With every passing month, Francis' little and big sermons reach new heights of stupidity. This time, we have reached full Kindergarten level, and one wonders how it can get any worse than this.
Follow here how Francis reduces Christianity to a mere dispensing machine of blessings in life, and beatitude after life, without any warning to his listeners that things can go in the other direction, too. In Francis' world, heaven clearly is the universal destination. If the worst is scolding, hell is clearly not an option.
Before I go in detail please consider this: it is integral part of Francispeak to never say it to 100%, provided the message he wants to send goes out. This is done to appease the Pollyannas. An old modernist trick.
We are, therefore, informed God may be able to scold us, but not to “slap” or anyway “hurt” us. What about being thrown in the flames of hell, there to be consumed by everlasting fire for all eternity? Does this in any way “hurt” us, I wonder? And when people get sexually transmitted diseases, or sodomites AIDS, or gluttons diabete: what is this, a gentle scolding? Obviously, not everyone who gets a disease or some other big reverse is being punished. In fact, it is often difficult to say whether, when life kicks us in the balls, it is meant to be a punishment, or a blessing, or both. Still, no Christian could ever deny God can punish people horribly already in this life, and punish them in in infinitely more terrible way in the next.
This man has, literally, no fear of the Lord. Not concerning this life, not concerning the next one. This just isn't Christianity, this is feel-good waffle for children in the kindergarten; albeit I can clearly recollect when I was in kindergarten we were told all about heaven and hell, and did not have any problem in grasping the truth and elementary logic of it. Evidently, Francis' adults are more childish than kindergarten children of only some decades ago.
The rest of the linked article goes in the same vein: the only thing God does is heal, console, caress. Nowhere is the other way mentioned. This is an imaginary, heathen god consisting entirely of mercy, and with no trace of justice; a heathen god, therefore, deprived of goodness, because without justice there can be no goodness.
Besides, the concept that putting oneself in God's hand be the harbinger of “maximum security” sounds, in this Kindergarten context, very Protestant. The reader cannot escape a very strong impression every sodomite is saved by simply putting himself, without repenting a bit, in the hands of this unconditionally caressing, never-slapping god. I trust in you, therefore you save me. Those living in public adultery will, at this point, be logically unable to understand why they should be denied communion: hey, they go to Mass every Sunday and are oh so trustful in God and in their good conscience: why should God not “caress” them by coming to them in the Holy Communion?
The article linked to is not a literal reporting of the entire sermon. Yesterday I have read another article based on this, and it pretty much sings the same song. Let me make it clear that I have no doubt that somewhere, hidden in Francis' world, there is some obscure hint that God also metes Justice. But this is not the point. The point is that this heatenish, kindergarten god of Francis is the one relentlessly advertised, and it is simply inconceivable – both because of the choice of words and of the frequency of the message – that this is not exactly what Francis wants.
We notice here once again a method widely employed also in politics: a sermon is made, but in this sermon there is a particularly tasteful “mouthful”, which is there with the express task to make the headlines. In this case, the one with the God “unable to slap us” – so striking because so evidently flying in the face of two thousand years of Christianity – is the desired mouthful.
Let us also not say that Francis is fine because countless saints of the past have stressed God's mercy. Of course they did. But you will never find a saint of the past leading you to believe God is not both mercy and justice. In addition, those past saints lived and operated in a world in which every child of seven had a very clear concept of what hell is, and was very conscious he might end up there one day. This is not the case today, thanks to the army of Bergoglini who have been sabotaging the very concept of hell for the past 50 years.
This works of sabotage continues now from the very top, with the Pope himself making every effort to eradicate every fear of the Lord, every concept of justice, and every possibility of hell: a hell that has already been declared as excluding atheists in ” good conscience”, and could therefore never include those who do nothing more than believe God will take them out of trouble because hey, that's what he always wanted, eh, no?
This isn't Christianity at all. Rather a “recreational drug” for the stupid and the easily self-deluded, making the way to hell so much broader for them as it leads them to believe all roads lead in the end to heaven provided one does such easy things as following his conscience (possibly the easiest thing on the planet if one can shape his conscience according to wish) or, for “maximum security”, “trusting in God”.
Beware of Bergoglism.
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.
One of the advantages of getting old is the slow but unstoppable change of perspective age induces. When I was younger, the afterlife was for me (though by the Grace of God I have always believed in God) something so far removed into the future as to make the prospective of death an extremely remote one; something you know, about rather feel about.
Where I am now, the prospective is already rather different. I am now most certainly well past half of my existence, which means that the Day of Reckoning has now become for me an event I can see in the future in light of my past experience, because it will fall upon me in a shorter time that the one that has passed since my childhood. When one reflects about this little mathematical exercise, one begins to experience the Last Four Things as something very concrete, almost palpable. It is there, it is approaching rapidly, it is something I can easily measure with my own experience. I am, in fact,,well on my way towards it. The sobering thoughts this simple calculation provokes are in themselves enough to let one consider the aging process a very salutary one.
In a way, you can compare our perspective with investments. A long-term investment expecting to yield results in 60 or 70 years would be considered unattractive by most individual investors; when you reduce the temporal investment to perhaps 20 or 30 years, things change already. Continuing the comparison with investments, becoming old one understands how astonishingly good is the investment is that Jesus’ death on the Cross has made possible for us. There is no risk of default on the interest payment; you know there will never be a bankruptcy or “chapter 11” to destroy in all or in part your equity; the yield offered is infinite (as in: infinite) compared to your initial investment in time and effort, and the sovereign risk is clearly zero.
The deal is so good, that through the indulgences you get a huge rebate even on the (late) paying of your equity investment. Last but not least, one does not need to be smart. Provided one are disciplined in making deposits in one’s investment accounts (Mass attendance, of course; regular confession; a lively prayer life; and the Rosary, the Rosary!) one does not need to be proficient in the matter, and in fact I do believe many servants, labourers and peasants of old have obtained a much better yield than their more sophisticated, perhaps more intelligent masters and landowners.
As you get old, things start falling into place. Injustices and abuses (of which this existence is full) or even the thousands apparently blind inequalities of this world (the one is born intelligent, the other stupid; the one attractive, the other ugly; the one rich, the other poor; I could go on for very long) are seen in the different perspective of the return on investment I have just considered: painful as it is to be poor, or mistreated, or befallen by misfortunes one has not seen coming and cannot be held responsible for, these pains open the doors of an investment club of unimaginable prosperity, and the “equity investment” one makes with its own suffering and misfortunes properly employed (that is: invested in Christ, rather than in hatred or even self-pity) are by far the best opportunity he’ll ever have in life, and might well make him more prosperous in heaven, and more prosperous for all eternity, than many others who simply never found the means or the will to make a comparable investment in their eternal happiness.
This thinking puts, by the way, the usual secular thinking of “if there is a God, why am I so stupid” (or other disgraces) in perspective. The boy who died in a trench during WWI hasn’t really “lost” so much; actually, perhaps he has, just because he died to protect his Country and loved ones, actually made a great gain; similarly, the hard existence of generations of poor peasants bearing with Christian spirit an entire life of, one can easily imagine, abuse and humiliation will very probably rank higher, in the Celestial order, of those of us who manage to escape hell and can bring to the party not much more than a comfortable existence as, say, obnoxious bloggers banging on a keyboard with a fresh glass of orange juice, and classical music in the background.
Seen in this perspective, this life is like a huge opportunity open to everyone, and where more often than not the lack of opportunities here below may lead to an increase in “investment” opportunities concerning the other world.
You might say – and you would be right – this is all very well-known at least since the Beatitudes; but I do think that the older we get, the more the concept of accumulating treasures in heaven takes more defined contours, as the Day of Reckoning slowly but constantly warns us of its approach.
Brilliant video from, I rather think, a Protestant.
Note that his take on the matter is perfectly consistent with Catholic teaching: “by all accounts”, Christopher Hitchens died an unrepentant atheist (worse than that, I add: a serial blasphemer, and hyperactive enemy of Christ); therefore, “if we take the Scriptures seriously” (we Catholics would say:” if we take Christianity seriously”; “if we think the Church hasn’t been giving us a load of cruel lies these two thousand years”) this means that “Christopher Hitchens is in Hell today as we are speaking”.
Still, he says – also very Catholic, this one – that salvation is possible up to the last moment, and it would have been enough for Hitchens to change his mind – and his entire life, and all that he always was and fought for – at the last second and sincerely repent to reach salvation anyway.
The main point, though – and also one that a serious Catholic clergyman would make to you – is about love: God expresses his love towards his creatures by allowing them what they absolutely want, even if it is not His will for him. Not differently, in fact, than a mother who would not keep her wayward son locked in his room his entire life in order to avoid him getting into trouble.
All this is traditional Catholic teaching, and I must have posted about all this in the past (Monsignor Pope has written beautifully about the last point, if memory serves).
Surprisingly, whilst everyone agrees with what Catholicism teaches about Hell in theory, many seem not to want to get the implications when the theory is put into practice. The present company is, of course, always excluded; so are our relatives and friends, because they have “their heart in the right place” (they love animals so much, you know); the departed are now – and how could it be otherwise – looking at us from heaven, or dancing with the angels, or doing some other soppy thing (therefore, we don’t need to pray for them; which in turn allows us not to think of our own sinfulness and saves time on top; all very convenient, nicht wahr?). As to people we know only by hearsay, it will largely depend whether we liked them: if we did, then God surely will do our bidding and we are not supposed to “judge”, but ready to judge that God’s rules are not applicable in this case, surely… The rules will, then, only apply to those very few people who are unknown to us, or absolutely disliked by us, or generally considered evil incarnate without any detriment to one’s own feel-good needs. Hitler comes to mind. No one seems to pray for the chap, whom God loved too.
Alas, the reality is different and alas, reality is nothing to do with our own wishful thinking, and all to do with the Word of God.
Before I leave you to the video (around eight minutes, but not boring at all), I ‘d like to linger on one comment left on the site:
Eight minutes of complete bullshit. Eight minutes of nonsensical mental gymnastics and logic that doesn’t sound at all peaceful or loving. Fuck religion.
This short, inordinate rant exemplifies what is wrong with so much of the modern (alas, even from people who tell themselves Christians ) mentality: in order to have credibility, the argument must “sound” either “peaceful” or “loving”. The idea that there be hard truths somewhere in Christianity requiring to be told straight (in which lies, by the way, the real charity, and peace of mind) does not enter the mind of the anonymous, and rather coarse commenter. The “f” word is the result of him not being able to make things up according to his own wishes, and calling this “Christianity”. Frock religion, then, if I can’t feel better about myself.
This explains very well what is going on with Hitchens’ matter these days: removal of hard truth instead of rational and orthodox thinking of what behaviour was put in place, what the consequences of this behaviour would be without final repentance, and how probable it is such repentance (which, remember, must be perfect contrition) took place in reality rather than in the kindergarten-fantasies of the Hitchens fan club.
A well-spread Italian saying teaches finche’ c’e’ vita c’e’ speranza (“as long as there’s life, there’s hope”). The flip side of this is once life has gone, hope gives place to knowledge, and then it’s either one side or the other, forever. This is exactly where Hitchens is now, and if your grasp of reality is that he saved himself I do not want you to be my financial adviser, or my driver, ever, but you should apply for the Pollyanna Prize 2011 at once.
As I have written elsewhere, we weren’t there and therefore can’t know. We can have a modicum of hope, because we know that the Holy Ghost tried to the last second. But we can’t really draw any specific, realistically grounded comfort from that, because we know that in the end it was the chap’s choice, and we know what the chaps’ choice was because he shouted it so loud for an entire lifetime, even when terminally ill, even when at an advanced stage of his illness.
Good luck to him and to his own poor, long- suffering Guardian Angel, of course; but reason, logic and all probability all say Hitchens is in Hell, at the start of a torment that will never end, and not looking very smart at all.
No, seriously: let us stop the soppy dreaming and let look at this like sensible adults. Some people go to hell. Actually, many do. This was a prime candidate, unrepentant to the last – public – moment, and so violently stupid every talk of him “seeing the light of God” should prompt only one answer:
give me a break.
After Vatican II there have been several changes in attitude toward death. They once again enlighten the superficiality and avoidance of the difficult concepts of the faith that are so typical of everything which has happened after that fateful Council. I say here on purpose that “Vatican II” changed the attitude because this change (strictly speaking never wanted or encouraged by Vatican II documents) was made possible by the unhealthy climate of “aggiornamento” created by V II in the first place.
Once again, let us remember that the changes were in attitude, not in doctrine. The Doctrine will never change, but the clergy in charge of transmitting it will do a good or bad (or very bad) job of it. A mediocre History teacher does not change History, but he will surely transmit his mediocrity to his pupils and as a result many of them are going to fail to pass the relevant exams.
I have identified six changes that I consider most significant: three of them are going to be dealt with today, the other three tomorrow.
1) Loss of death as the all-decisive moment. You will not often hear a priest saying that the last moment before death is the moment in which our eternal destiny is irrevocably decided. More probably, you will hear some easy-to-digest words about the transition from earthly to eternal life. The possibility of damnation is very often wilfully left aside. This is in striking contrast not only with Catholic doctrine (I mean here not that the priest doesn’t know Catholic doctrine; just that he considers inappropriate to say the whole truth about it) but with a long tradition of being reminded every day of the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. In his will not to upset the faithful (or rather: in his cowardice) the priest all too often skips the uncomfortable parts (that is: judgment and hell) and leaves only the convenient two: the transition from death to a heaven considered – bar genocide or the like – the obvious destination.
2) Loss of proper mourning. Death is supposed to be a moment of mourning for the relatives and friends of the death. They are supposed to stand in awe in front of the mystery of death, feel the sufferance of separation and use this sufferance to both reflect on their own caducity and be inspired to pray for the soul of the deceased. The trend, particularly in Anglo-Saxon (and therefore, vastly protestantised) Countries seems to be going in the contrary direction. The funeral is an occasion (here too, adopting a Protestant custom) to “celebrate the life” of the deceased. “Celebrate”? What is this? As the Ecclesiastes says there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance”” and death is the epitome of the time to weep and to mourn. To attempt to substitute mourning with “celebration” is, if you ask me, a clear indication of the removal of the fear of death so typical of our societies and of the lack of awe in front of death. Death is therefore treated just as a moment one tries to let pass as soon as possible with the least amount of discomfort, mentality further encouraged by the practical removal of the possibility of damnation examined above.
3) Loss of modesty. Apparently (I refer to Romano Amerio here) the fashion is spreading among Catholics to hold laudatory speeches of the deceased at the funeral mass. This is another custom taken from the Protestants and still another very questionable habit. The Church has never prescribed or even encouraged such a practice. The reason of that is, in my eyes, twofold: a) to stress that in front of death we are all equal: the rich and the poor, the obscure and the famed; b) to stress the abandonment of every vanity in front of death.
Panegyrics during a funeral mass smell of gratification of the family and friends of the deceased (that is: vanity) as the deceased (particularly if a person with a prestigious earthly station) is considered not in his quality of poor sinner, unworthy of the mercy of the Lord he still hopes to see extended to him, but in his earthly qualities. His social achievements will be extolled, the honours received acknowledged or failing that, the fact that he was such a good and worthy chap. Again, death is the moment in which we stop to consider that what we need is not earthly acknowledgment, but Divine mercy.
Tomorrow I will deal with the other three elements I have isolated: the loss of courage, the loss of honesty and the loss of proper tradition and symbolism.