Helen McCrory had just died of cancer, aged 52. Your prayers are, I am sure, appreciated by the angels in heaven.
One of the most famous actresses in the UK, and married to an even more famous actor (Damian Lewis), her death is very sudden, in the sense that very few people knew, and the news was kept from the public until the moment of death. Her young age makes this even more worth of a reflection or two.
The first reflection: modern “science” and the “miracles” of medicine do not allow anyone to escape his appointment with his Maker. Not even if a lot of money is available. One day, we will be called, too. That moment has been already set in stone. Every day, we march towards it.
The second reflection: I do not know whether the lady died at peace with the Lord, at least in the sense in which anybody can know, or hope, that anybody died at peace with the Lord. But I notice this: whether she was Christian or not, this does not seem to interest anybody, nor does it seem that she was interested in letting other people know. Religion has just flown out of the conversation. People die, they’re gone, everybody says how “courageous” they were, but they’re… gone.
It’s like saying that Rin Tin Tin was courageous. Look here, pal. The issue here is whether Mrs McCrory had an immortal soul, or not. If she had, forget “courageous” as there are other issues at stake now. If she (absurdly) hadn’t, then everything is absurd and meaningless, even “courage” at the end of an absurd sting of existence allowed to us, in this absurd perspective, to try to perpetuate our DNA.
The third reflection: apart from some Catholics, no one seems interested anymore in knowing in which state one’s soul has likely departed from this vale of tears. I think the milquetoast “Christians” have this bizarre idea that everybody goes to heaven, unless he is Stalin, whilst the Atheists prefer to blather about “courage”; something very strange, by the way, seen that undergoing three years of chemotherapy is seen as “brave”, but refusing to undergo it is “brave”, too. Everybody is so brave, and left the world such a better place. One wonders how the world has not become paradise on earth yet. Oh wait, I know why. But they don’t.
Fourth reflection: the chariteees. It seems that nowadays if you are not involved with a charity you are a selfish bastard. Charity work is the way irreligious people, and certainly a lot of atheists, define their own “goodness”. Even when the charity is serious, and not just a part of the immense, corrupted, charity machinery currently thriving in this Country, it does show a completely earth-bound thinking. Inevitably, not only was McCrory involved with a couple of charities, but this is seen, if you read around, as the other quality defining her (besides being, of course, an actress). “Wife and mother” is purely a factual event, that we don’t talk much about because very much, you know, old school. “Actress and charity worker” (which means: power woman and oh so sensitive) are, today, the defining traits of the deceased.
I do not know what Mrs McCrory thought about her immortal soul. If she believed in God, sin, and the like, it would have been very good not to keep this private as a help to others who might be in the same situation. If she did not believe in anything of that, well, I am sorry to rain on your parade but 400 years of charity work would not save her from hell, and the tributes that will now pour in are but a hollow, horrible theatre enjoyed by Satan alone.
A famous actress dies at 52, and it seems this is no encouragement to some serious reflections anymore.
But hey, famous and oh so good. And so courageous.
It seems to me that, if she had the real courage, it was the courage of looking at eternity in the face and make sure that she enters it reasonably prepared.
Strangely, this type of courage is not considered anymore.
Every day God sends on this vale of tears I must read something about the Pope… scolding Catholics.
This would be enough infuriating in any Pope. But it drives one mad when the person doing the scolding is the “who am I to judge”, “you are fine if you follow your conscience” Pope.
I cannot imagine a worse example of Phariseism than this. At least, Stalin did not try to present himself as the “who am I to purge” dictator. This one here bitches around with every second breath, but has the nerve to play tolerant and non-judgmental.
I am, today, not talking about the sabotage of Catholicism that these rants – all of them, no exception – have as their only aim. I am talking about the sheer shamelessness of being the world champion of what he ceaselessly reproach to others: a cold-hearted enemy of Christ; a first-class Pharisee; and the bitchiest prelate on earth.
“But Mundabor! You are being guilty of the same crime of which you accuse him! You criticise him all the time!”
Of course I do. I do, because he deserves that I do so. I am very far from being non-judgemental. I try to judge with right judgment, and know that when my time comes I will be judged according to how soundly I have followed this command. Non-judgmentalism isn't a value. It is the end of all values. It is a world made for homos and trannies. It's the world to which Francis wants you to acquiesce.
It is high time that at least authentically conservative newspapers (a couple of those in Italy, some other very few abroad) start to say to Francis “shut up already!” when he keeps ranting. It would be another reality check and a welcome reminder, in the months approaching October, of the forces he has against them.
I am sick and tired of this cretin spitting everyday the same hate for Catholicism in a slightly different way. If God has decreed, out of all eternity, that hell is his final destination, I hope he goes there soon. If God has decreed, out of all eternity, that even a piece of work like this one is allowed to save his sorry ass (what a consolation for us all, who do not go around insulting the Bride of Christ every day, with the excuse of Christ!), I hope he goes to Purgatory soon, too, and felicitations to him.
But please, Lord, let this plague go to an end.
I have always mocked the modern “non-judgmentalism”; something completely extraneous to the Catholic world in which I grew in and, certainly, the poisonous fruit of Protestant faithlessness and accommodation to the times.
Christianity has, though, always not only allowed us to judge, but positively demanded that we do so. Not, of course, concerning the last destiny of a soul – because this is known to God alone, and would be a sin of presumption – but concerning what we can see in our daily life, and involving the choices we have to make for ourselves and those entrusted to our care.
A criminal rapes your daughter, and leaves her bleeding and unconscious in the parking lot. Shall you say “who am I to judge?” and “only God knows a person’s mind” concerning the rapist’s action?
A man blasphemes the name of the Lord: not in a moment of confusion – say: because he has just hammered his finger very hard by mistake – but with a lucid, deliberate, hostile intent. Shall you say that this is not for you to condemn, the Lord only knowing whether the man really, really, really wanted to blaspheme?
A woman proclaims loudly her atheism, and encourages all the present not to believe in what she calls “fairy tales”. Your son, ten years old, is listening. Will you tell him that her is an “opinion” that “must be respected”, although you personally “disagree”; and invite him to “not judge” her?
Non-judgmentalism is something for heathens, and the favourite food of reprobates. In many cases, it is the rancid fare of those who, rolling in mud themselves, think they are fine because they allow others to do the same.
Do not be deceived. If you are a Christian, you will have to judge all the time. Not only for yourself, as you compare Christian rules of behaviour with the facts happening around you; but for those entrusted to your care, to whom you are called to give a solid guidance – by example, yes; but also by instruction, exhortation and admonition; and yes, certainly by condemnation – as they themselves are confronted with the many challenges to a Christian soul.
To refuse to judge means to discard responsibility not only for one’s own spiritual wellbeing, but for the souls of those entrusted to one. Very soon, this refusal to judge according to known rules will become the discarding of those same rules, and their substitution for fluffy feelings and the acceptance of everything and everyone. In the meantime, the sons and daughters raised without guidance will start to go astray; and at this point, few parents will admit they have done all wrong. Most will talk of “bad choices”, of “phases”, or “heart in the right place”, and prefer to look the other side as their offspring march toward hell. But hey, who are they to judge?
Judge with right judgment, but judge all right.
The one who is most comfortable with you “not judging” is the Devil.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, of those that reconcile you with life in England. Walking toward the underground station after seeing some friends, I was walking in one of those elegant squares with the cafes/brasseries where most people (including yours truly) cannot afford to eat.
On the pavement in front of one of these elegant brasseries, a shocking sight was attracting the attention.
The most shocking, most disgusting person I have ever seen (read this again: it's not an exaggeration) was talking animatedly on his mobile phone. He was a frightful sight. Extremely thin and extremely pale, his hollow and cadaveric face screamed “drug addict”. He was dressed not only like a faggot, but like a faggot who wants to look as disgusting as possible; an über-faggot, so to speak.The most shocking detail was his hair, that was cut in a sodomitical fashion at the front but extremely short at the back, up to the top of his skull, as if with the intent of looking as repulsive as possible. Thinking back, one believes that there are people out there who eat shit.
I admit that I have lived a rather sheltered life, and am proud to say I saw my first drug addict at nineteen, remaining shocked the rest of the day. But now I am over fifty, and the like of that wreck I had never seen; not in the underground of Frankfurt or Berlin, and not in many years of Greater London.
It was truly shocking. It was like seeing one who was living in the midst of excrements, and insisting in showing all his degradation to the world. He did not see the scared or disgusted faces of the customers of the cafe (most Brits are such that they would look elsewhere if in the sight of him), and I think after a long experience of such faces he probably did not care anymore how people looked at him. As he was talking animatedly, in an alarmed and whining way, people like me (who do “judging” a lot, because they have a brain and refuse to switch it off; macht nichts, I couldn't become Pope anyway) could not avoid thinking this was a male prostitute in a very advanced state of drug addiction suddenly informed that his client was gone, and his fix with him; or something of such like, edifying nature.
As it happens when one sees a shocking sight, my brain started to pose questions: how is it possible that a human being reduces himself in such a state; what would be the trauma of a child confronted with such a revolting spectacle; how many people have seen this man drowning and have said nothing; is he truly responsible for reducing himself in such a state. The answers that kept coming to my mind were “very probably drugs”, “a great one”, “probably very many” and “without the shadow of a doubt”.
Each one of those answers would be, methinks, worthy of a blog post. Here, I'd like to dwell on the third one.
When I was a child, we were not confronted with such people. Drug addicts were certainly there, but the freedom to do and leave whatever one wanted without fear of reprisal was just not there. A person going on the street in broad daylight dressed in such a way would have had children throwing stones at him (the less impressionable ones; those who torture cats, for example), the police stopping and harassing them, and in general a total societal refusal. This chap could obviously reduce himself in that state, because a society that does not dare to “judge” will never have a harsh word for anyone, much less a pervert. The perverted illness of the man also shows the moral bankruptcy of a society that allows (stupid) people to sink in such pits of abjection without offering more than the usual tolerance, inclusiveness, and obligatory niceness.
In a morally ordered society, you don't see such people on the street, shocking even adults. They would be forced to dress differently, to behave differently and, to an extent, to think differently. All this will, of course, never completely eradicate sexual perversion, or drug use. But an ordered society will make what is in its part to at least create unfavourable conditions for such behaviour, and to help the stupid and weak not to stray through a ruthless process of societal control; that is, well, “judgment”.
No, I will not close my eyes to reality and say to myself “perhaps he wasn't a disgusting faggot, just a chap with an extravagant taste”, or “how can you say he was a drug addict? Perhaps he had merely slept badly”, or the worst of them all, the one that helps people to become faggots or drug addicts if so inclined: “who are you to judge?”.
I am so fed up with a rotten society so proud of its illness. I have the pockets full of this “non-judgmental” society positively helping people to kill themselves. I am sick and tired of a world that ridicules one for mentioning the fear of the Lord, but positively helps idiots like the one above to kill themselves slowly, and possibly not even so slowly, and damn their soul in the process.
In pure Un-Francis (the Bishop, not the Saint) style, expect a lot of “judgment” on this blog whenever scandal is given and the stupidity of the modern heathen society must be exposed.
We are all sinners, and this was always so. But in more intelligent times people understood the difference between private weakness and public scandal, took care not to upset the children (and the adults), enforced a code of proper conduct with great energy, and would have laughed at the politically correct crap of our times.
I know, the Bishop of Rome disagrees. Who is he to judge? Well he is a disgraceful, scandalous Pope, and I for one am the one to say it out loud. Feel good with yourselves by insulting me, the reality on the ground remains.
More non-judgmental people means more people helped to become like the human wretch of this post. Their own fault in the end, no doubt, but we as a society must discourage them as forcefully as we can instead of letting them sink, and probably go to hell, because we want to feel good with ourselves.
Ultimately, only God judges. We all know that; particularly Catholics, who are able to pray even for dead heretics. About this, there can be no discussion.
Astonishingly, though, cafeteria Catholics – including some priests – want to do away with the very same concept of “judging” as evaluation of the sinfulness of a certain behaviour. The absurdity of this is apparent.
Thinking – nay, Life itself – is made of judging. I cannot try to keep myself on the straight and narrow, let alone raise a child, without a continuous evaluation of the sinfulness of mine and other people's actions.
Only an extremely stupid father would not “judge” the bad company his son or daughter is getting attracted to. Judgment is part of the very act of social living, from the friends we choose to the job we make. Again, our very existence is a moral judgment.
Some bishops try to water down the “do not judge” mantra whilst staying orthodox, and say that whilst the Church cannot judge individuals, she can and must judge behaviour. Obviously, this refers to the fact that God only “judges” in the sense of “pronounces a sentence of salvation or perdition”, but this way of looking at things also avoids the point. It is not enough to point out to a wrong behaviour. If a person gives public scandal, he himself must be the object of the Church's – and every Catholic's – public reproach. The Church has always done so, and good Christians have always done so.
How could one “admonish the sinner” – a work of mercy, remember! – without having, ahem, “judged” him as such? How blind, how stupid, how unchristian, how uncharitable is it to just shut up under the pious excuse that one does not judge? Isn't silence a way to be accessory to another's sin?
It appears, though, that for some people, and even priests – I do not link the article – even only judging a behaviour would be bad, and unchristian, and uncharitable! Then they reason, if Titius is a faggot and a Pope condemns faggotry, how can this not be a “judgment” of the faggot? It must, therefore, even be wrong to “judge” faggotry, lest the faggot should feel “judged”!
Seriously, these people can't think.
If a Christian is expected to “not judge” anything, then Christianity must simply vanish. Either is it true that a death in mortal sin leads to damnation, or it isn't. If it is true, then there is no logical alternative to the condemnation not only of scandalous behaviour, but also of the people who give scandal. Conversely, the refusal to condemn can only mean that it is not true that death in mortal sin leads to damnation. Tertium non datur.
I doubt the modern apostles of this Anti-Christianity think their rubbish to the end; but if they did, they would probably in their majority conclude that yes, they do not think damnation is a real, serious, concrete possibility, and therefore any attempt to avoid damnation – either for the sinner or for those misled by him – is totally uncalled for.
Again, this seems to be the thinking not only of very deluded men, but even of people – some priests – whose very profession rests on the necessity to care for the sheep so that they do not go astray. What use is a priest in this constellation, is beyond me.
We see here once again how easy it is to use – I do not say “abuse” – Francis' words to promote something that cannot be recognised as Christianity anymore, but lets people feel good with themselves.
What Bishop Francis is not devastating directly, he is devastating indirectly. An army of nutcases will serve themselves of his words to ravish Catholicism; words Francis throws around exactly for this purpose.
We are all saved. Have a nice life.
Make a mess.
And most of all, do not “judge”.
Why are conservative Catholics so intent in bashing everything that is Un-Catholic? Why are they unable to just let people be, and embrace “tolerance”? Do they really need to show all the others how good they are? These questions fly around, more or less directly, in this or that blog post.
Perhaps yours truly should say a word or two.
The modern world – who doesn’t learn anything by heart, because it feels too smart for that – has forgotten that to admonish the sinner is not only acceptable, but highly desirable. It is, in fact, one of the spiritual works of mercy. The one who helps the other to understand the consequences of wrong behaviour truly is the one who often helps the wretched creature more than all others around him, and claiming to love him and to want his good, are doing. Lucky is the sinner who has someone with the gut to tell him what is what, and who might perhaps remember the lesson before it’s too late. Of course, a dose of prudence and intelligence will go a long way in lending more effectiveness to one’s merciful work, but the clumsy helper will always be preferable to the sleek accomplice in another’s sin.
What is true in the private sphere is more so in the public one. All those wannabe Catholics, or wannabe Christians, or wannabe nice people who give scandal and sabotage Catholicism in various ways cause a strong reaction from conservative Catholics. Why? Because generally speaking, conservative Catholics truly care. They care that others be not led astray by the false prophets and the fake slogans of our times, and they care that the evil spirits, who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls, may have as difficult a job as possible. The world will hate these good souls, and the usual suspects – the ones who say they are tolerant and inclusive – will hate them most; but you see, in being so hated, these good souls are doing works of mercy.
As to the being good, my impression is that sound Catholicism works. Good conservative Catholic families tend to be happy and intacts, without drug or drink problems, no or far less divorces, no sluttish girls, and no tattoos. Families with a permissive attitude are, generally, those who have these problems, and their members – particularly the parents – must strain their tolerance and progressive attitude to show the world they haven’t failed after all. At some point, looking tolerant is better than looking plain stupid.
Come on now, call me a bigot. But you know I am right.
Let us pray for a world with more people like the Christians of old, to whom souls were more important than trees, and truth than niceness.
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.
My recent post about Medjugorje let me reflect about the vast amount of ignorance of basic Christian doctrine that might here and there – instead of the willed rejection of Christian teaching – be present. Whilst only the second would get one a first class seat on the Hell Express, it is necessary for every Christian to be informed of the most elementary truths of Christianity. Most of my readers already know this of course, but a couple of messages on my comment box (deleted, as the comment box on the Medjugorje post was closed) have persuaded me that at times it is better to state the obvious, so there we are.
1. There is no possibility of repentance after death.
“There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.” (CCC 393)
2. The judgment after death is immediate.
“The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith” (CCC 1021).
“Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven […] or immediate and everlasting damnation. (CCC 1022)”.
Besides this concept being a clear tenet of Christianity, and being clearly stated by the Catechism in several places, common sense tells us that it must be so. If we were allowed, as the alleged apparition in Medjugorje apparently states, to have a last shot at salvation after death the absurd consequences would be – to mention just the first ones coming to my mind – as follows:
1. confession would be devoid of every meaning or purpose in the economy of salvation: I’d just wait that I am asked after death.
2. the portals of evildoing would be open to everyone who believes in this tale: every wannabe Stalin would feel free to do whatever he pleases, just paying attention that he doesn’t do anything stupid when he is requested where he would like to reside.
3. the references of Jesus to a hell clearly surprising those who end up there would be devoid of every significance.
The idea that only those would merit hell, who would choose eternal suffering after death, willingly and just out of a great desire to be miserable in all eternity, is naive to the utmost. No Stalin or Hitler ever showed any desire to be miserable during life. Actually, they had a huge desire to be happy; it is only that this desire was ego-driven (and ego-gratification the way of their illusory quest for happiness) rather than tending to God.
It must be clear to everyone devoting two minutes to the matter that such fantasies make a mockery of Christianity and are only good to endanger the souls of those who believe in them; if someone tries to make you believe that the Christian God revealed to us is not merciful enough and that we now need to change our mind as to the way he acts, be sure that that person is doing the work of the devil.
Similarly – and also here, referring to a message I have received a propos Medjugorje -:
3.Private revelations can never change the truth of Christianity. In this case, the example made was from St Giovanni Bosco, who would apparently have had a vision of hell in which people are allowed to choose between heaven and hell after death. Firstly, this is not true as the dream (which you can read here; alas, sedevacantist site, but the text seems faithfully rendered) makes it perfectly clear that when one dies, the time is up. Secondly, a private revelation can never modify Christian tenets; on the contrary, it is the adherence to Christian tenets that is the conditio sine qua non of the private revelation’s credibility.
The dream of St Giovanni Bosco makes for a beautiful reading, and might be the subject of a separate post. But for today’s purposes I’ll leave the details aside.
Apologies to all those who don’t need to be told these elementary truths. Once again, I thought that – in consideration of both the stakes and the dismal situation of Catholic and Christian instruction – it would be better to, for once, state the obvious.
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.