What's required of us? 

Saint Mechtilde, in God's presence in heaven, said to Saint Gertrude, in 1298:

In a manner incomprehensible to you, how good are the designs of Providence: in that God leaves man certain defects which give him cause for humbling himself and for making efforts, so making each day progress in the way of salvation.

Book: The Love of the Sacred Heart by Saint Mechtilde

In other words, we should strive to die with a love for God and a dislike for the world's sins, and with the knowledge that we are doing our best to avoid becoming more like our own worst selves. Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1250 said,

The last and perfect happiness, which we await in the life to come, consists entirely in contemplation. But imperfect happiness, such as can be had here, consists first and principally, in an operation of the practical intellect directing human actions and passions.

Book: Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Throughout human history, saints have made things much clearer for us, reinforcing the Holy Gospels and our only refuge in the Roman Catholic Church.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, explained to a Benedict Monk on Wednesday, March 25, 2009:

Divine joy...No one will ever make it decrease. In eternity it multiplies itself to infinity; it is an ocean of joy having no boundaries, and its depth cannot be measured.

Book: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart - The Journal of a Priest at Prayer by A Benedictine Monk

The eternity of the next life, after the resurrection, has been beautifully explained by Pope John Paul II in his book "Theology of the Body" (go to the end of this site for more),

The words Christ spoke about the resurrection enable us to deduce that the dimension of masculinity and femininity, that is, being male and female in the body will again be constituted together with the resurrection of the body... a spiritualization of man according to a different dimension from that of earthly life (and even different from that of the beginning itself).

The late American Bishop Fulton Sheen helps pinpoint our unhappiness:

Modern man is estranged from God. Alienation from self and from one's fellow men has its roots in separation from God. Once the hub of the wheel, which is God, is lost, the spokes, which are men, fall apart... Indifference. They think that, just as bears hibernate for a season in a state of suspended animation, so they, too, can sleep through life without choosing to live for God or against Him. But hibernation is no escape; winter ends, and one is then forced to make a decision-indeed, the very choice of indifference itself is a decision..."I am conceited"? . Pride is the exaltation of self as an absolute standard of truth, goodness, and morality. It judges everything by itself, and for that reason everyone else is a rival, particularly God. Pride makes it impossible to know God. If I know everything, then not even God can teach me anything. If I am filled with myself, then there is no place for God. Like the inns of Bethlehem, we say to the divine visitor: "There is no room."

We may be asking, do we really have an eternal soul? Fulton Sheen explains in simple terms:

When we see a monkey acting foolishly, we do not say to the monkey, "Do not act like a nut"; but when we see a man acting foolishly, we do say, "Do not act like a monkey." Because a man is spirit, as well as matter, he can descend to the level of beasts (though not so completely as to destroy the image of God in his soul). It is this possibility that makes the peculiar tragedy of man. Cows have no psychoses, and pigs have no neuroses, and chickens are not frustrated (unless these frustrations are artificially produced by man); neither would man be frustrated or have an anxiety complex if he were an animal made only for this world.

Book: Go to Heaven by Reverend Fulton J Sheen D.D.

Seeking a conversion is our first step, Father Haggerty (living in New York) explains,

Takes us inside that long, dreadful instant of painful uncertainty when a decision must be made for or against Jesus Christ, the crossroad that will mark a lifetime depending on a soul's choice. This centrality of conversion is striking throughout the four Gospels. There are a number of variations on the theme. The call to abandon a previous life, dropping everything at once to follow Our Lord on an itinerant, unknown journey, is the summons heard by Peter and Andrew, James and John, at the Sea of Galilee. A conversion in this case does not mean that a bad life has been left behind, a parting with evil ways. The conversion here involves a radical 'yes' of personal fidelity to Jesus. The act overturns everything familiar and instantly attaches a life in a unique bond with Jesus Christ. The apostles all underwent such a conversion. The response did not make them immediate heroes or full of wisdom, zeal, and courage. It did place them for the next three years in constant proximity to Jesus. That closeness to him allowed the drawing power of his attraction to permeate their souls. Every person who goes far in a love for God and for souls will experience a similar pattern. The effect of following Our Lord after a very decisive choice for him, staying close to him especially in prayer, permits his presence to deepen its personal impact upon our life. A lifetime of spiritual need for God has its seeds in this initial period of conversion.

Book: Conversion: Spiritual Insights Into an Essential Encounter with God by Fr. Donald Haggerty

Let Saint Bernard (1090-1153) explain the proper disposition to obtain a 'conversion',

"Give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good" (Ps.cxviii. i). He (man) gives thanks, indeed, perhaps, because the Lord is good to him, not because He (God) is good in Himself. Wherefore let him (man) understand that this reproach from the same prophet is directed against him: "They will praise thee when thou doest well unto thy own soul (Ps. xlix. 18). One man praises the Lord because He is mighty ; another because He is good unto him ; and, again, another simply because He is good. The first is a slave, and fears for himself; the second mercenary, and desires somewhat for himself; but the third is a son, and gives praise to his Father. Therefore both he who fears and he who desires are each working for his own advantage ; charity which is in him alone who is a son, seeketh not her own. Wherefore I think that it was of charity that was spoken, "The law of the Lord is pure, converting the soul" (Ps. xix. 7), because it is that alone which can turn away the mind from the love of itself and of the world and direct it towards God. Neither fear nor selfish love converts the soul.

Book: Life and Works of Saint Bernard by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux 

As Saint Bernard, Doctor of the Church, also said: "Thus humiliation is the way to humility, as patience to peace, as reading is to knowledge." We get closer to God by being poor in spirit and having a peaceful trust in Him, and by increasing our knowledge of God, we begin to understand ourselves in terms of our transgressions against the order of creation.

What is required of a convert? Let Jesus Himself explain to Saint Bridget(1360): 

(1) believe in the ten commandments that I gave to the people of Israel.
(2) receive and venerate the sacraments of my church.
(3) feel sorrow for past sins and to have the perfect intention of no longer committing them.
(4) obey my friends as often as they tell the convert to do something that goes against his own will.
(5) despise all his base habits that go against God and good morals.
(6) have the desire of bringing as many people as possible to God.
(7) display true humility in his actions, avoiding giving bad example.
(8) have patience in adversity and not to complain about God's decisions.
(9) not to listen to or keep company with those who set themselves against the holy Christian faith.
(10) ask God for the strength to persevere in love and to make a personal effort to do so.

Anyone converted from evil ways who observes and keeps these ten counsels will die away from love of the world and become alive to the love of God... A person must be balanced between God's mercy and his judgment, steadfastly hoping for mercy and prudently fearing his judgment.

Book: The Prophecies and Revelations of Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden: Volume 1 by Saint Bridget

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