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The forbidden subject? September 1, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals.
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I’ve blogged before that there seem to be certain subjects that just aren’t talked about in the Church anymore.  In the past, I’ve listed contraception, divorce and remarriage, and the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality as some of those subjects.  Recently, I’ve been heartened by one priest in the diocese that has addressed all of these subjects boldly and clearly.  There is another subject, however, that I think is even more taboo, that is almost embarrassing for many priests, and bishops, to discuss.  Even the Holy Father has addressed the subject only sparingly in his Pontificate.  That subject is judgement and hell.  No one likes to think about it, but we are doing ourselves a disservice trying to ignore it and pretend it does not exist.  From the periodical Les Femmes- The Truth:

The failure of our shepherds to preach about hell is ironic since Jesus talked about it so often. A word count is tough because he used so many different ways to address the subject. He referred to Gehenna and the place of “unquenchable fire.” In the sermon on the mount Jesus warns against actions that make one “liable to judgment” who “risks the fires of Gehenna. He told them to pluck out the eye and hand that sins rather than enter hell with a whole body. He warned that the “gate that leads to damnation is wide and the road is clear, and many choose to travel it.” Chapter 5 and 6 of Matthew’s Gospel are filled with the discussion of hell and the sins that lead one there along with exhortations to choose the “narrow path” that leads to eternal life.

In the parable of Dives and Lazarus, Jesus used a conversation between Father Abraham and the rich man to illustrate the chasm between heaven and hell. Dives begs for relief because he is “tortured in these flames…a place of torment.” But Abraham refuses. There is no relief from the unquenchable fire.

Over and over throughout the Gospels Jesus speaks of hell. He used the image of Gehenna as a grapic representation. Gehenna was a valley near Jerusalem where followers of Baal and Molech performed their grisly human sacrifices. Later it was the city inferno where

corpses and garbage were burnt. It was a place of horror and death. Jesus, an expert at drawing graphic images to touch the heart offered Gehenna as one of them.

The Blessed Mother also speaks of hell often during her apparitions. She told Jacinta, one of the three little shepherd children of Fatima, that “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” She also showed the children a vision of sinners “falling into hell like snowflakes…………”

The problem is many people don’t believe it. They’ve bought the lie of universal salvation and believe God offers cheap grace: sin with no punishment, heaven without repentance. It’s up to the shepherds to correct this false idea and instill their people with a healthy “fear of the Lord,” the beginning of wisdom.

Hell is real.  Evil is real.  Both my wife and I have had real experiences with evil that is beyond the realm of what is natural or can be accounted by human reason.  I know that while I was still mired in active addiction, I was bound for hell, and I have a pretty strong fear of hell on an ongoing basis.  The more I read the great saints of the Church, the more I realize how real hell is, and how strenuously so many saints strived to avoid it, and to warn others to change their lives and seek Christ above all things. 

This life is illusory.  We think all this crude matter which surrounds us is so real, and while it is to our limited human faculties,  that which we cannot see is far, far more real, and it is eternal.  Providentially, Fr. Larry Adamcyzk has touched on the subject of judgement recently, and I suggest you read what he wrote here and here.  New Theological Movement discusses it here and here I beg priests to speak regularly on the subject of the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell.  As St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, said, we should hear on this subject regularly, at least several times a year.  Far too many Catholics lead lives mired in great sin, and more troublingly reject whole swaths of the declared doctrine of the Faith.  The Catechism states that hell is real and is eternal.  This is not a “debatable” point of Church theology. 

Jesus said that many choose the seemingly easier path towards hell and damnation.  He said few make it through the Gates of Heaven.  So many in the Church today seem to think that is not the case, they seem to think that Jesus is a really cool guy, he’s your bud, and you’ll get by no matter what you do.  After all, it’s not like you’ve killed anyone, right? 

The saints lives make such a lie of that kind of thinking.  I pray I am leading a life at least somewhat pleasing to God, and I am very confident that my best option is a very long time in Purgatory.  I know I could do much better.  I pray God gives me more time to grow in love for Him.

Comments

1. Chris Baker - September 2, 2010

I heard a homily in the last month or so where Hell wasn’t mentioned by name, but everyone knew what the priest was talking about. An odd giggle rose from the pews and the priest said, “I’m serious.”

2. Cori - September 2, 2010

Hell isn’t having to watch Richard Smalley affirm himself in front of a mirror (or is it?…kidding).

Reading the saints’ accounts of hell as it had been shown to them is blood curdling. God takes sin seriously, we better, too.


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