Thursday 19th April 2018

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A Leaven In The World Hell Exists: The Risen Lord Is The Way To Avoid It

April 9, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Christ is risen, Alleluia! A blessed Easter to all of our readers.
We have just celebrated once again the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with it His descent among the dead or, as this mystery of faith is also known, the “harrowing of Hell.” This is one way in which we know Hell exists and we proclaim its reality every time we profess the Creed. All Catholics, if they are practicing their faith, do so every Sunday, the little Resurrection of every week of the year, because the prayer of the Creed is a constitutive part of Holy Mass on the Lord’s Day.
This dogma of the faith was cast into doubt after the same devious atheist once again interviewed Pope Francis. As a result, yet another reportedly scandalous papal comment filtered through the unreliable journalist’s memory of the conversation and, upon diffusion through the media, resulted in more controversy and confusion on top of the abundance we already have.
That was the sequence of events just weeks ago after Pope Francis had another private conversation with journalist Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder of Italian newspaper La Repubblica. According to CBN News, the Pope, speaking on the state after death of the souls of unrepentant sinners, said such “are not punished, those who repent get God’s forgiveness and go among the ranks of the souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot, therefore, be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”
We already know that Scalfari is unreliable based on his own confession that he does not work from notes. He has demonstrated this previously, as stated above. We already know that the Vatican has denied his claims before and denied them once again in this case. But the Vatican has also never restated the doctrine of the faith to close off the possibility of scandalizing the faithful. Why?
The problem, here, is not with Scalfari. The problem is the Pope. Why does he continue to have conversations with an enemy of the faith who has already demonstrated his untrustworthiness and propensity for causing scandal by using the Pope’s name in connection with bad information? Scalfari, not being Catholic or a believer, is not responsible. The Pope, however, is, according to the teaching, “to whom much is given much is expected.” Some rush to his defense and I am always very glad to find myself among them.
But the Pope is not a simple or silly man. He knows what he is doing. He has a plan and his plan appears to be one at odds with the first task of being a Father who carefully nurtures the faith so as to save as many souls as possible. Clarity of teaching and vetting of interlocutors should be a given.
Is the Pope the innocent party who is merely, as he has asked us to do, “seeking the margins” and “accompanying” those of little or no faith? Perhaps. But to do this at the neglect of avoiding scandalizing those among the household of the faith is not acceptable according to the teaching of Christ and the apostles.
Hell exists as a radical possibility for each soul yet to die, as well as a state of permanent separation from God. This is for the reason that each soul is created by God as immortal in nature. “Annihilation” of souls, the word Scalfari claims the Pope used, is thus excluded for souls after the death of the body. The life of the body ceases at the point of death, followed by corruption. The soul, however, does not depend upon the body but continues to exist as spirit.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “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 — through a purification or immediately — or immediate and everlasting damnation” (n. 1022).
The state of that “everlasting damnation” described here by the Catechism is Hell. Christ Himself called this destination of eternal punishment for souls not saved through Him “Gehenna.”
As well as being a radical possibility for every soul, Hell already exists because of the damnation of the Devil and his angels. Christ foreshadows the judgment of unrepentant souls when He tells us they will go into the “fire” reserved for these pure spirits who were separated from God because they rebelled, refusing to serve Him. The consequences of our choices are not immediate because of the life of the body at the end of which comes our particular judgment.
Speaking of judgment and preparing for it, my niece is courting, now out in the world as she is a young working adult. She couldn’t find a young man who regularly attends Sunday Mass through the usual social outlets. After having recourse to a Catholic online dating service, she has now met such a young man. According to reports, they have blessedly hit it off.
Her worldly peers, who let the bad examples in media and culture teach them how to live, believe that this way of doing things is odd if not downright unthinkable. Mistakenly believing that last things should not come first, they fail to give priority to the first things. Death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell are the horizon bordering on eternity that should guide our decisions. Instead, faithless ones seek such relationship barometers as “compatibility” or matters that sometimes do not last in marriage and certainly are never guaranteed to persist in long-term relationships unto death.
Final judgment and the necessary preparation for it seem to be the last, rather than the first, considerations for such young people “living” together in a sinful state of fornication with the excuse that it is more affordable or convenient. This inversion of priorities is rather the true source of scandal; Godless existence turned in on itself without reference to eternity should by rights truly shock us.
My niece understands rightly that attendance at Sunday Mass is what separates the men from the boys based upon the example of her own father. Jesus Christ is the model of manhood. He formed His life along the lines of obedience to His heavenly Father. Any man seeking to live virtuously must do the same. Catholic women following the call to marriage rightly prioritize the criteria of obedience by seeking to court a man who keeps the Commandments, whether or not by online Catholic dating services.
Whether it comes to the doctrine on the last things or taking the first step toward getting there, let the truth be your guide. In this age of rampant confusion keep the Commandments, read the Catechism instead of the headlines, seek silence instead of the noisy roar of the world and the peace of Christ be with you.
Thank you for reading and praised be the Risen Christ, now and forever.
@MCITLFrAphorism

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