“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”
This phrase of St. John of the Cross is, at times, misused by the usual cafeteria Catholics.
By mentioning it, they state or imply that love saves. I am sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but love doesn’t save.
Every monster is capable of love. Every serial rapist and killer can have people whom he loves. Most of them certainly have. Therefore, love is not the key opening the gates of Heaven.
Nor is that kind of love that translates into “doing good”, but with no faith in God behind it. It has always been Catholic teaching that salvation is the fruit of the works that come from the faith. Faith with no work will yield no salvation; but so will the works without the faith.
If you reject Christ until the end, Christ will reject you in the end. He that believeth not shall be damned. It follows that even being, say, an atheist Mother Theresa will be of no avail for he who believeth not.
Certainly, we can and must hope that Christ will help those who do good to others (which isn’t charity in the proper Catholic sense, but is still doing good deeds) to reach faith in the end. But we cannot say that their ability to love, or the good deeds this ability engenders, will save them. Certainly not if, as this is always the case, this “love” is meant as purely earthly, and the good deeds are made because it’s good to be good. If this were true, then fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind,thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners would all inherit the kingdom of God, provided they love and do good. Which most of them assuredly do.
This “having one’s heart in the right place” nonsense is one of the most dangerous pieces of rubbish spread in modern times.
In the end, everyone has his heart in the same place, and most people love others. Even the Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Obama, and Sebelius.
I can’t imagine countless atheists do not love their offspring to distraction. Will this save them from hell unless they repents? Assuredly not. Not if Christianity is truthful, and makes sense.
Beware of pious hogwash.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.1Co 6:10
The sad – though self-inflicted; just so we do not get into the whiny V II “tambourine mode” – death of the great actor Philip Seymour Hofmann should, perhaps, be cause for a couple of politically incorrect and very un-V II reflections to the best of my ability. Some of you will be grated by them. So be it. I don't write this blog in order not to grate anyone. Actually, I write it in order to grate the one or other among them. I find this not only sound Catholicism, but even charitable. Imagine that.
Unless the New Testament has deceived us this last 2000 years; or we have not been able to read for the same amount of time; or the Holy Ghost has miraculously changed His mind upon witnessing the wonder of V II, people who gravely poison themselves will not inherit the kingdom of God. I will not insult your intelligence explaining to you that what is true for the drukard is also true for the heroin addict, though St. Paul could not have mentioned heroin. By the way, notice how uncharitable St. Paul is in using this word, “drunkard”. What a self- righteous, judgmental hater, nicht wahr?…
Still, like every other grave matter, the passage mentioned above must be read in the light of Church teaching: the mortal sin entails not only a behaviour that can be considered “grievous matter” (Baltimore catechism), but the subjective elements must be present; to put it again with the Baltimore Catechism: sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.
Now, no one of us can know what went through the mind of Mr Seymour Hoffman as he was injecting himself the fix that was to prove fatal to him; but in the realm of those sober observations we are rather obliged to make on this earth – if we care for our salvation, at least; and if we do not think God will “slap us on the wrist” at worst – the full consent of the will is, reasonably, not present in the heroin addict as to what concerns his very act of injecting himself the fix; at that point, Seymour Hoffman was, reasonably, not able to take a deliberate, free decision to take the heroin; rather, one can reasonably say that very probably such a biological compulsion would have acted on him, that it is at least sound to assume the man was compelled by his altered biological functions to act against his better judgment; so that, to say it with the immortal words of St. Paul, he “did the very thing he hated”.
The V II crowd would probably stop here; declare Seymour Hofmann happily in Purgatory; or possibly even decide he had his purgatory here on earth – a fashionable, often-used statement nowadays, as it allows one to happily remove the reality of purgatory without denying its existence – so no need for that, thank you very much.
I do not think it's so easy.
Very few people (fairly: only the very wicked ones) go through life with the cold-blooded intention of being evil. If God had meant hell only for those the entire Gospel would make no sense, because Jesus very obviously threatens with hell at a far less extreme – or at least: less extreme when measured with the usual human metre – stage of wickedness. For example, not believing in Him is enough, even if one is the most excellent father, husband, and chairman of the local “save the hearth” group. Sin is offence made to God. Taking hard drugs, or drinking oneself to stupor, is a very serious offence. No amount of pussyfooting around facts will ever get rid of this simple truth.
No. If Christianity is to make sense, and if we want to be realistic about our own situation, we must soberly realise that damnation is a concrete possibility for everyone of us, the loving and nice members of our community always ready to defend the Amazonian Forest from imminent destruction, and very concerned about the fate of the red squirrel.
This means that “being a drug addict” is just not enough to get away with it. In the same way that if I fill myself with cocaine before robbing a bank and then kill the teller in my coke-induced madness I am responsible *for having put myself in the position to kill the teller*, the question arises how Seymour Hoffman – and all those who kill themselves with the nail, or with the bottle, or playing russian roulette because of their addiction to bet and danger – can get away with having put himself in that situation of addiction in the first place.
This must be, I am afraid, a very sobering thought, as whilst people can and do at times slip into alcoholism a bit at a time, without noticing and without being able to recognise the point at which the pathology has set in until it is very late, the same cannot be said of substances whose assumption is punished by the law with several years of jail, not to be obtained at all without a deliberate effort, and of whom a child of eleven must know, unless he is gravely retarded, what he is doing.
Again, whilst drunkenness can be involuntary if one does not realise what effect the drink is going to have on him, heroin intake must perforce be a mortal sin in that it requires a Francis-like fantasy to think it can be, in the usual cases, taken without deliberate intent (there are extreme exceptions, of course: I read once Hermann Goering became an addict because they gave him too much drugs in the hospital whilst curing him).
As always in these complex cases, the greatest thinker of all times helps us greatly at Q150 of the summa theologica, answering all our doubts as he deals with drunkenness. As to whether drunkenness (and we can say: deliberate heroin taking) is a mortal sin, the Angelic Doctor states:
“it may happen that a man is well aware that the drink is immoderate and intoxicating, and yet he would rather be drunk than abstain from drink. Such a man is a drunkard properly speaking, because morals take their species not from things that occur accidentally and beside the intention, but from that which is directly intended. On this way drunkenness is a mortal sin, because then a man willingly and knowingly deprives himself of the use of reason, whereby he performs virtuous deeds and avoids sin, and thus he sins mortally by running the risk of falling into sin.”
Note here that drunkenness deliberately induced is a mortal sin qua drunkenness, not only if a further sin ensues. It would be a mortal sin even if the man would get drunk locked alone in a jail cell. Or would inject heroin in himself in his own bathroom, whilst alone at home.
Therefore, we know that deliberate drunkenness (and by logical extension: heroin taking) is a mortal sin by itself, and that one cannot reasonably become a heroin addict without committing a series of deliberate mortal sins; until at some point the deliberation is diminished, and in the end probably ceases, because an addiction has now taken roots which make the deliberate decision not to take drugs an extremely difficult one. Whilst at this point the sin committed whilst “under the influence” can be diminished (and St. Thomas states as much, making the example of Lot), the mortal sin that originated the subsequent sins clearly remains (Article 4).
I can, therefore, not buy the idea that Seymour Hoffman – and clearly everyone who kills himself by drug taking, or by drinking – “will be just fine” because “he was addicted”. Rather, unless I want to sink in a lake of molasses I must admit that he must have been in mortal sin several times as he was in the process of becoming an addict; mortal sins which – unless repented by a suitable perfect contrition before death, or valid confession at any point – would merit him hell.
A different reasoning could also be made as to what Seymour Hoffman's – and every drug addict's, and every drunkard's – attitude towards his addiction was. Did he have a firm resolution not to sin anymore, expressed to a priest in a good confession? Now of course a firm resolution does not mean one will be freed from the addiction, but as far as I know it is simply a requirement of our religion *that the firm resolution be there*. Again, we must soberly observe reality and decide that unless Seymour Hoffman was a *practicing* Catholic – of which I have no information, but is to be hoped – his confessing his sin and firm resolution of amendment was, reasonably, not there.
Is, then, the man very probably screwed? Thankfully for him and all of us, it does not have to be so. By the grace of God, things are not so black and white that we can say that either he went to confession, or he went to hell. We cannot know whether on that day – and certainly not by coincidence; because if it has happened, it was Divine Providence that ordered things so, and gave him the efficacious grace to do so – the man managed a perfect contrition, and gave way to his addiction in a state of diminished guilt, such that the perfect contrition would procure him absolution from his past mortal sins and the now present addiction would (confront Thomas above) allow him to escape from a mortal sin for his last and fateful act.
What do we, therefore, conclude from all this? In my eyes, we cannot but conclude the following:
1. that we cannot simply say that the addiction excuses from the mortal sin; behind the addiction must reasonably stay several mortal sins: mortal sins which many people nowadays do not care to entrust to the mercy of the Lord in a good confession, thus remaining in mortal sin whatever the goodism of the day may suggest.
2. that it is foolish for the addict to remain in his state of mortal sin without a firm resolve of improvement, as this would make his confession's validity questionable at the very least. One thinks of John Belushi – another great actor I really liked and still miss after all these years – and, well, shudders. There can be no doubt that all those who are near such a person, and a priest if he has the fortune of having such a one near him, should feel the need to help him to such a firm resolution of amendment; in which, by the way, is the true charity.
3. that we are always allowed to hope, because it can always be that, unknown to the world, the Seymour Hoffman of the day managed that all-important perfect contrition. As long as there's life there's hope, as they say, and the other one about the ways of the Lord certainly comes to mind.
I would also add this: that a society in which one dies of drug addiction and only a tiny minority of people – who are then accused of being “uncharitable”, of course – wonders in a serious way about what it is with salvation in such cases is a society that has almost completely lost the fear of the Lord and every Christian common sense, and has managed to, well, drug itself with political correctness and the all pervading “niceness” of our times to the point of removing the reality of judgment from their consciousness even when events happen which, in fact, scream alarm. No: the V II crowd will in this case simply remove the problem by saying the fashionable “who are we to judge” or by creating a fantasy Christianity in which neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will be denied the kingdom of God no matter what, because He is so merciful. These people endanger their own salvation, and the salvation of those who listen to them.
If there's one thing for which we should pray, it is the grace of final perseverance. A grace I wish to Seymour Hoffman, to John Belushi, to Amy Winehouse, and – heck – even to Jim Morrison: and to all drunkards and drug addicts of this world; for whom we must pray, without wishy-washing the simple fact that they are – as the saints used to say before the world became so much better than them – drunkards, or today's drug addicts; and immortal souls, in clear danger of damnation and therefore, again, clearly in need of our prayers.
And it came to pass the well-known blogger priest wrote a (beautiful) blog post about the alcoholic who drank himself almost to the point of self-annihilation, but this time knocked at the priest’s door not to ask for money – which I am sure Father would not give him, lest he fuels the other’s addiction – but to care for his own salvation, proceeding afterwards to produce a serious, and very beautiful, prayer effort according to his lights.
We are, I am sure, all pleased for this change of mind and wish the chap all the best, and a future without alcoholism to the point of self-destruction. I am reminded of Lucia’s words in the Promessi Sposi: “Dio perdona tante cose per un’opera di misericordia!”, “God forgives (so) many things for a work of mercy!”.
All fine up to here. A good priest, this one, who inspires drunkards to spend half an hour kneeling in prayer.
What seriously angered me immediately upon reading the post is the comment of an obvious V II ultra, who then proceeded to say to Father: “Remember your soul is more at stake than his; God loves Poor Lazarus”, clearly stating that his (the priest’s) own soul is more in danger of damnation than the soul of a possibly terminal alcoholic who has managed a beautiful feat of faith, once. As I write this blog post, no other commenter has questioned these words.
Let me make a couple of observation on this, then, because I can’t read such crap without saying a word or two; and no, don’t give me any of the usual sensitive, PC bollocks, because I have enough of it and won’t even read your comment to the end.
It is a strange, and rather perverted Christianity in which a man who consecrates his life to Christ – and, I am sure, makes a very good job of it – is considered in graver danger of damnation than a self-demolished alcoholic. It is the result of an orgy of goodism that is so worried of feeling good with itself that it forgets goodness in the process.
According to such perverted Christianity, it is better – and as a result, more advisable – to waste one’s life drinking oneself almost to death, and then spend half an hour in prayer in front of the altar, than to dedicate one’s life to Christ and to the salvation of the sheep. The stupidity of this thinking boggles the mind: it devalues – nay: it humiliates – virtues at the same time as it positively encourages to sin. In fact, it makes of sin – of very grave, constantly repeated sin – the best and surest way to Jesus’ love.
I know, it sounds oh so fine. Much of the populist V II crap does. As if Jesus would love the sinner in proportion to his sinfulness. “Blessed the child rapists, because theirs is the Autobahn to heaven?” But you see, in these egalitarian and very stupid times it seems the Gospel’s prodigal son is the better son and the better soul; which is nowhere to read in the Gospel; but boy, it sound sugary enough for nowadays’ saccharin addicted.
And let us talk of Lazarus the beggar, too, the specific man mentioned in the comment. Last time I looked, Lazarus is described as destitute and either a leper or one with huge health issues, but not an alcoholic. And he doesn’t go to heaven because he is a beggar, but because he is good in the eyes of the Lord. Similarly, the rich man is not damned because he is rich, but because he is not good in the eyes of the Lord.
We live in a world that has so much lost the sense of sin, that it even puts the alcoholic above the priest at the price of half an hour of prayer. Then we complain about vocation crisis. Ah, those stupid people of our Christian past, who considered the priest, and not the alcoholic beggar, the example to follow, and the good soul! They should have reserved their esteem and consideration for the drunkard instead! Hey, he has spent half an hour at the altar, has he not! You see, this clearly puts him in a better position in Jesus’ eyes than the one who spends an entire life for Him, because the best triggers of Jesus’ love are just not there: like being an alcoholic, say; or a whore, or a child rapist, or a professional killer. Jesus loves a sinner! Alleluia! That Padre Pio, who was obviously so boringly good… one wonders whether Jesus loved him in the first place. I bet the man never even got drunk once in his life! So sad.
Happily, Christianity tells us exactly the opposite, though this isn’t heard much nowadays: those who are better are those God loves more, and His great saints – many of them, of course, unknown to the world – are those whom He loves most. Christianity also tells us that to be good is good, and we must strive to live a life as devoid of sin as our energies – which we, again, train by living a good life – allow. We do our part to earn Paradise – or rather: to earn Purgatory – by living well, not by living badly; by staying near to the sacraments, not by becoming alcoholics; with fear and trembling, not with utter disregard of God’s laws. I though it was “if you love me, keep my commandments”, not “if you want to be loved more by me, trample them”.
And yes, thankfully for all of us, the Mercy of the Lord is always there just for the asking – which goes with the repenting, of course -. There is always hope, even for the alcoholic, the whore, and the child rapist. We pray that everyone may be saved, as we hope for salvation ourselves; and we are consoled by every show of God’s mercy, because we are also in great need of it. Therefore, we try to walk through life in the fear of the Lord, but we also trust on His mercy when we stray, as we all do. We stay near to the confessional, because we know that in the same way as we rely on God’s mercy, God demands of us that we work towards it; & Co., & Co.
Or perhaps we should forget all this: the Mass, the prayers, the confessions, and the struggles with sin, and become stupidly drunk and, in time, self-demolished alcoholics instead.
Hey, upon a single act of faith our souls would be less at stake than the one of a good priest.
If one throws himself under a train he has not “lost his battle against the train”. He simply chose to throw himself under it.
If one throws himself out of a seventh-floor window he has not “lost his battle against the pavement”. He simply chose to smash himself into it.
If one shoots himself in the head he has not “lost his battle against the bullet”. He chose to plant the bullet exactly where the bullet went.
It is, therefore, rather singular that when Philip Seymour Hoffman dies of the overdose he injected himself, the PC media should report that he has “lost his battle against heroin” as if heroin were something happening to one, and as if he had died of, say, cancer. Heroin just doesn't happen, nor have I ever heard of people injecting cancer into themselves, and being told of having “lost their battle” when they die of it.
Still, in today's oh so tolerant society Seymour Hoffman – a great actor, by the way, whose acting qualities I greatly admired – can die of 100% self-inflicted and self-injected heroin overdose without any major outlet daring to say half a word about the fact of life that this is just what is not unlikely to happen to people stupid enough to drug themselves. Heck, the BBC is even very timid in saying openly he died of overdose. Police found heroin near him. Nincompoops.
This timidity or tolerance in turn gives to drug addiction a character of normality – or, in the case of a famous actor, even “coolness” of sort among the slow of intellect – that will all but cause other people, equally slow of intellect, to drug themselves and die of their own stupidity.
Nor should you hold your breath waiting for Catholic prelates – say, an Archbishop – pointing out that taking drugs is most certainly a grave matter, and it is difficult to imagine one would inject himself into an addition without deliberate intent to, well, drug himself. I am not the one to judge about the internal forum of the man as he was injecting his deadly dose – erm, sorry: losing his battle -, but I very much fear what a good confessor would say of the probable destiny of the man who put himself in such a state as to come to that point. The good and merciful God knows everything, sees in every soul and know how to judge every such situation with perfect mercy and justice; and Seymour Hoffman at this point knows his destiny, too. I wish him from heart he saved his ass, but don't ask me to bet my pint on it. Still, one point must be clear:
Seymour Hoffman did not lose any battle.
He drugged himself to death.
Say a prayer for him, poor man, in the hope he did manage to avoid the worst. But please, whenever you speak of the man in your circle of acquaintance, consider making some reflections akin to the ones above. Every little helps, and the culture of understanding for absolutely everything under the sun will only end when people stop having understanding for absolutely everything under the sun.
Try, then, to make, if the occasion arises, some observations like these ones. It's fair to say Heaven will reward you for the accusations of bigotry, intolerance, hypocrisy – everyone takes drugs nowadays, don't ya know – and general moralism that are very likely to follow.
Once again, the Bishop of Rome has given worldwide scandal. I do not know whether it should be considered positive that soon no one will pay attention to the inordinate rambling of this unspeakable man, or whether people are slowly getting accustomed to an heretical Pope, which can’t be good.
In his relentless work of destruction of everything that is Catholic the Bishop of Rome, shamelessly reigning, attacks the most elementary basis of traditional Catholicism: the fear of the Lord.
I was once told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, or wisdom. This means that if one does not have the fear of the Lord, he is a fool. Makes sense, I always thought. You can’t believe in the God of the Christians and not be in fear of what this God can do to you if you refuse to acknowledge Him or despise His commandments, or gravely contravene them. Yep, pretty basic stuff.
Obviously, If I believed in the Good Fairy In The Sky, or in the Great Pink Elephant Playing The Trombone, I would be more relaxed. The Fairy would certainly give me a lot of sweets and toys to play with after I die, and the Great Pink Elephant Playing The Trombone must be a gloriously friendly chap, from whom you can take trombone lessons for free, and you’re welcome. But I happen to believe in the God of the Christians, and this is a different God, one who immediately after death will decide whether I have merited terrible torments for all eternity in Hell or will, after the usual period of painful purification, be admitted to be happy with Him forever in Paradise. It makes sense that I should be rather scared, because this is not a driving license examination. There will be no second chance if I get it wrong. I mean, it would be extremely scary even for the driving license, imagine when eternity is at stake.
In short: If I get it seriously wrong, I will be screwed forever. If this does not inspire fear of the Lord, I do not know what will, but I know what kind of person one is that is not fittingly scared.
For twenty centuries, Christians all over the planet have considered this a fundamental tenet of Christian thinking. If the frequent warning of Jesus Himself were not enough, an extremely rich and coherent tradition has always reinforced the concept. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and he who ignores this reality is a fool.
Of course, I also have recourse to the theological virtue of Hope, by which I can reasonably trust that the Holy Ghost will give me sufficient graces to merit, one day, heaven. But Christianity properly intended has always understood this as a two-way street. I can hope because I both believe and do. My works born of faith are the foundation of my hope. I dare to trust on unmerited grace, but I must still move my ass and follow God’s commandments to the best of my ability.
As I see it – but I am not a theologian – it’s the same as prayer. Even when God wants to give me something, he may still want me to pray that I may have it. I can’t just sit there and wait for things to fall in my lap. I must both pray and act in order to align what I want with what God hopefully wants for me. Therefore, if I want, say, a job I will have to not only pray, but also move my posterior in the appropriate manner so that, in God’s good time, things may happen.
In the same way, I am invited to hope, because my works born of faith allow me to see that this trust is not mere fantasy, but is built on solid and reasonable ground. If I were to think that I can relax and do without the works (because hey, I have the faith providing me with the necessary grace) I would be a Lutheran. If, on the other hand, I were to think that I can merit salvation exclusively through my works – that is: without the need of God’s unmerited grace and necessary assistance – I would be a Pelagian.
The way Christianity has always worked is that one prays God for the gift of hope, and trusts in His graces, graces that we cannot even merit on our own; but at the same time one acts his part, and is wisely scared that he may behave in a way that does not merit him Heaven, because he well knows that if he starts to presume that he will be saved trouble can’t be far away. We can’t merit God’s grace, but it is expected from us that we move our backside anyway. One can have a sound optimism that God will not throw him with the reprobates, but one knows the fear of God’s wrath is a prime element of the behaviour that allows one to be soundly optimistic in the first place.
The child knows his father can punish him swiftly and in an exemplary manner. He may be a beautifully obedient child. Still, this knowledge will be with him always, and there is no denying it does play a role in helping the child to be dutiful. Let the dutiful child believe that the father would never punish him, and you are heading for trouble.
Unsurprisingly, this was seen as the beginning of knowledge, or wisdom. Then if you don’t get this, you truly are an idiot.
Which leads us nicely to Bishop Francis, who is reported with the following pearl of, well, not wisdom:
Do not be afraid of the final judgment of God, when the good will be separated from the bad, because Jesus will always be at our side, because we can rely on the intercession and the benevolence of the saints and because God ” did not send his Son to condemn , but to save ” and “”he who believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is already condemned,” and in this sense “the judgment has already begun”.
This is so incoherent, contradictory, and flying in the face of Christianity one does not even know where to begin. Already the first words, “do not be afraid of the final judgment of God” must have been very popular when the joint made the round in some Argentinian seminary, but are nothing to do with Christianity. If there’s something Christians always had and were taught since they were little children is the fear of the final judgment of God.
It would appear “someone” does go to Hell, but it is difficult to see who: atheists who follow their conscience are famously OK; Jews are – says Pope Diana – still part of the Covenant so they can deny Christ and eat kosher at their heart’s content, under Francis’ expert supervision; Muslims are a religion of peace and believe in the same God – says Francis, not I – so they should be fine, too. As for the Christians, they must do nothing else than “rely on the intercession and the benevolence of the Saints”. Hey, “he who believes in him is not condemned”.
Further references are made to wholesale salvation through faith alone: one must only “embrace Jesus” and “all fear and doubt vanishes and leaves a deep joy and expectation”. This sounds like the talk of a drunken Presbyterian, certainly not of a Pope. A Pope should tell you that you either are in mortal sin or you aren’t, and whether you “luv Jesus” is neither here nor there. Many will be surprised on that day. I think Francis has good chances of being the most surprised of them all.
Fornicator? Adulterer? Sodomite? Who is Francis to judge? You are saved by faith Alone! Works of Faith? Obedience? No, no, no!He who believes is not condemned! Why would God throw you in hell? Such a waste!
But then it becomes even funnier, because now Francis tells us that “whoever does not believe in Him is already condemned”. Heck, this must include, then, his Jewish buddy, most of the members of the so-called “religion of peace”, and that nice chap Eugenio with whom he so loves to have a chat every now and then! What about following one’s conscience now? Yesterday’s snow?
And in general, what kind of person is this? Have you ever seen a public personage so relying on his own popularity that he would contradict himself in the most blatant of ways and not be concerned in the least? One day atheists are saved, another day they are already condemned. One day you are a criminal akin to a murderer if you gossip, another provided you love Christ you must be afraid of nothing. One day you can’t love Jesus without loving the Church, another day if you love Jesus you are fine regardless. Francis gives the impression of an old man rambling just for the excitement of the microphones around him, totally unconcerned or even unaware of all the rubbish he is unloading.
I say it again: evil or stupid. It seems to me whichever of the two he is, he is to a high degree.
The fallout of the senseless letter of the disgraceful bishop of Rome also has his funny side.
In an excellent blog post, Patrick Archbold asks if he can still become an atheist.
Pope Francis has told us that all that is needed for atheists to get to heaven is to follow their own malformed consciences. I really wish I knew this earlier. I would have avoided a lifetime of difficult Truths in favor of my conscience. My old unformed conscience, it turns out, was fairly forgiving of many things. That seems much easier. It may be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. But it is easier still for an atheist to get to heaven.
How can you disagree with him? As I have already written, Francis thinks there are two ways to obtain salvation (one for the atheists, one of for the Christians) and it is clear the atheists get by far the better deal.
Whatever they can agree with their conscience, it's fine. Out of experience, I agree with Mr Archbold many of them will not disagree, in conscience, with pretty much anything of whatever they do.
What an easy life, and what a sinful one. All this now inclusive of Francis-approved feel-good feelings and a promise of heaven (if there is one), always courtesy of Francis.
Some days ago a poor chap wrote a difficult comment about his own situation. Divorced from his own wife and living with a new partner in pre-awakening times, he got near the Church again through the work of the Society of Saint Pius X, and was confronted with the objective grave sinfulness of his situation. Imagine the conflict, and the praying and growing that will be necessary before the courage to take a hard decision – the only possible decision bar some unexpected death; and he appeared aware of that – is attained.
I answered to him mentioning, among other things, the situation of millions of people who reject even the thought of new relationships, because that's what the life of a Christian is.
But hey, if Francis were to be right – which he isn't – the thing to do would be of course to suggest to the man that he… loses his faith. Then he will only have his conscience to guide him, and everything will be fine again, with papal approval.
Again, this is a new religion that Francis want to shovel down your throat so that has it easy and enjoys a life of humble popularity.
If he is very stupid, he might also think this will help the Church. Hey, this “Jesus” product doesn't sell well anymore. Let's change the product so it is better accepted by the markets.
To put it with Mr Archbold again:
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. No no, stay. Just kidding.” “
If you ever thought this pontiff was smart, you have no more excuses now.
Cunning, yes. He denies hell here and refuses to condemn sodomites there, and does it in a way that makes of him the pet of the liberals but does not upset the useful idiots of the Catholic camp, or the gay lobby.
This way, Catholics become more and more confused, whilst he become more and more popular. All this without risks, as an army of clergymen hasten on a daily basis to explain why what the entire world has rightly understood as heretical is, in reality, orthodox; though it is unfortunately that the entire planet is too stupid to notice.
It works for Francis, certainly.
But… is it smart? No, it isn't, nor is he. His lies have very short legs, and he will discover the day he dies how short they are. Perhaps he thinks the same rules he applies to the atheists will apply to him, too…
But still a fool.
The acclaimed actor James Gandolfini died suddenly of a heart attack, and the entertainment establishment was not slow in lavishing praise on James Gandolfini, the actor. Wonderful publicity, by the way, to have one’s tweet in the world press.
We Catholics, though, cannot, on such days, avoid reflecting on the caducity of life in general, and the destiny of Gandolfini’s immortal soul in particular.
The son of Italian immigrants of – says Wikipedia, for what is worth – devout Catholic faith, the probability that Gandolfini was not at least halfway instructed is very thin. Still, Gandolfini was – again, says Wikipedia – divorced and remarried, and unless he had things made by the book (say: first marriage annulled; Wikipedia doesn’t say, but that doesn’t mean much) I cannot but smell danger.
A heart attack is, if you ask me, not a bad way to die. One does not have the time to call a priest, but in many cases he will, one supposes, have a clear perception that the bus has reached its destination, and he must get out fast. I can’t imagine that this does not concentrate the mind wonderfully, and the effort of one’s Guardian Angel must be supreme in those moments. It is fair to say if those twenty or forty seconds were not sufficient, then a long additional life would not have been sufficient, either (which would lead me to write about Providence and Predestination, but it would be too long a digression).
One reads about Gandolfini’s death, and wonders. Did he recite the Hail Mary every day, at least when he was a child. Did he stop afterwards. Did he grow indifferent as honours and praise were lavished on him, and lost sight of what really counts in life. Did he – horribile dictu – in the end fail to achieve the only real aim in life, the only metre of failure and success, the all-deciding admission to Purgatory.
We hope he did make it, and I invite you to remind him today in your prayers. But please notice this little Catholic detail: that the world famous, rich, celebrated James Gandolfini appears, at first sight, to have been in far greater danger of damnation than his obscure, poor, simple, not educated, but devout parents.
A prayerful mother is a thing of heaven, and if it is true that Gandolfini’s parents were devout Catholics I smell here the sweet fragrance of endless prayers of a mother for the eternal welfare of her child. I like to imagine that even if the son was going astray, his earthly and his Heavenly mothers were helping him, silently, every day.
Let us hope that this motherly help succoured James Gandolfini in the hour of truth, and supplied every deficiency that he might have had; and that the same may happen for us, when the moment arrives; and let us reflect that in those solitary moments in a hotel room in a foreign country honours and prizes and wealth already counted for nothing, and the only currency accepted was prayer and, if needed, perfect contrition.
We have a mother in Heaven. Let us ask her for her help in those moments every day, lest we discover on our skin how little every earthly pleasure or achievement is worth in the end.
Matthew Warren, the son of Rick Warren, has recently committed suicide shooting himself with an unregistered gun. For those of us who didn't know, Rick Warren is the author of the book The Purpose Driven Life, and the leader of a Protestant so-called mega church.
Matthew Warren apparently had a long history of severe depression, and it is not for yours truly – or anyone else, for that matter – to decide what has become of his immortal soul. We hope for him that he was not compos mentis when he took his life, and that a merciful God had mercy on him as we hope he will have mercy on us when our time comes. I invite all of you to sincerely pray for his soul, as I did. Depression is a horrible, horrible beast. Still, do not lull yourself into thinking the possibility of his damnation isn't a very real one.
What I would like to spend a word on today is something Matthew Warren apparently said to his father many years ago, after a particularly difficult time. It appears the then boy told his father he knew he was going to heaven anyway, so why not put an end to a life of misery and go there directly…
It seems to me that with just a few words the boy demolished the edifice of salvation through faith alone; an absurdity that a mentally ill boy can still perceive, but millions of sane adults apparently cannot.
Please remember this kind of Proddies don't “do” purgatory. To them, it's only up or down. The unavoidable consequence of this is exactly what the then boy has said: hey, I'll go to heaven anyway (because I have “accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour”, or so millions think….) and this heaven is supernatural joy inconceivable to the human mind. I am living now a life full of misery and ghosts, with the prospective of another seven or eight decades of this. Give me a pistol, and let's go to heaven….
Of course, some will reply that even the serious proponents of the sola fide heresy would not think quite so, and that a classic Calvinist would have seen in suicide – thinking out loud now, as I think Calvin was a fine thinker, at least as far as Proddies go – an eloquent sign of reprobation rather than of predestination.
But the fact is, I doubt there are many among those frequenting Rick Warren's mega church (or many other evangelical establishments, at the very least) who think in this way. To most of them, the matter must be very simple: Matthew Warren shot himself, and went to heaven. Which is, to all intents and purposes, the same as to say that Matthew Warren shot himself to heaven.
Therein lies, hidden beneath the usual wave of sentimentalism, the implicit suggestion of modern mega church evangelicalism to those faithful battling with depression and suicidal tendencies: a purpose driven bullet as the solution to their problems and the guaranteed ticket to eternal happiness. The young man shot himself! Praaise The Looord!
Hell and Satan play no role in all this; it's faith or no faith, personal saviour or no personal saviour, hell or heaven. One accepts The Lord As His Personal Saviour, and the way to the pistol is smoothly paved. I wonder how many have made their way to hell with a nonsense like this, and have used their “personal faith” as a hoped for “get out of jail” card for pretty much everything; bar the most atrocious deeds, for which mental insanity must come to the rescue, it being not really thinkable that one goes to hell through his faith in … faith alone.
In the tragic episode of Matthew Warren we see the absurdity of this bollocks of salvation through “accepting Jesus as one's Lord and Saviour”. An absurd thinking probably untenable for Protestant classic theology, but certainly widely spread among the modern “Billy Graham”, “born again”, “I found Jesus at 3:45 PM on the 13 February 2005” crowd.
Poor Matthew Warren had confusedly seen the absurdity of all this, though I very much doubt he had thought it to the end. His death (let me rephrase it: his suicide) should fill all of us with unspeakable dread at what the consequences of his action might be for his soul, and what might be in store for us if we did the same.
It goes without saying if Matthew Warren had been a properly instructed Catholic he would not have been able to even think that he is sure of heaven, and therefore a bullet is an acceptable solution. Whilst Satan can more easily wreak havoc in a fragile mind, the rigid responsibilities put by Catholicism on one's own works would have been a daily help for the poor man in his struggle, and the terrible warnings of sound Catholicism concerning the very probable fate of suicides would have greatly helped him to find a solution in faith and prayer, rather than in a pistol. As it is, the horrible prospect of the man willingly and lucidly putting a bullet in his head cannot be ruled out. Protestant thinking simply opens doors to Satan that a solid Catholic formation leaves firmly shut.
If you really want to live a purpose driven life, I suggest sound Catholicism.
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.
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.
I will be the last one to deny the genius of Steve Jobs. Besides liking the people who do things their own way without looking too much right and left – and one can safely say that no other big company has been, in modern times, run as much according to the wishes and vision of one man as Apple – Jobs truly had a capacity for innovation and – I hate to use the word, but this time it truly fits – vision that is to be found very rarely on this planet.
If you add that his achievement with Pixar alone would be enough to give him rather long obituaries today, or that only one of his innovative products – iPad, iPod, iPhone; no, wait: the iMac alone; no, wait: the first Macintosh, really….. – would make of his death a world news, you get the idea of what kind of entrepreneur the world has lost today. The long list of condoleances and interventions from powerful people from Adolf Hussein Obama down is ample testimony of the stature of the man.
still, whenever a famous person dies, I cannot avoid wondering what remains, now, of his prestige and reputation, or whether the long list of honours will give him any better chance of making it through the Pearly Gates.
In days like this, one discovers the immense importance not of people like Steve Jobs, but of everyone of us, because it is on days like these that we realise that if the man managed to avoid hell, this achievement is for him a far bigger triumph than all the innovations he brought on the market; whereas if he didn’t, all the above mentioned achievements are dust anyway.
I do not want to express where I would bet my half pint about his eternal destiny. Actually, I do not want to think of it, because the thought is very sobering. In a way, Jobs epitomised the idiotic ways of so many of his contemporaries: the strange pescetarian diet (apparently, generally chosen for health reasons. Then you get pancreatic cancer…), the Zen Buddhist marriage, or the clearly “progressive” orientation (google around to see Catholics angry at having their applications not allowed, when the sodomites have all theirs). Let us say that, bar a last minute conversion, his hand of cards does not make the impression of having been very good.
And this is really the key, isn’t it? If we try to have a better hand of cards the day we kick the bucket (and we might well not be given as much time as Jobs, a man who knew several years ago that his way to the Creator was being fast-tracked) everyone of us can fairly easily accomplish more than he ever did on this planet; then, by definition, an infinite success ranks above every earthly one. Particularly, I add, when it concerns us so directly. The immensity of one human soul lets Apple Computer pale in comparison.
On a secondary note, I also point out that Jobs is a cautionary tale of the wrong approach to simple things: the obsession with health at the point of discarding good food doesn’t make much sense when we reflect that we are ashes, and can be taken away at one moment’s notice anyway. Last time I looked, Jesus wasn’t worried about his followers eating meat, either. Similarly, Jobs’ idea (how oh very “progressive”) that he could cure his cancer with alternative methods is another of those aha-moments that must have caused him, and many others, a rather brusque awakening from a world of vaguely new-age fantasies. In these attitudes, even a certainly extremely intelligent man shows the childishness of the human brain when it starts to abandon common sense in general , and Christian common sense in particular.
An “Eternal Rest” for Steve Jobs is, I think, fully in order.
Yesterday, he might have achieved his greatest success.
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.