Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Septuagesima Sunday—1 February AD 2014

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

Explain Septuagesima
Tomorrow is Candlemas (10 AM)
First Friday Mass and Adoration (7 PM)
First Saturday (10 AM) (New Time)

“Have I not the right to do as I choose?
Or are you envious because I am generous?”[1]

    I read an interesting piece on the Internet a few days ago—perhaps I should say a terrifying piece.  It was entitled “Letter From Beyond” and purported to be a letter from a woman in hell to a former co-worker.[2]  It is not clear whether the letter is supposed to be real, or just a fictional exercise by someone familiar with the theology of hell—in either event, it is a powerful aid to meditation on hell and why we don’t want to go there.  It was good to see such a thing in this age where priests and bishops talk about hell as though no one ever goes there.

    It starts out immediately with the statement: “Do not pray for me. I am damned.” And “Do not think that I am telling you [the] circumstances and details about my condemnation as a sign of friendship.  Here we no longer love anyone.”  The letter was written because God required her to write it, and not out of concern for her former friend.  “In truth, I would like to see you here [in hell] where I will remain forever.” 

    The woman (named Anne) lamented that there was no way to end her miserable existence.  “I wish I could annihilate myself … to do away with myself like a piece of cloth reduced to ashes, leaving no remnant behind.  But I must exist.  I must be as I have made myself, bearing the total blame for how I have ended.

    The poor woman, and everyone with her in hell, were eaten up with hatred for every one and every thing.  She hated prayer, the Mass, holy water, and churches.  “I profoundly detest those who go to church, along with everyone and everything in general.”

    “Here we drink hatred as if it were water. We all hate one another.  And more than anything else, we hate God….  The blessed in Heaven constantly behold Him in His awe-inspiring beauty. That makes them indescribably happy. We know this, and that knowledge fills us with fury.

    I read this supposed “Letter from Hell” less than I day before I sat down to read the texts of today’s Mass in order to comment on it.  Almost immediately, I saw the connection to today’s Gospel.  The householder hiring laborers and paying them without regard to the differing burdens they shouldered represents the good God, who desires the salvation of all His human creatures.  The burdens we experience in life are different for every person, yet God wants to take each one of us to heaven.  Some of His people are holy from early on in life—some repent of a bad life only on their deathbed—and many are somewhere in between.  Some are raised in the Catholic Faith—others wander through most of their life with little or no Faith at all.  God loves them all, and desires their salvation, no matter where they fit on the spectrum of doing good works and believing what He has revealed to be true.

    None of us is perfect!  Not even the cradle Catholic who spends all of his life in monastic prayer.  The Father has precisely one Son and one daughter without sin—all the rest are justly liable to eternal punishment.  But God is merciful, and ever willing to extend His hand to those who seek it in this life.

    Perhaps we can see the point made in the Gospel by the laborers who worked all day in the heat of the sun.  But our Lord was relating a parable—a story that told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is similar to the earthly situation described.  In the actual Kingdom of Heaven, those who labor all their lives couldn’t be happier than to see a soul saved later along in life (even at the moment of death).  It does not matter to them at all that they expended great efforts in life while others will, so to speak, “slide in under the wire” after spending lives not particularly religious.  Indeed, the holier souls are those who are happy because God is happy with the conversion and salvation of sinners.

    Indeed, the holy souls, are those who will do all that they can for the salvation of those who do not know God, and do not keep His Commandments.  They will have no envy, and will rejoice in the salvation of all who are saved.

    The unholy souls are those like those in our “Letter from Beyond” who hate “everyone and everything in general.”  The damned on earth are much like the damned in hell.  Those who hate the good fortune of their brothers and sisters on earth who come to believe and practice the Catholic Faith late in life will most likely get to preserve that hatred in the eternity of hell.  Those who hate to pray, who hate to attend Holy Mass, who despise holy water and the Church here on earth, will get to hate all of these things in the eternity of hell.  They will get to hate even God Himself, who wants everything good for His sinful sons and daughters.  They will have answered “Yes” to our Lord’s question in the Gospel:

“Are you envious because I am generous?”

    The correct answer must clearly be “No”!  “No, Lord, I am not envious”—for to be envious of our neighbors’ salvation is to make ourselves like those in hell who hate every one, every thing, and even hate God Himself!  Our answer must always be “No, Lord I am not envious, for I love You my God, with my whole heart and mind and soul—and I love my neighbor as I love myself.  I want to be with You, my God, and I want all of your human creatures to be with us for all eternity.


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