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Monday, July 15, 2013

Thought for the Day from St. Francis of Assisi: Hell is for Real!

The world depicts St. Francis as a namby-pamby nature lover, but there's a lot more to the saint than that. He had a deep understanding of the nature of sin and the great danger to souls caught in its grip. In his Canticle of the Creatures he wrote:
Praised be You, my Lord, for our sister bodily death, whom no living man can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin, blessed those whom she will find in Your most holy will, for the second death will not harm them.
 Mortal sin kills the grace of God in the souls of His creation. No one who dies in the state of unrepented mortal sin can go to heaven. What is mortal sin and what is necessary to commit one?
Three things:

  • The matter must be grievous. What is grievous? Murder, hatred, adultery, abortion, fornication, use of pornography, contraception, blasphemy, theft that seriously injures another, destroying another's good name, etc. Just read the front page of the paper.
  • The sinner must KNOW the matter is grievous. However, if a sinner is willfully ignorant (vincible ignorance), he may very well be held to the moral culpability of the act. Only God knows the state of a person's soul, but there are certainly Catholics, pro-abortion politicians for example, whose actions have been corrected by their spiritual shepherds. It is unreasonable to think that such individuals can be considered ignorant of the seriousness of their actions. 
  • The sinner must give full consent of the will. Obviously a person being threatened with bodily harm may succumb to a sin out of fear and weakness. The less free a person is, the less likely the sin is mortal. A drug addict taking the first hit may be guilty of mortal sin. Once he is addicted, the culpability of the individual acts is lessened.
Many sins are objectively mortal, but not for an individual sinner because of ignorance. A retarded man who strikes someone in anger and kills him but has the mental capacity of a two-year-old is obviously not guilty of a mortal sin. He does not have the mental capacity to commit one. 

Sad to say, mortal sin in our culture is as common as snowflakes in a blizzard. And, in fact, when Our Lady gave the children of Fatima a vision of hell, little six-year-old Jacinta described sinners falling into hell like snowflakes. That was in 1917. Can anyone possibly believe the world is holier today with massive abortion, wars everywhere, religious martyrs by the score, lust unleashed resulting in epidemic of STDs, millions of murdered children, serial adultery, etc. ad nauseum. People may like to create a dream world where no one goes to hell, but that is certainly not biblical. [See here.]

Are we living for God or for the prince of the world? How horrible on Judgment Day to realize that we have spent our entire lives rejecting and offending the One who loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us. No wonder scripture talks about gnashing teeth. What a moment of awakening to the worst disaster in the universe -- being condemned to hell! Oh, how I pray that no one suffers that end. But I'm a realist and I know God is not the Candy Man giving out party favors. If that were the case, He would be a sadist to send His Son to die. No need; nobody is in danger of hell. 

No, God gave us free will to choose Him and His ways and nothing else will suffice. He will not overrule the sinner's choice to reject Him and choose the primrose path of dalliance. Hell is for real and I suspect if one were given a vision of hell today, he would see a blizzard souls falling into the abyss.

Let us pray that we all imitate little Jacinta's tender heart. How often she would cry, "Oh, hell! hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!...Francisco [her brother]! Francisco! Are you praying with me? We must pray very much, to save souls from hell! So many go there! So many!"

Pray for poor sinners. Hell is forever. So is heaven. As a bumper sticker sent to me by a friend says, "Heaven: Don't lose it for the World!" Amen.

"O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine."
St. Francis, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, pray for us.

1 comment:

umblepie said...

Thanks for this post, a salutory reminder.