Purity of Heart: The Moral Life- Teachings

How Can I Attain Heaven? 
Msgr. Charles M. Mangan

God wants you to go to Heaven. After
that terrifying disturbance - Original Sin- caused by the grave transgression of Adam and Eve, which forcibly closed the Gates of Paradise, the Father, showing His fervent desire that the human race be reconciled to Him, sent His Son Jesus through the fruitful action of the Holy Spirit to grant His sons and daughters once again the chance to taste everlasting life. By His redeeming Death on Calvary, Christ demonstrates His sincere wish that you be with Him forever. God created you  so that you might possess unending happiness in Heaven.

To arrive there, you must know, love and serve the Lord here on earth. This "blessed task" can seem overwhelming. How do you persevere in the fierce battle to love and obey Jesus now, knowing that your fidelity will be rewarded in the next world in the unceasing Kingdom of God? There are some tried-and-true ways that will propel you forward on this challenging, vital pilgrimage. Here are a few. Let's call them the "Ten Commandments of Our Journey to Our Everlasting Home."

I. "You shall pray daily."
with God can't be overestimated. Prayer is the essential nourishment for our souls. Without it, our inner selves wither away. Although it can seem unfulfilling, primarily when we are troubled with distractions, prayer needn't be complicated. Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), also known as "The Little Flower," described it as a loving glance towards Paradise. "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward Heaven, it isa cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy" (Catechism of the CatholicChurch,2558). Whether you pray vocally, meditate on certain passages from spiritual works, or use contemplation by shutting out external realities, you will become more like Jesus. Why? Because you have come into contact with Him and His Beloved Father through the power of the  Holy Spirit.

II." You shall frequently receive the Sacraments."

The Sacraments are those seven special external signs that bestow the grace ("God's life") that they signify. We receive most often Penance ("Confession," "Reconciliation") and the Most Holy Eucharist. To be absolved from our sins by the priest is a superb foundation (and is obligatory when one is conscious of unconfessed mortal sin on his soul) for receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion. Regular prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament will change your life.

III "You shall often read Sacred Scripture."

The Holy Spirit speaks to us in the inspired words of the Holy Bible. We don't need to be intimidated when starting to read Scripture. Ask the Lord to open your soul to His Truth and to provide you with sustenance for the journey to His Kingdom. You will not be disappointed when you ponder the sacred message contained in the Bible.

IV. "You shall be devoted to the Holy Mother of God."
Mary was the first
Christian. She is not only Mother of Jesus but also our Mother who, now assumed into Heaven, intercedes for us near her Divine Son. Praying the Rosary, wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Miraculous Medal, traveling to churches and shrines named in her honor. . .you enjoy abundant opportunities to show the Ever-Virgin that you love her and pine for her maternal protection.

V. "You shall study the Teachings of the Church."
Jesus left behind His Chaste
Spouse, the Church, for us! What God revealed in Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit and guarded by the Church's Magisterium (the Teaching Authority composed of the Pope and those Bishops in union with him). Studying the doctrines of the Church as found in the Catechism and other solid volumes will help you in observing the beauty of the Church and the reasonableness of her mandates.

VI. "You shall have recourse to the Angels

and Saints." Each person asks his Guardian Angel "to light, to guard, to rule and to guide" him, using the phrase of the famous "Prayer to the Guardian Angel." The Angels, including the three well-known Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, are strong and close to God. You need the protection of the Holy Angels from all the snares of Satan who, with his cohort of demons, is very active in your midst. The Saints are already in Heaven. Their celestial assistance is to be constantly pursued; their edifying example is to be continually imitated. Your Patron Saints are your special companions who delight whenever you invoke them.

VII. "You shall perform acts of charity through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy."
Charity, by which we resemble God Himself, is the greatest of the three supernatural virtues (faith and hope are the others). We live in charity when our souls possess it; we engage in charity when we reach out to our neighbor. When you embrace the Corporal Works of Mercy (to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, attend the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead) and the Spiritual Works of Mercy (to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, pray for the living and the dead), you provide evidence of your ambition to serve Christ wherever you meet Him.

VIII. "You shall have concern for the Poor Souls in Purgatory."
The Holy Souls in Purgatory will eventually enter Heaven. Meanwhile, they warrant our prayers and sacrifices. Arranging for a Mass to be offered for all of them (or for anyone of them) is the best remembrance you can give them.

IX. "You shall practice self-denial."

Mortification done from love of Christ and in a spirit of penance and reparation for one's own sins and those of others is critical in seeking the face of Jesus. Each Friday is a day of penance when we recall the Savior's suffering and death on Calvary. Your self-denial makes you more humble, dependent on God and receptive to His will.

X. "You shall carefully avoid the near occasions of sin."
Persons, places, things and events can lead us to sin. When we become aware of these "near occasions," we have the duty to evade them if possible. If we can't completely sidestep them, then we must limit their influence. Ask your confessor in the Sacrament of Penance to explain this crucial principle. Attaining Heaven is possible. The Lord has generously bestowed on us the capacity to know, love and serve Him in preparation for our time with Him forever. And going  to Heaven is also demanded of us, because "He is our God and we are His people, the flock He shepherds" (Psalm 95:7). Where else would you want to spend eternity but with your gracious Creator Who made you for Himself?

Msgr. Charles M. Mangan is a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD. A prolific writer, Monsignor is a member of the Vaticanís Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He has an S.T.L. in Canon Law and is currently completing a doctorate in Mariology.


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