By distributing this booklet countless souls can hear God calling them to repent and change before their hour comes so to hopefully embrace God’s sanctifying grace for the salvation of their souls.This booklet has everything someone needs to come to understand the basic requirements of salvation. This is an abridged version of the book with the same title also available through Lifting Our Values.
3.75″ x 8.5″ glossy full color cover
(Brochure sized booklet)
Live the Real Faith
Eternal life, the greatest gift God has given us, isn’t easy to obtain. We must “work out your [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Through his wisdom, St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, tells us “it is certain that few are saved.”1 Yet the devil has manipulated the masses—and even many of the “faithful”—into presuming we are saved. We need to grow from a faith that not only professes Jesus is Lord with our words, but into one that follows Him in all our actions. That is why, “there are many who arrive at the faith, but few that are led into the heavenly kingdom” (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church).2 Few are willing to walk on the narrow path to Life by truly living the faith in thought, word and deed.
Suffering from Idolatry
We are all suffering in different degrees from many sins but we keep on focusing on the sins of others or what we think are the sins of others and can’t see the very sins we are committing. Many of us want to please God and even think we are saved, but sadly unknown to most, we don’t hate all of our sins and reject God’s saving mercy—the very grace Jesus suffered and died to give us that we received through our baptism. Those of us who love anything over God are committing idolatry. Whether we love any sin (don’t resolve to amend), love any attachment (worldly pleasure), or love our will (what we want) over God, we reject the very life-saving mercy God longs to give us. “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Yet, horribly, most of us choose many things over God. We waste countless hours that we could use to be growing in knowledge and love of God, hours in which we could be serving God well, but we give it to the world instead. To justify our selfish desires, we convince ourselves our actions are perfectly fine—or at least that they aren’t so bad. Sadly, we aren’t even trying to live wholly for God. We think giving some of our life is just fine. We have allowed the devil to blind us to the point where we no longer think it’s necessary to live for God, and to “serve only Him,” (Luke 4:78). We don’t realize we are in mortal sin and love numerous things over God, or that we are outside of God’s saving grace. There shouldn’t be any question as to why our lives are in such disarray; we should know it’s because we aren’t truly living His Word.
“I have come to warn the faithful to amend [change] their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended” (Our Lady of Fatima).3
God wants us to be happy loving Him…not the world. Our hearts must long for and desire God alone. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart [not just part of it]” (Mark 12:30). God did not create us so we can spend our time on earth seeking happiness through desiring earthly things such as praise, accomplishments, material possessions, rest or entertainment. We are supposed to seek Him. We like to pride ourselves on our achievements whether it is buying something new, watching the next great movie or completing that important project at work. We spend countless hours seeking them. Don’t get me wrong; seeking success is fine if we aren’t self willed and are willing to accept failure too (God’s will) and are doing it to know, serve and love God. We need to make sure what we are doing is holy, what God desires for us, and truly being done for the love of Him as we wholly give credit to Him working through us.
God has given us gratuitous grace (talents and gifts) which He wants us to use for His glory and the salvation of souls. But if we look honestly into what we are doing with our time, and why we are doing it, we will see the devil has tricked us into living a life that simply isn’t doing ALL for the honor and glory of God, nor living His will for us at ALL moments, but rather mostly for our personal success and comfort. Sadly, most of us don’t even have the goal of stopping our sinful ways so to one day perfectly love God, as the devil has us complacent in our life. But God wants us to be holy, to not sin and love Him, in ALL that we do, not part of it. We mustn’t give any part of our life to the evil one.
“Be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).
Unfortunately, many of us have been tricked to such an extent, we are mistakenly using God’s gifts and talents He gave us to serve Him (for the salvation of souls) and are instead using them for self-glory, thinking that is the way to a happy life. Sadly the devil has deceived us so greatly, we may even think we are using our talents for God, but if we look deep into our intentions, we will see many of our actions are mostly done seeking the approval of others. We have unknowingly become addicted to the “feel good” sensation we get in the world of praise, accomplishment, gain, comfort, etc.
Tragically, instead of spending our time with God, most of us choose to spend our time seeking out happiness through financial success, shopping, going out to eat, improving our looks, sexual gratification, watching the TV or Internet, going on vacations, hanging out with our friends, seeing things go our way—and a whole plethora of other worldly pleasures. Does all this really give way to true happiness? But sadly, this is how we choose to use our precious time; time that was given to us in order to seek out our salvation. We may feel happiness through worldly gains and pleasures, but these things are like an addictive drug and only provide false, fleeting happiness. This is the devil’s trap, and it keeps us from God.
God created us so we could grow in great happiness, by His transforming grace, through coming to know, love, and serve Him; so we can learn to reject sin—our will, or anything else that keeps us from Him—in order to embrace sanctifying grace (Jesus’ saving grace), and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. But again, the devil has tricked us into loving the world over God (idolatry), and most of us are too blind to even see it.
“The joys of this world lead to eternal misery” (St. Ambrose).4
God’s way to true happiness is narrow and hard, and sometimes it may not seem too much like happiness in the beginning, so we quickly run from the cross (the way to Christ) and choose worldly pleasure instead. The reality is, we’ve chosen to give practically all of our attention to things of this world, and only a small fraction of our thoughts, words, and actions to God and His true will for us.
“Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).
We have allowed the devil to conjure up delusions of our “goodness” in our minds. We will think of all the moments when we did sacrifice something of pleasure or did something for God, not noticing all of the times we didn’t. We pride ourselves with all of the times we served the Lord when He was “hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, [etc.]” (Matthew 15:44), but we will neglect to repent for the times we didn’t. We will say, I go to Church, pray and have devotions, saying to ourselves, “See, I’m obeying the Word” neglecting to repent when we don’t. The devil has taught us how pride ourselves and not see the rest of our lives and all of the sins we’ve grown to love. We don’t know our misery and need for God’s mercy, so we never truly turn to God. Yet, God is calling us daily to humble ourselves and have a great desire to learn how we are offending Him—whom we should love above all things. If we truly love Him we would want to do this. What worldly pleasures do we love that we aren’t willing to let go of in order to remove all of our distractions and fully live for God?
“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice [sacrificing the word], [being] holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship [how you live your life]. Do not be conformed to this world [live for Heaven]” (Romans 12:1-2).
Unfortunately, we have watered down the true faith so much that the Church and its sheep are suffering greatly. We are not living the true faith, and are stricken with many forms of idolatry, and “a great many persons live constantly in the state of damnation” (St. Vincent de Paul),5 loving the world well over God. However, if we give over our lives to God, as we are called to do, He will provide us with all we need, and we will be wonderfully happy—even during times of great suffering. We won’t fret anymore; we can live in peace. We will have the true peace we long for and be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 119:1). If we believe, change, and truly live the Word, we will be abundantly rewarded.
“Pray, pray a great deal and make many sacrifices…Fly from riches and luxury [people become attached to them and not God]; love poverty and silence”(Our Lady of Fatima).6
Our Lord and His mother have spoken to us; now we just need to obey. God tells us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [we need] will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). If we only obeyed, how wonderful life would be. However, from early childhood, practically all of us have been taught to live for our own selfish goals, instead of living for God, and we desire to sin. Yet, desiring to sin and loving anything above God are mortal desires. “God is to be loved above all things so that we should be prepared to sacrifice our lives rather than offend Him” (Pope St. Pius V).7 Are we willing to lose our lives, the lives we have come to love that still lives, some or all of it, for this world to gain salvation? If so then our top priorities—above all else—should be that we “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34), so as to stop offending and love Our Creator, by giving our lives over to Him completely leaving the world behind. But sadly, this is far from what most of us do. Most of us don’t understand the requirements for salvation, nor the consequences if we do not abide by them. That is why “many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Unfortunately, very few of us have learned how to love God correctly, as many of us are still living for the world and all of its fleeting pleasures.
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
Presumption of Salvation .
Tragically, the devil has many of us presuming our salvation, making us believe our prayers and “good works” are enough. We have forgotten it’s “by [sanctifying] grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8), not our “holiness.” We are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice, not ourselves. No matter how holy we might like to think we are, no matter how much we do for others, if we choose to love (not seeking to amend) one sin—commit idolatry—we reject God’s sanctifying grace He suffered and died to give us. “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter, and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). We must have God’s saving grace to be saved and that is restored by seeking to love God above all—to sincerely resolve to stop sinning…our eternity depends on it.
Through our prideful nature, some of us actually think we have been given greater wisdom than the saints, some of us go so far as to not even believe the Word, and seem to be looking for any excuse so as to not stop the sins they love. As a result, few of us see the dire need to repent and change, as we still—much of the time—serve ourselves instead of God. We figure God’s mercy will save us, even though we are unknowingly rejecting it. Sadly, “there are few who wish to receive Him and to be saved by Him” (St. Francis of Assisi),8 as disastrously, most us prefer sin instead.
“Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and forsake [stop] them obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Venial Sin Becomes Mortal .
“There is such a thing as deadly sin” (1 John 5:16), and if we die without having true sorrow for any sin (mortal or venial sin), our hardened hearts refuse to accept God’s Saving Mercy and horribly, we choose our sin instead of God’s mercy and are lost in Hell forever. To the surprise of many, a “venial [sin]…becomes mortal,” when someone “fix[es] one’s end in that venial sin [has no desire to amend]” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church). 9
Sin No More
Those of us who truly love God don’t want to offend him in any way—not with mortal or venial sin—work diligently to amend our sins and sin to no more, one sin at a time. Those of us who wish to grow in our faith—into a saving faith that truly loves God—seek Jesus’ power in His grace, which comes through prayer, devotions, fasting, sacrificing, suffering, and the sacraments—and especially confession and the Holy Eucharist. This grace strengthens us so we can amend for our sins, even sins which have become a part of our lives. After receiving enough grace working within us, we won’t be able to bear offending God, whom we should be loving with “all of our heart” (Luke 10:27), and we’ll work wholeheartedly to seek out the best way we can love God perfectly at all times, truly desiring to sin no more.
“Those falsely called faithful…have no fear of entangling themselves in sin after baptism” (St. Bede the Venerable).10
Seek to Perfectly
How can we truly love God if we are okay with offending Him? What kind of love is that? We need to love God above all, by seeking to rid our lives of all of our sins. That is the only true way to love God since sin offends Him. Jesus even declared to St. Faustina how He “detest[s] the slightest sin” (Diary #1728). We should too. God loves to help us, but when our prayers only consist of begging God to help us with our problems, we aren’t loving Him in return; we’re just trying to take what love we can get from Him. We need to become aware of God’s constant, unfathomable love for us and truly love Him in return, by stopping our sins. The apostle Paul says, “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). We need to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (James 1:22), because “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). If we are not trying to be “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), then we are not on the path which leads to eternal life.
Are we really seeking to love and obey God—through all of His Word—or have we been tricked into believing that only the sins we think of as grave rejects saving grace? Truly, idolatry is very grave matter. “What the law requires is written on their [our] hearts” (Romans 2:15). We should know better, but the devil has deceived us. Now is the time to hear and change our sinful ways.
St. Theresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, clearly guides us to the light by saying, “You must make every effort to free yourselves from even venial sins and follow the greatest possible perfection.”11 All we need to do is obey the Word, and the Church and learn from the saints. It is then that we will grow into a saving faith, a faith that truly lives the Word. Sadly though, most don’t even try. We might like to tell ourselves we are obeying the Word, but we simply aren’t—not all of it. How can we beg God for forgiveness for disobeying His Word, if we aren’t even sincerely trying to obey it nor sincerely desiring to know our sins? That is false sorrow and rejects forgiveness.
To obtain a saving faith, we must convert and grow enough in our faith to have true sorrow for our sins in order to truly love God. We need to desire to know our sins and have a real detestation for each and every one of our sins—including habitual sins (sins we haven’t turned to God to amend), along with a sincere working desire to stop all of our sins—meaning we are honestly striving to live our lives for God and His will, seeking Heaven, and working to become a saint (someone who wants to love God with their whole heart and to sin no more).
“Among the penitent’s acts [the person confessing their sins] contrition [sorrow] occupies first place [since it is needed for salvation]. Contrition is sorrow of the soul and detestation [hate] for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again [to become a saint]” (CCC #1451).
When we are seeking to obtain true sorrow for all of our sins, we will be working with God, day after day, praying, examining our conscience, reading the Word (to live it), frequenting confession and the Holy Mass. We will be slowly coming to know all of the sins we have been concealing that we love, and obtaining grace, while learning how to rid them from our life. It is by learning how to relent our will for God’s, that we will obtain the wisdom and strength we need to amend our sins.
The Path of Life
When we begin to allow Jesus to take away our sins, we will then know we are moving towards true contrition (sorrow for our sins). We will be consistently changing. When we implore God with a heart that sincerely desires to change—using all of the many ways He sends us His grace—we will successfully modify our lives, learn from our failures, and stop committing sin. God will surely give us the grace to do so. Temptation might be strong, but God’s grace is stronger. Sure we will continue to be slaves to sin unless we work hard to grow in our faith, so that we become “full of grace” (Acts 6:8), like St. Stephen did. When we are on the path of eternal life, we will continually grow in holiness, removing more and more sin, day after day, through God’s constant help, His grace, and our great desire to stop offending God whom we should love above all else. If we spend our day in prayer, but not seeking to diligently amend our ways, we have missed the path of Life. If we think we hardly sin, then we have a “loss of the sense of sin” (Pope St. John Paul II).12 Please be alert of the devil’s traps.
We need great humility and knowledge of how wretched our sins really are, in order to accept the grace needed to obtain true sorrow for our sins since pride rejects mercy. When we are headed towards the path of eternal life, the awareness of our sinfulness will increase. We will even begin to see sins that we have blocked from our conscience that we commit and desire. Little by little, God will make us aware of our wretchedness, and we will begin to understand His wonderful love and patience He has with us wretched sinners and our great need for His mercy.
Image of Christ
As we gain the strength (grace) to let go of our selfishness and choose to suffer and sacrifice for others, our sinful nature will begin to change. Those unloving personalities we have had for a life time, will dissipate. We will begin to take God’s Holy Word seriously, and find resolutions for all our sins especially our grave sins like the ones mentioned in the Bible as “not inherit[ing] the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 8:17; Galatians 5:9-12; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; etc.), and we’ll desire to follow God’s entire Word perfectly.
Even our venial sins—those unloving, selfish choices we make—will begin to diminish from our lives. We will begin to grow in the image of Christ, which the way our Christian life should have been our entire lives. If we are successful, we will most certainly become saints which must be our goal if we truly desire to love God. This is what God wants for us, since we are all “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). This is true obedience to God.
Fire of Love
If we are vigilant and keep our fire ignited for God then our life will grow in wonderful peace and joy since it was our sins all along, that were rejecting God’s love (His helping grace) and caused our deep despair. By never allowing the devil to extinguish our fire no matter what distraction or wrong guidance comes along, staying disciplined, we will come to follow the true Way, as we will trust in God and His mercy, not in ourselves, to keep us from sin.
“Great peace have those who love [obey] your law; nothing can make them stumble [despair].”
Hate the World
If we love God above all, we will truly detest sin and won’t long for anything of this world. All of the worldly desires we yearn for—such as money, success, approval of men, desiring to be attractive, as well as enjoying sports, partaking in delicious foods, satisfying our time with entertainment (TV, internet, etc.), relishing in relaxation beyond our need, indulging in vacations, consuming our time with hobbies—will cease to become important to us; we won’t seek them out any more. We won’t long for anything or anyone—only God. Of course, we will still love our family, friends, and neighbors, but we will love them for God who dwells within them. Any love or bond we have with them will pale in comparison with the true love we have for God, and we will only long for God alone, not for that cup of coffee in the morning or our time to rest watching a good show…but we will long for our time to pray and be alone with God. We will even grow to despise the sinful things we have done in the past, that we once craved, that wasted precious time that we could have used to know, love, and serve God with all of our hearts. We will recognize how we have wasted our life chasing a false happiness, but we will rejoice that God enlightened us to our failures as we can now begin to live the greatest commandment and seek our salvation.
“If they believed that I see and know all things and have power over all things and that I demand a judgment over all, they would hate the world, and they would fear more to sin before me than before men” (Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden).13
We need to be “crucified [in] their [our] flesh with its passions and desires [for things other than God]” (Galatians 5:24), and seek to remove all of our worldly distractions from loving God above all—one distraction at a time—so we won’t be clinging to this Word as “the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). We need to beware, the devil will have us justifying loving the world, trying to convince us it is actually good. But the saint’s didn’t do that. “Until our soul is purged of these affections we shall not possess God…in the life to come in the beatific vision [Heaven]” (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church).14 If we don’t to abandon the distracting pleasures of this world, and we neglect to choose the cross and live for the Kingdom of Heaven, we are choosing death—not purgatory, but Hell forever. Life on Earth is gone in an instant, but forever is forever. What are we living for? Have we been deceived?
“All desire to be saved; many, because they will not employ the means of salvation, are lost. (St. Alphonsus).15
The more we grow into a saving faith, the less we will crave or seek out things of this world. In fact, our hearts will long to serve God in all we do. Then when we need to participate in worldly activities, we will make a conscience effort to do them for the honor and glory of God. However, until we reach this point in our faith—with enlightenment of the truth and the ability to live it—many things we think are good will, in fact, be bad. From our lack of wisdom from the blindness our sins cause, we can be easily deceived by the devil.
“Sometimes a way seems right, but the end of it leads to death!” (Proverbs 14:12).
We need to stay alert at all times, to check to see why we like something and why we don’t, to make sure what we are doing is truly good. We must model ourselves after the saints, who never compromised the truth in order to gain some good. We can never gain good by doing bad. The whole truth is what saves. Twisting God’s commands—or loosely interpreting them to suit our own desires or a perceived good—will always lead to death. This is not what the saints have done. We can choose to follow our friends, or even the advice of people who seem “holy,” but their wisdom may very well be lacking. The wisdom of the saints far surpasses anyone else’s, and we must put our trust in what they tell us. The saints have successfully found eternal life, and the Word calls us to “be imitators of me [Paul-a saint], as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). We must read their writings, and imitate what they have done, then apply it to what God is calling us to do in our lives. The saints will always guide us well, as long as we don’t allow the evil one to lead us into confusion about what they are saying.
Living the Word
Is truly living the Word hard to do? Yes! But once we stop choosing to be lukewarm, and are willing to leave our comfort zone (the wrong way of living which we have chosen) and change, the limitless love of our merciful Lord is there to help us, if we sincerely want to live for Him and Him alone. After we struggle for a while to know our sins and work hard to amend them, amazingly through God’s grace His yoke (commands) will truly become easy to follow and His burden (cross) light (cf. Matthew 11:30). From our new trust in God, we will be able to break free from sins we never thought we could let go of. What joy we will finally have! Obeying his Word will no longer be hard for us, because God’s mercy will have finally strengthened us. “Oh, if sinners [truly] knew My mercy [help], they would not perish in such great numbers” (Jesus to Faustina – Diary #1396). Jesus came for us, to save us, and has given us so many ways to receive grace to help us obtain eternal life. He is our savior, and He wants us in Heaven with Him for all of eternity. God is sending us all the graces we need. All we have to do is learn how to open our hearts to receive them. God will teach us. And once we sincerely give our whole selves over to Him, He will do the rest.
If we confess our sins to a priest, but we lack sorrow (perfect/imperfect contrition) for any one of our sins, if we haven’t renounced a single sin and still choose to persist in it, we will not receive God’s forgiveness. We reject the very forgiveness we seek when we aren’t truly sorry for any of our sins. Even if the priest says we are “forgiven,” we are refusing forgiveness—sanctifying grace—because the desires of our heart aren’t true. God’s saving love can’t live in a heart that still loves anything more than Him.
“People must renounce sin and not persist in it, as has been done until now. It is essential to repent greatly” (Our Lady to St. Jacinta of Fatima).
Sorrow for Offending God
The true sorrow we need to accept God’s forgiveness needs to be done for the right reasons to keep God’s saving grace consistent within our souls. Only being sorry because of the damage sin has done to our lives (self-love), or even the lives of those around us, isn’t true love for God. We need to be sorry, first and foremost, for having offended God whom we should love with all of our heart above all else. Sadly, most of us fail to recognize we are offending God, and only possess sorrow because we can see how our sins are ruining ourselves or other’s lives. However, perfect contrition (true sorrow for offending God) is what’s necessary to be saved.
“For those who desire Eternal Life, a pure love… is necessary, for it is not enough for eternal life to fly sin from fear of punishment [imperfect contrition-self-love]…Sin should be abandoned because it is displeasing to Me [perfect contrition-true-love]” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).16
In the sacrament of reconciliation since Jesus gave the power to His priests to “forgive” sins (John 20:23), having imperfect contrition (amending our life out of fear of going to Hell) for all of our sins, can wonderfully restore our souls into saving grace, which brings great benefit to someone’s conversion and it is the “beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). However, we must have a change of heart, where the main reason for amending our sins is not out of fear for ourselves but out of love for God. When we leave the confessional with imperfect contrition, because we are more concerned about the suffering our sins bring us instead of how we’ve wounded Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, we fall out saving grace because we’re loving ourselves over God, which is idolatry.
Remember, we must be in a state of grace when we die—not just during the moment we are in the confessional. Even so, just because we have imperfect contrition or even no real contrition at all, we mustn’t hold back from frequently participating in the sacrament of reconciliation as this sacrament is a gift from God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:18). As long as we have sorrow for at least one sin, confession gives us the abundant grace, we need to move our hearts into having true sorrow (perfect contrition) for our sins, and for those who have grown enough in our faith to obtain perfect contrition, it help us to maintain that state of contrition for the salvation of our souls. But if we continue to cling to any sin, without a desire to amend for it, we still reject God’s saving mercy (forgiveness of our sins).
“I want to pour out My divine life [saving grace] into human souls and sanctify them [to bring them to Heaven], if only they were willing to accept My grace” (Jesus- St. Faustina’s Diary #1784).
Burning Desire to Forgive .
We need to understand how much God loves us and desperately wants to forgive us of all sin no matter how long we have been away from Him or how grievous our sins might be…so if we seek Him with a contrite heart for just some of our sins, wanting to gain true contrition for the rest, He will forgive us of the sins we have true sorrow for and send us much help. In time, if we continue to grow in faith, we will accept His forgiveness (saving grace).
Hope at the Hour of Death .
Please understand that for most of us, obtaining and maintaining true sorrow for our sins doesn’t happen easily or instantly. Even though, it’s possible that at the moment of our death—through the outpouring of God’s great mercy, based upon His will, the sacraments, our life choices, and the prayers and sacrifices of others—we could accept His saving grace, by truly detesting our sins for having offended Him and if we had another moment to live, we would truly surrender our life to God, and then we would be saved; but that’s rare. Mostly, the state in which we live—whether we are in a state of grace or not—is the state in which we die, because from our free will, most are unable to see and accept God’s saving mercy from our still great desire for sin.
However, if during our life, we accepted God’s saving grace by moving into a state of perfect contrition, even if for just a moment, but long enough to where we delighted in the Lord or did “good works” for the love of God (something deserving a reward, as no reward is given being outside of the state of grace, because nothing truly good has been done), God will come to us “with a countenance so full of love and mercy” (Jesus to St. Gertrude the Great),17 so that at the hour of our death, we can see the true light of our wretchedness (all of our unforgiven sins), remove presumption and truly repent—with perfect contrition—for having offended Him. Yet despite this—because of our free will—it is still possible that we might reject eternal life. When we are shown just how miserable we are, instead of embracing God’s love and mercy we might fall into despair, doubting that God’s mercy can forgive such terrible sins. This is what is called “blasphemy against the Spirit” and that “will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31). We must accept God’s transforming, forgiving mercy. We must never lose hope; God’s mercy is waiting for us.
Obtaining True Sorrow
St. Teresa of Avila says that “he who is resolved to die rather than offend God [with any sin] is, without a doubt, penitent [someone sorry] for his past offenses against him.”18 Yes, developing this kind of sorrow takes time, but this has to be our goal. We need to meditate on Jesus’ Passion, and truly understand the consequences of sin in order to hate sin so much that we would rather suffer greatly than offend our beloved Lord. Such disgust for sin will keep us alert, and help us strive to live for His will only.
We are truly blessed if at the time of our confession we obtain true sorrow for our sins. But staying in a constant state of true sorrow isn’t easy, as we need to completely forsake (get rid of) our sinful habits, attachments, and our will—eliminating what we want that isn’t in accord with God’s will for us (remove our idolatry). We have to truly hate what we have grown to love, which has become part of our sinful personalities. That’s not easy, but with God we can do anything! St. Ignatius of Antioch, a direct disciple of the apostle John, clearly explained his journey towards a saving faith: “Now as a prisoner [in sin] I am learning to give up my own wishes [my will—removing idolatry]… I am more and more trained in [correct] discipleship [following Christ by carrying my cross] by their ill-usage [poor treatment] of me, but I am not therefore justified [not with a saving faith]. How happy I will be with the beasts [suffering] which are prepared for me [as they will help me obtain the faith I need to be saved]!”19
Suffering Can Save Our Soul .
God can and does test our faithfulness through our suffering, so we will come to know if we are living the faith correctly. This is wonderful, as through our suffering God teaches us about our sinfulness so we can see the sins we’ve hidden from ourselves. We can come to fully understand “it was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71), so we can grow in self-awareness from our crosses. Our lack of peace, consisting of anxiety, anger, frustration, worries, complaints, etc., that we have during our crosses (our sufferings, disappointments, challenges, etc.), are true consequences of sin and signs that we are still living selfish lives. We need to look for the root of those unloving feelings, then repent and change. When we abandon self-love, we won’t have those sinful feelings anymore.
Tragically, countless people have come to reject the cross and suffer great jealously of those who seem to have blessings we don’t. Our complaining when things don’t go as we desire, and wanting what others have has lead us to great despair during our trials. We simply don’t see the cross as the Way to Christ, and are tricked into running to God begging Him to remove our cross so as to gain our will, not God’s. We operate on a my will be done, not a Thy will be done mentality. If we only knew our suffering was meant for good and can guide us and others to eternal life, we would rejoice in our suffering. The beautiful cross we are missing that enlightens, is a great deterrent from sin, and sends our flesh much actual grace to greatly help us and others when we unite our suffering with God for the salvation of souls. Carrying the cross is a must for all. Therefore, we should “rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh” (Colossians 1:24) as our suffering is “meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Trust in Him
By finally gaining a faith that truly trusts in God and His will—instead of our will and what we think is best—but trusts all God allows, at all moments of our lives, as the ultimate “good” for our souls to guide us to Heaven, we will gain wonderful peace. We will clearly see how God is trying to move our souls during tragedy and comfort—at all moments—especially during our suffering. We will have gratitude for everything and rejoice in everything that God allows to happen, knowing that no matter how horrible it may be, whether a tornado destroys our homes or cancer riddles our bodies—that through God’s unfathomable love for us, it is allowed by God who desires to use that and all circumstances to bring us closer to Eternal Salvation with Him, for those who truly TRUST IN HIM.
“The soul that has determined that its will be one with God’s senses an unspeakable happiness” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).20
When we are successfully following Christ, we will have “peace at all times” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). We will no longer complain or worry during our suffering. We won’t be offended at others. We will lose our pride have pity and mercy on others instead. We will come to understand His blessed ways and love the cross. Our understanding of the requirements of salvation will increase as we truly understand in order to obtain the actual grace (God’s Divine Mercy) to help us accept His sanctifying grace, we “must [intentionally] deny him [our] self [of worldly pleasures], take up his [our] cross [accept our cross as good], and follow Me [obey His Word]” (Matthew 16:24), as we truly “trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely” (Proverbs 3:5), knowing that nothing God allows is to harm us, but to teach us and guild us to Everlasting Life.
The Cross is the Way to Christ
We can no longer allow the devil to trick us into living for the world and its pleasures, hoping for comfort, when the cross—that of obedience, sacrifice, and suffering—is the way to Christ. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God [their strength (grace) to reject sin and embrace God’s saving mercy]” (1 Corinthians 1:18). When we are on the path of eternal life, we will want the cross and not run from it. We will even grow in greater happiness when in suffering for God. The Word warns us that “people will be lovers of themselves [what they want, not suffering and obedience]… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God [yet, we can’t love both God and worldly pleasure], holding to the outward form of godliness [appearing holy] but denying its power [rejecting the Holy Spirit’s grace]” (2 Timothy 3:3-5).
We want to honestly look into ourselves to see where we have fallen, like so many have, or we will die blind…thinking we are saved, when in God’s eyes, we are far from it. If we desire eternal life, we need to look into our lives to see how we are wasting our time doing things that don’t help us to grow in greater love of God, desire to change, and remove them. Until we come to the point in our faith to where we have a “hatred of one’s ill-spent life” (Pope St. Pius V),21 no matter how much we think we are trying to be a Christian, we haven’t even begun to walk on the path to finding true contrition for our sins. We must gain enough humility to know we need to change in a big way.
On top of that, we must change and be willing to suffer all kinds of humiliations, pain and rejection to obtain Eternal Life. That is what Jesus did and what we will need to do too. We need to listen to God as He cries out for our souls, and then heed His words. We must give our lives over to Him, by relenting our wills—all of the many comforts and pleasures we’ve become so accustomed to—and live for nothing but to suffer, obey, and serve Him, following the example of Christ.
If we move too fast, we will fall once temptation presents itself. Rather, we need to remove one sin, one attachment, one distracting passion, one sinful pleasure at a time as we gain more and more grace, working wholeheartedly to love God, obey His commands, and follow Him perfectly—cross and all. This is pleasing to God.
“We must deny ourself in everything…Everything that doesn’t lead you to God is an obstacle” (St. JoseMaria Escriva).22
We don’t need to become perfect, but we need a heart that sincerely wants too love God perfectly, that truly detests our sins, and accepts His forgiveness. God is waiting with open arms to help us. He has spent our entire life calling us. Now, if we can finally hear, run to Him. Let go of the world and allow Him to fill our souls with fantastic grace to become transformed into a true Christian. “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old [our sinfulness] has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then live in peace, trusting in God’s abundant mercy, knowing He wants us saved and from His help, He is, as long as we never quit, transforming us and SAVING OUR SOULS.
“Do not follow the majority of mankind, but follow those who renounce the world and never relax their efforts day or night so that they may attain everlasting blessedness” (St. Anselm of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church).23
This booklet is an abridged version of its sister book of the same title available at www.LiftingOurValues.com
Be a disciple and share this booklet, in various languages, with the whole world. Allow God to use you to save the souls of His children. Lets give God’s children a reason to go to Church again…to SAVE THEIR SOUL’s.
1. Augustine: Sermon 111
2. Gregory: “On the Gospels,” Homily 19, Fr. M. F. Toal, Chicago: Regnery, 1955
3. Our Lady: October 13, 1917 – to Lucia
4. Ambrose: Treatise on the letter to the Philippians
5. Vincent: “Voice of the Saints,” Francis W. Johnston, London: Burnes and Oats, 1965
6. Our Lady: (1919-1920) – to Jacenta
7. Pius: CCC Council of Trent for Parish Priests, 1588, pg. 344
8. Francis: Letter to all of the Faithful
9. Aquinas: Summa Theologica, Qu. 88, art.4
10. Bede: “Homilies on the Gospels,” Homily 1.12, pg. 120, Cistercian, Michigan 1991
11. Theresa: “The Way of Perfection”
12. John Paul: Apostolic Exhortation – Reconciliation and Penance, #18
13. Bridget: “The Prophecies and Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden,” Ch. 39
14. John: “Ascent of Mount Carmel,” Ch. 4
15. Alphonosus: “The Way of Salvation and Perfection,” Med. LII
16. Catherine: “The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena”
17. Gertrude: “The Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great,” Ch. XXVI, Par. 12
18. Alphonosus: Spiritual Treatises
19. Ignatius: Letter to the Romans
20. Kolbe: “Will to Love,” Marytown Press, 1998, pg. 60
21. Pius: CCC Council of Trent for Parish Priests, 1588, pg. 341
22. Escrivia: “The Way, ” #186, #189
23. Anselm: The Major Works
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