Yesterday, we learned about avoiding sin and living in the state of grace. This leads to us living a holy life. Today, on this sixth day, we will learn about what that life looks like.
Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
+ Amen +
The Four Last Things
To live a holy life, the Four Last Things must become very important to us. What are the Four Last Things? They are Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.
All of us will one day die. When we die, our souls are separated from our bodies.
When we die, God personally judges our lives to see if we were good or evil. This personal judgement is called the Particular Judgement. Based on this judgement, we will either go to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell.
If we die in a state of sanctifying grace, if our hearts are pure, if we have followed Christ’s commands and if we have completely atoned for all our sins, we will go to Heaven and joyfully be with God forever and ever.1
If we die with mortal sin, we will go to Hell where we will never see God and will suffer torments and fire for all eternity.
By thinking about the Four Last Things often, we remember to live in way that pleases God.
The addition to the Four Last Things, there is also Purgatory and the Last Judgement.
If we die in a state of sanctifying grace and followed the commands of Christ, but we are still guilty of venial sins or have not completely atoned for our sins, we will go to a middle place and state called Purgatory.
There we will be purified through fire. Once we are pure and made atonement for our sins, we will go to Heaven.
Purgatory can last for as short as a second or as long as a thousand of years. It all depends on how we lived our life.
The Last Judgement
At the end of the world, Jesus will come again to judge everyone who has ever lived in full view of everyone. This is called the Last Judgement.
We will all be given our bodies back, and will either go to Heaven or Hell. Purgatory will be finished and everyone in Purgatory will go to Heaven.
Going to Heaven
To go to Heaven, we must have sanctifying grace in our souls.
Have sanctifying grace in our souls
We receive sanctifying grace in our souls at Baptism. We lose it through mortal sins. We restore it through the Sacrament of Confession, which we will talk about below.
But, if we want to avoid purgatory, we must also be pure in heart, follow the commands of Christ, and completely atone for our sins.
Be pure in heart
Our hearts are pure when they are completely pointed towards God; when everything we purposefully think, say and do is out of love for God.2 This means practicing the virtues of faith, hope, love, humility, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
Follow the commands of Christ
These are the commands of Christ. We must love God with all our hearts and all our soul and all our strength and all our mind; we must love our neighbours as ourselves; and we must love each other as Christ loved us. This means helping the poor and completing the works of mercy.
Completely atone for our sins
We completely atone for our sins when we repent of our sins, go to the Sacrament of Confession, fast, serve the poor, and endure suffering and wrongs with patience.
If this seems difficult, it is! In fact, all of this is impossible to do by ourselves. That is why Christ gave us the Holy Spirit to help us. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to give us grace so that we may live a holy life.
Jesus has also given us the Sacrament of Confession, the Saints and His own mother, Mary to help us be holy.
The Holy Spirit
We cannot go to Heaven without the help of the Holy Spirit. To receive His help, we must have sanctifying grace in our souls, pray constantly, ask the Holy Spirit to help us live holy lives and overcome temptations to sin, and attend Mass (which we will learn about tomorrow).
When we do this, the Holy Spirit will work with our hearts to make sure that everything we purposely think, say and do will be for love of God and therefore holy.
In so doing, the Holy Spirit will help us be pure in heart, follow the commands of Christ and grow in virtue. How? Well, the Holy Spirit will help us:
- Believe all the truths God taught us. This is the virtue of Faith.
- Trust that God will bring us home. This is the virtue of Hope.
- Love God above everything and love our neighbour as ourselves for love of God. This is the virtue of Charity.
- Depend on God for everything. This is the virtue of Humility.
- Make the right decisions. This is the virtue of Prudence.
- Give everyone what is due to them. This is the virtue of Justice.
- Do good even if it is difficult. This is the virtue of Fortitude
- Control our desires. This is the virtue of Temperance.
By helping others, being humble and bearing with wrongs and sufferings with patience, we atone for our sins. If we do this for our whole life, it may atone for all our sins we have ever committed.
The Sacrament of Confession
Our world is filled with evil and many temptations to sin and we are not yet perfect. So, even with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can make mistakes and choose to sin over loving God.
Jesus knew that this would happen. So, in addition to giving us the Holy Spirit to help us live holy lives, Jesus also gave the Church the power to forgive our sins, no matter how great they are, as long as we truly repent.
This is called the Sacrament of Confession and this power has been given to the Apostles, their successors and priests. Jesus has commanded that we make use of this sacrament.
This is how Confession works.
- First, we must make a sincere effort to see where we have sinned, we must be sorry for our sins and we must have the commitment to avoid sinning in the future. If we are not sorry for our sins, our sins will not be forgiven.
- Then, we must visit the priest for Confession. Here we must confess ALL our sins to the priest, even if we are ashamed or scared. It is a sin to purposefully lie during a Confession. Don’t worry because the priest has promised the Church to keep all Confessions a secret.
- The priest will give us some advice to avoid sinning in the future, and then say the following words, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” When the priest says this, God has forgiven you of your sins and granted you the strength to avoid sinning in the future.
- The priest may assign us penance that we must complete after Confession. This penance is to help us make atonement for our sins.
It is important that we attend the Reconciliation at least once a year and as often as once a month, whenever possible. In so doing, God and the priest will help us come closer to living a holy life.
In addition to the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of Confession, Christ also gave us the saints as examples of how to live a holy life. The saints are those that are now in Heaven as friends of God.
We must honor them, follow their way of life and ask them to pray for us. The saints will always help us because they love us.
The holiest and greatest of all the saints and the saint who loves us more than any other saint could love us is the Mother of Jesus, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is so holy and so loved by God that Jesus took her into Heaven body and soul (this event is called her Assumption into Heaven).
And why does Mary love us so much? Because we are her very own children and Mary is our very own mother.
When Christ hung on the Cross to save us, He said to His mother, “Behold your son,” and then He said to His beloved disciple, “Behold your mother.” If we want to become Christ’s beloved disciples, we must accept Mary as our mother.
And just as Christ lived with Mary for 30 years before beginning His ministry, so too we should be with Mary all our lives. Again, if we want to become saints in this life, we must accept Mary as our very own mother.
Our Dear Mother is perfectly holy and is the most perfect of all mothers. She loves us, prays for us and will never abandon us.
We must honor the saints. But above all the angels and saints, we must honor Our Dear Mother and we must ask for her help in living a holy life.
With the Holy Spirit and the help of the Sacrament of Confession, Our Dear Mother and the Saints, we can live holy lives and be found pleasing in the eyes of God. But above all this, Jesus has given us one more gift: the gift of Himself. Tomorrow, we will learn about Christ’s gift of Himself to us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Hell last forever? Just as Heaven lasts forever, Hell lasts forever. Just as we can choose to be with God forever, we can choose to be without God forever. And just as living a holy life leads to eternal life with God, rejecting God leads to eternal death in Hell.
Why does God punish sinners in Hell forever? Hell lasts forever and is very painful, but that is not because God is actively punishing sinners in Hell. Instead, sinners suffer because of sin itself. Sin is like a painful disease and God is our doctor. When sinners reject God, they reject the Divine Physician from healing them, and as a result, they feel intense suffering and pain caused by their sin. And because they have rejected God forever, they will endure sin’s enormous suffering and pain forever.
Why is there a Particular Judgement and the Last Judgement? We face the Particular Judgement just after we die. It is only between God and the person who died. We face the Last Judgement at the end of the world. In this judgement, Jesus judges every single person in front of everyone. In this way, everyone will understand and glorify God’s justice, wisdom and mercy.3
Who are our neighbours? Our neighbours are anyone we come across in life that need our help coming to God. For reference, read the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).