Today's Gospel reading in the Ordinary Form for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time was from the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Our Lord is asked if only a few will be saved. It's a good question, no matter if it is a trick or a genuine question, as Father pointed out this morning.
We must enter through the narrow gate, Our Lord explains. The wider gate is full of people trying to achieve salvation on their own terms, not within the framework established by Our Lord. More specifically, that is a participation in the sacramental life of the Church. Some declare their salvation based on personally accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, with forgiveness for all past, present, and (how presumptuous!) future sins.
Others believe they shall not be saved, for they are so imperfect. Our Lord does not make salvation impossible. He is able to meet us sinners where we are at. Temptation is something to take on, for it draws us closer to Our Lord (often through the Blessed Mother). But, God never allows for more temptations or challenges than we little and frail mortals can handle.
(Now, this is one reason why pro multis should never have been rendered, "for all"... )
The Epistle of the blessed Paul to the Hebrews also intrigued me. Discipline is a necessary part of the Christian life. First, we must be able to attend Mass on Sundays and days of precepts, as well as make it to Confession as necessary. Those are at a minimum.
Then there is the next step, a more richer participation in the sacraments. Daily reception of Holy Communion is a wonderful thing, but it takes effort to roll out of bed to get to an early Mass, or to make time in one's schedule for Mass. It takes deep discipline to form good habits that keep us free from mortal sin, and in time lessen our venial offenses.
Now, of course we need the grace of God as given in the sacraments. None of this Pelagian nonsense. But there is some truth to the phrase "God helps them who help themselves." Love is an act of the will. Ergo, one has to will to be a saint.
There is also discipline of the flesh. The easiest way-and the Church must make things as easy as possible in order to get the faithful to do it- is to abstain from meet on Fridays. Mortification of the flesh in other ways is also, as appropriate, a good penance to draw ourselves closer to Our Lord.
(Now, I'm not entirely sure what kind of discipline Paul is actually talking about... I just heard discipline and ran with it.)
But never despair! Mercy, mercy, mercy. God metes with it. There can be no other way.
And, from her album Fortunate Fall: