THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Second Sunday after Easter

30 April 2017

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Dear Friend,

St. John Chrysostom reminds us that it is a very grave thing to have the care of a church. It is a task that needs a measure of love and courage as great as that of which Christ spoke, so that a man may lay down his life for his flock, may never abandon them, and may boldly face the wolf. Pastors of souls, both priests and bishops, are given a heavy burden when they are given the responsibility for the care of souls.

Each one of us is, however, given the care of (at least our own) soul. We are all called upon to be true shepherds to our own souls as well as to the souls of all whom God has given us charge over. In this, we must be ready to imitate The Good Shepherd. We must be ready to sacrifice everything for the good of our souls as well as for the good of the souls entrusted to us.

The life of this body of ours is going to pass away sooner or later. Only our souls continue on and do not die. The eternal life in heaven or the eternity of Hell is the lot of our immortal souls. This eternity of our souls is to be determined by the life that we live here and now. If we live a good and holy life here on earth, our souls will enjoy an eternity of happiness in heaven. If we live a corrupt or immoral life here on earth, our souls will suffer an eternal punishment in hell. The care of our souls is, then, a very serious obligation.

When the world, our passions, or the devils tempt us to the pleasures of this body in exchange for the pleasures of our souls; we must be ever ready to sacrifice this passing life so that we may preserve an eternal life. When we must choose one or the other, we must not hesitate — eternity is more important than time. Heaven is greater than all the pleasures of this dying body of ours. What profit or gain will it be to us if we lose our souls for all of eternity? All the riches and pleasures of this temporal life cannot compare to the riches and pleasures of Heaven. All the pain and suffering of this life cannot compare to the pain and suffering in the eternal flames of hell.

To be true and good shepherds to our souls, we must be ready to lay down our temporal lives to save our eternal lives. We must realize that there is nothing in this world that is worth losing our souls over. We must do all that we can to protect our souls from the attacks all around us, and guide our souls in the imitation and following of Jesus. It is only in this way that we will enter into heaven. His command is simple: we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Him. We must continually die to this world so that we may live eternally in heaven.

If we prove to be hirelings that do not truly love our souls, then our souls will be abandoned to the devils at the first sign of danger. Quite frequently, we see that those who are severely tempted or tried are then tempted to despair and hopelessness. In this they act as hirelings and hand over their souls to the devils. In the midst of so many attacks upon our souls — it is not the time to give up, but rather, it is the time to resist and fight even more bravely and boldly. Even if in the fight we should lose this temporal life of ours, we should never give in or give up.

It is true that of ourselves we are nothing and can do nothing to gain heaven however; it is also true that we can do all things in Him Who strengthens us. With God and in God all things are possible. The Good Shepherd, has given us the example and merited for us the grace to imitate Him and become true shepherds for our own souls.

When we are drowning in the sea of temptations, moral depravity, and ceaseless enticements; let us not run away in cowering fear. Let us not abandon our duties to protect our souls. This is the time to dig deep into our hearts and renew and re-strengthen our love for God and our souls. We must see and understand that our souls are worth fighting for — they are worth dying for. Of ourselves, we are unable to resist, we are unable to win. We must call upon God in these times, and He will faithfully give us the grace to continue even to the bitter end.

His grace is sufficient for us. Let us not beg so much as to be freed from our battles, as to be given the grace to fight them to the very end.

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