I’m ready for anything, are you?

On the one hand…

“19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 7

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. 26 For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works.

— Matthew 16

9 … [W]e labour, whether absent or present, to please him. 10 For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.

— 2 Corinthians 5

31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. … 41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

— Matthew 25

We will find great reason to fear because of these words of the Gospel: many are called, the elect are few [Matt. 20:16; 22:14]. … [G]race is never wanting. God always gives sufficient grace to who[m]ever is willing to receive it. …

All our ancient Fathers point out the seriousness and gravity of [Judas’s] sin. But though they state its greatness, they can never sufficiently state its enormity. Speaking of Judas, Our Lord calls him, “son of perdition” [Jn. 17:12], the same title St. Paul gives Antichrist. [2 Thess. 2:3]. … [W]hen Judas fell into that iniquity of selling his Lord and Master and is called son or child of perdition, it means of the greatest or very great perdition, such as that of devils, for he was worse than a devil. He now burns with them in the eternal flames. …

It is a perilous thing to live in the world and in conversation with the wicked. Thus, to remain good among them, without falling from grace, is a very special favor from God. … It is very difficult to declare what initiates the fall of sinners. It is nevertheless very certain … that it is not grace that fails them, but rather it is they who fail grace.

Some ancient Fathers say this could happen at the rejection of a warning, an inspiration. For though this rejection be only a venial sin, which does not take grace away, nevertheless it places an obstacle in its course, [and] fervor diminishes…. If today you fail grace, refusing it your consent and committing this venial sin, you dispose yourself to commit another very soon, and by the multitude of venial sins fall little by little into mortal sins, and in this way lose grace.

St. Francis de Sales, Sermon for the Thursday after the Second Sunday of Lent (24 February 1622)

5. … Ainmoii [?], the son of king Manasseh, seeing that God had pardoned the sins of his father, gave himself up to a wicked life with the hope of pardon; but, for Ammon there was no mercy. St. John Chrysostom says, that Judas was lost because, trusting in the goodness of Jesus Christ, he betrayed him.” Fidit in lenitate Magistri. 

6. He that sins with, the hope of pardon, saying : “I will afterwards repent, and God will pardon me” is, according to St. Augustine, “not a penitent, but a scoffer.” The Apostle tells us that “God is not mocked.” (Gal. vi. 7.) It would be a mockery of God to offend him as often and as long as you please, and always to receive the pardon of your offences. For what things a man shall sow,” says St. Paul, “those also shall he reap.” (Ibid., ver. 8.) They who sow sins, can hope for nothing but the hatred of God and hell.

“Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and long-suffering.” (Rom. ii. 4.)

Do you, O sinner, despise the riches of the goodness, of the patience, and long-suffering of God towards you? He uses the word riches, because the mercies which God shows us, in not punishing our sins, are riches more valuable to us than all treasures.”

“Knowest thou not,” continues the Apostle, “that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?” (Ibid.)

Do you not know that the Lord waits for you, and treats you with so much benignity, not that you may continue to sin, but that you may weep over the offences you have offered to him? For, says St. Paul, if you persevere in sin and do not repent, your obstinacy and impenitence shall accumulate a treasure of wrath against the day of wrath, that is, the day on which God shall judge you.” According to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God.” (Ibid., verse 5.)

“7. To the hardness of the sinner shall succeed his abandonment by God, who shall say of the soul that is obstinate in sin, what he said of Babylon: “We would have cured Babylon; but she is not healed; let us forsake her.” (Jer. li. 9.) And how does God abandon the sinner? He either sends him a sudden death, and cuts him off in sin, or he deprives him of the graces which would be necessary to bring him to true repentance; he leaves him with the sufficient graces with which he can, but will not, save his soul. The darkness of his understanding, the hardness of his heart, and the bad habits which he has contracted, will render his conversion morally impossible. Thus, he shall not be absolutely but morally abandoned.” I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted.” (Isa. v. 5.)

“When the master of the vineyard destroys its hedges, does he not show that he abandons it? It is thus that God acts when he abandons a soul. He takes away the hedge of holy fear and remorse of conscience, and leaves the soul in darkness, and then vices crowd into the heart.

“Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night: in it shall all the beasts of the wood go about.” (Ps. ciii. 20.)

And the sinner, abandoned in an abyss of sins, will despise admonitions, excommunications, divine grace, chastisement, and hell: he will make a jest of his own damnation.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori (fl. 1726-1787), Sermons for All Sundays of the Year, sermon XLI

[At the moment of death,] Christians come to [God] with specific histories that sum up their response to him. … As they live their lives so they will be judged. [Cf. Mt 16:27, 2 Cor 5:10] … The time of death is obviously an important and defining moment, but all of a Christian’s important pre-death moments are equally defining. To say the option at death is what mainly determines our eternal fate is to trivialize one’s earthly history and the gospel message. …

The purpose of life is to prepare ourselves for heaven. God is not powerless or unwilling to save the imperfect. Of course he can save them. He has saved them. … But the gospel also proclaims that people must respond to the Christ who saves. They must accept him as their Savior and live the life that he asks them to live. … If heaven can be had by anyone who believes, by anyone who wishes for it [à la sola fide], why are we not created in heaven to begin with? … The gospel is not about faith alone; it is about exercised faith.”

— Michael J. Taylor, S.J., Purgatory (OSV Publishing, 1998), pp. 68-70

“From a rational point of view, it is very hard to see what sort of choice one could have as a final option. … [W]hat sense does it really make to speak of self-surrender in the moment of death? Before death one can commend oneself to God and give up the ghost, resigning oneself to a foreseen but not yet present inevitability, or one can refuse to do so. But such resignation, if it occurs, must occur before death. At the moment of death, if one were perfectly aware, one would realize that the inevitable was now present. And what option remains to one aware that the absolutely inevitable is now at hand?”

— Germain Grisez, The Way of the Lord Jesus—A Moral Theology for Today’s Catholics, volume I, chapter 18 (2008)

“According to the Church’s teaching, mortal sin, which is opposed to God, does not consist only in formal and direct resistance to the commandment of charity. It is equally to be found in this opposition to authentic love which is included in every deliberate transgression, in serious matter, of each of the moral laws. … A person therefore sins mortally not only when his action comes from direct contempt for love of God and neighbor, but also when he consciously and freely, for whatever reason, chooses something which is seriously disordered.”

— CDF, Persona Humana, n. 10 [1975], c/o Joseph Bolin, “Fundamental Option and Salvation”

With death, our life-choice becomes definitive—our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033-1037).”

— Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, #45, c/o Ibid.

But then on the other hand…

emergency-escape-hatch-keep-clear

“Later, in the church, [Pope Francis] met with a group of children and young people, and answered their questions. The first was: if God forgives everything, why does Hell exist? The Pope replied that Hell is the desire to distance oneself from God and to reject God’s love. ‘But’, he added, ‘if you were a terrible sinner, who had committed all the sins in the world, all of them, condemned to death, and even when you are there, you were to blaspheme, insults… and at the moment of death, when you were about to die, you were to look to Heaven and say, ‘Lord …!’, where do you go, to Heaven or to Hell? To Heaven! [So much for Purgatory, eh?] Only those who say, I have no need of You, I can get along by myself, as the devil did, are in Hell – and he is the only one we are certain is there.”

Pope Francis, 9 March 2014

What difference, at this point, does it make?

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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5 Responses to I’m ready for anything, are you?

  1. Blogmaster says:

    This pope … I wish I had it in me to pray for him more than I do. I don’t know how a man becomes pope this late in life, and chooses the path he’s on, fearlessly and shamelessly imparting his folly to the world, setting himself against all of his predecessors and the saints and the very Gospel itself, and leaves himself any room for repentance.

  2. Blogmaster says:

    Excellent review of the literature, by the way. You must have a brain and fingers that work at lightning speed.

  3. Branch says:

    I wonder what Taylor, S.J. and Grisez think of the Good Thief who, precisely at the moment of his death, was repentant and assured of being with Christ that very day in Paradise.

  4. Simpler than that, even. If you had committed all the sins of the world you would have also sinned against the Holy Spirit, and God would not be able to forgive you your weak hedge-your-bets “Lord…”

    Let’s not even get into the apparently needs-to-be-ignored justice called upon by the victims of this sinner… nope, the only true sins on earth are taking the liturgy to seriously and having that second slice of cake. And that’s assuming that no one else wanted that second slice and the only thing that complained against it was your stomach.

  5. Cornelius a Lapide’s great commentary: Matt 7:13,14

    Verse 13- Enter ye in at the strait gate

    , &c. The strait gate, by which there is an entrance into heaven, to blessedness and the feast of celestial glory, is, says S. Augustine, the Law of God, which straitens and represses our desires: it is also obedience, continence, mortification, the daily cross, which the law bids either to be made or to be carried. The broad gate which leads to perdition is concupiscence, too great liberty, gluttony, lust, &c. Christ has here regard to His own sanctions and explanations of the Law, as, Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire, and, If any one shall smite thee on thy right cheek, offer him the other also, &c. For all these things are arduous and strait, or narrow. It is as though He had said, “I may seem to you to have made narrow the way of salvation by my precepts, but know ye, that it is strait even in itself, and therefore I have not straitened it, but have only described it as it really is; for the way to celestial glory is purity and sanctity, which in this corrupt state of your nature consist in a strict bridling and mortification of your passions.” By liberty and indulgence Adam fell into sin, and we all through him, and then into all concupiscence. Thus the remedy for these things is nothing else but strict self-restraint, the cross, and mortification; for contraries are cured by contraries. S. Ambrose says, on the first Psalm, “There are two ways, one of the just, the other of the unjust: one of equity, the other of iniquity. The way of the just is narrow, that of the unjust is broad. The narrow road is that of soberness, the broad of drunkenness, that it may receive those who are tossing about.” Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. lib. 4) cites with praise the words of Hesiod: “Intense labour is placed before virtue, the way to it is long and steep.” Also that of Simonides, “Virtue is said to dwell on rocks difficult of access.” And so S. Basil says on the first Psalm: “That broad and easy road which goeth downward hath the deceiving evil demon who draws those who follow him by indulgences to perdition. But a good angel presides over the rough, and steep, and difficult way, which leads by means of zealous toils those who pursue it to a blessed end.” Wherefore S. Luke has (xiii. 24), Strive to enter in at the strait gate, where for strive, the Greek has α̉γωνίζεσθε, i.e., agonize, contend as it were in a contest and an agony, exercise your utmost power and might as in a wrestling match, as if for life itself, if ye conquer; but for death, if ye be overcome; according to the words of the Apostle, “Every one that striveth for the mastery (in agome, Gr. and Vulg.) is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” We then enter upon a contest and in it we strive and agonize for heaven or for hell, for a most blessed or a most miserable eternity. And let each see in how great a match he wrestles: for the course and the way to life is the Cross; the course and the way to perdition is indulgence: it is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The way to life is continence, poverty of spirit and humility. Wherefore S. Barlaam said to king Josaphat, that the way to life is martyrdom, either of blood or of will and penitence: this is the way in which Christ has gone before us: and for this cause the first Christians and those who followed Him willingly met martyrdom, and when persecution had ceased, those who came after inflicted upon themselves the voluntary martrydom of an austere life in monasteries, deserts, and caves.
    So also S. Perpetua saw in her dream a golden ladder, but hedged about with knives and swords. By this ladder she had to climb to heaven, and by this dream she knew that martyrdom was foretold to herself and her companions.

    So also S. William, who, from Duke of Aquitaine, became a penitent hermit, gathered from these words of Christ, that all superfluities ought to be cut off, and the body only indulged in things necessary. “How many brethren,” said he, “have served the Lord these many years in Egypt without eating fish? For how many tyrants, now in hell, would Jerome’s sack, Benediet’s frock, Arsenius’ tears, Elisha’s cowl, have sufficed to keep them out of hell? But woe to us, miserable, who changed superfluity into necessity.”

    Pythagoras saw the same thing in a shadow. He said that at first the path of virtue is narrow and confined, but afterwards it becomes wider by degrees: but the way of pleasure on the other hand is wide at the beginning, but afterwards it becomes more and more straitened. For as the Apostle says, “Tribulation and anguish is upon every soul of man that worketh evil, but glory, honour and peace to every one that doeth good.” (Rom. ii.) For charity and the grace of Christ enlarge the heart, so that the believer may say confidently with the Psalmist, “I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou hast enlarged my heart” (Vulg.).

    Verse 14- For strait is the gate

    , &c. This is the voice of Eternal Wisdom: He then who is wise, and will set himself in earnest to save his soul, let him take the narrow way.

    The measure of this straitness and narrowness of the way to heaven, and the fewness of those who find it, and are saved, you may gather from the types. First there is Lot, who only with his two daughters escaped from the burning of Sodom and the other cities of the plain, when all the rest were burnt up because of their lusts. For the world is like Sodom, it is inflamed with lusts and passions. Wherefore the greater part of the lost are damned on account of pollutions and lusts. The second type is the deluge. From this Noah only, with seven souls, escaped. The deluge swallowed up all the rest on account of their sins. In the world is a deluge of iniquity, and thus of punishments and all calamities. The third was the entrance into the Promised Land, which was a type of heaven. Into this of six hundred thousand Israelites, there entered but two, Caleb and Joshua. All this is taught too by the infallible words of Christ, “Many are called, but few chosen.” Wisely does Cassian advise, “Live with the poor that thou mayest deserve to be found and saved amongst the few.”

    This moreover is true it you consider the mass of mankind. For by far the greater portion of men are infidels, Turks, Saracens, or heretics. S. Augustine (lib. 4 contr. Crescent. c. 53) compares the Church to a threshing-floor in which there is far more chaff than grains of wheat, more bad than good, more who will be damned than will be saved. Yet others, with greater mildness, think it probable that the greater portion of professing Christians will be saved, because most of them receive the Holy Sacraments before they die. And they justify sinners, not only those who have contrition, but who have attrition. But this seems to be true of those who have not lived in constant and habitual sins, such as fornication, usury, hatred. For such, when they are sick, conceive with difficulty any serious and efficacious purpose of amendment, or if they do conceive it, God in just punishment of their past sins suffers the demon of their bygone lusts to tempt them, and he furbishes and sharpens their memory, and so the sick man in consequence of his habits easily yields, and consents in his heart to sin, and thus he falls and is damned. Of this there are many examples.

    Yes,yes, yes; but, that is so hard and unmerciful and, frankly, mean. God loves everybody just as they are.

    The hard and narrow way?

    PFFFT That is such dark age fear-mongering.

    Following Jesus is too hard for we men of today; we easter people in the springtime of the new pentecost in the civilisation of love are the bestest and brightest of mankind and we refuse to be cowed into thinking that when one is sinful his heart is hardened by God.

    Nope. In the new dispensation of ecumenical Luther-lite, we can sin boldly AND we get into heaven on the cheap by a death bed repentance.

    No, out with the bad old Church and in with the new merciful church

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