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Choices we make - part one

By Barbara Kralis

©Barbara Kralis 2004

Heaven or hell, it is our choice.  Which will it be?  Will we choose the place and state of perfect and eternal happiness where we will see, face to face, the sight of God?  Or, will we choose the place and state of eternal punishment, which consists of the deprivation of the sight of God (pain of loss) and the eternal fires (pain of sense)? 

Many years ago, comedian Flip Wilson used to lament, "The devil (deb-il) made me do it!"  It was a joke then and it is a joke still today.  The devil cannot make anybody do anything.  In fact, too many of us blame our weakness and concupiscence on the devil.

At our ‘Particular Judgment,’[1] we will not be able to blame the devil for the choices we made, for God created man as a rational being, with free will.  "God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel."[2]  With this free will, each of us makes the decision to love God or to reject Him.

How can we attain Eternal Salvation?  We were not left as orphans, on our own.  We were given divine teachings to guide us along the way. 

We have the teachings of Christ and His apostles from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.[3]  We have The Church’s infallible teachings, which enable all men to maintain their consciences well formed.

Moreover, the Ten Commandments, written for all men of all the ages, were carved by the finger of God into stone.  Though they are not the total expression of God’s laws, they are concise shorthand with limitless implications.

Then Jesus told Peter, "whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[4]  It is as simple as that!

St. Paul laid it all out for us when he taught: [5]

~Jesus Christ is our only hope.[6]

~The ‘price’ of Redemption of mankind has been accomplished.[7]

~The gates of heaven are open wide, just waiting for us.

~Man has available to him all the necessary graces for salvation, if he so chooses.

~It is up to every man to choose to accept grace or to reject grace.[8]

St. Paul teaches that now we see God "[9] in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face," and that the happiness which we will enjoy in heaven is indescribable.[10]

Our Lord warned us that the principal objective of Christian living is not the good things of this life, which ‘moth and rust consume, and which thieves can break in and steal,[11] but to work towards the ‘incorruptible heritage,’ the eternal salvation of heaven.

How do we know we are on the right narrow path, going in the direction of heaven? 

Christ has given us ‘road signs’ or ‘shepherds’ to help us not to stray.  He called certain men to the Holy Orders of the Priesthood.[12]

~Faithful Bishops and Priests are our greatest shepherds. [13]

They celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass.[14]  They administer the Sacraments.  They instruct us to frequent the Sacrament of Confession often, for venial sins erode the foundation of our faith.  They instruct us to receive the Eucharist worthily.  "They remind us," said John Paul II, "that their priestly ministry is ordered in a special way, a solicitude for the salvation of all men… that men may have life, and have it more abundantly, so that none may perish, but that they may have eternal life."[15]

~Faithful Bishops and Priests give us spiritual direction.  We do not want to have to say at the end of our life what the Israelites said: "for forty years we went round and round the mountain."[16]  However, beware of Bishops and Priests who dissent and cause scandal, as St. Paul teaches: "Now I exhort ...

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