“Many shall come from the east and the
west and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of
heaven; But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior
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Chair of Unity Octave Prayer
A few years ago, I had a conversation
with man who, at best, seemed to be a nominal Christian. And he was very
much impressed with the notion that the Jews had been God's chosen people, and
at least for the most part, had lost this position by rejecting the Messiah
when He came to them. This fellow seemed to simply dislike Jewish
people, and he was trying to use this as an example of how materialistic they
were—and perhaps a little bit dumb besides.
But when I asked him about his own
religion, he became rather defensive. He couldn't see any reason why a
grown man had to believe in things like Sacraments, and miracles, and angels,
and saints, and such. But, he did go to church regularly—every
Christmas and Easter—except that he had missed a few times during the
years since his mother died. And, certainly, it was a bit much to expect
a modern person to observe all 10 of the Commandments.
This fellow, who had been so
“down” on the Jews for rejecting Christ, just could not understand how the
exact same criticism applied to him. He was “different,” he was a
“Christian,” and no one was going to “cast him out into the exterior
darkness; with all the weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He couldn’t
understand that as a Christian he had an obligation to Christ, far more
serious than the modern Jewish person who was raised in that faith.
And the sad thing is that there are
many of us who are just like this fellow. That even though we may be
nominally correct in calling ourselves “Catholics,” we fail either through
lack of faith, or lack of discipline to properly live up to that name.
And, if so, we really shouldn't try to fool ourselves into believing that we
will have a share in the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is all too commonly held a mistake
among modern people—even among some Catholics—that there is no Hell, or
that only a very few especially bad people will be sent there, or that Hell is
only a temporary state and that eventually everyone will be reunited in
This is perhaps the greatest and most serious heresy of
the modern era: that the sins of all mankind will be forgiven through the
shedding of Christ's Blood; without regard to their faith and their conduct.
The Gospels and the books of the
New Testament are very clear on this:
“Depart from me, accursed ones, into the
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . Those will
go into everlasting punishment.”
“It is better to go into life maimed . . . than to
go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.”
“Between us a great gulf is fixed, so that those
who wish to pass over from this side to [hell] cannot, and they cannot
cross from [hell] to this side.”
And, likewise the Old Testament, for
Daniel: “Some shall live forever, others
shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.”
Isaia: “The corpses of those who rebelled
against Me; their worm shall not die, nor their fire be extinguished; and
they shall be abhorrent to all mankind.”
Hell has to be eternal, because it is
merited only by those who are unrepentant in their rebellion against an
Infinite God—against an Infinite God who became one of us and suffered and
died so that we might have something better. The soul in hell has simply
spurned God's infinite love and generosity. At judgment day, he flees
there himself, with the shameful knowledge that he has thrown away everything
The remedy for all of this is simple.
God is not asking a great deal—certainly nothing impossible.
We must know our faith by studying it
according to our intellectual ability. It is totally inadequate for an
adult Catholic to think that their education is complete because they answered
all of the questions in the Baltimore Catechism, all those many years ago.
But the intellectual knowledge of God
is not enough. We must
nourish our faith and our love of God by frequent prayer, Mass, and reception
of the Sacraments. No one would expect to have a successful human
romantic relationship with a person whom you avoided most of the time.
Likewise, faith and love of God come from drawing close to Him on a very
And we must practice our faith by
keeping the Commandments—all of them. Knowing the Faith and pretending
to love God would be hypocritical if we continued to offend Him with mortal
All of the sacred scriptures and
public and private revelations; the encyclicals of the popes and the writings
of the fathers and doctors of the Church; all of the works of the most humble
and most sublime mystics—they all say the same thing: In order to be
happy with God in heaven, we must know, love, and serve Him in this world.
To do any less is to cast one's self
into the exterior darkness, for an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth.