Lately I have been considering the great number of people I know who have fallen away from the church, who live in the moment and give no thought to the salvation of their souls. I was saddened to hear recently that someone I know, who had died of a brain tumour, had fallen away from the church and died without the Sacraments.Two more of her family members do not attend Mass even though they come from a practicing Catholic family. In my own family only half of us attend Mass, and only 3 of us try to live our faith- I come from a large family; my mother's family was Catholic; my dad is an only child.
A case in point is our family reunion; with over 40 people there, only two of us attended Sunday Mass. How wonderful it would have been if we could have filled the pews at that church with our extended family!
I think that people don't contemplate eternity. It's too foreign a concept for our human minds which are fashioned in time to consider time unending. Many don't even believe in Heaven or Hell.
All our actions, thoughts, words, deeds, and prayers are known to God. Even if we don't think of God, or even believe in Him, He sees us, in all our miserable weakness, and desires us to be with Him in Heaven for all eternity! (O glorious thought!) Everything we do weighs on the scale of His Justice; every charitable thing we do is offset by every self indulgent thing we do; every prayerful moment offset by every little sin; every time we turn to Him offset by every time we turn away from Him. We are given free will; we can do our own will, or strive to do His Will. We can choose the path to Heaven or to Hell.
Who would deliberately choose to spend eternity in Hell? Who would choose eternal pain, horror, and agony? Apparently, most of the world. Just as Jesus was scorned, mocked, beaten, spat upon and tortured, so now He is suffering in the same way every time we sin. And it's not just the big sins, it is in every little thing we do too. Every moment of every day counts for eternity! Here is an excerpt from some writings of St. Alphonsus de Ligouri:
" Eternity depends on death, death on life, life on a moment, and on that moment depends ETERNITY!"
The road to Heaven is not an easy one, but we have a merciful and loving God who will help us to get there if only we ask Him.
Prayer (St. Alphonsus)
O my God, I present myself before Thee, with a heartfelt sorrow for my sins. I humbly adore Thee; I believe in Thee and Thy Holy Catholic Church, and in Eternity. I hope in Thee, and through Thy goodness, I hope for a happy Eternity. I love Thee with my whole heart, and for Eternity. I submit myself to what Thou shalt ordain concerning me; "here cut, here burn, but spare me in Eternity." Grant me, O Almighty and merciful God, the grace I stand in need of to serve Thee faithfully during life, and to possess Thee in Eternity, through Christ our Lord. Amen
In Thee O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.
Sorrowful Mother Mary, pray for me now and at the hour of my death. Amen.