Bishop Mark Davies: On Life Everlasting

A Pastoral Letter On Life Everlasting

to be read in all churches and chapels of Shrewsbury Diocese

on the First Sunday of Lent, 26th February 2012.

My dear brothers and sisters,

As Lent begins we are reminded of something often unmentionable and sometimes unthinkable: your death and mine. “Remember you are dust,” we are told as we receive the mark of ashes, “and to dust you shall return.” This is not for the Christian a gloomy or morbid thought on Ash Wednesday but one which charges our lives with renewed urgency to respond to the message Our Lord first announced in Galilee: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” For “the blessed ashes placed on our foreheads,” Pope Benedict reminds us, “are a sign that reminds us of our condition as creatures, that invites us to repent, and to intensify our commitment to convert, to follow the Lord ever more closely” (General Audience 9th March 2011). As Pope St. Leo expressed this many centuries before: “All that each Christian is bound to do in every season we must now do with greater care and devotion” (Lent Sermon VI). It is the realisation of what the Psalmist calls “the shortness of our lives” which helps shape our priorities and gives each day a new urgency in the light of all eternity before us.

Today we can too easily lose sight of this perspective of eternity, failing to see what we have time for. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses so clearly: “Death puts an end to human life as the time open either to accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ” (CCC 1021). Blessed John Paul II observed at the beginning of this Millennium that the “people of our time have become insensitive to the Last Things” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope). Awareness of those Last Things has in the past stirred consciences and brought many to repentance and to the confession of their sins. And this is the urgency to which Lent and Easter now recalls us with the poignant mark of ashes. As that wise book The Imitation of Christ notes: “If you aren’t fit to face death today it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow…” (Book 1:23). For “remembering our mortality,” the Catechism tells us, “helps us realise that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfilment” (CCC 1007). Being aware of this limited time on earth and all that is to follow – our judgement, our purgatory, heaven or hell forever – becomes an urgent invitation to conversion in our lives.

At funerals today “a celebration of life” can often mean only looking back to a life now past rather than looking forwards to the “resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”. The faith which allowed St Therese of Lisieux to say on her death-bed, “I am not dying; I am entering into life” (Last Conversations). The Church always prays as she believes and so it is not because we disapprove of the lyrics of Frank Sinatra or the chants of the football terraces that we insist that secular songs find no place in the prayer of the Christian Funeral. It is that the Church prays only as she believes. We treasure the memories of our loved ones but we also know where their hope and our own is placed. “Christ Himself … died for our sins,” St Peter tells us on this Sunday, “died for the guilty, to lead us to God” (I Peter 3:18). It is our faith which makes us realise that the faithful departed do not need our praises but they very much need our prayers. As the Catechism explains, each one of us at the moment of death, will, in our immortal souls, come to a “particular judgement” leading “to the blessedness of heaven” either “through a purification,” that is purgatory, “or immediately.” There is also a terrible reality of which the Gospel repeatedly speaks: “immediate and everlasting damnation” (CCC 1022). For “to die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love,” the Catechism explains, “means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice” (CCC 1033). Yes, this is the real and everlasting choice of our lives.

Purgatory is a consoling hope for us. As the Catechism explains: “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030). This is why we pray at every Christian Funeral, indeed, in every Mass, that all the faithful departed may rest in peace. It is the prayer that, we hope, one day will be made for you and for me. As that great mother, St Monica, would finally ask of her sons: “lay this body wherever it may be … this only I ask of you that you should remember me at the Altar of the Lord wherever you may be” (Confessions Bk.9:11). And as this season of Lent begins with a reminder of our mortality let us be mindful of that urgent call which comes to us today: “The time has come,” Our Lord announces, “The Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15). In the “Hail Mary” this becomes an intention so beautifully brought together when we ask Our Lady to pray for us at the only two moments which ever matter: “Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

May this time of grace lead us toward the eternal Easter.

+ Mark

Bishop of Shrewsbury

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36 Responses to Bishop Mark Davies: On Life Everlasting

  1. Fr Hugh says:

    Just the sort of thing a bishop should be teaching. Deo gratias!

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  2. toadspittle says:

    .
    “There is also a terrible reality of which the Gospel repeatedly speaks: “immediate and everlasting damnation” (CCC 1022). For “to die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love,” the Catechism explains, “means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice” (CCC 1033). Yes, this is the real and everlasting choice of our lives.”

    Toad agrees with Fr. Hugh. Give ’em Hell! And plenty of it!

    Like

  3. mmvc says:

    Bishop Mark Davies is a true shepherd of his flock. He is not afraid to speak the Truth, however unpalatable it may be to some.
    I join you, Fr Hugh, in thanking God for him.

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  4. kathleen says:

    I know Toad means no harm, but it is true that one is often laughed at and mocked for speaking out on unrepentant sin and of the reality of Hell.

    God Bless Bishop Mark Davies, and all other bishops and priests who teach the fullness of the Catholic Faith, not caring about the criticism or scorn they receive from some quarters. For it is precisely because the Faith was watered down in decades of poor catechesis, leaving only the “pleasant” bits (and even these were often poorly taught!) that we have lost so many of our young people, who have drifted away from the Church.

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  5. toadspittle says:

    .
    Toad disagrees (no,really?) with Kathleen on this one. When a mere toadpole, he was daily threatened with eternal damnation, and instinctively decided it was, in some fashion, wrong and evil, to do such a thing to anybody. That’s why he left the Church.

    He still believes that. He now believes it is impossible (yes, impossible) to mock God.
    One can only mock the notion (or notions) of God (or Gods) as presented variously throught the planet.

    if you believe in God you can’t mock him, and if you don’t believe in him you can’t, either.

    And how can a finite being ever merit infinite punishment (or reward, come to that)?

    Toad suspects that the “drifting away” from the Church is largely the result of perceptions that it is a mysterious, somewhat sinister, closed body that goes in for weird rituals and practices, involving funny clothes, archaic language and dubious practices, often conducted in very ugly buildings replete with vulgar statuary.
    Not true in the least, of course. Nothing “funny” about a chasuble.

    (For a bit of light relief, amid the darkening gloom here, a famous old theologian was once asked what he thought hell was like. “I have no idea,” he said, “The only thing I’m sure of, is that it is a great deal more pleasant than being on earth.”)

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  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Kathleen, which were the “decades of poor catechesis”, I muse?

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  7. kathleen says:

    Well, according to Our Blessed Lord’s words about Hell, your theologian was wrong Toad! Hell, being the absence of God, is the most abominable and unhappy place imaginable to end up. (Except that no one can imagine Hell, or the wonders of Heaven either…… bit of a paradox there.)

    If Hell was taught to you and your classmates in a threatening way that scared you to death, then I would suggest that your teachers had swung the balance the wrong way. Even allowing for the fact that we are all unworthy sinners, weak and unfaithful, if our hearts and minds yearn to follow God, He will not desert us at the hour of our death. No, not even you dear Toad, although you say you have “left the Church”.

    Just answer me these two questions: (1) Where do you think hardened and evil people should go if they refuse to accept God’s mercy at the end of their lives? (2) Do you think these evil people who have free will, should be taken kicking and screaming into Heaven when they DON’T WANT TO GO THERE?

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  8. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Toad’s post of 06.57 is impeccable.

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  9. kathleen says:

    According to all reports….. and the catechetical books of those times, the late 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beginning of the 90’s were the decades I had in mind Mr. Whippy. In the latter years of the 90’s many parishes in western countries were beginning to wise up to the disaster, and the tide is definitely on the turn now, Deo Gratias :-).

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  10. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Kathleen , You have the advantage of me re: the reports and catechetical books of those times, but these decades span a variety of Popes and policies, some very contrasting, yet which led “to disaster”. That’s hard to understand.

    If you agree that the Popes of those decades had contrasting outlooks (eg, traditional v progressive) then what you may be implying is that the production of catechesis is independent of Popes.

    All of this raises some very interesting questions. Could you post any articles about “the disaster”, and how this affects the relationship of Catholics to the Popes? In what way is the “tide beginning to turn”? And in what direction? What or who has caused this change? How do the parishes figure in all this? And only in Western countries? Why should it be only there? Does that include South America but not Africa or the Philippines?

    I have noticed here on the forum, little rumblings of discontent with this or that Pope or policy. I’d say that this was better out than in.

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  11. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    The argument of “free will” is present again, as though it was concluded, cut and dried. Not so.

    For example, this would mean that the millions who died in concentration camps (only one of many bleak examples) died because some sadist was exercising his free will to kill or not to kill. Or the child who is abused is suffering because some depraved individual is exercising his “free will ” to be good or evil. God does not give us the right to inflict evil on others just to satisfy a bankrupt idea.

    It is illogical, false and just plain wrong.

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  12. kathleen says:

    Wow Mr. Whippy, what a lot of questions! 😉 Well, here goes.
    The decades of bad catechesis I referred to spanned the papacies of Pope Paul VI and Bl. Pope John Paul II. Although I have nothing but love and respect for these two Popes, it is common knowledge of how the Faith was not being well taught at that time. Please do not think I am blaming the Popes…… nor even Vatican II (whose documents were good) – I am not – but those “progressives” who wanted to do away with a lot of the traditional way of teaching the Faith in the aftermath of Vatican II, changed the whole method. Basic bedrock facts that every Catholic child should know were done away with, and the whole emphasis was put on “ethics”. I’m not inferring that ethics are bad, only that it is necessary to know your Faith before you can learn to live it.

    The remedy for this malady started when Bl Pope JP II began to take action. It might well have been through the advice of the then Card. Ratzinger….. but I’m not sure about this. (I was a catechist in the nineties, and I remember how relieved and delighted we were when our books were changed!)

    Please forgive me for not giving you “line and verse” of this information just at present……. (I’m babysitting and really busy right now). Later on perhaps I can do so. In the meantime, and knowing that you are an EWTN fan, do a bit of research yourself on their website. I have heard loads of programmes on EWTN dealing with this topic.

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  13. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Thanks Kathleen for this – and I do not expect you to give every (or any) detail on such matters. There were a lot of questions but I would be unreasonable to expect many answers -they came to mind as I wrote each one.

    However the main reason I asked you especially is because I wouldnt know where to start with all this – my knowledge here is minimal. Yours is clearly much better.

    Funny you should mention EWTN – it has vanished from my friend’s TV; (I dont have a TV) and I wondered if it had stopped. The TV station I mean.

    On drifting away from the Church, I’d suggest that the reasons can be found in the kind of things that Toad mentioned, in an age of materialism and consumerism.

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  14. toadspittle says:

    .
    Answer to Kathleen’s two questions to Toad:
    1: Oblivion.
    2: No.

    More questions.
    What happens to people who lead good lives and sincerely don’t believe in Hell? Lewis Carroll was such a one.
    What happens to people who lead good lives and sincerely don’t believe in God? Darwin and T.H.Huxley were two such.
    What happens to people who lead good lives and sincerely don’t believe in Heaven?
    Would Kathleen allow the worst person who ever lived to go to Hell as she imagines it, if she could personally prevent it?
    Toad would not.

    (And yes, Teresa, Toad knows Carroll’s name was Dodgson.)

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  15. kathleen says:

    Toad (re: my questions to you at 10:42 yesterday, and your reply above),

    (1) As the soul is immortal, oblivion isn’t an option I believe.
    (2) Glad we agree on that one ;-).

    As to you other questions – and I am no expert on the matter of course – I think you must remember that God is All Loving and All Merciful. Good people, who have not received the gift of Faith, will still have to make the decision for God as they face eternity. I think it is reasonable to assume that they would choose God and Heaven, don’t you agree? There will then of course be the time in Purgatory to expiate their sins, as ‘nothing unclean can enter Heaven’. (But Purgatory is most probably where we shall all end up first!)

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  16. kathleen says:

    Would Kathleen allow the worst person who ever lived to go to Hell as she imagines it, if she could personally prevent it?
    Toad would not.”

    No Toad, I would not allow it either if I could possibly prevent it. And trillions of times more than us, in our limited human condition, would Our Loving God and Saviour wish this, He Who died to save us from such a fate. Who are we to know how many chances and possibilities each soul is offered and encounters throughout their lives to turn from sin and enter into God’s loving arms?

    God is just. He wants all men to be saved. No one is sent to Hell unfairly, nor by mistake, by chance, or even through bad luck. But incredible as it may sound, Hell (the absence of God) is a choice some men, who hate God, do make.

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  17. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Hell (the absence of God) is a choice some men, who hate God, do make.”

    Kathleen, think about it – nobody, nobody, nobody, hates God. Why on earth should they?

    They may hate the idea of God, but that’s a very different matter. They may hate the idea of religion. They may particularly hate the Catholic variety of religion. They may even hate the Pope, unlikely as that might seem.
    But it is impossible to hate God. Who HATES God? Atheists? Agnostics? Communists? Fascists? Muslims? Why? There is no reason to.

    Well, maybe you can give me a reason. And maybe give me an example of someone who hates, or hated God. They would have to totally believe in Him, and accept that He is the source of all goodness in the universe, for a start.

    You can’t hate a unicorn, or Father Christmas..

    And God cannot “want.” What could He possibly want? He’s perfect. Ask your priest.

    To choose Hell – misery, over Heaven – happiness -, one would necessarily have to be insane. Do you think, then. that mad people should go to Hell for eternity just for being mad?
    A bit cruel.

    You clearly can’t see what Toad is getting at.
    Maybe others can. You never know.

    Like

  18. kathleen says:

    “You clearly can’t see what Toad is getting at.”

    Dear Toad,
    I can. I think you have a kind heart underneath all your provocative teasing, and the thought of anyone suffering eternally in Hell is unbearable to you. Well, I agree with you – it certainly is an unbearable idea. But it’s not just Kathleen making up scary stories, the existence of Hell is part of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church, and a belief held by all Christians…… and even those of other Faiths.

    Have you ever wondered why Our Blessed Lord mentions hell at least 15 times according to the Gospel? Why would He do this if it didn’t exist? What would be the point? As a hollow threat to scare us? Such an idea is unthinkable.
    We do not know who goes to Hell, and the Catholic Church has never ever named anyone who might have gone to Hell……. not even Judas Iscariot! The Church teaches that because it is impossible to know what happens at the moment of death when the penitent faces his eternal destiny.

    You ask who could possibly hate God. This is a very difficult question to answer. God trancends far beyond the range or limits of our human minds and intelligence.
    I would say that the deepest essence of all that is goodness, love, compassion, generosity, mercy, etc., etc., are the attributes we know Almighty and All-Loving God possesses. Man was made in His image and likeness, but due to Original Sin we are flawed beings. Those who continually follow their lower instincts grow further and further away from God and all that is good, embracing all that is contrary: hate, pride, selfishness, greed, lust etc. They may not put it into words: “I hate God“, but they do nonetheless by turning their backs on all that He is. Yet even hardened sinners will always be given the chance to throw themselves on God’s mercy, even if it’s with their final breadth.

    Does that make sense to you? I’ve had to simplify it because it is so deep and so complex, but really I think you know this anyway; you were also brought up a Catholic.

    Like

  19. toadspittle says:

    .

    “You ask who could possibly hate God. This is a very difficult question to answer.”

    Kathleen, I’ve already answered that “very diffficult” question: nobody.
    And I only asked it because of your sweeping statements. If you do feel it is a difficult question, why do you – casually and constantly – continue to assert that some people hate God?
    And when you can’t (apparently) name a single person who fits that description? What’s your evidence? “They may not say so, but they do..” you blithely announce. How do you know? Can you read their minds?

    However, here’s an earlier question that badly needs an answer: How can a finite person merit infinite punishment?

    Christ does go on about Hell, as you point out, so it is clearly important to him. And he is very clear that very few of us will escape it. (“Straight is the gate, etc.”) And the Church has officially stated that only Catholics ( and not all that many of them) will avoid the flames.
    Rather a different kettle of fish than affirming that only those who “hate” God will end up there.

    But that’s your problem.

    Another point:
    “God trancends far beyond the range or limits of our human minds and intelligence.” In other words, we haven’t got a clue. So how can we ever know that He wants anything? No need to answer that. Because he tells us, of course.
    Wonder what He tells the Muslims?

    (Toad is neglecting to try be amusing here. Sorry.)

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  20. The Raven says:

    Either I have had a great misfortune to mix with the wrong types, or Toad has lead a very sheltered life: a number of theomachs are personally known to me.

    Toad asks how a finite being can merit eternal damnation. I can only point out that if you are eternally damned you are hardly finite.

    The other point to make is that damnation is a choice that we ourselves make.

    If you doubt that, then consider the fact that by choice people squander their lives on this Earth: choosing to live in the misery of violent, abusive relationships; wrecking their own happiness in acts of hubris; slowly poisoning themselves with drugs.

    We collaborate in our own misery in this world, what makes you think that the choices that we make here won’t carry over into the next?

    Like

  21. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    Are you thick? I explained to you what ‘hating God‘ means: those who turn their back on Him in grave and continued sin, gradually end up hating all that God is in His Goodness and Perfection.

    Of course I can’t name a single person in Hell – no one can – and I’ve also explained above the reasons for this. Obviously I didn’t make myself clear.

    At a time when the existence of Hell was beginning to be questioned, Our Lady at Fatima gave a vision of Hell to the three little seers, “where hardened sinners go”. As a loving Mother of Mankind she gave this as a warning so that men could mend their ways and avoid going there.
    But perhaps you don’t believe in Fatima either…..?

    Maybe the thought of anyone going to Hell is just too terrible for you to contemplate, and that’s why you resist the idea of it. Don’t forget Bishop Mark Davies’s words: “Purgatory is a consoling hope for us….”, and of course that means eventually getting to Heaven. We can all avoid Hell if we want to.

    Like

  22. toadspittle says:

    .
    Toad would have thought it perfectly obvious to everyone by now that he was “thick.” But, re the comment below:

    “Maybe the thought of anyone going to Hell is just too terrible for you to contemplate, and that’s why you resist the idea of it.” muses Kathleen.

    1: Surely anyone in their right mind would be frightened by the idea of Hell as it is portrayed, if they believed it? But Kathleen faces it with admirable equamity.

    2: When Kathleen is in Heaven, how will she be happy while knowing others are suffering the torments of the damned for all eternity? Maybe she will be able to watch?

    “Perhaps you don’t believe in Fatima either? “ ‘Course not!

    “Either I have had a great misfortune to mix with the wrong types, or Toad has lead a very sheltered life: “
    Both, probably, Raven. Look what you are up to now! (Insert “smiley” face.) Life on Hello! Magazine was rather sheltered from the more sordid aspects of day-to-day existence. Thank God.

    Loved “theomachs.” Can’t wait to use the word!
    (New “atavar,” possibly.)
    Big fun discussion!

    Like

  23. kathleen says:

    Sorry Toad…. of course you’re not ‘thick‘! I didn’t really mean that, but blurted it out in frustration because I wasn’t managing to get through to you.

    Go on believing that there is no Hell if it ‘frightens’ you too much to do so, but don’t forget when you reach eternity (hopefully from Purgatory, having managed to avoid going to Hell), you will say: “Blow it, that Kathleen woman was right all along!” 😉
    St. Padre Pio’s response to a woman who confronted him saying: “Father, I don’t believe in Hell!” was pretty terrible. He answered: “Well you will when you get there” !!!

    When Kathleen is in Heaven, how will she be happy while knowing others are suffering the torments of the damned for all eternity?

    That’s a profound question, as it is a really horrifying thought, and I’ve been musing over it. Perhaps the knowledge of the suffering of the damned will be taken away from us once we get there. But I really don’t know. Anyone else have an answer for Toad?

    P.S. I’m no more assured of getting to Heaven myself than anyone else. We all have to put our trust in God and just do our best to follow Him.

    Like

  24. toadspittle says:

    .

    Well, Kathleen, no apologies needed. Toad is clearly no Wittgenstein, much to his chagrin. So he doesn’t think his question is as profound as you seem to.

    To a dolt like him, any religion that can impose penalties greater than we are able to even contemplate (that’s aimed at Raven) is to say the least, flawed, if not actually evil.

    Paradoxically, nowadays, Toad’s conscience prevents him being a Catholic. Odd, but true.
    It seems viscerally, all wrong, too “exclusive,” Catholics on top, the rest nowhere.
    As he used to say to the priests that taught him, “That’s not fair, Father!”
    Then they’d hit him.

    (We need a joke here, but he can’t think of one. Except about his dog and telegrams, which is utterly irrelevant.)

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  25. Chris Sullivan says:

    Katehleen,

    I think that Toad’s point is a profound one about heaven: “how could anyone in heaven be happy while knowing others are suffering the torments of the damned for all eternity?”

    I think the answer would be the Catholic hope that the population of Hell turns out to be zero.

    That’s certainly God’s will and what the Church (militant and triumphant) works and prays for.

    God Bless

    Like

  26. The Raven says:

    Dear Toad

    It is not religion or God that imposes “penalties too great to contemplate”: Hell is a place that we choose for ourselves; it’s not a penalty, it’s a choice that too many choose to make.

    You asked Kathleen how one can be happy in Heaven while there are souls in Hell. Why do you think that we’re so keen to promulgate the Faith? The Faith and the Church don’t impose Hell as a penalty; they propose Heaven and salvation to us.

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  27. toadspittle says:

    .
    To be a bit serious for once, Raven, all this “choosing” Hell is as Jabba would say, bollocks. Maybe you should have a chat to Kathleen’s suckling, who would tell you that, “When people do very bad things and make God sad, they go to Hell where they are horribly punished forever.” Simple as that.
    And if you ask people which they would prefer – Heaven or Hell – they would “choose” Heaven, because it just sounds boring, whereas Hell sounds both boring and painful.

    And re your point on “finite” people, that’s our situation when we are alive. Our range is limited. Yet it would seem retribution is not.

    Nobody seems keen to tackle the question of where non-Catholics, the vast majority of folk on this planet, will end up. Presumably we no longer agree that, “We declare, say, define and proclaim to every human creature that if they are to be saved they must of necessity be subject to the Roman Pontiff?*”…so what do we think? Of course if we now disagree with the statement, there would appear to be a bit of relativism at work here.

    *Pope BonifaceVIII, 1302, Unam Sanctum.(whatever that means.)

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  28. toadspittle says:

    .
    “You asked Kathleen how one can be happy in Heaven while there are souls in Hell. Why do you think that we’re so keen to promulgate the Faith? “

    That won’t do, Raven. Kathleen at least admitted she didn’t have an answer, which was honest of her. (naturally)
    You just ask a side-stepping question. Fie!

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  29. kathleen says:

    I haven’t given up on you yet Toad ;-).

    Raven asked you: “Why do you think that we’re so keen to promulgate the Faith?”

    Believe it or not, Raven brought up an essential point when he asked you that. For it is by knowing, loving and serving God in this world, we can be happy with Him in the next. All the means for this are contained in the Catholic Faith.
    The most important thing to remember is that Our Blessed Saviour suffered and died to redeem mankind (not just Catholics!), to save us from Hell and lead us to Heaven.
    Where do we come into all this?
    Every person has free will, and according to our ‘talents’ (as understood in the Gospel sense) and circumstances, we will be judged according to how we use these in the course of our lives. Through our (Catholics’) duty and obligation to ‘promulgate the Faith’ – because we know it to be the full Truth – and through prayer, sacrifices and fasting offered up for sinners, souls can be given the grace to turn from sin and accept God’s Loving Mercy.

    This is all part of the mystery of the Communion of Saints….. a doctrine you probably remember from your youth.

    Toad, way up above on this thread you agreed that sinners who refuse God’s Mercy should not be led ‘kicking and screaming’ into Heaven. It is not that they are choosing misery as opposed to happiness; the very sight of The Beatific Vision of God in His Goodness and Splendour is unbearable agony to those who have rejected God to their dying breath.

    Eternal damnation is such anathema to us, that we can only hope and pray ardently – as Chris Sullivan says – that no one should choose it. But unfortunately common sense also tells us……. 😦

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  30. toadspittle says:

    .

    This is all very well, but what about what Boniface said (above)? Or Augustine – who, apparently regarded the bulk of mankind as a masa damnata, from which a mere handful were predestined get to Heaven? Or Jesus? Few will make it through the gate that leadeth to life, he said.

    Were they talking b*ll*cks, as Jabba would say? Or not? This is CP&S, after all.
    Anybody got a clue?

    Free Will is interesting. Does Catholicism admit Determinism? Toad supposes not.
    He will be informed, he is confident. Pronto.

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  31. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    You seem to have an idea of Heaven as everyone just sitting around with nothing to do except watching angels plucking at their harps…….. wrong! Entirely wrong.
    Heaven is too wonderful to even be imagined by us pilgrims here on Earth. Our Lord made it clear that Heaven was eternal joy in His presence.

    From St. Paul: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

    Re: St. Augustine views of those multitudes who go to Hell….. well, he’s not infallible, so let’s just hope and pray he’s wrong on that one!

    And as for Determinism, perhaps you would enjoy this debate on the subject:
    http://www.orthodox-christianity.com/2012/02/dialogue-on-free-will-determinism/

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  32. Gertrude says:

    Whilst Augustine was a great Saint, and a Doctor of the Church, he was known to change his mind. Initially he thought the Pelagians might have had a point, but in his old age accepted their heresy.

    You are wrong when you imagine hell is the destination for all those who do not submit to the Roman Pontiff. We are not given to judge the state of any mans soul at the point of death – that is God’s business, but all will have the chance of redemption. Accepting or not is our choice.

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  33. toadspittle says:

    .
    “You are wrong when you imagine hell is the destination for all those who do not submit to the Roman Pontiff.”

    Fear not, Gertrude. Toad imagines no such thing. Boniface and Augustine may not have known their amices from their elbows on this point, but what about Christ?
    “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth into life and few there be that find it.” Sayeth he.
    What the h*ll are we to make of that?

    Like

  34. toadspittle says:

    .
    Wordpress, 798 – Toad, 2

    (Match abandoned due to technical failure.)

    Like

  35. The Raven says:

    I prefer the Douay-Rheims version myself, Toad:

    “How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”

    He is telling us that if we fumble for the way on our own, we have a strong chance of failure; but He came to defeat death and to show us all the way. He is not prophesising that few of us are going to get to Heaven.

    As a keen linguist, I’m sure that you’ll recognise that, for once, D-R captures the Greek, with the use of the present tense, perfectly:

    “ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν.”

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  36. toadspittle says:

    .
    All Greek to Toad. Who is a very poor linguist, sadly.

    “He is not prophesising that few of us are going to get to Heaven.” He doesn’t seem (to Toad, at least) to be prophesising anything.
    Just stating a fact.

    However, we are all surely “bored of this” by now, as Damian would say, and Toad says the hell with it.

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