Daily Archives: May 9, 2013
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 is 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 that 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.
Beautiful words from Pope Francis yesterday, talking in front of representatives of nuns from the entire planet. Citing Paul VI, the Holy Father stressed the absurdity of loving Christ without loving the Church, or in any way feel the two as separated. A mistake, I venture to add, that if it is bad enough in a Protestant who has inherited this delusion, is not pardonable in a nun who to this very Church willingly chose to pay obedience.
Still, I can't avoid being alarmed. The frequency with which the Pontiff mentions Paul VI makes it not unrealistic that he picked this very Pope as the model to be followed in the shaping of his papacy. The problem with that is that whilst Pope Paul VI was never bad at talking, he was pretty much of an absentee Pope when it was about acting. From the Liberation Theologians in South America to the mad nuns in North America, and from the altar girls in Germany to the Dutch Schism in the Netherlands, Paul VI was such a spectacular disaster that one wonders whether he could have done any worse if he had wanted to.
The Pope we have now has not openly indicated that he intends to model his papacy on Paul VI's, but his willingness to talk a lot in abstract whilst steering well clear of concrete conflicts happening in many countries of the West does indicate a Papacy in Montini style: when I have encouraged you to behave properly, I have done enough. Add to this his frequent references to his being (merely, as it is to be interpreted) the “bishop of Rome” and you have the picture.
This is recipe for a replay of the troubles of Paul VI's disastrous pontificate, and already the Germans play with “deaconesses”, utterly unchallenged at least in public, and thus allowed to confuse millions of Catholics.
Pope Francis went to pray in front of the tomb of St. Pius X (yours truly reported).
Up to now, it doesn't seem he was inspired much.
Reblog of the day
The impending beatification of John Paul II will no doubt cause many questions among non-Catholics as to what this beatification is, and might reinforce many of them in their errors and misconceptions about this beautiful Catholic institution of beatification and canonisation.
I’d like here to give some very short explanations in bullet points, in the hope that in the coming months some non-Catholics may end up here and get some benefit from them and that Catholics may get some points to give explanations if and when required.
1) Everyone who is in paradise is a saint. Everyone. Angels are saints, the Holy Innocents are saints, etc.
2) Normally we cannot know whether someone is in Paradise. When the neighbour dies we know that he is either in hell, or in purgatory, or in paradise. Purgatory is widely believed to be the most frequent occurrence at death, but no one really…
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