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Heavenwards Details

"MEN," so Joubert wrote, just after the French Revolution, "have torn up the roads which led to Heaven and which all the world followed; now we have to make our own ladders." Whatever truth may have underlain these words at the beginning of the 19th century, they certainly have lost nothing of their point in the hundred years which have passed since they were first uttered. Never was there a period when young Catholics in their journey heavenward could count less upon public opinion and the force of good example to keep them in the right path. We may doubt if it has at any time been true that men were swept along in the crush and were carried to Heaven by their surroundings almost in spite of themselves. But if such days ever existed, they are with us no longer. Heaven is now for all of us more or less a matter of scaling ladders. The broad road has grown broader with every new discovery of science and in much the same proportion the narrow way has grown narrower. Every new facility of communication has filled modern life with greater restlessness and with the craving for fresh emotional excitement. Those who may read in such an old-fashioned work as Father Parsons' Christian Directory his impressive exposition of the text: "with desolation the world is laid desolate because no man thinketh in his heart," can hardly forbear to smile at the venerable writer's earnestness when they compare the distractions of modern life with the life of three centuries back. Nevertheless we have to save our souls in the surroundings in which God has placed us. Nothing is to be gained by looking only at the difficulties and discouragements. Things have not all altered for the worse, and to the credit side of the account in the work of salvation as it presents itself to the modern Christian, must surely be set such helps as Mother Mary Loyola offers to her thousands of readers in books like the present.What seems specially recommendable in these pages is the cheerful encouragement offered to all to look steadily forward to the goal of human life. The words Sursum corda (Lift up your hearts) which embody the spirit of so many of these chapters, strike, as all will recognise, a note of consolation and of joy. The thought of "Home" brings peace to the soul, while at the same time it should be enough to call forth our best energies. Thus while Mother Loyola teaches us how to find "ladders" to scale Heaven, she lets us see that the most arduous part of the task lies in the simple resolution to fix our eyes steadily upon the welcome that awaits us. Once we do this, the fatigue of the road is lightened, death loses its terrors, the world has little power to distract, and we shall enjoy even here below some share of the happiness which is promised us in paradise.
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