Monday, October 31, 2016

Inferno: the Hell there is

Today being All Hallows Eve, perhaps it is worthwhile to ponder, for a moment, Hell.  The next three feast days, I will be taking a kind of Dantesque jaunt through Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory, in that order, as it fits with the tenor of the three days.

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A Dore engraving of Dante visiting the Inferno.

While it is fashionable to deny the existence of Hell, such a denial flies in the face of constant Christian belief from time immemorial, and, in the end, the justice of God.  The words of Christ, the Sacred Scriptures, and constant tradition all bear witness to the existence of Hell.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the teaching on Hell as follows:

IV. Hell

1033 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 neighbor 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."610 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.611 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."

1034 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.612 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"613 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"614

1035 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."615 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.

1036 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."616

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."617

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;618 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":619

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.620

610 1  Jn 3:14-15.
611 Cf.  Mt 25:31-46.612 Cf.  Mt 5:22,  29;  10:28;  13:42,  50;  Mk 9:43-48.613  Mt 13:41-42.614  Mt 25:41.615 Cf. DS 76; 409; 411; 801; 858; 1002; 1351; 1575; Paul VI, CPG # 12.616  Mt 7:13-14.617 LG 48 # 3;  Mt 22:13; cf.  Heb 9:27;  Mt 25:13,  26,  30,  31  4618 Cf. Council of Orange II (529): DS 397; Council of Trent
619  2 Pet 3:9.620 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 88.

[Original text of the Catechism can be found here:
Vatican: Catechism of the Catholic Church]

Likewise, the Old Catholic Encyclopedia has a rather informative article on the subject: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Hell

Finally, in the Supplement to the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, there is a discussion of the infernal regions, including: Question 97 on the Punishment of the DamnedQuestion 98 on the Intellect and Will of the Damned ; Question 99 on the Mercy and Justice of God.

Of course, one of the greatest literary works of the West, in this bloggers opinion, the Divine Comedy of Dante.  How many other authors have a Papal Encyclical about their work? (cf. Benedict XV, In Praeclara Summorum).  While not a theological manual, the Divine Comedy does embody a Catholic worldview in his presentation.  So, why not go check out the opening section of the work that fits with our post? Here is a copy: Dante's Inferno

Live well, so as to avoid Hell!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Traditional Feast of Christ the King!

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Happy Sunday!

Today is traditionally the Feast of Christ the King!  It is a glorious occasion to recall that He, alone, is the King of Kings!  In an age of republics, the Catholic remains, in a profound way, a monarchist.

This feast, despite its medieval sounding title, was actually instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI with his Papal Encyclical Quas Primas.  He reminds us, in part:

"31. When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by laboring for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.

32. Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education."

In honor of this great day, you might consider reading the encyclical in its entirety: Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, 1925

You can read more here, as well, at the Fisheaters site: Fisheaters: Feast of Christ the King

The Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia, happens to have the title of Christ the King.  Their website is here: Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, GA

Let us close with the great Carolingian acclamations, Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!

Long live Christ the King!

Live well!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles

Today is the feast of the Apostles Sts. Simon and Jude!  Both were, by tradition, martyred in Persia, and currently buried in St. Peter's at the Vatican.  (N.B:St. Peter's Basilica info: Left Side - St. Joseph's Atlar

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St. Simon by Peter Paul Rubens.

One of the original twelve, St. Simon is said to have preached in Egypt, before being sawed in two in Persia (modern Iran).

For more:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Simon

Catholic Saints Info: St. Simon

Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Simon

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St. Jude by Anthony van Dyck.

St. Jude, famous now as the patron saint of hopeless cases, is also the author of an Epistle that bears his name.  He was the brother of St. James the Less.  Tradition has it that St. Jude preached in Mesopotamia before being martyred, like St. Simon, in Persia.

For more:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Epistle of St. Jude

Catholic Saints Info: St. Jude

Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Jude

Perhaps today is a good day to listen to Gregorian Chant Kyrie IV, Cunctipotens Genitor Deus, associated with the Feasts of Apostles:

Live well!