Hell on Earth

Our parish priest has a certain flair for flamboyance, if that’s the right word to describe his style. I could say that his homilies are well animated, through his own actions and outbursts of fingers and robes but I could also say they’re misleading and a great cause of confusion to the good people of our parish Church.

It was only my great pleasure to experience one of the most perplexing sermons of his on Saturday at the Vigil Mass. The gospel was from St Matthew

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; a man has found it and hidden it again, and now, for the joy it gives him, is going home to sell all that he has and buy that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is as if a trader were looking for rare pearls:  and now he has found one pearl of great cost, and has sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, and enclosed fish of every kind at once; when it was full, the fishermen drew it up and sat down on the beach, where they stored all that was worth keeping in their buckets, and threw the useless kind away. So it will be when the world is brought to an end; the angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just, and will cast them into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Have you grasped all this?” “Yes, Lord”, they said to him. And he said to them, “Every scholar, then, whose learning is of the kingdom of heaven must be like a rich man, who knows how to bring both new and old things out of his treasure-house.”

“I should give a fiery, fire-and-brimstone sermon like they did years ago” he began, with a smile on his face. He always started a homily with a grin or some sort of happy display, but I didn’t expect (or sadly, maybe I expected it too much) the five-minute “homemade gospel” I was about to be preached.

The basis of his lesson was from the reading above: “So it will be when the world is brought to an end; the angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just, and will cast them into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth” After repeating that line, in the liturgical translation of course, he branched off (or dived into) the deep end and tried to explain how we, as Catholics, should judge “good and ill” from the first reading from Kings then he talked about the line in St Matthew over what the TRUE meaning of “the furnace of fire” truly is.

“Now, a loving and merciful, just and good God does not send people to Hell. I do not and cannot believe that a God so loving, so good, could send any person to Hell or put them to suffering and if He does then it’s not the God I believe in” was what he said, then I thought he was going to elaborate but instead he continued to say “there is no Hell because we create our own Hell on Earth, and surely God won’t allow us to suffer any more after that because it’s through our own errors that we create Hell and put others through it here on Earth. Because we haven’t made Christ our rock and love our strength that we put ourselves through Hell, and that’s what Hell is. There’s no fire but there is our Hell.”

Now, I’ve never been to Maynooth or Allen Hall to study theology, and I’ve never been to King’s College for philosophy so I’m speaking purely as a secondary-school student that knows his way around the catechism. First let’s look at the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia where Joseph Hontheim says the following “theologians generally accept the opinion that hell is really within the earth. The Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know.”

That makes complete sense. Pope Benedict went further and said “Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all in heaven and that hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love” which pays no contradiction to Mr Hontheim, and in turn Mr Hontheim contradicts not a single ounce of scripture or official teaching. Pope St John Paul II explained Hell as not being a “place” but rather a “state” of a soul that freely rejected and refused the glory and goodness of God’s grace and love. It’s not up to me how to interpret that, and I don’t know enough quite yet how to interpret it but there it is for the chewing.

Back at the parish Church, my priest specifically told us the congregation that “there is no Hell” and by saying that, he didn’t mean anything different to what he said. He also says that “we create our own hell through our bad choices and we do it on Earth”, which is a contradiction of scripture and tradition. Furthermore it confuses the young children who are currently going through a catechism class that teaches the very existence of a Hell, and a generation of people that believe the Church’s teachings are currently fluid and subject to change.

In that day true and full happiness shall be the lot of none but the good, while deserved and supreme misery shall be the portion of the wicked, and of them only. (Book XX, Chapter 1)

St Augustine said that in his Confessions, and St Anthony Mary Claret wrote:

The natural fire that we see during this life has great power to burn and torment. Yet this is not even a shadow of the fire of Hell. There are two reasons why the fire of Hell is more dreadful beyond all comparison than the fire of this life. The first reason is the justice of God, which the fire serves as an instrument in order to punish the infinite wrong done to his supreme majesty, which has been despised by a creature. Therefore, justice supplies this element with a burning power, which almost reaches the infinite. The second reason is the malice of sin. As God knows that the fire of this world is not enough to punish sin, as it deserves, He has given the fire of Hell a power so strong that it can never be comprehended by any human mind. Now, how powerfully does this fire burn? It burns so powerfully, O my soul, that, according to the ascetical masters, if a mere spark of it fell on a millstone; it would reduce it in a moment to powder. If it fell on a ball of bronze, it would melt it in an instant as if it were wax. If it landed on a frozen lake, it would make it boil in an instant.

And furthermore the Cathechism declares

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbour or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.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.”

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. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”

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.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I know that I am most likely preaching to the choir and I just know that this priest needs our prayers and sacrifices just as any priest does, but my goodness is there ever a special intention for Him. This believe that there is no Hell, does no good to the Christian soul. If there isn’t a Hell then can there be any sin, for what would be right and wrong? I know that he is right when he says God does not send anyone to Hell, for God is truly all loving and merciful, just and good, but to me that is the very reason a soul should have to suffer eternal damnation should he choose not to love God and honour His commands, to reject His grace and mercy and be the enemy of all that is Holy. It is the good Father that give his Child his most deserved reward, and it is our own rejection of God that sends us to Hell when we die. The death in mortal sin is where we descend into Hell. It is most important especially in this day and age that we pray for our priests. Not attack them in articles and columns on blogs and newspapers; point out the errors, of course, but do not judge them for we ought to concern ourselves with the misled flock as well as the mistaken shepherd. Beg Our Lady to help all priests, that she might take them by the hand and lead them away from the temptation that is luke-warmness.

God Bless you.

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God will not be silent

Flagellation-of-christ-_RubensWe shall be especially called on, my brethren, to consider His sufferings in the body, His seizure, His forced journeyings to and fro, His blows and wounds, His scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails, the Cross. They are all summed up in the Crucifix itself, as it meets our eyes; they are represented all at once on His sacred flesh, as it hangs up before us—and meditation is made easy by the spectacle. It is otherwise with the sufferings of His soul; they cannot be painted for us, nor can they even be duly investigated: they are beyond both sense and thought; and yet they anticipated His bodily sufferings. The agony, a pain of the soul, not of the body, was the first act of His tremendous sacrifice; “My soul is sorrowful even unto death,” He said; nay; if He suffered in the body, it really was in the soul, for the body did but convey the infliction on to that which was the true recipient and seat of the suffering. Bl John Cardinal Henry Newman

When I saw a video of ISIS blowing up the Church that held the body of St Jonah, I got a bit afraid but more than that, completely angry. I’m afraid because this is an ingredient into what appears to be the brew of anger and violence. The events surrounding Russia and the Ukrainian/Crimean affairs, the plane that has been shot down from Malaysia, along with the plane that was heading either to or from Algeria that crashed, and the conflict between Palestine and Israel, they all add up to an inevitable sum that happened in WWI and II, only this time it won’t be as much a European affair as a Middle Eastern one. With that said, it’s a world-wide affair regardless. The radio told me yesterday that the “Islamic State” as they so prefer to be called has ordered all girls and women around Iraq’s northern city to be “Circumcised” in other words, genitally mutilated.

Sure I’m shocked! Not only over the genocide and the conflict but over the utter lack of coverage by our western media. I saw a few sentences in the Guardian and the Telegraph, the Irish Post and the Globe and Mail and sure that’s it. Not enough to call substantial.

As the Christians are martyred, it is sure that Our Blessed Lord is suffering with them: for they have revelled in the Cross, and those that have been forced from this earth have now cause to rejoice with the Saints. No condemnation will stop this but our prayer must hasten and it must increase. God will not be silent.

It’s horrible enough to have to think about the unspeakable. Keep praying for it’s our only hope.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, be our salvation.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on Us.

St Charbel, hear us and pray for us.

Patience and Persecution

Last night, after being alone for two weeks straight, I had the pleasure and (frankly) the obligation to pick up my parents at the airport after their two-week holiday far off in exotic Florida, in the United States of America. Filled to the brim with souvenirs and sporting the finest and most fashionable tan-lines, they got through customs just fine and made their way over to me with big smiles to say “Hello, how are you, how long have ya been here, where’s the car, here’s our luggage, see our new hats” and I asked all the general “how was Disney” and all that foolishness. I’ve been there twice, once with school and once on a holiday. It was okay, I must admit it was very fine.

I was made fun of by one fella, noticing my accent he piped up “Gotta get me lucky charms hey?” I didn’t think it’d be fit to start a fight floating down the “Lazy River” with my school friends all around me, also I’m not one to fight because I’ve never been in a physical altercation in my life. I asked God for patience, and patience I was granted. I put my head back, closed my eyes, and floated.

I am human, as are we all. I wouldn’t imagine a Martian is reading this and if you are, hello, how do you do? As a person I’m generally calm, but in that moment I was filled with a “fire” of acrimony but I regained my composure and told myself that good will is more effective than ill will, and non-action in this case might be the best approach. That’s good to keep in mind; not that we should be non-active (that’d be ridiculous). Calmness, our composure, our outward actions and the sounds we make: we should check them often.

Sometimes I don’t know when to shut up, I’ll say the most oddest things and the wrong time. God gives us the witty people because Our Lord has a sense of humour, and wit can be the most effective way of getting someone to like you (GK Chesterton, Winston Churchill, John Crosbie, even the “deathbed converted” Oscar Wilde), or it can be an off-putting addition to ones personality. The key is knowing who to use it with, when to use it, and how to use it. (I’m off topic now.)

When I was in the river that day, being made fun of, I can now look back and understand that the boy who said it was just that: a boy. Loved, created, and made in the image of God. He says his things just as I say my things. It wasn’t right, but there it is. It’s really no big deal, the offence lasted no longer than 5 seconds and then it was over. Life goes on, we must learn to be like the saints and be patient and rely on God alone, with Our Lady and the saints to haul us through.

I’ll end on another completely different, but important, request. Please say a prayer for the persecuted “Nazarenes” of the Middle East. You’ll already know that there’s no longer any Christians left at Mosul, and a genocide has occurred. I haven’t noticed much coverage of this on the mainstream media, and there’s no surprise there. Please offer up your Communions, Rosaries, your sufferings and your fasting for the souls of those that have been killed and for the protection of those in hiding. The world will make Martyrs out of anyone.

Woebegone

The littlest things can make us happy, and the smallest things can make us forlorn. I can’t imagine why today has to be one of those days where I can’t look up and admire the blue, but it’s one where I can look down at the black and pick every flaw out in the pavement. Sometimes Our Lord may withdraw his presence in order to make us stronger, to have us call out to Him because while we might not hear Him, he certainly can hear us.

The past few days have been the most woeful. Please say a prayer for me!

Ad Jesu per Mariam

Yesterday’s post was how friendship has an affect on me, which I think it’s good to clarify so to be sure you don’t talk it as infallible advice. Friendship is a most beautiful thing, however at this time in my life, for me, it’s a bit difficult. Like any other storm, it will pass and the cross will be lifted.

Today, say a Rosary for all the souls in Purgatory.

pleinedegraceMost Blessed Mother, hear my cry; let all my prayers to Thee fly. Hide me in that veil of blue, and keep me under Thy mantle true.

Ad Jesu per Mariam

The Marble Cross

Being able to have friends must be both a pleasure and a cross to bear, all at the once. I know that I have many, many “friends” who in all reality are acquaintances or “associates” but I also do have those that are close to me, even one I’d call my “best friend.”

Having a close friend, someone with whom you can share your secrets, go around to the malls and have over to your house for a cuppa, a film or something, can both be the most wonderful blessing and the most heaviest of marble crosses. Marble, a strong rock, is both heavy and destructible. Were a good friend comparable to a “marble cross” I say that figuratively, but you’ll understand when I explain.

Because it’s both heavy and breakable, you’ve got to be careful to carry the marble cross. One has to hold it an an angle so that if it does fall off, you can catch it before it breaks, otherwise once you’ve gone past that fixable catch, the cross will fall and shatter. Then you’re left with not one cross but a million of a thousand different strands and shards of rock.

Likewise, the very worry is in your mind over dropping the cross. Friendship, for me at least, if having to worry when you’re saying the correct things or interpreting what they say as correct. Should you ever tell them something that could hurt their moral character, your friendship is in danger of faltering. I would hope that your own friends are careful not to be cruel to you, for that indeed isn’t friendship.

Dear Christian soul, do not concern yourself with the afflictions of human relationship for God will take care of that: what He giveth, He also can taketh away.

Sometimes at the end of the day, my friends (one in particular) can be that heavy marble cross on my back. Particularly because he deals with many difficulties that I don’t know how to counsel, and I do try my best, but I know bloody well that I have failed him in many areas while he might say I haven’t, I know I can do better. One voice in my head says “you’re only young, don’t worry about other people” but then the other voice repeats Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother

But anyway, the value of friendship is not unlike gold in that it is rare and priceless. Running the risk of being a false friend is just too much to take before you crash into a great emptiness inside. However, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, friendship is not essential to our survival but it always makes it much more valuable. It is of my own carefulness that I write this; as Christians we must put complete trust in God and the Heavenly company of the saints and angels for in them is the truest of friendship: undying, unending, irreplaceable, divine and completely loving. Our human friendships can lead us to God, and to the fullness in our love of God or they can do the opposite and drag us down the hill over to the bogs of discomfort and confusing misery. Always be good to your friends. You are your brothers keeper. Remember them in your prayers, always ask Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to keep them close. St John the Apostle is the patron saint of friendship, so keep that in mind and pray to him often for your friends and in any difficulties you encounter.

Saint John the Evangelist, ora pro nobis!

Saint John the Evangelist, ora pro nobis!

 

Sing! Sing! Sing!

It’s another beautiful day, but the humidity is enough to drown ya.

I’d just like you to take a moment and look over at Gregorian Chant Hymns which one might find particularly useful for their parish choir, schola, or if you need to practise pronunciation of Latin and reading square notation.

I found that the scans and typeset words taken with permission from St Cecilia’s Abbey, Solesmes Abbey, etc, is extremely helpful for putting in parish bulletins and service sheets. For an organist like myself, who could use practise reading square notation, I like the PDF scores that I can print out and use for accompaniment should the need arise. At your disposal are already made-up booklets for the Mass and for Benediction.

Now how grand is that? I wouldn’t usually write a post over the promotion of a page but I think it’s worth it. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank with all my heart the Irish Papist for his promotion a little while ago of my little blog.