Interesting blog post on the Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam blog. The blog post makes clear that, whilst Catholics avoid the noisy excess of screaming Protestant preachers, repentance for our sins is still – bar a Divine mercy that we have no right to expect – mandatory to avoid Hell.
The author of the blog post puts it in simple and very clear terms:
…refusing to repent of one’s sins constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and such a refusal will not be forgiven. In fact, refusing to repent cannot be forgiven. God will not save us against our will. He will love us right into hell.
Foreseeing the scandal of the liberal crowd, the author hastens to add:
This sounds harsh, I know. But this a truth of the Catholic faith that cannot be spiced up or sugar-coated or hidden away.
Everytime I read phrases like this I think of the many priests who have made of “sugar-coating” and “hiding away” an accomplished art – nay, a new religion! – and shiver.
The concept – so difficult to understand for some atheist – is brilliantly explained in more detail:
We have two truths in balance here. First, God wills that all His people return to Him through Christ. Second, He wills that we do so freely. So that all may return to Him through Christ, the invitation to salvation is made unconditionally, without limits, to everyone
Note here that the invitation is made to everyone (that is: even to non-Christians), but the return must be through Christ, with Allah & Co. not giving any entry rights, nor will a generic “I have been such a good chap” be of much use. Salvation is – bar an act of extraordinary mercy, on whose odds no one should ever stake his salvation – the result of a free decision to make the right choice.
Still another perspective is given by making clear that:
….. we send ourselves to hell by stubbornly refusing to repent. Our final refusal, our last rejection of God’s invitation to join Him in love is called “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
When your friend or colleague or relative says to you (with the shamelessness of our times) that “there is no God”, you can calmly tell him that he is being blasphemous and endangering his soul; when he replies that he doesn’t care as he doesn’t believe in any God, feel free to point out that the fact that he doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make him any less blasphemous, nor his soul any less endangered.
He’ll probably still not agree with you; but it is still a free choice that he makes. Put in front of a clear hypothesis of damnation, he can’t say that by not believing in damnation he has not chosen it.
Given the choice whether to believe, he has chosen not to; given the choice whether to be blasphemous, he has chosen to be; given the choice whether to choose Christ, he has chosen to ignore Him. Therefore, “but I truly, truly didn’t think that you existed!” will, one day, not go very far.
Until the last moment before death, there is still time. Until the last moment before death, Christ may still fish a soul out of his self-inflicted destiny. But if one really insists in refusing His help, then it is not logical to demand from Christ that help that one has always refused, nor can it be reasonable to demand that Christ saves one against one’s own free will, after one’s free will has been given God’s rank.
At death, rien ne va plus.