The more I read him, the more I am persuaded that we are punished with a Pope that doesn’t know very much what he thinks, but seems determined to say it anyway.
Things have come to such a level of confusion and embarrassment, that most recently a Vatican spokesman, Father Rosica, had to clean some of Francis’ mess, and to say very clear those who die in their atheism will go to hell.
Obvious, you will say. Christianity 101. Every child of six knows it. Well, apparently some doubts about whether the Pope’s understanding of Christianity is as good as a five years’ old are justified enough to force Father Rosica to intervene. The brutal fact is that the Holy Father expresses himself in such a confused way you never know whether the problem is in his utter inability to express himself properly – which should be reason enough not to improvise – or, more worryingly, in his inability to think soundly.
Recently, the Pope told us that Christ died even for atheist, which in itself is true: antecedently, Jesus died for everyone; but this does not mean everyone is saved, then subsequently Jesus saves some and condemns others. Therefore, Jesus died for the atheist doesn’t mean those who die in their atheism escape hell. To think so would mean to completely reinvent Christianity, transforming it in a sugary new age cult in which not even believing Jesus is our Saviour is necessary to save us.
“Do good”, says the Pope to the atheist, after talking of Salvation; “we will meet there”, and you don’t understand whether it means “we will have at least some common ground, hoping you avoid hell repenting of your atheism by the efficacious grace of God”, or whether he means “we will meet in Paradise, because don’t you know, nowadays works without faith suffice for salvation”; which last is, I assure you, just the way it sounds and can’t be what the Pope meant merely because the scale of heresy would be too much even for a South American Jesuit, much less a Pope.
So much so, in fact, that Father Rosica had to intervene and explain to the atheists – the Christians already know – what is what. Now when someone is forced to explain the very first truths of Christianity because as the Pope explains them they seem the opposite, you know a Jesuit was made Pope.
It is difficult to know what goes on into the mind of this man. I have always been of the opinion that when people think clearly, they speak clearly and, conversely, when they are confused in the way they talk is because they are rather confused in the way they think. “Chi parla male, pensa male”: he who talks badly, thinks badly. I do not think the Holy Father should be an exception, because he isn’t an illiterate south American campesino.
My impression of the Pontiff after reading the excerpts of a couple of dozen homilies of his – which is a lot to understand how a man thinks – is that this is a man not in possession of clear thinking, possibly never formed correctly in the first place, and constantly oscillating between the will to talk straight and the seemingly irresistible desire to please the audience and make everything “easy”, which actually means “convenient”. This is, by the by, the first mark of the Vatican II priest.
This here is also a Jesuit, meaning that to him ambiguity is a way of life. Before reading Pope Francis, you know already he will either run with the hare or hunt with the hounds, and the only uncertainty is which of the two is going to be on the day. The banality of much of what he says is the result of this way of thinking, and it won’t be long before millions discover they have to do with an intellectual Pygmy.
This isn’t pastoral, or even decent. It sows confusion to the point of forcing his officials to explain the obvious. It can’t be right, and must be amended if the Holy Father is to avoid making an embarrassment of himself.
It would be enough to be conscious of his (obvious) limits and prepare drafts of his homilies beforehand, that he would give to someone like Father Rosica or Bishop Gaenswein to ensure they are sound; but it is very obvious the humility necessary to do so is just not there.
Unless something substantial changes, we must prepare ourselves for a very sad Papacy. I blame Pope Benedict; not for resigning, but for choosing the Cardinals who then picked, rather predictably, one like the majority of them.
As I write this, the death count of the Oklahoma tornado is at 91. My and your prayers are, I am sure, with the deceased and their love ones.
As this is a Catholic blog, though, I would like to share some of the very politically incorrect thought that went through my mind as I heard the news. How many of the deceased believed in God? Did they have time to prepare themselves? How many of them are now saved, and how many condemned?
“But Mundabor, how can you have such insensitive thoughts when so many have died? How can you even think that this is the time to think about hell? How can you, come to that, think that God would send to hell even one of those whom he deprived of life in such a way? And the children, the children! How can you imagine God would send even one of them to hell??!!”.
Well, I have insensitive thoughts because I think the thought of salvation and damnation is not only never out of place, but actually very salutary in situations like this, reminding us in a very media effective way that in the midst of life we are in death. I also think that every day is the right day to think about hell, and that a day without a single thought of hell was probably a day that could have been better employed. I also, being a Catholic, do not think that dead people become heroes, or saints, just for being dead. Actually, I think the reality is far more sobering: after death the judgment.
Being a Catholic I also know that the cards of those children who died unbaptised are rather bad, with limbo to be generally expected for the little ones, and hell for many of the not so little anymore. It is important to be baptised. Actually, it is vital. Our forefathers knew these things, we are the only one who are so stupid to think we know better, and extend baptism by desire to pretty much everyone, probably including the cat and the dog if at all possible.
In the midst of life, we are in death. And if we didn't care two straws for God's laws in life, we will be very probably screwed forever in death. It's as insensitive as that.
You may think it cynical, or even wicked, to think (and remind others) of the fact that a number of those who died are probably in hell already. You may want to ask St. Thomas about the probability of damnation rates of less than 1%, but I won't insult your intelligence with such V II rubbish. Personally, I agree with Garrigou-Lagrange and many before him, whose tentative count would look rather different. Insensitive thoughts. But very salutary ones.
In your charity, pray for the dead; but as you pray, keep in mind there is one life, and after that the judgment. If you ask me, these are the days that can do most for us and the ones we love.
It is perhaps useful to reflect a bit about the different ways Catholics see hell. This will certainly not be new to any reader, but might be of some use for the non-readers of their acquaintance.
Probably a sizeable minority of baptised Catholics do not believe in hell. They are in most cases not aware that this is contradiction with Christian teaching. Hell is simply not on their radar screen, the priests they occasionally talk to accurately avoids the subject (he is so focused on being “nice”, you know) and, on the rare occasions when they darken the doors of a church, for example for a funeral, Father is so full of implicit heavenly promises the thought would never occur to them that hell really is an option. It is noted that some theologians of fame defend this position by making of hell an empty place – which amounts to the same, plus useless work, and also to saying that Jesus has been lying to us these 2000 years -. One of them was slated, if memory serves, to become Cardinal.
Then there are the “Hitler and Stalin” crowd. Yes, hell exists, but not for me or anyone I know. Normal people, nice guys and lads who are so good at telling jokes, can certainly not go to hell. Look, he invited me to a barbecue! Come on, this is a loving heart, how can he go to hell? These group are hardly pressed to say who goes to hell, because their scarce knowledge of history does not allow them to make even many examples of evil people. What is clear is that they must be seriously, seriously evil. Therefore, in their everyday life hell plays no role whatever, and “fear of The Lord” is to them a very abstract concept. One can be a sodomite suddenly died whilst sodomising his “partner” and they will never have the shadow of a doubt; “love” and all that, you know….
Then there are those who have been properly instructed. They know the Jesus' insistence on hell can only mean hell is a concrete possibility for everyone of us, and why we cannot know the numbers, we do know the rules: if one dies whilst not in a state of grace, he is doomed. This group have a far more realistic expectation about their danger: they know it is real, and no one of the people they know is exempt from some degree of danger. These people have fear of the Lord, know what it means and teach their children to have the same attitude.
Now we can make a simple game, and try to estimate how many out of 100 baptised Catholics, say, in our country, belong in each group. Then we can go on theorising an abstract level of risk among the categories, obviously considering that those who do not fear hell will have very little fear of the Lord in their daily lives, and those who think hell is a very difficult place to land to will not be much better situated. Lastly, we can think of how the clergy will be situated who have, for an entire lifetime, kept the dangers of hell away from their sheep, or have not believed in hell in the first place.
Suddenly, hell becomes a very concrete possibility.
A good contribution from Monsignor Charles Pope on what the Church has to offer to homosexuals.
Whilst I find it extremely questionable that Monsignor Pope insists in using a homosexual language to talk about homosexuality and sodomy (note he uses the word “gay” extremely often, whereas no one of the very many sources cited by him does) I do find the clarity of the exposition admirable, with its constant reminder that the Church is about the Truth, not easy emotionalism. I also – but this is not explicitly said in the post – warn against a reading of this post in some way equating heterosexual feebleness with homosexual perversion: the first goes with nature, the second against it.
I would also have loved some mention of hell, then when we talk about gravely displeasing God I find it always very salutary to say what the consequences are; still, this was not the stated intent of the post, which is in essence an explanation of why the Truth is preferred to the fashion of the day.
Having made this small observations, I suggest you read the article in its entirety. I have not followed the links yet, though I want to do so when time allows.
All in all, the contrast with Cardinal Dolan is rather remarkable.
This is a comment I had posted some time ago concerning the probability that Christopher Hitchens is now in hell. I thought I’d re-publish it because in my eyes it makes a rather valid blog post in itself.
…we don’t know, and therefore we can’t be certain. It would be a sin of presumption for us to do so. Still, a Catholic is not allowed to pray for souls of whom he thinks they are very probably – very probably – in hell, because the Church doesn’t pray for the souls who are in hell.
The issue here is, I think, an issue of attitude: it can’t be that one behaves in that way and after he dies an army of people run to the keyboard to tell us that he was passionate, therefore he might have been saved. Well he was a great bastard and blasphemer enemy of God until the end of his public life, and therefore he very probably wasn’t.
Best wishes to him and to his guardian angel, but don’t bet your pint.
Hitchens must be mentioned as a cautionary tale, not as a way of showing that however wicked you are you can still make it. This would lead further souls to perdition, and he has already lost enough, and many more will his books lead to hell.
I wonder how many people write blog posts saying “Pray for the repose of Adolf Hitler”. To be coherent, they should. We can’t judge, the all-merciful God, and all that.
If they do, they are at least coherent.
I don’t, because I think so probable that Hitler (and Hitchens) are in Hell, that it would seem to me out-of-place to pray for them after the first two or three “eternal rest”.
If you want to know, my conduct when such bastards (oh sorry, let me rephrase it: bastards; he is dead after all) die is as follows:
a) Three “eternal rest” for the deceased, even if I think it very likely that he is in Hell. This both because the mercy of God and the efforts of his guardian angel might have fished him out of hell at the very last moment (improbable, unless we want to reducve ourselves to kindergarten level; but still possible), and because I think of how much his poor guardian angel must have prayed for him. I try to do my best on that, reflect that we all need God’s mercy, and all that. If you look my post when Obama died, I go more in detail there.
b) let the thing be a cautionary tale for me: that Hell is real, people really go there, and they don’t need to be a Pol Pot to do it; albeit, frankly, I can’t see a big difference between the two either, other than the fact Pol Pot had possibilities Hitchens never had.
It is my conviction that goodism and soppy theology lead people to hell as effectively as open blasphemous attacks. Hitchens specialised in the second, it is astonishing how many seem to want to specialise in the first. They must feel good, no doubt.
Think of the Church of 100 years ago, and tell me how many priests would have used this death to remind people of the concrete possibility of hell, and of the very concrete – though not certain, God pleasing – possibility of him having landed there, and how many to reassure his fans about his salvation chances.
Death + Mortal sin + no repentance = Hell.
A couple of days ago, I have let through one comment on hell in answer to a previous blog post. The very confused poster goes on with the usual confused mantras of the liberal and atheist society, as the concept of eternal torment does not seem to agree with oh how oh good oh he oh is.He also had some problems about those whom he thinks wish hell on other people. Those who feel oh so oh good always need to see the others as oh so oh bad…
I have written here my reflections on “wishing hell” to someone, but this was not about this, and the poster’s problems were much deeper seated.
I suggest that everyone with any doubt about hell reads this. Many of the most common answers to the doubts of the skeptical are found there.
Still, in the middle of the rubbish of the above mentioned post there was one observation which merits a more attentive consideration. I think I have written about that, but it is probably fitting to write another few words.
What about the loving mother, writes the horribly instructed poster. Could she really enjoy heaven knowing her beloved son is in hell? He thinks not.
Of course she does. She does it to the full, with a joy that is perfect and unalloyed.
We Christians believe in God the Father, not – if you allow me the expression – God the Mother. The fact that God is ready to forgive everything does not mean that he will forgive those who insist not to be forgiven. His justice – which puts the damned in hell, because hell is the fitting place for them – is as divine, as perfect, as absolute as His mercy.
In heaven, the saints can see and experience the perfect justice and the perfect love of everything. Whilst the reconciliation of perfect love and perfect justice may at first seem difficult for us to understand, it is not difficult to understand for them. They have attained that superior knowledge which does not allow the permanence of any question, of any conflict, of any contradiction.
The suffering of the souls in hell are, therefore, terrible, but at the same time perfectly fitting. Why? Because God says so. How can we be perfectly satisfied with such an answer? When we are – hopefully, one day – in heaven we will have a full understanding of it; for now, we accept it on faith, with the humility of good Christians who do not even think they could question or – ha! – “improve” on Christianity.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Our instruction must begin and end with this approach. We fear the Lord’s justice because we are told the lord’s justice is – as much as he loves us – frightful indeed.
It is not for us to decide whether we like this or not. It is not for us to theorise about the “justice” of this, let alone decide it cannot be so, because we don’t like it. We are not here to question, but to learn, accept, and do the best we can to live what we have been taught.
I don’t like the idea of hell. Who does, I wonder, but I accept the truth of hell. As for the logic and justice of hell, I can see – unpleasant as it is; particularly because it means a concrete danger for myself and those I love – the profound sense of it even in this life.
Christianity is not there for our liking, and cannot be bent to what we like. If we believed that, we’d be Presbyterians.
Please also reflect – the booklet linked above also touches on this – that it is not very easy to die in mortal sin. Mortal sin is not the temporary weakness, but the deliberate will to accept evil. If you read the above mentioned booklet – written in times above suspicion – you will read expressions like
“God damns only those who deliberately choose hatred and evil instead of love and goodness”.
“[mortal sins] are essentially the complete turning away from goodness and the acceptance of evil. Anything less than that is not mortal sin”
One doesn’t go to hell because he made a mistake, was run over by a bus immediately afterwards and God says to him “sorry, old boy, the bus came at the wrong time”. The deliberate intent is exactly that: deliberate. It’s a conscious choice, a taking side of sort. Obviously there will be a number of ways how one can choose the wrong side of the field without having explicitly “said so to himself” (say: by consciously and deliberately denying the existence of hell, knowing this is the teaching of 2000 years of Christianity, and feeling oh so good in the process); but even here we see a clearly rooted preference for one’s own moral law rather than for the Law of God: one has made himself god, and has gone around saying so.
God may have mercy on him, or not. If God hasn’t, I do not think anyone can complain, because it would be blasphemous to do so.
And when does it leave the mother, you will ask? Exactly where we are now: on the one hand, hell is a mystery which cannot be fully comprehended in our lifetime; on the other hand, when the mother dies she understands the perfect mercy and justice of the entire mechanism; a mechanism which, being now the other side of the human experience, she will not have any difficulty in grasping beyond any human doubt or apparent contradiction.
This is, if you ask me, another of the scary characteristics of hell: if I were to land in Hell – God forbid! – I would not even have the consolation of knowing those I love miss me and are sad for my fate. Nope. Firstly I would not love them – another extremely scary thought – because in hell I would lose every will to love; secondly they would not be sorry, because they would see the perfect justice and mercy of my – God forbid, again! – being in hell.
Hell is, truly, as terrible as that. It might be wise to reflect on this whilst we still breathe and make our best effort to keep away from there. It might not be easy to get to hell, and daily prayer – and the Rosary! The Rosary!! – will go a great deal in keeping us out of the worst.I strongly encourage everyone to pray daily for his loved ones who might be in danger, and to devoutly remember the Fatima Prayer – a prayer whose power of consolation I find more powerful with every year – in your prayer routine. Actually, if you pray the Rosary daily including the Fatima prayer you kill two birds with one stone.
Wretched sinners as we all are, there is much we can do to avoid hell, and to help others to avoid it.God’s mercy, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin we must never tire to invoke, may well take us – or our beloved ones – out of very dangerous situations.
But if we think we can make our own religion, we have most certainly set our feet in the wrong direction.
I chanced upon two very different “visions” of hell in two days, and thought I would give them to you without comment.
It goes without saying that to me one is completely right, and the other tragically wrong.
But do not listen to me.
A) Father Barron on Hell
Who do you think is right?
Please listen and read twice. You’ll notice a lot of details coming to light in both cases…
And so your truly was at Mass in a London “NuChurch”-church (pure logistics) which shall remain unnamed.
The homily was, surprisingly, not bad at all in principle, and all centred on our hope to be, one day, in the presence of God.
All fine then, you will Say?
There was an elephant in the church, most notable for his absence: hell.
Hell was not mentioned once; not directly, not indirectly, not as a rather remote possibility; not even, in fact, as something we are – in NuChurch parlance – pretty sure to avoid unless we are Pol Pot’s evil twin.
Hell was, simply, nowhere.
This made, after a while, the entire exercise rather strange, as it was not explained what happens if one’s hopes do not become reality. Leaving for a moment the elephant metaphor aside, I had in front of my eyes the image of a huge and exquisite buffet to which I am invited, without anyone telling me what happens if I do not want to get to the place, refuse the invitation, or get kicked out because of my obnoxious behaviour; and without anyone telling me that all three are, in fact, very realistic possibilities.
I am afraid this is a perhaps succulent, but not really realistic description of the buffet the celebrant had in mind; a buffet, by the way, whose invitation is in actual reality the result of constant application – or at least ardent desire in extremis to be invited – instead of something falling on us because we are always the soul of the party and pride ourselves of our “tolerance”, and everyone thinks we are so swell…
I waited and waited for the elephant to make his voluminous, embarrassing, but memorable appearance, giving sense to the entire exercise; but the church remained conveniently elephant-free.
We were, therefore, left with something similar to an unresolved equation, with a vital element of the entire proposition simply unexplained; nay, actually not even mentioned.
I do not know how you would have reacted, but I felt as if the homily had not given me or others any great help at all: if I will be invited – as it is clearly implied – to the buffet with a probability approaching certainty, where is my incentive to actually merit the invitation? If I am not told that instead of salmon and caviar the buffet might give me the choice between several types of human and animal excrements for all eternity, has the buffet thing been described to me with a sufficient degree of honesty?
A pity, because the salmon & caviar part was actually rather well made; but without the elephant, I don’t think it was worth much in the end.
Perhaps the best “Vortex” I have ever seen, this one deals with the “nice people” poisoning the Church.
At the beginning of the video there is a photo of a great man the one or other of you might find somewhat familiar, and the Fulton Sheen citation is stellar; but this short video reaches an explosion of politically incorrect truth at the end.
Don’t miss this beautiful video.
I do not know you, but every now and then I am forced to examine the possibility that I may die and discover I did not pass the only exam that is important in our life, and did not achieve the only thing which, once achieved, makes everything else perfectly insignificant.
Confronted with the terrifying thought of a sufferance without end, of a failure that is not only utterly complete, but definitive in the most tragic of ways, I used to think – whilst trying to chase such terrifying thoughts out of my mind – that at least I would have some consolation from the thought of those among the people I loved who are destined, one day, to enjoy eternal happiness.
On second thought – and to make the thing eve more terrifying – I think such thoughts are simply wrong.
If I understand hell correctly, hell is a place where there is no love. If there is no love, there can be no place for feelings like the one of affection for those I have loved on earth. As a consequence, if I were to land in hell – God forbid! – I would end up, basically, hating my “hell companions”, hating those I have once hated, hating those I have once loved, hating simply everyone: those who are in hell because they are hateful people who went to hell, those who aren’t in hell because they aren’t.
A place without consolation, without human warmth or any form of affection, without any hope anything may ever change. Hated forever, hating forever, and no love in sight.
I am not informed whether some theologian has tried to inform us that in hell there must be solidarity among damned, perhaps a bridge club, certainly football teams and forms of camaraderie and friendships. But if I were so informed, I would wonder whether this is really hell they are talking about. If it be hell, there must be no love or friendship. If there is no love, there can be no consolation whatever for one’s affliction. It must be either hate or utter indifference for everyone else, for ever.
If you ask me, if such thoughts assault you, the best reassurance is to be found in those habits of which the Church says they are the best guarantee to avoid what I have described above. Besides the obvious suggestion of avoiding mortal sin – a strategy which has the disadvantage that I suspect most people who end up in hell thought their sins weren’t really bad, merely fashionable, and mortal sin something concerning others for one of the thousands reasons people fabricate in these cases – I think there is, in particular, one weapon the Divine Grace has given to everyone of us, and which everyone of us can use every day to march toward salvation one step at a time, resist scrupulosity and irrational fear, and go through life with a reasonable assurance that in some way we will manage to snatch salvation from the jaws of the dangerous human condition: pray the rosary faithfully and devoutly.
I am talking of around 17-20 minutes a day (after a bit of practice ); a time you will be able to conveniently divide in single mysteries; a time which, once the habit has been acquired, will become a pleasant moment of your day, a shield against the disappointment and sufferings of daily life, and most of all a great “eternal life assurance” bought at the price of a very small investment in time and effort.
The deal is excellent, the premium not high, the assured sum infinitely high. The deal is, in fact, so good, that one starts to understand the relaxed, optimistic, serene hope found so often in traditionally Catholic countries, in stark contrast to the gloom and rigidity of the traditionally Protestant ones. As an alternative, you can choose to see the rosary – as Padre Pio did – as a weapon, able to open you the way to heaven in the midst of the most difficult combat scenario. In this sense, the Rosary is like the Catholic’s Kalashnikov: simple, easy to use, cheap in purchase and maintenance, built with high tolerances and therefore not prone to jamming, so simple it can be used from a child, and devastating in his effect.
Don’t delay. Start today.
No, I mean today.
The Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has died and, of course, his death has been saluted with regret and sadness from Catholics all over the world. Countless Catholic bloggers/ tweeters/ whatever-ers have expressed their opinion that the Korean dictator might be “surprised” and might “see the light of God”. It is easy to understand why they would say so: on the one hand there can be no doubt that the man was absolutely persuaded about the Communist ideology, and we all know by now that God likes conviction a lot and will therefore probably want the chap near Him for his celestial Afternoon Teas. On the other hand, it is clear to everyone that if there is someone for whom invincible ignorance could apply, this is a chap born and bred in North Korea and most certainly sheltered since his tenderest age from every Christian influence in the same uncompromising way as a Western child is sheltered from child rapists.
As to the opposition – which has come from some oh so uncharitable corners, who can’t even spell the word niceness - that the chap be directly responsible fro the brutal repression of his people, and indirectly responsible for the starving unintentionally, but certainly caused by his own mad ideology we – the charitable Christians, who are oh so good – can certainly reply that the chap was passionate even in that, and his government action can certainly not be counted against him, surely?! If we start to count inhuman cruelty against people who wanted to improve the lot of humanity, where will it end? We might have to criticise Che Guevara! He was also able to execute people by the dozen in perfect cold blood, and look at all the t-shirts!!
The uncharitable, ruthless Catholics may obviously say – and some of them will say, gloating in their desire for revenge – that there is something like natural law, and a chap like the unfaithful departed trampled it under his boots day in, and day out. Tsk, tsk, we reply to them, they have it all wrong! Being a blasphemer and an outspoken enemy of God goes against natural law on a much bigger scale than merely trying to make a better world! If we are therefore sooo charitable and nice with Christopher Hitchens, why shouldn’t we extend the same niceness to Kim Jong-Il? Therefore, Twitter is ablaze, and the blogosphere is awash….
No. Wait a minute. It just… just.. isn’t! Not in the least!
And why is it that whilst hordes of Catholics ran to their keyboards to express the most unbelievable theories about the – very probable – destiny of Christopher Hitchens – Christianity being too hard to them to let it be without the most improbable distinguos – the same behaviour did not apply to Kim Jong-Il, who at least has chances of invincible error infinitely higher than the ones of a chap born in a Christian country and who lived in the most Christian country of them all for more than a quarter of a century?
Where’s the army of people praying for him? Where are those saying that they will continue, yes sir, to pray for him now?
Strangely, the Catholic blogosphere appears to be utterly devoid of that wave of saddened sympathy expressed for the other deceased.
Perhaps is it so, that Christian rules are re-fashioned according to whether we liked the deceased? That our need to feel good is at a premium over the most simple rules of Catholicism, whenever we feel like it?
P.s. I hate commies on a scale you will rarely find. Still, I have said my three eternal rests for him too, and for the same reasons.
Par condicio, as they say in Italy…..
Brilliant video from, I rather think, a Protestant.
Note that his take on the matter is perfectly consistent with Catholic teaching: “by all accounts”, Christopher Hitchens died an unrepentant atheist (worse than that, I add: a serial blasphemer, and hyperactive enemy of Christ); therefore, “if we take the Scriptures seriously” (we Catholics would say:” if we take Christianity seriously”; “if we think the Church hasn’t been giving us a load of cruel lies these two thousand years”) this means that “Christopher Hitchens is in Hell today as we are speaking”.
Still, he says – also very Catholic, this one – that salvation is possible up to the last moment, and it would have been enough for Hitchens to change his mind – and his entire life, and all that he always was and fought for – at the last second and sincerely repent to reach salvation anyway.
The main point, though – and also one that a serious Catholic clergyman would make to you – is about love: God expresses his love towards his creatures by allowing them what they absolutely want, even if it is not His will for him. Not differently, in fact, than a mother who would not keep her wayward son locked in his room his entire life in order to avoid him getting into trouble.
All this is traditional Catholic teaching, and I must have posted about all this in the past (Monsignor Pope has written beautifully about the last point, if memory serves).
Surprisingly, whilst everyone agrees with what Catholicism teaches about Hell in theory, many seem not to want to get the implications when the theory is put into practice. The present company is, of course, always excluded; so are our relatives and friends, because they have “their heart in the right place” (they love animals so much, you know); the departed are now – and how could it be otherwise – looking at us from heaven, or dancing with the angels, or doing some other soppy thing (therefore, we don’t need to pray for them; which in turn allows us not to think of our own sinfulness and saves time on top; all very convenient, nicht wahr?). As to people we know only by hearsay, it will largely depend whether we liked them: if we did, then God surely will do our bidding and we are not supposed to “judge”, but ready to judge that God’s rules are not applicable in this case, surely… The rules will, then, only apply to those very few people who are unknown to us, or absolutely disliked by us, or generally considered evil incarnate without any detriment to one’s own feel-good needs. Hitler comes to mind. No one seems to pray for the chap, whom God loved too.
Alas, the reality is different and alas, reality is nothing to do with our own wishful thinking, and all to do with the Word of God.
Before I leave you to the video (around eight minutes, but not boring at all), I ‘d like to linger on one comment left on the site:
Eight minutes of complete bullshit. Eight minutes of nonsensical mental gymnastics and logic that doesn’t sound at all peaceful or loving. Fuck religion.
This short, inordinate rant exemplifies what is wrong with so much of the modern (alas, even from people who tell themselves Christians ) mentality: in order to have credibility, the argument must “sound” either “peaceful” or “loving”. The idea that there be hard truths somewhere in Christianity requiring to be told straight (in which lies, by the way, the real charity, and peace of mind) does not enter the mind of the anonymous, and rather coarse commenter. The “f” word is the result of him not being able to make things up according to his own wishes, and calling this “Christianity”. Frock religion, then, if I can’t feel better about myself.
This explains very well what is going on with Hitchens’ matter these days: removal of hard truth instead of rational and orthodox thinking of what behaviour was put in place, what the consequences of this behaviour would be without final repentance, and how probable it is such repentance (which, remember, must be perfect contrition) took place in reality rather than in the kindergarten-fantasies of the Hitchens fan club.
A well-spread Italian saying teaches finche’ c’e’ vita c’e’ speranza (“as long as there’s life, there’s hope”). The flip side of this is once life has gone, hope gives place to knowledge, and then it’s either one side or the other, forever. This is exactly where Hitchens is now, and if your grasp of reality is that he saved himself I do not want you to be my financial adviser, or my driver, ever, but you should apply for the Pollyanna Prize 2011 at once.
As I have written elsewhere, we weren’t there and therefore can’t know. We can have a modicum of hope, because we know that the Holy Ghost tried to the last second. But we can’t really draw any specific, realistically grounded comfort from that, because we know that in the end it was the chap’s choice, and we know what the chaps’ choice was because he shouted it so loud for an entire lifetime, even when terminally ill, even when at an advanced stage of his illness.
Good luck to him and to his own poor, long- suffering Guardian Angel, of course; but reason, logic and all probability all say Hitchens is in Hell, at the start of a torment that will never end, and not looking very smart at all.
No, seriously: let us stop the soppy dreaming and let look at this like sensible adults. Some people go to hell. Actually, many do. This was a prime candidate, unrepentant to the last – public – moment, and so violently stupid every talk of him “seeing the light of God” should prompt only one answer:
give me a break.
I do not like quoting from the CCC (a text that can be defined fallible in his worst parts, and sprinkled with populism and VII-ism in all his parts; google “Abbé de Nantes” for instructions on the matter ) but on this day it seems to me the CCC tells us in a concise and rather easy way what happens to those who die in mortal sin and without repentance.
CCC1033 [...] “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”"
If you do not accept God’s love you remain separated from him forever. It is your choice. You have time for as long as you breathe. After that, time’s up.
CCC 1034 : “Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!” “
Pretty clear, too. Hell is not a place where the wicked drink themselves to death before launching themselves in the next blasphemous rant; nor is it a place where soi-disant intellectuals can discuss all the shortcomings of creation whilst sipping cocktails, and explain what they would have done better or why this proves that there is no God. No, it is rather a place of serious physical and spiritual torment.
CCC 1035: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” ” [...].
Yep, more of the same. Hell exists, and after death there is no “if” and no “but”. Immediately after death, one knows. Hitchens once said he liked surprises. I wonder if he would like this one.
CCC1037: “God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” “
Willful turning away from God, and persistence until the end are sufficient – and actually, not so easy to achieve – to be punished with eternal damnation. Notice that it doesn’t say “unless of course you are famous and a lot of people like you”, or “unless you have said one or two phrases in your entire life which might lead someone to believe that one day you might, perhaps, repent”.
I could go on, but you get my drift: Hitchens was the very image of those who inflict hell on themselves. He did so insistently, violently, ruthlessly. His every action made clear that this was not one at risk of, so to speak, slipping into hell by giving in to his temptations, by being weak and frail. No, this was one clearly headed for hell head on, and at vicious speed. I shiver at the thought of how many souls he has contributed – and will contribute after death – to send to hell.
The simple fact is, Hitchens’ death didn’t improve any treat of him in any way. Apart from being dry now almost two days, nothing has changed in his moral state. The contrary is the case: death crystallises one’s moral state, and makes it permanent. When the wicked die, they do not become less wicked. Not a bit. They might see the consequences of their wickedness, but they will not repent of it. Unless Hitchens repented – which is, let’s face it, highly improbable – he is the same little son of a bitch now as he ever was, without the vodka.
It is, therefore, extremely surprising that this wicked, evil man be “adopted” by curious “helpers”, thinking that his own personal qualities (he certainly had some, and no one is completely wicked. Hitler loved Blondie, his dog, and was an extremely nice host and conversationalist with those whom he liked) might have helped him in the end even if he did not want to help himself.
Come on, this is not Christianity anymore. This is soppy “candle in the wind” Elton John-ism, kindergarten fables, and acute self-delusion.
Still more surprising is what you read in some corners, that for reasons unknown to us – or, as Protestants love to do, citing some Bible verse out of context and out of Catholic truth; which you can always do; always, without exception - Jesus would save a man who wants to be lost, who absolutely insists in being lost, because being a ruthless blasphemous bastard be in some way better than being a frail, somewhat lukewarm Christian as, alas, the vast majority of Christians are. The idea here is that the vast majority of frail people are less worthy of salvation than an unspeakably blasphemous, wickedly fanatical man, because the wicked man was passionate in his wickedness and a lot of people seem to have found this, in some way, entertaining. I found it disgusting but hey, I’m not the “nice” type.
This mentality, this “he will be saved because Christ loves blasphemous bastards who don’t do anything to save their soul more than weak believers” is pretty much the negation of everything Christianity is and stands for.
On the contrary, Hitchens’ death shows us how Satan tries to snatch souls through him even after his death, letting simple or deluded people believe they can be as wicked as he was, not repent, and get away with it.
Lucio Magri was an Italian journalist and politician. A smart and eloquent guy, you would wonder how he could be a Communist. He was, of course, not your friend-of-the-workers commie, but rather one of those at-ease-with-the-rich commie, who could be very critical of the “real communism” because he felt so good talking of his own, imaginary brand of it.
Lucio Magri went to Switzerland to commit suicide. His commie ideology not contemplating even the possibility of the existence of God, he thought it fitting to dispose of himself like you do with an old TV set.He was so depressed, some say, after his wife’s death. He was so depressed, other say, after seeing the ruinous fall of everything Communist. He was such a communist, say I, that is: an idiot to the last. Although in his case you may say, a well-spoken and well-dressed idiot.
Lucio Magri is now, with a very high degree of probability, in Hell. It is fitting to say this because the usual good-ism does not help much in front of a planned and clinically executed project of getting rid of oneself. Except, of course, one can’t get rid of himself, ever. If Hell exists – and it does; Jesus said so; Magri might have been aware of His existence, methinks – then Lucio Magri is very, very probably there.
He is – very probably – there because he allowed his stupid ideology to, literally, eat him alive. He is there because he allowed his soul to be polluted with a false ideology at the point of not caring even for the possibility that, in the same way as he had been spectacularly wrong all his life about communism, he might be spectacularly wrong about God’s existence, too.
Lucio Magri was, for a 79 years old, a healthy man. He wasn’t suffering of some painful disease, and didn’t suffer of some slowly advancing disease like dementia; no, he was one of those healthy old men we fortunately see more and more often around us. What killed him was the emptiness he carried inside, the refusal to accept he might have been utterly and completely wrong, the ruthless disregard for human life that is such a typical trait of Communists the world over.
Lucio Magri willingly, if not consciously, chose Hell. Unless for some strange miracle and extraordinary feat of his guardian angel – poor one, how he must have suffered – he found the strenght, in his last seconds, to deny all his life and ideology and repent, he is most assuredly in Hell and this is what became of the well-spoken, well-dressed, pleasant armchair revolutionary.
Let this be a cautionary tale. Communism is of the devil, and those who believe in Communism and do not repent will get to him in the end.
Below, the links to some older Michael Voris videos that were the object of a blog post.
In some cases, you might have to copy and paste an old link, or register to Real Catholic TV. Not a bad idea anyway.
I have repaired the links or looked for new ones when necessary. I trust the links to the videos all work fine. It is surprising how short-lived a link can be.
Enjoy this Michael Voris wreath.
I woke up very early this morning (a festivity here in England, and apparently a fine day too) to hear the news that is now going round the world: Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed by a US Navy SEAL commando of 40 in Pakistan.
I won’t do anything to hide from you my sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and of gratitude and admiration for the brave soldiers who executed this brilliant operation without even a casualty.
A short time later, in front of my hot caffellatte, I wondered how probable it was that the bastard now rots in hell. Rather probable, I would say. Nay, make it very probable. The idea that he would, on his last seconds (and we do not know the details, but from what has transpired it would appear that he has seen it coming; which again doesn’t make me sad, at all), manage to get a perfect contrition is, how should I put it, not entirely believable.
And so I was there, looking into my caffellatte in this glorious sunny morning of victory and justice, and wondering whether I should… pray for Osama Bin Laden’s soul. I pray for the dead (particularly for my dead, I admit; but for all the dead anyway) every day and this prayer is to me not only the compliance with a religious duty but a tender link to beloved people not here with me anymore; moments in which I detach myself from the cares of this world and connect in spirit to the other part of my family, those who are now past those cares, and in which I give back in a small way the endless prayers that – I am sure – several of them have prayed for me and for all those I love. Therefore, praying for the dead is something I love to come back to again and again, just because it is a tender moment.
Should I therefore, now, expressly pray for…… such a bastard? For the epitome of senseless cruelty and fanaticism? Should I pray for him, even if I am almost sure that he rots in hell and the seventy-two virgins might have – more or less metaphorically speaking – turned out to be something like, say, seventy-two angry feminists or seventy-two extremely horny sodomites?
I tried, and I failed. It seemed insincere to pray for someone you feel is in hell. It seemed like I was just making a stupid attempt at “feeling good” (I hate these things, having experienced that people who try to be good and people trying to feel good are two completely different sets of people) with utter disregard for the reality on the ground.
Still – I thought – I do pray every day the Lord that he may “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of [His] mercy”. But this is a generic embrace of suffering humanity and, most importantly, refers to a salvation that is still possible to every one of them. I was, therefore, very unsure.
But then I reflected a bit more, and I realised (always looking at my caffellatte, still too hot to drink) that Jesus must have loved this soul as much as everyone else’s, and that his salvation was as important to him as the one of the greatest of his saints. Seen in this perspective, things changed and I could now envisage praying for him not because I think that he is probably in purgatory (which I don’t), but because after the Holy Ghost has made an effort to recover him for so many years, I can at least put an effort of mercy for a short minute.
I therefore made the sign of the cross and started: “Eterno riposo dona loro, Signore…….“; feeling at the beginning – I admit – slightly stupid in the process but going on the best I could, and repeating the exercise three times.
At the end of the prayer, a strange sensation came to me: not the one of “feeling good” (which I hate), but of a little obstacle that I had overcome: the one of not only knowing, but feeling that the person I despised most on earth was still a beloved child of Christ, a soul of infinite importance. It seemed to me that I had done my duty of forgiveness for the improbable case he has escaped hell, and that I had paid my little homage to his long-suffering Guardian Angel and to the Holy Ghost who both have, I am sure, made so many efforts to save him.
Dear readers, you know that I am absolutely allergic to good-ism and similar bollocks, and that I think that there is a time for peace and a time for war.
Still, there is also a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to kill, and a time to heal.
In this glorious day of victory and justice you may want to try, if you can, to pray for Osama Bin Laden.
It probably won’t do any good to him.
It certainly won’t do any harm to you.
Interesting article on Catholic Culture about Hell. It is a pleasure to see that the invasion of the blogosphere from intelligent Catholics is slowly but surely bringing to the attention of discerning Catholic readers what a disgraceful clergy wanted them to forget or ignore. In this case the article is certainly not new (1995), but the internet is the way to make it better known.
Mr. Young doesn’t try to sweeten the pill; he is very clear on the unpleasant part, the one that in these days – when it is considered rude to say unpleasant things – is so often ignored. But at the same time – and with that mixture of common sense and good-natured optimism that is so typical of the best Catholic attitude – he sends a clear message of hope to those who may either be prone to scruples or thinking that if there is a Hell they are hopeless anyway.
In fact, negation of Hell (which in itself might well send one there) is rather common among those who don’t know the Gospels and prefer to fantasise about alleged Church conspiracies rather than to examine the facts. Jesus himself talks of Hell in a very clear manner, insistently, and nowhere more than in the Gospels do we see Hell mentioned. If one is able to read the Gospel without getting this message loud and clear he must simply re-learn to read.
Secondly and regarding the “conspiracy theorists”, it would appear rather extraordinary that the “conspirators” would be ready to die for Christ in such big numbers (and very often in such atrocious ways) because bent on creating – a couple of centuries after their horrible, humiliating death – some big organisation able to forbid one to eat meat on a Friday, & Co.
I have never seen conspirators so ready to die in order that their lie may triumph a couple of hundreds year later. I bet you never did, either.
Thirdly, Jesus’ clear insistence on Hell should make clear to everyone that Hell has not been created to allow Satan to play poker with Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin. Hell is a clear, concrete possibility, a fundamental choice every one of us can make, a choice about which Jesus reminds us constantly.
“Oh Well” – you might say – “they aren’t three then, and perhaps not even three hundred; but compared to the world population…….. very few, surely?”
“The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
These words come from the alleged First Conspirator Himself and frankly, the idea that his words might have been wilfully distorted in a gigantic effort to cheat God Himself of the message he wanted to send is more than blasphemous, it is outright stupid. Rather a few people, then, “find the hard way that leads to life”. It doesn’t mean that only those few will be saved, but it certainly means that there is no ground whatsoever for complacency.
But this the problem of modern times: people talking of Christianity without knowing the first thing of Christ, or talking of an alleged “betrayal” of Christ’s message without stopping to think of the absurdity of the concept.
Aut Deus, aut homo malus. Excluding the obviously absurd hypothesis of clinical insanity (that you never hear espoused by any critic of Hell’s existence anyway), Jesus was either a fraudster and a con man, or he was God. No intelligent, thoughtful reading of the Gospel allows any other possibility. How people who claim a vague belief in Jesus may reconcile their belief with the extraordinary denial of what he said strikes me as so arrogantly stupid as to not even deserve a serious conversation.
Jesus couldn’t have possibly been ” a nice chap”, or ” a man of God” duped by scheming apostles, or “the Son of God who was conned in the end by scheming martyrs”. It just doesn’t square, because this nice chap did say that He is God in thousand different ways and nice men don’t go around making such claims. Therefore, every DIY Christian and every Christian by hearsay must simply face the fact that unless He was God, He was not nice and not a man of God, but the most tragically cruel liar Himself; a man whose schemes not only led to His own death, but who preferred to continue the lie up to the cross, thus causing countless others to be killed because of His lie.
If one does as much as to believe that Jesus was not positively insane and not a scheming fraudster, then he must deal with the clear intellectual evidence of His being God. One of the first consequences of this actually rather easy to achieve conclusion is that Jesus has given us so many warnings about Hell for a reason. Or is there anyone ready to believe that God Himself would need to lie to us about Hell in order to save us from it?
It is time to face reality. Atheism may be logically linked to the absence of belief in the existence of Hell, but any form of credit given to Christ is utterly incompatible with it.
Therefore, Jesus is God and Hell exists, but where does this leave us in our matter? To put it with the author’s robust common sense,
“I think we should say it is not unlikely that many are lost. We should definitely not hold the opinion that few are lost.”
At the same time,
we must avoid generating a morbid fear of hell or an obsession with it. It is not a fate that can overwhelm us against our will; any who go there have chosen evil deliberately.
Hell is therefore very real and certainly not very sparsely inhabited; but it is avoidable all right if one as much as takes care that he does not embrace it.
To close with the powerful statement closing the article (emphases mine),
The doctrine should be seen in the light of God’s greatness and our dignity as free beings. He is so great that hell is a just punishment for rebelling against him; our dignity as responsible beings is so great that we can deserve that fate.
Interesting blog post on the Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam blog. The blog post makes clear that, whilst Catholics avoid the noisy excess of screaming Protestant preachers, repentance for our sins is still – bar a Divine mercy that we have no right to expect – mandatory to avoid Hell.
The author of the blog post puts it in simple and very clear terms:
…refusing to repent of one’s sins constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and such a refusal will not be forgiven. In fact, refusing to repent cannot be forgiven. God will not save us against our will. He will love us right into hell.
Foreseeing the scandal of the liberal crowd, the author hastens to add:
This sounds harsh, I know. But this a truth of the Catholic faith that cannot be spiced up or sugar-coated or hidden away.
Everytime I read phrases like this I think of the many priests who have made of “sugar-coating” and “hiding away” an accomplished art – nay, a new religion! – and shiver.
The concept – so difficult to understand for some atheist – is brilliantly explained in more detail:
We have two truths in balance here. First, God wills that all His people return to Him through Christ. Second, He wills that we do so freely. So that all may return to Him through Christ, the invitation to salvation is made unconditionally, without limits, to everyone
Note here that the invitation is made to everyone (that is: even to non-Christians), but the return must be through Christ, with Allah & Co. not giving any entry rights, nor will a generic “I have been such a good chap” be of much use. Salvation is – bar an act of extraordinary mercy, on whose odds no one should ever stake his salvation – the result of a free decision to make the right choice.
Still another perspective is given by making clear that:
….. we send ourselves to hell by stubbornly refusing to repent. Our final refusal, our last rejection of God’s invitation to join Him in love is called “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
When your friend or colleague or relative says to you (with the shamelessness of our times) that “there is no God”, you can calmly tell him that he is being blasphemous and endangering his soul; when he replies that he doesn’t care as he doesn’t believe in any God, feel free to point out that the fact that he doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make him any less blasphemous, nor his soul any less endangered.
He’ll probably still not agree with you; but it is still a free choice that he makes. Put in front of a clear hypothesis of damnation, he can’t say that by not believing in damnation he has not chosen it.
Given the choice whether to believe, he has chosen not to; given the choice whether to be blasphemous, he has chosen to be; given the choice whether to choose Christ, he has chosen to ignore Him. Therefore, “but I truly, truly didn’t think that you existed!” will, one day, not go very far.
Until the last moment before death, there is still time. Until the last moment before death, Christ may still fish a soul out of his self-inflicted destiny. But if one really insists in refusing His help, then it is not logical to demand from Christ that help that one has always refused, nor can it be reasonable to demand that Christ saves one against one’s own free will, after one’s free will has been given God’s rank.
At death, rien ne va plus.
This must be one of the most brilliant Voris contributions ever*.
The general tone and message of the short video (the very Catholic idea that every one of us is naturally headed for damnation, with Christ’s sacrifice opening us a door to Redemption, but a door which we must still consciously get through; or – to use the even more fitting Voris’ image – that we are in a pit of sin and prospective damnation with Christ tending us a hand that we need to grasp and hold to if we want our soul to be saved) must sound utterly shocking to the modern “everything goes”, “heart in the right place”, “let us be nice to each other”, tofu-eating, permanently “celebrating”, “inclusive” brigade. It will be, in fact, rather fun to observe, in the next days, the comments about this video and the astonished reactions of people confronted, perhaps for the first time in their life, with something different from the usual “isn’t it incredibly cool that we are all going to be saved”-mantra all too often heard from the permanently smiling priest down the road.
Voris is good because, among other things, he constantly works at the demolition of the sugary image of Catholicism held by so many poorly instructed Catholics nowadays; the vague idea that Jesus be an older version of Mahatma Ghandi with some trait of Nelson Mandela thrown in, or that Christianity be a simple way to “celebrate whatever each one of us feels like doing” whilst feeling so “inclusive” and “tolerant” in the process.
“I’ll do as I please, you’ll do as you please, we’ll celebrate each other and feel rather smug by doing it” seems to be the unspoken slogan of such “Catholics”. The fact that some of them might even be in (some sort of) good faith only exposes the criminal neglect of the very fundamentals of Catholic instruction initiated by the pot fest called Second Vatican Council and the heavy drugs phase called Spirit of Vatican II.
As the detoxification progresses and the Church becomes more and more aware of the extent of the damage inflicted to Her body by decades of unspeakable wreckage of all that is authentically Catholic, it is good that those like Voris help the faithful to gain consciousness of the extent of the fundamental problem of the human condition.
When one properly understands the concept, one realises that the Church’s troubles are but its consequence. Conversely, unless one understands the fundamental sinfulness of the human condition it will be very difficult for him to look at the problems within the Church and put them into the proper context. If he is sooo good and surely meant for Heaven, how can the Church be so much below his own standard?
Let us hope and pray that this is the last generation of Catholics thinking that Jesus was “like, cool” and the Church “bad, man”.
*as always, free registration might be needed. Do yourself a favour and get through the procedure; you won’t regret it.
To please all of you Italophiles, today a bit of healthy Italian literature that is also a useful plunge into the Christian view of the world when the world was able to think – and act – Christian.
In Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXVIII deals with fraudulent people of various kind, like thieves, fraud specialists, people who used rhetorical ability to deceive others and people who spread discord and divisions. They are all placed in the eight Circle – further divided according to their particular sin – and are all punished (according to the contrappasso or contrapasso dear to medieval times) in a manner which has either a strong analogy to their sin or is, as it were, the contrary of it.
Now let us please remember that Dante didn’t know anything of “political correctness”. He would have probably been very amused at knowing what it is and would have considered the entire exercise in political correctness not only uncharitable, but outright unchristian in so far as it helps the spreading of error and heresy. In addition, please consider that “hate crime” as it is seen today did not have any big relevance in the Italian society of the beginning of the XIV century (nor of the XXI’s, Deo Gratias) and that the culture of self-victimhood, semi-permanent complaint and professional claim of being “discriminated against” wouldn’t have made any impression other than of amusement.
Basically, Dante lived in a Christian society and was, like many others, sincerely interested in its preservation and in the defence of its values.
This is why our probably most beloved poet of all times did something which, if made today, would make every politician’s, diplomatician’s, writer’s or poet’s hair stand on end. Which is the more remarkable because he was all four of these at one time or another and never was his work seen as being detrimental to, say, his diplomatic activity. Still, what he did would, today, attract accusations of hate crime, calls for boycott of his poetry, (obviously) calls for his execution and most certainly no invitation to afternoon tea from “call me Dave” Cameron. What did he do, then? He did something that should be a rather easy call (without falling into the sin of presumption of course; but an easy call nevertheless) in a Christian society.
He put Mohammed in Hell.
Mohammed is seen as a divisive figure, sowing strife and discord among the people (among his own, I infer, as well as among Christians and Infidels). Accordingly, he is condemned to being constantly torn open, “divided” in his own limbs. Dante and Virgilio behold his open chest, in Dante’s typical process of eternal repetition of the same punishment. The same destiny is reserved to his relative Ali whose punishment consists, perhaps even more impressively, in having his face completely open from end to end. All considered, rather strong stuff.
It is amusing to think, today, the astonishment of the Divino Poeta (as he is affectionately called in Italy) at being told that he is “uncharitable”, “judgmental”, or “divisive” himself. In Dante’s society and personal Weltanschauung – both solidly rooted in Christianity – charity could never have been confused with convenient lies, silence in front of scandal would have been considered being accessory to another’s sin and defence of Truth would never have been considered divisive, or spreading “hate”.
The simple fact is that he would have been right on all accounts then; and that – as the Truth doesn’t change – he would be right on all accounts now.
Therefore, we must seriously ask ourselves what is wrong with us, and when are we going to wake up.
I started reading this booklet, How to avoid Purgatory, with not a little measure of scepticism. Grown in an environment where the non practising Catholics were rather indifferent (my parents) and the practising Catholics were rather stern (most notably: my rather steely grandmother) I grew up believing that Purgatory is something you grow to expect, hoping that it will be as little unpleasant as possible; that it is difficult enough to avoid Hell to have the presumption of thinking of even planning to avoid Purgatory; that this idea of asking for oneself something reserved for the most saintly Christians smells of arrogance or, as I would have put it in my childhood, of being a spoiled child.
Add to this that this booklet is clearly dated. The measuring of purgatory in terms of earthly days (so and so many days of indulgence for such and such prayers, or measuring purgatory in “years”) would have been considered extremely questionable even in 1936 and acceptable only as a way of explanation for the uneducated, and of encouragement for the very young.
Still: when one has read the entire booklet, has absorbed its meaning and has pondered a bit over the general tone and message of this little but very intelligent work (and, most importantly, has noticed the continuous effort of the author to explain that the desired behaviour will, in many cases, not be enough to avoid purgatory altogether, to which even my grandmother would have gravely nodded), one understands what blessings this little booklet can bring to the faithful.
If I were allowed to make a politically incorrect comparison, I’d say that the leitmotiv of the booklet reminds one of the typical behaviour of one of the two sexes. What it boils down to is: ruthless nagging of God, The Blessed Virgin and the Saints for what we desire; a countless number of little efforts and little prayers; an unceasing pushing made in little things, but repeated a huge numbers of time. The following of the practices suggested in the booklet (there are several of them; no one of them unpleasant; all of them rather easy; almost all repeatable at will; some rather daring and not frequently heard) is most fitting for those not strong enough for the heroic effort, but clever enough to recognise a deal on very favourable terms when they see one.
Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo. The drop hollows out the stone; not by force, but by frequent dropping. In our case, the stone is so willing to be hollowed out by our drops! And yes, without heroic virtue one will probably not attain avoidance of Purgatory anyway and not many are those who bring to the deal the necessary strenght. But very many of us can – if they but apply themselves to the acquiring of a limited number of not very uncomfortable, but very good habits – obtain such favours as to avoid that Purgatory – so it is not spared to us – is at least devoid of its harshest sting.
Come on, boys’ n girls….. Let’s start nagging!
Already the title (only one word, and the right one) tells you what to expect from this truly excellent booklet. It is very short, but of stunning clarity. It literally demolishes all the misconceptions about hell but most importantly, it drives a big steamroller over the “goodism” so typical of our age.
As observed for other booklets of this series, there is no attempt whatsoever to engulf you in an atmosphere of emotional, easy self-justification. Things are said not only straight, but in such a concise way as to be surprising even for people already accustomed to such issues.
It is as if the author had decided to go straight against every prejudice of the modern era, head first and with no discounts applied. To the question “Is it just that a momentary sin should be punished timelessly?” he answers “Quite just”. To the question “Surely there comes a time when enough satisfaction has been paid?” he answers “No; not if the sin is mortal”. To the question “is it not all this talk about hell unreasonable?” he answers “it is not”.
At the same time, his delimitation and description of mortal sin is not only perfectly orthodox, but precisely and reassuringly circumscribed. This makes all his answers about Hell eminently reasonable and easy to follow and “digest” for those approaching or deepening their understanding of Catholicism.
This booklet should be given to every Catholic adolescent (or very bright child) with the instruction to read and re-read it until its content has been thoroughly assimilated (which, by the way, is no monumental task at all). Once this has happened, the reader would feel reassured about his chances of obtaining Salvation whilst being taught not to downplay the risks or the consequences of missing this all-important train.
A truly excellent product. I think everyone would profit from reading it. As all other booklets, it can be saved and forwarded with ease.
Michael Voris has the rare gift of being not only very orthodox, but always entertaining and with an impressive reservoir of very quotable phrases.
Take this: “Bad philosophy leads to bad theology, bad theology leads to bad morality and bad morality leads to the collapse of Empires”.
This short video is about Hell and how its reality will surprise not a few people nowadays persuaded that God would never send anyone there, perhaps making an exception for Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot in case Satan feels like a hand of poker.
The downplaying of Hell is, in fact, just the ticket to allow Satan to reap a rich harvest. He knows that and does everything to let people believe that he doesn’t exist or, if he does, one is most certainly far too good to be delivered to him and nothing short of genocide will ever put anyone in danger of paying him a longish visit. The progressive fading of the feeling of Hell ( I mean here not of the theoretical acceptance of its existence, but of its acceptance as a concrete possibility for oneself) is also responsible for the progressive secularisation of a society in which even many Christians have, when one looks a bit deeper, a secular outlook on society only varnished by a religious belief too superficial to direct their choices against the secular tide.
If more Christians really started to believe in Hell as a concrete possibility, I daresay that their outlook on a couple of questions (like abortion) would be, in time, radically changed.
Below you will find another excellent product of the religious fervor of Michael Voris: “Teach First”, the “Vortex” message of the 20th July. In my eyes, some points are worth of special mention:
1) More than one hundred years ago, St.Pope X was complaining about the superficiality of catechesis. If I think of Italy, in those times the Catechism was customarily learned by heart and taught to every child, whilst Catholic devotions were so spread and so omnipresent (think of the processions! When have you last seen a proper procession?!) that everyone still able to breathe was exposed, volens nolens, to a massive amount of Catholic teaching. Still, it appears that at times (or in regions outside of the traditionally very devoted Italy) not enough was done.
One wonders what St. Pius X would say if he were among us today. I think he’d feel like kicking some backsides (not few of them purple, or red).
2) Faith itself is, to an extent, dependent from proper catechesis. Faith is like a plant that needs to be watered, not like a painting you hang on the wall and more or less forget there. This an another concept almost completely forgotten today and about which only the best among the priests will continue to insist: Faith is something you work at. If you listen to some atheists, it is as if they would have any right to be angry with an hypothetically existing God because He has not delivered the Faith to them.
3) The reason why the Catechism is at times neglected is, with the words of St. Pius X,
“…because[...] it does not lend itself to the winning of public praise”
It is not popular, the Catechism. It will never make of the priest the darling of the community. It will expose him to accusations of being “insensitive”, “intolerant”, “chauvinist”, “homophobic”, “uncharitable” (yes! Uncharitable!) and possibly altogether bad whilst the friendly Vicar down the road – with his suave smile and his easygoing, easy-to-accept theology of complacent tolerance for almost everything – will possibly not get many sheep, but will be considered by most a frightfully nice chap.
4) This vanity (says St. Pius X) is an obstacle to the salvation of souls (says Benedict XIV), which means that if a priest neglects proper catechesis, souls will be lost. I’d like to know when you have last heard a priest (or a Bishop) publicly speaking of salvation and damnation not in generic, easy to accept term (eg saying that those “destroying the environment” may commit a mortal sin: this is very easy as it is always someone else who “destroys the environment”), but in the same brutal terms used by Benedict XIV: that individual catechesis impacts individual salvation.
The reality of today is that even the most fundamental, most dramatic alternative of our life (in the end it will be Heaven or Hell, simple as that) is constantly pushed away from us from the very same people who should constantly remind us of it, whilst Hell is very often presented as something reserved for the Hitlers of the world, but very far from the reality of the sheep in the pews.
This is dangerous. Dangerous for the soul of the common parishioner, more dangerous for his priest, most dangerous for his bishop.
Enjoy the video