Daily Archives: July 1, 2012
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 staunchest Catholics are critical of certain popes of the past. The Colonnas and Caetanis of the world, the greedy ones like Benedict IX, the warriors like Julius II, the scheming fornicators like Alexander VI are heavily criticised.
The staunch Catholic knows that he can do this because his faith in the Church, or the validity of the Church’s role and message, do not depend in the least on how good – or bad – the Pope is. Like something else, bad popes simply happen.
The same happens when the criticism concerns popes of a more recent past. There’s nothing easier than to find around the Internet a rather sharp criticism of the long-deceased Pope Paul VI or of his predecessor, Pope John XXIII.
Exactly the same process is now occurring for the last deceased pope, Blessed John Paul II. Treated in life like a pop icon and the undisputed Strange Communicator, the earth-kissing, koran-kissing, rock-loving, airmiles-collecting pope’s legacy is seen with an increasingly more historical, and therefore more critical role now than it was only some years ago, with his rushed beatification probably not doing him any favour in this respect, and rather leaving the impression the Vatican wanted to use a marketing instrument for all it was worth before the reaching of the “sell by” date.
Strangely, though, this exercise of the legitimate ability to respectfully criticising the Pope seems – at least in recent times – to never apply to the Pope in charge.
The pope in charge is, in this prospective, inerrant. If he makes a mistake, his mistake lies in being too good. If the mistake must be attributed to him, he has been badly advised. If he keeps making mistakes, his advisers must be bad apples . If he surrounds himself with bad apples, it is because as an apple he is just too good to notice.
Most recently, I have found a new version of this: if the wrong document has been sent out, a Cardinal must have changed it against the will of the Holy Father, every other explanation having to be excluded because it conflicts with the new unwritten dogma of papal inerrancy. If we believe this, we can truly believe everything: Hitler wanted global peace but has been badly advised, Stalin was a devout Christian but his aides were bad apples, and Mussolini was fundamentally an ascetic character whom bad women kept tempting.
This total abandonment of common sense and basic logic is not only deprived of reason, but profoundly offensive of the same man it is meant to protect. To imply an old man would sit on a chair and suffer at the thought his cardinals change his texts, without doing anything against it, is the open accusation that this man is perfectly inadequate to fulfil his role, either because he is not compos mentis anymore or because he allowed his aides to cow him into inaction to such a point.
It is rapidly becoming apparent the emperor has very few clothes, and to leave him out in his undies whilst the “wolves” are blamed for the scandal isn’t really helpful for anyone, least of all the emperor. The more so, because the time will come when the emperor’s actions are clinically examined both in this world and in the next, and the unwritten assumption of inerrancy will not help him anymore.
Neither I nor the internet were there, but I wonder whether in Paul VI’s times exactly the same mechanisms applied: it is not the pope’s fault; he is surrounded by wolves; he isn’t understood; his collaborators work against him; his documents are even changed, his suggestions not followed, he is the hostage of cruel ruthless cardinals. Bugnini bad, Montini good.
Really? Did this mentality help him in the end? Would he have acted differently had he not felt authorised to think that whining was an acceptable substitute for acting? Did he manage to escape hell in the end? If he did, was it because of, or notwithstanding the silence and excuses of those around him? And these latter, were they not accessories to his sins by silence, or by concealment, or by defence of the evil done?
If you ask me, the duty of a good Catholic does not lie in selective blindness. Not from a general point of view, but the more so because as Catholics we know the Church is stronger than any difficulty, whether external or internal. We must accept the reality of mediocre Popes as we accept the reality of disease and bad weather. Bad popes happen, but they do not change a iota in our faithfulness and dedication to the Church of Christ.
Pray for the Pope; that he may see the situation, and set a couple of things right.
1. Protestantism is the exaltation of the individual
2. Consequently, Protestantism makes of the individual the one who decides about what is Truth.
3. As a result, sooner or later Protestant communities start to separate themselves from traditional theological truths; the first dramatic example was contraception.
4. This had to happen at some point, because when personal opinion becomes the final authority of scripture interpretatio the temptation to interpret Christianity as it is convenient is unavoidable; of course, after
6. a convenient rationalisation, with this or that scripture passage taken as excuse, or convenient passepartout like “love”, “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” used to re-write each and every rule. This in the end leas to
7. a completely self-centred system of ethics which, in the end, is nothing else than atheism.
Voris explains in just a few minutes the slippery slope leading from bibliolatry to error to atheism.
Enjoy the video.
Reblog of the day
Some of you will remember an older blog post of mine about Msgr. Charles Pope, “The Monsignor with no uncertain trumpet”.
Msgr. Pope has another very interesting blog post, explaining with the usual energy a couple of concepts which, if there were more people like him around, there would be no need to explain in the first place.
This time, Msgr. Pope (I never can avoid a smile thinking of his name) deals with the issue of “good intentions”. In a world which, as I have tried to explain here, makes of individual conscience the metre of right and wrong, the intentions have become – at least in a vast part of the population – the most important criterium to decide about the morality of an action. If something is done in good faith, they reason, than you can’t blame them for their actions. Sounds fine, but it…
View original post 681 more words