Daily Archives: April 15, 2012

Hell and Mercy

Do you wish him Hell? Heinrich Himmler.

Extremely interesting and thought-provoking blog post from Father Z about Rudolf Hoess, the man in charge of the Auschwitz extermination machine. Please do not confuse him with Rudolf Hess.

Father Z’s post says something actually rather normal for an orthodox Catholic, but which must sound rather strange – or worse, offensive – to the more liberal, or simply less instructed, elements.

It is remarkable that the ones who are so ready to express some kind of wish hell may be empty – in his last movie, Nanni Moretti puts the words in the mouth of a Cardinal, and I can easily imagine he heard such heretic bollocks from a true one – are the one least likely to wish salvation for those they don’t like.

I do not consider myself a man endowed with particular goodness, but I can at least frankly say that I do not wish to see in hell anyone in particular; not even Luther, or Stalin, or Ken Livingstone; though I of course wish that God’s will be done and so can’t say I am in any opposition to anyone at all being in hell. Therefore, if Himmler is in hell I am perfectly fine with it, and if he isn’t I am perfectly fine with it, too; but wishing that he be to hell? No! Of course, for those who die publicly unrepentant – but who knows what happened in their private spiritual life, to which no access is given to us – one can say it is extremely probable that – bar an always welcome repentance – they are now in hell.  But their repentance would be exactly that: welcome.

In this case, Hoess not only repented privately – and it is documented he called a priest, and confessed his sins – but accompanied this with a public repentance and confession of guilt. Therefore, whilst we can of course never say whether one is saved, the assumption that the man was saved is entirely reasonable and consistent with Catholic orthodoxy; and I wish him he obtained salvation, from all my heart.

But no, the liberal crowd wants Hell outlawed; but if Hell must be, they want to tell us who is  there. Strangely, though, those who die in public defiance of God can be rather safely presumed to have escaped hell; possibly because they were nice to kitties.

I also warn my readers from the mistake of thinking the only way for the worst Nazi war criminals to avoid hell is God taking everyone out of it (a heresy, I think). Hell is certainly there, but no one can say who is certainly there. Heinrich Himmler might be saved, and yours truly go to hell ( a sobering though this, I assure you; but better to have sobering thoughts, than dangerous illusions of “what a fine chap I am”).

These personalities are, in fact, part of the challenge and paradox of Christianity. It may seem absurd that one can supervise the killing of countless innocent people and be, one day, called to enjoy God’s presence, and another may spend his life fighting for, say, the welfare of foxes and the health of daffodils and end up in hell. But the simple fact is, we are told the rules behind this, and on a second reflection the rules make perfect sense even from the rationale point of view.

The bottom line is whenever it seems to me God may have done things in the wrong way, it is senseless to think I am the one who is right and it is just as stupid to think I can bend the rules so they satisfy me, and invent some strange machinations to square the circle. I am always reminded of the Medjugorje lady who went around tweeting one can decide to repent after death…

For myself, though, whenever I pray the Fatima prayer I’ll try to apply it to everyone: Luther, Stalin, even Ken Livingstone.


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Archbishop Lefebvre on “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus”

With every year it becomes clearer what a great man he was: Marcel Lefebvre.

I am more and more persuaded that if one wants to read contemporary sources of undoubted Catholic orthodoxy, the SSPX is the place where to look.

For this reason, whenever you think or suspect that something is not orthodox enough, or might be “nuChurch” under the appearance of orthodoxy, it is never wasted time to look what the SSPX says on the matter. These are people willing to be excommunicated to remain faithful to Truth, and there is no way they are going to compromise.

Let us take, for example, the “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” question – so often misused by misinformed – or disingenuous – Protestants to shoot at the Church and criticise her alleged lack of common sense – and let us see what Archbishop Lefebvre had to say on the matter.

From the “Open Letter to Confused Catholics”, available online in English from the SSPX Asia, we read the following:

First, the late Archbishop sets the main points of the question:

The Church is the one ark of salvation, and we must not be afraid to affirm it.  You have often heard it said, “Outside the Church there is no salvation”–a dictum which offends contemporary minds. It is easy to believe that this doctrine is no longer in effect, that it has been dropped. It seems excessively severe.

Yet nothing, in fact, has changed;  nothing can be changed in this area. Our Lord did not found a number of churches: He founded only One.  There is only one Cross by which we can be saved, and that Cross has been given to the Catholic Church. It has not been given to others.  To His Church, His mystical bride, Christ has given all graces.  No grace in the world, no grace in the history of humanity is distributed except through her.

Then, he proceeds to explain how proper Catholic doctrine is rightly interpreted:

Does that mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian’s formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” also reject the Creed, “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still catechumens) and baptism of desire.

Baptism of desire can be explicit. Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, “Father, baptize me straightaway because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell.” I told him “No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire baptism, then you already have the grace in you.”

The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit baptism of desire.  This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church.

The error consists in thinking that they are saved by their religion.  They are saved in their religion but not by it. There is no Buddhist church in heaven, no Protestant church. This is perhaps hard to accept, but it is the truth. I did not found the Church, but rather Our Lord the Son of God.  As priests we must state theTruth.

Finally, in case you should think there is a rather easy way to salvation outside the Church, he takes all illusions away from you:

But at the cost of what difficulties do people in those countries  where Christianity has not penetrated come to receive baptism by desire! Error is an obstacle to the Holy Ghost.  This explains why the Church has always sent missionaries into all countries of the world, why thousands of them have suffered martyrdom. If salvation can be found in any religion, why cross the seas, why subject oneself to unhealthy climates, to a harsh life, to sickness and an early death? From the martyrdom of St. Stephen onwards (the first to give his life for Christ, and for this reason his feast is the day after Christmas), the Apostles set out to spread the Good News throughout the Mediterranean countries.

Would they have done this if one could be saved by worshipping Cybele or by the mysteries of Eleusis?  Why did Our Lord say to them, “Go and preach the Gospel to all nations?”

Finally, a concrete example of how the post V II Church could be terribly wrong, and suffer the Truth to be substituted with heresy or worse by the work of the bishops themselves:

It is amazing that nowadays certain people want to let everyone find his own way to God according to the beliefs prevailing in his own “cultural milieu.” A bishop once told a priest who wanted to convert the little Muslims, “No, teach them to be good Muslims;  that will be much better than making Catholics of them.”

Now please observe this:

1) This is straightforward, well explained, full of common sense and easy-to-grasp wisdom. Personally, I found that whenever you look for authentic Catholic answers, this is what you find.

2) This comes from a man of such unflinching orthodoxy as to be able to suffer excommunication just a few years before death, for the sake of Truth. You can think for yourself how probable it is this is not a fair and accurate representation of infallible Magisterium. 

I have very often found that the critics of the SSPX love to criticise them based on preconceptions they have heard of – probably by some tambourine priest – and uncritically accepted. These people are seriously good, infinitely better Catholics than those priests and bishops calling them “schismatics”, or worse. 

Irrespective of the final outcome of the SSPX-Vatican talks, I would encourage everyone to inform themselves about the SSPX position on whatever matter, rather than indulging in criticism by hearsay.

You will discover they take their name very, very seriously.


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