As noted in the last original article on this website, I had gone to my high school class’s fiftieth anniversary reunion on June 14, 2019, and June 15, 2019, which was very pleasant on a purely natural level. Such reunions, however, are meant to serve as a reminder there is only one reunion that matters, namely, that which will take place on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead.
There are, of course, all kinds of earthly reunions that take place in this passing, mortal vale of tears, although the only ones that I have attended are the three high school reunions (tenth, twenty-sixth and fiftieth). I went to a commuter college, St. John’s University, and the only classmate that I have seen from there in the past forty years or so was an attorney who came to a gathering of Catholics at a diner in Syosset, Long Island, on June 15, 2019, and thus have never had any interest in going to a class reunion at St. John’s University, including the fiftieth in 2023. While I pray for many of my classmates and former students and colleagues every day, I know that I will see most only in eternity, and I pray that that reunion will be a happy one in the glory of the Beatific Vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost for all eternity.
Such a good reunion, however, will take place only for those souls who have died in a state of Sanctifying Grace as members of Catholic Church, she who is the one and only means of human salvation founded by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man in Our Lady’s Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. The souls of the just will live forever in Heaven, where they will be reunited with all the soul of the just in the glory of the Beatific Vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
The souls of those who die in a state of Mortal Sin, however, will spend all eternity in the fires of hell as they are deprived of the very purpose of human existence, the possession of the Beatific Vision in Heaven, and as the devil and his demons who tempted them to choose hell by their sins torment and mock them viciously without end for having been so stupid as to succumb to their false representations. The souls of the damned will hate and torment each other with a viciousness and cruelty that they had never experienced on earth. Such a “reunion” is to be dreaded, and it is up to us to avoid experiencing it.
The choice is ours, Heaven or hell.
The plain fact of the matter is that we could go to hell for all eternity. So could our closest family members and friends. “Fellowship” in this life that is based on sentimentality and emotionalism that overlook family members living in sin and/or that are indifferent to—if not supportive of—immodesty and indecency in speech and attire and entirely immersed in the world will have a most unhappy reunion in hell if they persist in their false affections until they die. True love of others wills their good, and the ultimate good of each person God’s Holy Providence puts in our lives is the sanctification and the salvation of their immortal souls. We love no one, including ourselves, authentically if we do or say anything, either by omission or commission, that impedes the sanctification and salvation of our own souls and/or those of others,
God so respects the free will with which He has endowed our immortal souls that He will never impose Himself upon us in death if we have not chosen for Him by obeying His Commandments and persisting in a state of Sanctifying Grace until our dying breath in life. We must choose to love God as He has revealed Himself to us exclusively through His true Church, and Saint John the Evangelist reminded us in what the love of God consists:
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And every one that loveth him who begot, loveth him also who is born of him. In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy. (1 John 5: 1-3)
In other words, we choose where we spend eternity, Heaven or hell. One who persists until the point of his dying breath in a state of final impetinence by refusing to avail Himself of the Sacrament of Penance as administered by a true priest send himself to hell as he has chosen for himself and his own false interpretations and disordered self-love instead of having the abiding humility to recognize that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus did indeed institute the Sacrament of Penance on Easter Sunday when He showed Himself to ten of the eleven Apostles who were gathered in the same Upper Room in Jersualem where He had instituted the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood just three days before:
Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. John 20: 23.
One of the greatest deceptions of the devil upon the souls of unrepentant sinners is that a "loving" would never send anyone to hell, even if such a place really exists. Such a delusional belief, which so many baptized Catholics who have fallen away form the practice of the Holy Faith to "go with the flow" and be counted as a "success" in this passing, mortal vale of tears, is premised upon a misunderstanding that the existence of hell is predicated precisely in God's respect for human free will as well as His Divine Justice. Moreover, Our Lord Himself told us that souls of the unjust do indeed go to hell:
Moreover, Our Lady showed hell to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos when she appeared to them on July 13, 1917, in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal:
"Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe."
Lucia made some requests for sick people, to which Mary replied that she would cure some but not others, and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces, before continuing: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."
Mary specifically told Lucia not to tell anyone about the secret at this stage, apart from Francisco, before continuing: "When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: 'O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.' "
Lucia asked if there was anything more, and after assuring her that there was nothing more, Mary disappeared off into the distance. (Our Lady's Words at Fatima.)
Hell is real, and we had better make sure to take seriously the equally real possibility that we could send ourselves there for all eternity by our prideful refusal to amend our lives and to do something as simple as to make a good, integral confession of our sins to a true priest, acting in persona Christi, and to leave explicit instructions to our relatives to call a true priest to our bedside if we are blessed with a death that occurs after we have received the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri explained the separation that will take place on the Last Day as the souls of the just, having been reunited with their bodies, will rejoice—yes, rejoice—that some of those closest relatives have been sent to God because the just will be so perfectly attached to a pure love of God and His just Judgments that all earthly ties that mattered so much to us here below will mean nothing. That is how strong that the just will love God in eternity, and that itself is a cause for sober consideration and reflection.
Here is how Saint Alphonsus de Liguori describes the final separation between the just and the damned at the General Judgment:
St. Bernard says, that the sentence of the elect, and their destiny to eternal glory, shall be first declared, that the pains of the reprobate may be increased by the sight of what they lost. "Prius pronunciabitur sententia electis, ut acrius (reprobi) doleant videntes quid amiserint"--ser. viii. in Ps. xc. Jesus Christ, then, shall first turn to the elect, and with a serene countenance shall say: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"--Matt., xxv 34. He will then bless all the tears shed through sorrow for their sins, and all their good works, their prayers, mortifications, and communions, above all, he will bless for them the pains of his passion, and the blood shed for their salvation. And, after these benedictions, the elect, singing alleluias, shall enter Paradise to praise and love God for all eternity.
The Judge shall then turn to the reprobate, and shall pronounce the sentence of their condemnation in these words: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire"--Matt., xxv. 41. They shall then be for ever accursed, separated from God, and sent to burn for ever in the fire of Hell. "And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just into life everlasting"--Matt., xxv. 46.
After this sentence, the wicked shall, according to St. Ephrem, be compelled to take leave for ever of their relatives, of Paradise, of the saints, and of Mary the divine mother. "Farewell, ye just! farewell, O cross! farewell, O Paradise! farewell, fathers and brothers: we shall never see you again! farewell, O Mary, mother of God!"--S. Eph. de variis serm. inf. Then a great pit shall be opened in the middle of the valley: the unhappy damned shall be cast into it, and shall see those doors shut which shall never again be opened. O accursed sin! to what a miserable end will you one day conduct so many souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! O unhappy souls! for whom is prepared such a melancholy end. But, brethren, have confidence. Jesus Christ is now a father, and not a judge. He is ready to pardon all who repent. Let us then instantly ask pardon from him. First Sunday In Advent: On The General Judgment (15 Minutes)
Imagine saying farewell to your wife or your husband or your son or your daughter or your own parents and brothers and sisters as you yourself are sent to Hell for all eternity? Imagine saying farewell to the Mother of God whose suffering at the foot of her Divine Son's Most Holy Cross effect your spiritual rebirth as an adopted son or daughter of the Living God? Imagine saying farewell to the instrument of our salvation, the Most Holy Cross, that we mocked and scorned by means of our sins and bad confessions and our lukewarmness and unworthy Communions and overall attachment to the spirit of the world, to say nothing of our refusal to be the least bit mortified so as to store some merit for eternity as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Yes, every day each of us is faced with life or death whether we realize it or not.
Each of us is born to die, a reality that most people must avoid by using euphemisms such as “passed away” or simply “passed” or, to quote the widow of traditional Catholic man, “left.”
However, the passage of a body from conception to physical death is only part of the story of a human life. Every human being has a rational, immortal soul that God infuses into him at the moment of his conception. That soul is the animating principle of the human body. It is the state of the soul which determines where the body will spend eternity after the Second and Final Coming of Our Lord at the end of time, and it was to make it possible for all souls to live in the glory of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost that Our Lord endured His fearful Passion and Death.
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, is the New Adam. His death on the Cross put an end to the power of sin and death forever. His perfect obedience to the Father's will canceled out the disobedience of the first Adam in the Garden of Eden. The shedding of His Most Precious Blood on Calvary paid back the debt that finite beings owed their Infinite Creator. His forty hours in the tomb prior to His Resurrection on Easter Sunday give us the hope of eternal joy. He underwent His death so that we could live. Yet nearly two thousand years after He instituted the New and Everlasting Covenant of the New Passover from death to life, so few of His followers truly understand how they are to fashion everything in their lives—and in their societies—in light of the mysteries of our redemption.
There is a simple explanation for the fact that most people in the world today, including so many Catholics, especially those attached to the structures of the conciliar church, do not understand the mysteries of salvation: they have never been instructed in them. If people do not understand what happened in the Garden of Eden, then they will have no understanding of their own identity as fallen creatures in need of redemption. And if they do not understand their identity as fallen creatures in need of redemption, then they will look to everything except the true religion instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper to save them from the problems of the world. Like many of the people of Our Lord's time who were looking for a political or secular savior, so are many people today looking for their salvation in all of the wrong places, especially in politics, politicians, political parties, ideologies, and in government programs.
The truth of the matter is, of course, that the Triune God—the Infinite Being, the Uncreated Good, the Uncaused Cause—created the invisible and the visible worlds out of love. He is a community of love consisting of three Divine Persons, each with His own distinctive identity and mission. The love of each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity for each other is meant of its nature to be bestowed on others. He created the angels, pure spirits possessing an intellect and a will, out of love. And He created human beings out of love. But God's love is not an act of sentimentality. Not at all. God's love is an act of the Divine Will. He created angels and men out of love so that they would love Him, their First and Last End. He willed their good, which is the possession of His glory for all eternity.
However, God created angels and men as free beings. He wanted his creatures to choose to serve Him out of love, a return of love to Love Himself. Although He knew that certain of the angels, headed by Lucifer, would make an irrevocable choice against Him, God bestowed a free will upon angels in order to show forth His omnipotence. He wanted to teach men that it was the misuse of free will that caused the rebellion of Lucifer. And He wanted to teach them that it was Lucifer's hatred of Him that would impel the fallen angel to lead them to misuse their free wills against Him.
Satan hates God. He knows God and he hates Him. "Non serviam est!" ("I will not serve!") is the devil's motto. Our ancient adversary knows God, hates Him, and refuses to serve Him, the very antithesis of the purpose of human existence, which is, naturally, to know, to love, and to serve God here on earth in order to be happy with Him for all eternity in Heaven. The devil hates us because we are made in the image and the likeness of the One he hates, namely, God. That is why he wants to deceive us into mimicking him by disobeying God and serving ourselves to the detriment of ourselves and those around us. The Master of Lies and the Prince of Darkness was permitted by God to tempt our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve had been created by God and placed in a world of Original Innocence. They possessed the preternatural gifts of a perfect human nature, one unspotted by sin. They had a superior intellect and a superior will. And they had a delicate balance between their higher rational faculties and their lower sensual passions. Adam and Eve were in harmony with God, and they were in harmony with each other. They were in harmony with the natural world. There was work without sweat and painless child-birth. The Gates of Heaven were opened to them.
God commanded only two things from our first parents. He asked them to love Him in return for all that He had bestowed upon them, including life itself. And He commanded them not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He knew full well that they would succumb to the allure of the tempter. But He wanted the human race to understand that His love for us is so perfect that He will never force Himself upon us. He wants us to choose to love Him of our own free wills, and He wants us to realize how the misuse of our free wills leads to unhappiness and misery, that we are utterly lost without Him and His Holy Church. He wanted us to know that our souls face eternal death without Him.
We live at a time in human history, however, when most people will believe in any kind of mythology, superstition or discredited ideological—most especially the ideology of evolutionism—rather than believe in the truths of Divine Revelation that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has entrusted exclusively to His true Church for their infallible explication and eternal safekeeping.
Mind you, the approach of death should be treated with the utmost sobriety as it is only at the Particular Judgment that we will truly see ourselves as God sees us and ratifies the eternal decree that is based on whether we die in a state of Sanctifying Grace with a true love of Him and perfect contrition for our sins as members of the Catholic Church, the only means given to men for their sanctification and salvation.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori explained the moment of the Particular Judgment as follows:
BELOVED Christians, of all the goods of nature, of fortune, and of grace, which we have received from God, we are not the masters, neither can we dispose of them as we please; we are but the administrators of them; and therefore we should employ them according to the will of God, who is our Lord. Hence, at the hour of death, we must render a strict account of them to Jesus Christ, our Judge. ”For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body as he hath done, whether it be good or evil." (2 Cor. v. 10.) This is the precise meaning of that”give an account of thy stewardship," in the gospel of this day. ”You are not," says St. Bonaventure, in his comment on these words, ”a master, but a steward over the things committed to you; and therefore you are to render an account of them." I will place before your eyes Today the rigour of this judgment, which shall be passed on each of us on the last day of our life. Let us consider the terror of the soul, first, when we shall be presented to the Judge; secondly, when she shall be examined; and thirdly, when she shall be condemned.
First Point. Terror of the soul when she shall be presented to the Judge.
"It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment." (Heb. ix. 27.) It is of faith that we shall die, and that after death a judgment shall be passed on all the actions of our life. Now, what shall be the terror of each of us when we shall be at the point of death, and shall have before our eyes the judgment which must take place the very moment the soul departs from the body? Then shall be decided our doom to eternal life, or to eternal death. At the time of the passage of their souls from this life to eternity, the sight of their past sins, the rigour of God’s judgment, and the uncertainty of their eternal salvation, have made the saints tremble. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzia trembled in her sickness, through the fear of judgment; and to her confessor, when he endeavoured to give her courage, she said: "Ah! father, it is a terrible thing to appear before Christ in judgment." After spending so many years in penance in the desert, St. Agatho trembled at the hour of death, and said: ”What shall become of me when I shall be judged ?" The venerable Father Louis da Ponte was seized with such a fit of trembling at the thought of the account which he should render to God, that he shook the room in which he lay. The thought of judgment inspired the venerable Juvenal Ancina, Priest of the Oratory, and afterwards Bishop of Saluzzo, with the determination to leave the world. Hearing the Dies Iræ sung, and considering the terror of the soul when presented before Jesus Christ, the Judge, he took, and afterwards executed, the resolution of giving himself entirely to God.
2. It is the common opinion of theologians, that at the very moment and in the very place in which the soul departs from the body, the divine tribunal is erected, the accusation is read, and the sentence is passed by Jesus Christ, the Judge. At this terrible tribunal each of us shall be presented to give an account of all our thoughts, of all our words, and of all our actions. "For we must all be manifested before the judgment 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 Cor. v. 10.) When presented before an earthly judge criminals have been seen to fall into a cold sweat through fear. It is related of Piso, that so great and insufferable was the confusion, which he felt at the thought of appearing as a criminal before the senate that he killed himself. How great is the pain of a vassal, or of a son, in appearing before an angry prince or an enraged father, to account for some crime which he has committed! Oh! how much greater shall be the pain and confusion of the soul in standing, before Jesus Christ enraged against her for having despised him during her life! Speaking of judgment, St. Luke says: "Then you shall see the Son of Man." (Luke xxi. 27.) They shall see Jesus Christ as man, with the same wounds with which he ascended into heaven. "Great joy of the beholders!" says Robert the Abbot, "a great terror of those who are in expectation!" These wounds shall console the just, and shall terrify the wicked. In them sinners shall see the Redeemer’s love for themselves, and their ingratitude to him.
3. "Who," says the Prophet Nahum, "can stand before the face of his indignation ?" (i. 6.) How great, then, shall be the terror of a soul that finds herself in sin before this Judge, the first time she shall see him, and see him full of wrath! St. Basil says that she shall be tortured more by her shame and confusion than by the very fire of hell. ”Horridior quam ignis, erit pudor." Philip the Second rebuked one of his domestics for having told him a lie. ”Is it thus," said the king to him, ”you deceive me?" The domestic, after having returned home, died of grief. The Scripture tells us, that when Joseph reproved his brethren, saying: ”I am Joseph, whom you sold," they were unable to answer through fear, and remained silent. ”His brethren could not answer him, being struck with exceeding great fear." (Gen. xlv. 3.) Now what answer shall sinners make to Jesus Christ when he shall say to them: I am your Redeemer and your Judge, whom you have so much despised. Where shall the miserable beings fly, says St. Augustine, when they shall see an angry Judge above, hell open below, on one side their own sins accusing them, and on the other the devils dragging them to punishment, and their conscience burning them within? “Above shall be an enraged Judge below, a horrid chaos on the right, sins accusing him on the left, demons dragging him to punishment within, a burning conscience! Whither shall a sinner, beset in this manner, fly ?"Perhaps he will cry for mercy? But how, asks Eusebius Emissenus, can he dare to implore mercy, when he must first render an account of his contempt for the mercy which Jesus Christ has shown to him?”With what face will you, who are to be first judged for contempt of mercy, ask for mercy?" But let us come to the rendering of the accounts.
Second Point. Terror of the soul when she shall be examined.
4. As soon as the soul shall be presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, he will say to her: ”Give an account of thy stewardship:" render instantly an account of thy entire life. The Apostle tells us, that to be worthy of eternal glory our lives must be found conformable to the life of Jesus Christ. ”For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his son ;...them he also glorified." (Rom. viii. 29, 30.) Hence St. Peter has said, that in the judgment of Jesus Christ, the just man who has observed the divine law, has pardoned enemies, has respected the saints, has practised chastity, meekness, and other virtues, shall scarcely be saved. ”The just man shall scarcely be saved." The Apostle adds: "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ?" (1 Pet. iv. 18.) What shall become of the vindictive and the unchaste, of blasphemers and slanderers? What shall become of those whose entire life is opposed to the life of Jesus Christ?
5. In the first place, the Judge shall demand of sinners an account of all the blessings and graces which he bestowed on them in order to bring them to salvation, and which they have rendered fruitless. He will demand an account of the years granted to them that they might serve God, and which they have spent in offending him. "He hath called against me the time." (Lam. i. 15.) He will then demand an account of their sins. Sinners commit sins, and afterwards forget them; but Jesus Christ does not forget them: he keeps, as Job says, all our iniquities numbered, as it were in a bag. “Thou hast sealed up my iniquities, as it were in a bag." (Job xiv. 17.) And he tells us that, on the day of accounts, he will take a lamp to scrutinize all the actions of our life. ”And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps." (Soph. i. 12.) The lamp, says Mendoza on this passage, penetrates all the corners of the house that is, God will discover all the defects of our conscience, great and small. According to St. Anselm, an account shall be demanded of every glance of the eyes. ”Exigitur usque ad ictum oculi." And, according to St. Matthew, of every idle word. ”Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment." (Matt. xii. 36.)
6. The Prophet Malachy says, that as gold is refined by taking away the dross, so on the day of judgment all our actions shall be examined, and every defect which may be discovered shall be punished. ”He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold." (Mal. iii. 3.) Even our justices that is, our good works, confessions, communions, and prayers shall be examined. "When I shall take a time, I will judge justices." (Ps. Ixxiv. 3.) But if every glance, every idle word, and even good works, shall be judged, with what rigour shall immodest expressions, blasphemies, grievous detractions, thefts, and sacrileges be judged? Alas! on that day every soul shall, as St. Jerome says, see, to her own confusion, all the evils which she has done. ”Videbit unusquisque quod fecit."
7. “Weight and balance are judgments of the Lord. ”(Prov. xvi. 11.) In the balance of the Lord a holy life and good works make the scale descend; but nobility, wealth, and science have no weight. Hence, if found innocent, the peasant, the poor, and the ignorant shall be rewarded. But the man of rank, of wealth, or of learning, if found guilty, shall be condemned. "Thou art weighed in the balance," said Daniel to Belthassar, ”and art found wanting." (Dan. v. 27.)”Neither his gold nor his wealth," says Father Alvares, ”but the king alone was weighed."
8. At the divine tribunal the poor sinner shall see himself accused by the devil, who, according to St. Augustine, ”will recite the words of our profession, and will charge us before our face with all that we have done, will state the day and hour in which we sinned." (Con. Jud., tom. 6.)”He will recite the words of our profession" that is, he will enumerate the promises which we have made to God, and which we afterwards violated. ”He will charge us before our face ;" he will upbraid us with all our wicked deeds, pointing to the day and hour in which they were committed. And he will, as the same saint says, conclude his accusation by saying: "I have suffered neither stripes nor scourges for this man." Lord, I have suffered nothing for this ungrateful sinner, and to make himself my slave he has turned his back on thee who has endured so much for his salvation. He, therefore, justly belongs to me. Even his angel-guardian will, according to Origen, come forward to accuse him, and will say: "I have laboured so many years for his salvation; but he has despised all my admonitions." "Unusquisque angelorum perhibet testimonium, quot annis circa eum laboraverit, sed ille monita sprevit." (Hom. lxvi.) Thus, even friends shall treat with contempt the guilty soul. ”All her friends have despised her." (Lamen. i. 2.) Her very sins shall, says St. Bernard, accuse her. “And they shall say: You have made us; we are your work; we shall not desert you." (Lib. Medit, cap. ii.) We are your offspring; we shall not leave you: we shall be your companions in hell for all eternity.
9. Let us now examine the excuses which the sinner will be able to advance. He will say, that the evil inclinations of nature had drawn him into sin. But he shall be told that, if concupiscence impelled him to sins, it did not oblige him to commit them; and that, if he had recourse to God, he should have received from him grace to resist every temptation. For this purpose Jesus Christ has left us the sacraments: but when we do not make use of them, we can complain only of ourselves. "But, ” says the Redeemer, “now they have no excuse for their sin." (John xv. 22.) To excuse himself, the sinner shall also say that the devil tempted him to sin. But, as St. Augustine says, "The enemy is bound like a dog in chains, and can bite only him who has united himself to him with a deadly security." The devil can bark, but cannot bite unless you adhere and listen to him. Hence the saint adds: “See how foolish is the man whom a dog, loaded with chains, bites." Perhaps he will advance his bad habits as an excuse; but this shall not stand; for the same St. Augustine says, that though it is difficult to resist the force of an evil habit, ”if any one does not desert himself, he will conquer it with the divine assistance." If a man does not abandon himself to sin, and invokes God’s aid, he will overcome evil habits. The Apostle tells us, that the Lord does not permit us to be tempted above our strength. ”God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able." ( I Cor. x. 13.)
10. “For what shall I do," said Job, ”when God shall rise to judge me? and when he shall examine, what shall I answer him” (Job xxxi. 14.) What answer shall the sinner give to Jesus Christ? How can he, who sees himself so clearly convicted, give an answer? He shall be covered with confusion, and shall remain silent, like the man found without the nuptial garment. ”But he was silent." (Matt. xxii. 12.) His very sins shall shut the sinner’s mouth. "And all iniquity shall stop her mouth." (Ps. cvi. 42.) There, says St. Thomas of Villanova, there shall be no intercessor to whom the sinner can have recourse. “There, there is no opportunity of sinning; there, no intercessor, no friend, no father shall assist." Who shall then save you? Is it God? But how, asks St. Basil, can you expect salvation from him whom you have despised?” Who shall deliver you? Is it God, whom you have insulted ?" (S. Bas., Or. 4, de Fen.) Alas! the guilty soul that leaves this world in sin, is condemned by herself before the Judge pronounces sentence. Let us come to the sentence of the Judge. (Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year by St Alphonsus Liguori in .pdf format; a sermon on the death of the sinner is appended at the end of this article.)
The moment of the Particular Judgment is what should fill us with fear of Our Lord and His just judgment upon us even as we trust in Our Lady and Saint Joseph and our dear Wonder Worker, Saint Philomena, to assist us as we die. Quite to the contrary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio has said on so many occasoins in the past six years, four months, should not fear physical suffering at any point in our lives, and we must especially embrace and thank God for it as we approach death as it is the most blessed means by which we can make a bit of reparation for our sins.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori explained the necessity of redemptive suffering to be truly prepared for death whenever it should come and wherever it should occur:
Seeing that on this earth so many miscreants live in prosperity, and that so many saints live in tribulations, the very Gentiles, by the sole aid of the light of nature, have known this truth,--that, since there is a just God, there must be another life, in which the wicked are punished and the good rewarded. But what the Gentiles learned by the light of reason, we Christians know by faith. We have not here a lasting city, but we week one that is to come. This earth is not our country; it is for us a place of passage, from which we shall soon go to the home of eternity. "Man shall go into the house of his eternity." The house, then, dear reader, which you inhabit, is not your house; it is a hospital, from which you will soon, and when you least expect, be dislodged. Remember, that when the time of death has arrived, your dearest relatives will be the first to banish you from it; and what will be your true house? The house of your body will be a grave, in which it will remain till the day of judgment; but your poor soul will go to the house of eternity--either to heaven or to hell. St. Augustine tells us that you are a stranger, a traveller, a spectator. It would be foolishness in a traveller to spend all his patrimony in purchasing a villa or a house in a country through which he merely passes, and which he must leave in a few days. Reflect, says the saint, that in this world you are only on a journey; fix not your affections on what you see; look and pass on, and labor to procure a good house, in which you will have to dwell forever.
Happy you, if you save your soul! Oh! how delightful is heaven! All the princely palaces of this world are but stables compared with the city of paradise, which alone can be called the city of perfect beauty. There you will have nothing to desire; for you will be in the society of the saints, of the divine Mother, and of Jesus Christ, and will be free from all fear of evil; in a word, you will live in a sea of delights, and in unceasing joy, which will last forever. Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. This joy shall be so great, that at every moment for all eternity it will appear new. But unhappy you, if you are lost! You will be confined in a sea of fire and of torments, in despair, abandoned by all, and without God. And for how long? Perhaps, after the lapse of a hundred thousand years, your pains will have an end? A hundred and a thousand millions of years and ages will pass by, and you hell will always be at its commencement. What are a thousand years compared with eternity? Less than a day which is gone by. A thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past. Would you wish to know the house which will be your dwelling for eternity? it will be that which you merit, and which you choose for yourself by your works.
Thou, O Lord! behold the house which I have deserved by the life which I led. Alas! it is hell, in which, from the first sin I have committed, I ought to dwell, abandoned by Thee, and without having it ever in my power to love Thee. Blessed forever be Thy mercy, which has waited for me, and which now gives me time to repair the evil I have done. O my God! I will no longer abuse Thy patience. I am sorry above all thins for having offended Thee, not so much because I have merited hell, as because I have outraged Thy infinite goodness. Never more, my God! never more will I rebel against Thee: I desire death rather than offend Thee. O my Sovereign Good! were I now in hell, I could never love Thee, nor couldst Thou love me. I love Thee, and wish to be loved by Thee; this I do not deserve, but Jesus merits it, because he has offered himself to Thee in sacrifice on the cross, that Thou mightest be able to pardon and love me. Eternal Father! give me, then, for the sake of Thy Son, the grace to love Thee, and to love Thee intensely. I love Thee, O Son of God! who didst die for me. I love thee, O Mother of Jesus! who, by thy intercession, hast obtained for me time for repentance. O Mary! obtain for me sorrow for my sins, the love of God, and holy perseverance. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, Preparation for Death, pp. 144-146.)
We must remember that no earthly success or accomplishment of ours matters not one little bit if we lose our immortal souls for all eternity in hell because we failed to make a good, integral Confession of our sins to a true priest and thus died in a state of final impetinence.
Similarly, it matters not if we failed to achieve great earthly success and lived in relative poverty and financial want most of our lives if we save our immoral souls and thus win the greatest treasure of all, eternal life in glory of the Beatific Vision in Heaven, by persisting until our final breath in a state of Sanctifying Grace as a member in good standing of the true Church, the Catholic Church.
It is imperative, therefore, for a Catholic to eschew the wiles of the world, the flesh, and the devil as it is impossible to have peace in one’s own soul now and to enjoy the peace of Heaven for all eternity unless one is making war against the three, inter-related enemies of our salvation: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort explained that worldings do not save their souls, and to illustrate this point he explained the commandments that rule a worlding’s life:
There are several kinds of Wisdom. First there is true and false wisdom. True wisdom is fondness of truth, without guile of dissimulation. False wisdom is fondness of falsehood, disguised under the appearance of truth. This false wisdom is the wisdom of the world, which, according to the Holy Spirit, is threefold "Earthly, sensual and devilish wisdom" (Jas. 3: 15). True wisdom is natural and supernatural. Natural wisdom is knowledge, in an eminent degree, of natural things in their principles; supernatural wisdom is knowledge of supernatural and divine things in their origin.
But we must be aware of being mistaken in our choice, for there are several kinds of wisdom. There is the Wisdom of God--the only true Wisdom, that deserves to be loved as a great treasure. There is also the wisdom of the corrupt world, which must be condemned and detested as evil and pernicious. Moreover, there is the wisdom of the philosophers, which we must despise wen it is not true philosophy and because it is often dangerous to salvation.
So far, following the advice of St. Paul, we have spoken of the Wisdom of God to chosen souls, but lest they should be deceived by the false luster of worldly wisdom, let us expose its deceit and malice. The wisdom of the world is that of which it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise" (1 Cor. 1: 19) according to the world. "The wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God.... This is not the wisdom descending from above but earthly, sensual, devilish" (Rom. 8: 7, Jas. 3: 15).
This worldly wisdom consists in the exact compliance with the maxims and fashions of the world; in a continuous trend toward greatness and esteem. It is a secret and unceasing pursuit of pleasures and personal interests, not in a gross and open manner, so as to cause scandal, but in a secret, deceitful and scheming fashion. Otherwise, it would not be what the world calls wisdom, but rank licentiousness.
Those who process according to the wisdom of the world, are those who know how to manage well their affairs and to arrange things to their temporal advantage, without appearing to do so;
--who know the art of deceiving and how to cleverly cheat without it being noticed; who say or do one thing and have another in mind;
--who are thoroughly acquainted with the way and the flattery of the world;
--who know how to please everybody, in order to reach their goal, not troubling much about the honor and interests of God;
--who make a secret, but deadly, fusion of truth with untruth; of the Gospel with the world; of virtue with vice; of Jesus Christ with Satan;
--who wish to pass for honest people, but not as religious men; who despise and corrupt or readily condemn every religious practice which does not conform to their own.
In short, the worldly-wise are those, who being guided only by their human senses and reason, seek only to appear as Christian and honest folk, without troubling much to please God, or to do penance for the sins which they have committed against His divine Majesty. The worlding bases his conduct upon his honor, upon what people say, upon convention, upon good cheer, upon personal interest, upon refined manners, upon witty jokes. These are the seven innocent incentives, so he thinks, upon which he can rely, so that hey may lead an easy life. He has virtues of his own, for which is canonized by the world. These are manliness, finesse, diplomacy, tact, gallantry, politeness and sprightliness. He considers as serious sins such traits as lack of feeling, silliness, dullness and sanctimoniousness.
The Ten Commandments of the Worldly Man:
- Thou shalt be well acquainted with the world.
- Thou shalt appear to be an honest man.
- Thou shalt be successful in business.
- Thou shalt kept what is thine.
- Thou shalt get on in the world.
- Thou shalt make friends.
- Thou shalt be a society man.
- Thou shalt make merry.
- Thou shalt not be a killjoy.
- Thou shalt avoid singularity, dullness and an air of piety.
Never was the world so corrupt as it is now, because it was never so astute, so wise in its own conceit and so cunning. It is so skillful in deceiving the soul seeking perfection, that it makes use of truth to foster untruth, of virtue to authorize vice and it even distorts the meaning of Christ's own truths, to give authority to its own maxims. "The number of those who are fools, according to God, is infinite" (Eccles. 1: 15)
The earthly wisdom, spoken of by St. James, is an excessive striving for worldly goods. The worldly-wise make a secret profession of this type of wisdom when they allow themselves to become attached to their earthly possessions; when they strive to become rich; when they go to law and bring useless actions against others, in order to acquire or to keep temporal goods; when their every thought, word and deed is mainly directed toward obtaining or retaining something temporal. As to working out their eternal salvation and making use of the means to do so--such as reception of the Sacraments and prayer--they accomplish these duties only carelessly, in a very offhanded manner, once in a while and for the sake of appearances.
Sensual wisdom is a lustful desire for pleasures, The worldly-wise make a profession of it, when they seek only the satisfaction of the senses; when they are inordinately fond of entertainment; when they sun whatever mortifies and inconveniences the body, such as fasting and other austerities; when they continually think of eating, drinking, playing, laughing, amusing themselves and having an agreeable time; when they eagerly seek after soft beds, merry games, sumptuous feasts and fashionable society.
Then, after having unscrupulously indulged in all these pleasures--perhaps without displeasing the world or injuring their health--they look for the "least scrupulous" confessor (such is the name they give to those easy going confessors who shirk their duty) that they may receive from him, at little cost, the peaceful sanction of their soft and effeminate life, and a plenary indulgence for all their sins. I say, at little cost, for these, sensually wise, want, as penance, the recitation of only a few prayers, or the giving of an alms, because they dislike what afflicts the body.
Devilish wisdom consists in an unlawful striving for human esteem and honors. This is the wisdom which the worldly-wise profess when they aim, although not openly, at greatness, honors, dignities and high positions; when they wish to be seen, esteemed, praised and applauded by men; when in their studies, their works, their endeavors their words and their actions, they seek only the good opinion and praise of men, so that they may be looked upon as pious people, as men of learning, as great leaders, as clever lawyers, as people of boundless and distinguished merit, or deserving of high consideration; while they cannot bear an insult, or a rebuke; or they cover up their faults and make a show of their fine qualities. [Thomas A. Droleskey note: This could refer also to many conciliar "bishops" and, sadly, to a few true bishops in the Catholic underground at this time.]
With Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, we must detest and condemn these three kinds of false wisdom if we wish to acquire the true one, which does not seek its own interest, which is not found on this earth, nor in the heart of those who lead a comfortable life, but which abhors all that which is great and high in the estimation of men.
To come to the perfect possession of Divine Wisdom, we must accept and follow His teaching. We must begin renouncing ourselves and keeping the great commandments of loving God and our neighbor. We must renounce the flesh, the world and its temporal goods. Above all we must renounce our self-will. To do this, we must humbly pray, we must do penance and suffer persecution. For all this we need the help of Divine Wisdom, Who invites us to go to Him.
With His help we need not fear, provided we be clean of heart. To succeed we must persevere and not look back; we must walk in the light and act according to the teachings of Divine Wisdom; we must be vigilant and avoid the maxims of the false prophets; we must not fear what may be done to our body and reputation, but only be solicitous about the kingdom of God, which we can only enter by the narrow gate. Therefore, we must keep in mind the Eight Beatitudes and we must be thankful to God for having taught us these heavenly truths. (St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion: Consecration to Mary, Complete Five-Week Preparation, compiled by Father Helmuts Libietus, Angelus Press, 1998, pp. 31-36, taken from Saint Louis de Montfort's book, The Love of Eternal Wisdom.)
Pope Leo XIII, writing in Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891, explained that that there is no sin in acquiring wealth in this world if one has done so honestly by the good and just use of the talents given him by God. Those who have been so favored by God, however, have an obligation, after taking care of their family's basic need, to support the work of the Church and to provide for those who have not been as blessed as they have been:
But the Church, with Jesus Christ as her Master and Guide, aims higher still. She lays down precepts yet more perfect, and tries to bind class to class in friendliness and good feeling. The things of earth cannot be understood or valued aright without taking into consideration the life to come, the life that will know no death. Exclude the idea of futurity, and forthwith the very notion of what is good and right would perish; nay, the whole scheme of the universe would become a dark and unfathomable mystery. The great truth which we learn from nature herself is also the grand Christian dogma on which religion rests as on its foundation -- that, when we have given up this present life, then shall we really begin to live. God has not created us for the perishable and transitory things of earth, but for things heavenly and everlasting; He has given us this world as a place of exile, and not as our abiding place. As for riches and the other things which men call good and desirable, whether we have them in abundance, or are lacking in them -- so far as eternal happiness is concerned -- it makes no difference; the only important thing is to use them aright. Jesus Christ, when He redeemed us with plentiful redemption, took not away the pains and sorrows which in such large proportion are woven together in the web of our mortal life. He transformed them into motives of virtue and occasions of merit; and no man can hope for eternal reward unless he follow in the blood-stained footprints of his Savior. "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him."Christ's labors and sufferings, accepted of His own free will, have marvelously sweetened all suffering and all labor. And not only by His example, but by His grace and by the hope held forth of everlasting recompense, has He made pain and grief more easy to endure; "for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory."
Therefore, those whom fortune favors are warned that riches do not bring freedom from sorrow and are of no avail for eternal happiness, but rather are obstacles; that the rich should tremble at the threatenings of Jesus Christ -- threatenings so unwonted in the mouth of our Lord -- and that a most strict account must be given to the Supreme Judge for all we possess. The chief and most excellent rule for the right use of money is one the heathen philosophers hinted at, but which the Church has traced out clearly, and has not only made known to men's minds, but has impressed upon their lives. It rests on the principle that it is one thing to have a right to the possession of money and another to have a right to use money as one ills. Private ownership, as we have seen, is the natural right of man, and to exercise that right, especially as members of society, is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary. "It is lawful," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "for a man to hold private property; and it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.'' But if the question be asked: How must one's possessions be used? -- the Church replies without hesitation in the words of the same holy Doctor: "Man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need. Whence the apostle saith, 'Command the rich of this world . . to offer with no stint, to apportion largely'." True, no one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs and those of his household; nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, "for no one ought to live other than becomingly." But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one's standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. "Of that which remaineth, give alms." It is duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity -- a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield place to the laws and judgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving -- "It is more blessed to give than to receive"; and who will count a kindness done or refused to the poor as done or refused to Himself -- "As long as you did it to one of My least brethren you did it to Me." To sum up, then, what has been said: Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others. "He that hath a talent," said St. Gregory the Great, "let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility hereof with his neighbor."
As for those who possess not the gifts of fortune, they are taught by the Church that in God's sight poverty is no disgrace, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in earning their bread by labor. This is enforced by what we see in Christ Himself, who, "whereas He was rich, for our sakes became poor''; and who, being the Son of God, and God Himself, chose to seem and to be considered the son of a carpenter -- nay, did not disdain to spend a great part of His life as a carpenter Himself. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?"
From contemplation of this divine Model, it is more easy to understand that the true worth and nobility of man lie in his moral qualities, that is, in virtue; that virtue is, moreover, the common inheritance of men, equally within the reach of high and low, rich and poor; and that virtue, and virtue alone, wherever found, will be followed by the rewards of everlasting happiness. Nay, God Himself seems to incline rather to those who suffer misfortune; for Jesus Christ calls the poor "blessed"; He lovingly invites those in labor and grief to come to Him for solace; and He displays the tenderest charity toward the lowly and the oppressed. These reflections cannot fail to keep down the pride of the well-to-do, and to give heart to the unfortunate; to move the former to be generous and the latter to be moderate in their desires. Thus, the separation which pride would set up tends to disappear, nor will it be difficult to make rich and poor join hands in friendly concord. (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891.)
Yes, everything we do in this life must help us to attain our eternal salvation as members of the Catholic Church.
Father Charles Arminjon wrote the following prophetic words in 1888 in The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, the book that helped inspire Therese Martin to apply for entrance into the Carmel of Lisieux:
Already, the distant peoples are adopting our inventions, casting rifled guns, and beginning to build armored ships and arsenals. China—that vast empire swarming with people, where, each day, the seas and rivers engulf a huge excess of human beings whom the rich, fertile soil can no longer feed—she has her mechanics, her engineers, and is learning our strategy and industrial progress. Now, have our latest wars not shown that, at the present time, the issue of battles lies above all in numbers, and that, in armies, as in the realm of politics, what determines success and wins the victory is the brutal, inexorable law of superior numbers?
Thus, the hour bids to be not far off when these millions . . . who populate the east and north of Asia will have at their disposal more soldiers, more ammunition, and more military leaders than all other peoples; and the day can be foreseen when, having become fully conscious of their number and strength, they will hurl themselves in countless hordes upon our Europe, enfeebled and forsaken by God. There will then be invasions more terrible than those of the Vandals and the Huns . . . Provinces will be pillaged, rights violated, and small nations destroyed and ground down like dust. Then, a vast agglomeration of all the inhabitants of the earth will be observed, under the scepter of a single leader, who will be either the Antichrist, or one of his immediate predecessors. That day will see the death of human freedom.
The unity of all peoples will be built, for the last time, upon the ruins of all the suppressed nationalities. The empire of evil will be accomplished. Divine Providence will scourge the world, by subject it, body and soul, to one master . . . who will be moved solely by hatred of men and contempt of God.
Accordingly, any careful observer of the events of the present time cannot escape the conviction that everything is being done to bring about a social environment where the man of sin, by combining in his person all the depravity and very false doctrine of his age, will be produced spontaneously and effortlessly, like the parasitical tapeworm that breeds naturally in the gangrenous flesh and organs.
Yet the apparently incomprehensible thing that, at first sight, no sign seems to presage, is that the seat of his empire will be Jerusalem. [Droleskey note: What was I saying about Jerusalem Belongs to Christ the King and His True Church.]
Well, it is easy to see that, if the materialistic, atheistic civilization, whose impending coming the free-thinkers and the irreligious press are always predicting, every dawns on the world, its center of action and seat of public will be Jerusalem.
In fact, when the Christian Faith has finally died out in the hearts of men—when pleasure and well-being have become the gods of the day—human will then have one single goal: the power of the state; one single lever and stimulus: public opinion, one inspiration and driving force: and this stimulus, this sinew, this driving force, will be gold. Gold will take precedence over religion and morality, becoming the basis of politics and the keystone of all institutions. The pontiffs and kings will be the financiers; and the people who possesses the most gold will be the ones who will son exercise the greatest control over us. (Father Charles Arminjon, The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, translated by Susan Conroy and Peter McEnerny. Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2008, pp. 59-61.)
Father Charles Arminjon, who lived from 1824 to 1885, wrote this in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century.
Quite prophetic, wouldn't you say?
Quite applicable to our current circumstances today.
What more needs to be said?
We need to pray and to work for the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ King as we plant seeds by offering all that we have and to Him through the Sorrowful Immaculate Heart of Mary according to the formula of Saint Louis de Montfort, making sure to pray as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits.
May we pray to Our Lady and to her Most Chaste Spouse, Good Saint Joseph so that their Divine Son will indeed conquer all of the enemies that oppose our own salvation so that so that we, who have been His enemies all too frequently by means of our sins, will be conquered once and for all by His ineffable grace to eschew the honors and riches of this world to be faithful to Him as He has revealed Himself to us through His true Church and thus enjoy the only reunion that matters, eternal life in Heaven.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Henry the Emperor, pray for us.