Lord for all He has done for us?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20.
Friday 21 August 2015
I suppose Jesus used this description because He wanted an example that His listeners could relate to. They were used to seeing palaces and mansions so He described Heaven as a building.
Some time ago, I came across another description of Heaven. This priest said in a sermon that when we die and meet God, He will sit us on His lap like a little child and He will show us our life all over again. Just like a movie. There, we will see all the good and the bad we have done. All the opportunities we missed when we could have helped others less fortunate than ourselves, all the hurt we have caused by what we have done or said, whether intentionally or not. And there, on His lap, will be our own Heaven or Hell.
Now imagine it is really so … Imagine seeing your whole life as a movie …
Imagine you are now a Film Director … what an opportunity you have to make sure your movie will have a happy ending !!!
Wednesday 19 August 2015
“I could do with a good laugh,” replied the priest, “tell me about it.”
“Father, I dreamt I was in Heaven and Graham, my worst enemy, was there too!”
“What’s so funny about that?” asked the priest.
“Father, you don’t understand,” continued Johnny, “Graham is an evil conniving cheat who’d sell his own mother if he could make a fast buck! He’s the last person I’d expect to see in Heaven.”
“Well, let’s assume this is not a dream,” continued Father Ignatius as the two men walked round the church grounds, “Let’s say it’s for real.
“You died and went to Heaven, and there, sitting on a cloud playing the harp is your old nemesis, Graham.
“What do you feel about it?”
“As I said,” protested Johnny, “the man is evil. I’d probably warn St Peter in case Graham cheats him out of his catch of fish!”
Father Ignatius smiled. “Would you think that God made a mistake in letting him in?” he asked.
Johnny hesitated and did not answer.
“Do you remember the parable about the rich man who had a vineyard?” asked the priest. “The rich man hired some people early in the day to work in the field. Then again he hired more people a bit later on. And again in the afternoon, and also one hour before the end of the working day.
“The rich man in this parable represents God and the vineyard is Heaven. God is the only one who decides who is to enter Heaven.
“We have no say in the matter. Although we often pretend to know more than we actually do. You’d be surprised how many people there are ready to serve God in an advisory capacity.
“The different times of the day represent when certain people get to know God and to follow His word.
“Some people do so early in their lives and get to love Him and obey Him throughout their lives. Others get to know God later in their lives; and some only get to know God at the end of their lives just before dying.
“Of course, the temptation is there to ask why should I be good all my life when I can suddenly say sorry and accept God at the end. But there is no guarantee that this will happen is there? And God knows whether a final acceptance and repentance is genuine or not. Or just an insurance policy cashed in at the last minute to avoid the other place.”
“Does it matter?” interrupted Johnny, “Does it matter if the final repentance is genuine and the individual is truly sorry for what he has done, or whether it is a final act of despair to avoid going to hell?”
“Good point,” replied the priest wisely, “but one best left for God to decide since He owns the vineyard and we have no say in the matter.
“The fact remains, that when you see Graham in Heaven you should rejoice that at some stage in his life he found God and was deemed worthy by the Almighty to enter Paradise.
“As for you, who has been called to work in the vineyard early in your life, your job here on earth is to be an example to others so that they may see in you something worth following, worth knowing and worth loving. As a good Christian, you should be the recruitment officer for God and lead others to Him”.
Monday 17 August 2015
Some people wanted to accuse Him of doing wrong and asked Him whether it is against their Law to heal (work) on the Sabbath.
Jesus asked them if any of them had a sheep which fell into a deep hole on the Sabbath whether they would rescue it. Then to prove His point, He healed the man with the paralysed hand.
So what is Jesus saying here?
Is He encouraging people to break one of the Ten Commandments?
Of course not.
Jesus is saying: Beware of those who would use God’s Word for their own ends. They would either take it literally or miss-quote it to suit their own argument and to their benefit.
God has given you a brain. Use it.
It is there to help you discern what is right and what is wrong. The Commandments are there to guide you through life. Not to be used by you and interpreted in such a way so that you can twist their meaning for your own selfish needs.
Saturday 15 August 2015
Remember when you were young and lacked patience? In those days a week was like a year. Especially if you’d been promised something by your parents and you had to wait and wait …
I suspect the same applies to us when we relate to God. We pray for something and wait … but God does not work to our timescales. He has His own plans and maybe what we’re asking for is not good for us … just yet.
Which reminds me of another story which I remember very distinctly from my youth.
The reading in church was from 2 Peter 3:8 where he says: “There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same”.
I remember thinking as a child: it must be difficult to have an appointment with God. Imagine God saying to Moses to go to Mount Sinai “tomorrow”; and Moses asking “Is that in 24 hours or in a thousand years time? Because I’d be dead by then!”
I hope God forgave the impertinent mind of a young child.