Hell, Sensus Catholicus and XXI Century England

I grew up in a Country whose sensus catholicus led most people to believe that, certainly after a due sojourn in Purgatory, an awful lot of people are saved in the end. This may sound strange to ears raised in Protestant Countries, but it actually seems perfectly orthodox to this little intelligence. It was also a Country in which strong hyperbole was an ok form of communication. The faithful reading the saint’s thundering about hell took the threat as an encouragement, and expected it as a rhetorical instrument and teaching device.

However, we must also consider the following:

1. Catholicism was dominant, and I mean dominant. Whilst the V II Church had already begun the atrocious work of dismantling of Catholicism, the population at large was proving fairly resilient. It was, if not automatic, absolutely normal even for Communists to send their children to doctrine. This is how dominant Catholicism was.

2. The idea that many are saved did not come from the dumb idea that God loves us, in our unbaptised state, because we are such wonderful, perfect, unique snowflakes. It came from a widespread fear of the Lord. Sinners they all were, but – for the most part at least – they did not think that they were right and the Church wrong and took care to do things halfway right. Were there, in those times, also inveterate sinners and vocal atheists? Certainly. But far less in number than today, and far less vocal in their attitude.

I compare with today, and wonder what those people – say: those who were 50 in 1971 – would think of the chances of salvation of the average person in 2019 England. It is not only that atheism is so spread that it has become the new normal. What is possibly even scarier is the casual attitude with which even those who have a shred of faith make their own religion and think it smart. It seems to me that the English religious landscape has become an immense dumping ground, with only here and there some little islands of cleanliness in the midst of an immense ocean of dirt and stink.

What a difference there is between even a prostitute in 1971’s Italy, who still prayed the Lord to have mercy on her soul, and the average, law-abiding, well-combed, “wife, dog and mortgage”- accountant in 2019’s England, to whom the entire Christianity is a superstition, never even thought of having his children baptised, and is absolutely positive that he has no more of a supernatural life in himself than than the squirrel in his garden.

We know that God will save whomever He has decreed that will be saved. However, we also know that that signs of predestination underpin the economy of salvation. Baptism in the first place; confirmation, church attendance, prayer habits, participation in the sacraments, even very infrequent confession are still, however imperfect the person, signs of the right attitude towards God. Even the occasional reflection about one’s own sinfulness might be a start to a developmeng in the right direction. But what shall we think of those who start from a position of complete and utter refusal, and many times even mockery, of God? What signs does God give us to indicate that they might be welcomed in the fold in the end? Are we not, in fact, put in front of a massive revolt against God, made even more atrocious because now become mainstream?

Think of this: the person that would horrify the faithful Italian in, say, 1969, and which was – sinner as everybody was – pretty rare to find, is now the average Brit below Forty.

Let that sink in.

From solidly Christian to indifferent to hostile and mocking in 2 generations.

I think the traditional perception of how many are saved need to be revisited.


Posted on January 28, 2019, in Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Most saints, including St. Thomas Aquinas believed very few would be saved. However, I don’t think any of them thought we would see the Church self destruct the it is doing following Vatican II when it decided Christ was wrong about worldliness. So maybe, God will give a pass to some folks based on the Church not having done its job.

  2. I have long been of the opinion that the majority of people around me have no chance whatever of getting to heaven. I did not grow up in Italy. I grew up in the North of England and all those around me then were faithful, practicing Catholics. I went to Catholic schools. I was an altar boy and I used to get up to serve Mass every morning before I went to school. We had public processions out in the street for May and at Corpus Chrisiti. Around me there were protestants of course but the people I associated with were all faithful Catholics.. I am speaking of a couple of years before WWII and during WWII. I stopped serving early Mass when I had to catch a bus at 8-00 am in order to get to school. It has all changed now and not for the better.

    • If you think that the majority of faithful, practicing Catholics are sure of going to hell, Calvinism is strong with you. By the way, your name is highly suspicious.

  3. Boy, M, did your comment about areligious modern man and woman in the West thinking they had no more a supernatural life than the squirrel in their garden make me laugh!
    Tragically, I think some Catholics give bizarre lip service to believing in an afterlife, but live and believe as if hell is empty. A total embrace of same-sex marriage, cohabitation, IVF, contraception, and even abortion in some instances characterizes many Catholics I know. I know a catholic couple who were living together before marriage and regularly hosted a priest to dinner. I know Catholics who take communion regularly who’ve not been to confession for years. I know Catholics who go to gay weddings and who distribute materials from PlannedParenthood to youth in the “religious” instruction classes they teach.
    I was overwhelmed with all of the above and the repeated apostasy from the pulpit. I tried to influence my little sphere to no avail. People look at me as if I have three heads. I’ve escaped to the SSPX.

  4. I relate to all this. I live in the states. The downward spiral of basic morality and decent behavior is a shock to me. The difference between the USA of my youth and the USA of today is staggering. They are hardly the same countries. As goes the church so goes the culture, we are corrupt because our church is corrupt. You can’t call what we have now the Catholic faith or church. Sorry, it’s pretty much gone. Without that civilizing influence, the people and the wider culture are lost. We have a big family. There are a few who attend Mass regularly, one family out of about 15. Most attended when the children were little and once they grew, it ended. My husband and I are about the only adults who attend Mass regularly. We managed to get a few young relatives through First Communion. The only really active youngster is engaged to a Protestant and they are active in that church.
    I worry a great deal about what will happen to each one. My most fervent prayer has always been, please God, have mercy and somehow allow them all to make it at least to Purgatory. I’m relying on His mercy. He knows how important it is to me.

  5. These days people are not expected to change their ways,God is required to chance His .

  6. Christine Lynch

    These verses from the Gospel of St Matthew are truly sobering: 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
    What haunts me is the fact that “VERY FEW find” life. And we Radtrads are no exception as the standard of living required by us is so much higher than the average Catholic as we have been given the knowledge. Thank God for Divine Mercy.

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