You Can Go to Hell

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register. As soon as it went up, there was a comment saying that there were actually two Judgements, not one, and another attacking someone besides themselves — in this case, the Jesuits — for not following Church teaching.

One of the commenters remarked that there was “nothing new” in this particular post.

All I can say about that is I should hope not. What I am saying here is old. It’s is 2,000 years old. But it is just as revolutionary today as it was when it was first spoken.

Here’s the point, and it has nothing to do with other people’s sins or nit-picking over theological points. Get ready now, you aren’t going to like this one bit.

You can go to hell.

Let me say that again, so that you understand. I am not saying that someone who commits sins you don’t commit is going to hell. I’m not saying that Democrats, Republicans, abortionists, feminists, Pope Francis, the Jesuits, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are going to hell.

This is about YOU.

You, perfect as you are, can go to hell.

You can go to mass every week, toss big checks into the collection plate, participate in the walk for life and quote Canon Law like a religious F Lee Bailey. But if you do not care for the least of these, if you do not extend your hand to help suffering people, then you can go to hell.

Now, participating in pro life walks and donating to the Church with the intent of supporting Church missions that help the weak and poor (and there are many) is an indirect way to helping the least of these. That is true.

But the Pharisees that Jesus basically said were going to hell if they did not change were obsessively conscientious about doing the “right” things while they walked past suffering people on their way to the Temple. Probably worse than that, they condemned and shunned everyone who did not measure up to their remorseless rules; they even condemned Jesus for associating with “sinners.”

Don’t be like them. Don’t do the “right” thing in an angry condemnatory way. That can send you straight to hell.

How will we be judged when our life is over? Jesus said that we will be judged by how we treat other people.

He didn’t mention one word about sniping and carping over Canon Law. He didn’t say anything at all about voting right or loudly condemning people who commit sins that don’t tempt us. He said that we would be judged based on how we treat people who can’t fight back, how we minister to those in need, how we reach out to people who are on the fringes, who are judged by society to be dirty, lost, condemned.

Far from giving us leave to condemn those who differ from us, He said that we would be judged on whether or not we reach out to those who have been condemned, many of them justly so. That’s what it means when He said “I was in prison and you visited me.”

We can not leave one person alone, lost and despised.

That is a tall order. There is no one of us, including me, who can fulfill it. That is why we need a savior. Jesus didn’t just give us a new, impossible, set of commandments. He didn’t just show up and set the bar so high that no one could possible manage to get to heaven.

He came to give us a way out.

And that way out is the Cross. We enter into the New Covenant of love and salvation by way of the Cross. Jesus is the Way, and the Cross is the door.

We have a way out of our sins, and that is repentance and turning to follow Him with all our hearts. The Church offers confession to cleanse us, the Eucharist to feed us, and clear, simple teachings to guide us.

But the bottom line is that we are, each of us, rapidly speeding toward that moment when our personal end of time arrives and we stand before the Lord. And we will be judged according to the teachings I quote in this post.

I’m going to be writing quite a bit about basic things. This election and the lack of teaching from our religious leaders has destroyed the concept of pubic morality. It has placed all of politics and thus our national thinking, in a morality free zone.

We need to understand that this is an illusion. There is no morality free zone. There is only following Christ or following the devil.

From the National Catholic Register:

Our Holy Father spoke about the end times during his Angelus on the first Sunday of Advent. We all — believer and unbeliever — know that there will be an end. The end of all things rims our lives like a horizon all our days.

The truth is, we don’t need to worry overmuch about the ultimate “end times.” We are all rushing headlong to our own, personal “end time” every single day we live.

When we die, we will be at our own end of days, our end time. The things we have done will be writ and cannot be erased. This simple fact gives perspective to our here and now.

Pope Francis reminded us that the material things, what Wordsworth called “getting and spending” don’t matter all that much when we are forced to consider the ultimate toting up of our lives. When we stand before God, what will matter is the hour we spent visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, stood by a rape victim, helped an unwed mother find ways to keep her job or continue school during her pregnancy, or reached out in forgiveness to someone who had hurt us.

It won’t matter what kind of car we drove or if we got that big job. It certainly won’t help us on that day if we spent much of our time in this life doing things — even little things — that hurt and humiliated other people, or worst of all, drove them away from Jesus.

What will matter is whether or not we loved Jesus and other people. God is love, and our love, faith and hope are all that go with us into eternity. Those who love much are rich with the only lucre that saves, both now and in our ever after.

There are no foreigners, no rich and famous, no impoverished and unknown, no powerful and mighty, when we stand before the cross. We are all one nation, one family, of fallen souls, equal in our abject dependence on the broken Son of Man hanging there.

Here is what Jesus Himself told us about the Judgement we will face.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

That is Jesus Christ the Lord, God made human, telling us directly and explicitly how we will be judged when we stand before God.

I have three simple questions to ask you.

One: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?

Two: Do you believe that He said this?

Three: Do you believe He meant it?

If your answer to those three questions is yes, yes and yes, then there aren’t any more questions. You  know how you should live and what you should do.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias: Does Hell Prove that God is Cruel?

 

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Pope to Mafia: Convert, Hell Awaits You if You Continue on This Road

The first godfather movie was something of a watershed in American culture. 

It wasn’t the first gangster movie. That genre went back to before James Cagney. But The Godfather was different. 

The bad guys were the heroes in The Godfather. That movie and those in the genre which followed it, presented us with an attractive view of an upside-down morality of killing-is-good, selling drugs/women/corruption is just business, and bribery, extortion, arson and theft are “honorable” practices if they are done according to a fictional underworld “code” of conduct. 

Organized crime, which is a chilling concept to begin with, was presented as a good, and the culture that housed it was depicted as a papa-loves-bambinos world of endearing tribal loyalties and oddball but real family values. In fact, almost the only family values movies have consistently shown us in these past 50 years have been in stories about the home lives of the professional serial killers of organized crime. 

The Godfather turned morality on its head by making the baddest of bad guys into good guys. It presented a world where evil was good and good was non-existent.  

Mafia movies have been a staple of American entertainment ever since. The most talented actors, best directors and finest writers have put their incredible abilities to work in the service of creating movies and television that is based on a sympathetic view of the sad, sick world of professional killers, drug pushers and purveyors of prostitution and porn. 

The acting and drama of these shows is so excellent that they are almost hypnotic to watch. There is a compelling draw to these presentations of evil that can entrap people, especially when it is packaged by some of the greatest artistic talents money can buy. Meanwhile, the spiral keeps twisting its way downward, as we find our enjoyment in on-screen depictions of sick and sicker murderers. 

But evil itself, when it steps off the screen and into our lives, is not so lovely or compelling. Murder isn’t entertainment. Buying, selling and otherwise dehumanizing people for money losses its gloss when you look into the eyes of its victims. There is nothing attractive about watching actual corruption, extortion and killing in progress. 

Serial killers are destroyers, not creators. Organized serial killers who kill for money are destruction on a societal scale. 

Pope Francis speaks against the Mafia with the prophetic voice of the Vicar of Christ. Yesterday, at a mass for the families of people who have been murdered by the mafia, he stood at the pulpit and spoke directly to those who are in the mafia. 

He warned mafia members that they can not take their “blood-stained power” and “blood-stained money” with them when they die. He implored them to turn away from the evil they do and convert. Then, he warned them that “hell awaits you if you continue on this road.” 

If Pope Francis told me that I had to change my ways or go to hell, I would change my ways.

It remains to be seen if any of the people who are involved with the mafia allow themselves to hear what the pope has told them and change their ways. The pope set before them life and death. I wonder if any of them will have the courage to chose life. 

At least one government official has voiced concern for the pope’s safety. He fears mafia violence against Pope Francis. But if our Holy Father worries about this, it doesn’t show. I think that’s because he’s already chosen life. He knows that no matter what happens to him, his destination is heaven.

Pope Francis is doing what a shepherd of souls does. He is calling the lost sheep home. 

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2013 Favs: You Belong to Me

A few weeks ago, my pastor preached a homily based on what is a simple but absolute fact of all our lives.

We will die.

You are going to die.

I am going to die.

It may be in a car wreck this afternoon as you go to the store to buy milk. It may be years from now as you sleep in your bed at 85. But you and I will die.

My pastor told us that when we die, someone will say to us, You belong to me. The question is, who will be saying this to us? Will it be Jesus, welcoming us Home. Or will it be someone else?

We are the ones who decide who will tell us You belong to me on that day. We decide, not so much by the things we say, but by what we do. Who do you serve with your life? Whose teachings do you follow?

Do you follow the troubling teachings of the Gospels as elucidated to us by the Holy Father, Pope Francis? Or do you follow the serpent who whispers in all of our ears, Take. Eat. God is a liar. You will not die?

As with all really successful lies, this one was part truth. When the serpent whispered You will not die in Eve’s ear, it was true. All the serpent had to do was add one word to make it absolutely true. That word was today.

You will not die today. 

Take. Eat. And you will be like God, knowing right from wrong. And you will not die today. 

There are many serpents in our world today, and each one of them speaks to us in the peculiar language of our own hearts. They tell us that what we want to do is right and the Church which tells us otherwise is wrong, cruel, hard-hearted and mean to tell us it is not.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your sexuality, your politics, the way you treat your family or some secret sin you keep to yourself. You have your own serpent to whisper in your ear and tell you, God/the Pope/the Gospels are all liars. Do this and you will be free of those binding appeals to lying morality.

And, of course, you will not die. 

But it’s all a lie from the father of lies. The Gospel this Sunday talks about judgement day, when Jesus told us that one will be taken and another left behind. Many preachers concentrate their preaching about this on some final Judgement Day for all humankind that recedes in front of us like the horizon as we live our lives.

But I think that there are two judgement days and the one we need to concern ourselves with is our own personal Judgement Day that is coming at all of us faster than any of us wants to believe. On that day, someone will say to us You belong to me. 

One of the primary purposes of this blog is to encourage Christians to take a stand for Jesus in a post Christian world. Since I am myself a politician, I am calling you from the depths of my experience to cast off the false gods of political claptrap and follow the Gospels of Christ without compromise.

Do not follow false teachers who are the political serpents whispering in all our ears and who edit the Gospels of Christ to serve their political masters. Do not bow down before the elephant or the donkey. Do not do it.

When we die and someone says to us, You belong to me, we are the ones who will have determined which voice we hear saying it. We are choosing now as we choose who we serve, who we follow and who we believe.

Follow Christ.

Follow His Vicar who was chosen by the Holy Spirit and who cannot teach us that which is contrary to the Gospels of Christ.

Stop trying to lead, and follow. And stop quibbling about it.

I have learned from my own disastrous failures at doing it my way and I am telling you now from the bottom of my heart: There is no other Way.

 

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Guess What? Heaven and Hell are BOTH in Oklahoma!

It seems that a number of the Catholic Patheosi are blogging about hell.

Since all I know of hell is what I’ve learned during the last week of session in the Oklahoma Legislature, I’ve decided to talk about that other place.

Enjoy.

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Elderly Woman to Mugger: If You Kill Me, I’ll Go to Heaven and You’ll Go to Hell

 

Ninety-two year-old-woman witnesses to a mugger and sends him home to pray.

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Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 5

St

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev 12: 17 – 18

This is day 5 of the Novena to St Michael. We are praying for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

Our Lord was crucified by a group of corrupt priests and a cowardly politician. Yesterday, we looked at the cowardly politician. Today, let’s meditate on the corrupt priests. 

The Levitical priesthood of Jesus’ day was corrupt. It had become a priesthood that, as Jesus said, does not practice what it preaches. 

This was so widespread that Jesus bluntly warned His followers to beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 

He went on with a warning that nothing that is covered up that will not be known, which was a frightening warning for those with the good sense to heed it that all our pretenses to goodness will be shown for the pretense they are when we stand before God. 

Both Jesus and John the Baptist before Him denounced this corrupt priesthood in unforgettable language. When the priests went to where John the Baptist was baptizing people, he said Brood of vipers! Who told you to flee the coming wrath?

Our Lord was no gentler in His condemnation of them. He repeatedly called them Hypocrites … blind guides … snakes … brood of vipers … white washed tombs that on the outside are beautiful but inside are full of corruption. 

The Levitical priesthood was corrupt. It had become a collaborator with the Roman conquerors to keep the people down. It used its power to interpret the Law of Moses to create new and more difficult regulations that it heaped on an impoverished and suffering people. These priests lorded it over the people of God. They used the law to punish and batter them. 

At the same time, the priests themselves lived large on the Roman beneficence. They did not follow the harsh laws they put on the people. Their faith was performance art, not faith. They demanded that the people that God had raised up and led through the desert to this land bow down to them and their pretend holiness.

They were, in Jesus’ words, blind guides.

His description of them to his disciples would fit any fallen priest or clergy today:

… they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

Their priesthood was for themselves, not God and certainly not God’s people.

Jesus condemned them as He condemned no one else. He diagnosed their spiritual poverty in a series of condemnations, beginning each condemning diagnosis with the words Woe to you, teachers of the law and pharisees. 

At the end of this long diagnosis of their fallen priesthood, He cursed them by prophesying:

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

This was God made Man, speaking to His own failed priests. It is sobering beyond sobering how God deals with corrupt priests.

It was also inevitable that they would try to kill him. While the people suffered under Roman rule, the priests had a good deal. They lorded it over the people and lived lives of luxury off the Roman fat. They weren’t doing good. They were doing well.

In one of the most chilling passages in Scripture, they discussed what to do about this Jesus the people were following, how to end this threat to their sovereignty and good times.

It appears that they lied, even to one another. Rather than just say the truth that they hated Jesus for exposing them for what they were and they feared His influence with the people, they made up a fantasy about the necessity of committing murder to “save the people.”

Caiaphas, the chief priest, concluded the discussion by telling the others It is better for one man to die than the whole nation. 

This is how murderers justify murder, by claiming that they are doing something fine and necessary with their killing. But in the end murder is always about one thing: Me. 

Caiaphas took it a step further:

He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

In other words, he used his full authority as chief priest, as the religious leader who interceded with God for God’s people, to promulgate this plan to murder Christ the Lord. 

In this he was no different from religious leaders today who stand before crowds or go on television and incite their followers to murder and persecute the Body of Christ in the person of His followers. They, like Caiaphas, are using their power as priests to murder innocence. 

Shakespeare famously said, Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds. 

Jesus put it differently when He said, To those whom much is given, much is required. 

Priests and religious leaders have been given much. They are entrusted first with the souls of many other people. They are also entrusted with the understanding of God in this world. 

Their smell when they become corrupt is associated in people’s minds with God Himself. 

These corrupt priests who Jesus said, Shut the door of heaven in people’s faces, had already turned their backs on God when Jesus began His ministry. Their priesthood was all about them, their power and the respect they loved to receive. 

But they entered history and became the manifestation of what a fallen priesthood is when they set themselves the task of procuring the judicial murder of God Himself. 

The Scriptures do not tell us that God warned these priests as He did Pilate. So far as we know, He sent no dreams to tell them what they were doing was wrong. He didn’t have to. They, unlike Pilate, had the law and the prophets. They knew beyond doubt that they were committing murder. 

They denied what they didn’t want to see: That Jesus was divine. They were, as He told them, the spiritual descendants of those earlier corrupt priests who had murdered the prophets. 

It is better for one man to die than the whole nation, Caiaphas said. 

How will you escape being condemned to hell? Jesus asked him. 

He is asking that same question of the religious leaders in various countries around the world who use their power over people to instigate the persecution of Christians. 

It cannot be said too many times that persecuted Christians are Christ crucified in today’s world.

Religious leaders who lead their followers in the almost unfathomable sin of attacking, persecuting and murdering Christ’s followers because they are Christ’s followers are these same Pharisees. The same satan who inspired them then, whispers calls to hate and kill in the ears of their descendants today. 

How will you escape being condemned to hell? Jesus asked. 

The question applies just as much to corrupt and fallen clergy today as it did when He first said it 2,000 years ago. 

 

Here is the Novena to St Michael for the Persecuted Church, Day 5. Please pray it and ask others to join you.

Glorious Saint Michael,
guardian and defender
of the Church of Jesus Christ,
come to the assistance of His followers,
against whom the powers of hell are unchained.
Guard with special care our Holy Father,
the Pope, and our bishops, priests,
all our religious and lay people,
and especially the children.

Saint Michael,
watch over us during life,
defend us against the assaults of the demon,
and assist us especially at the hour of death.
Help us achieve the happiness
of beholding God face to face
for all eternity.

Amen.

Saint Michael,
intercede for me with God
in all my necessities,
especially

for the conversion of the world, 
that from pole to pole, 
dateline to dateline, 
all will call out Jesus' name. 

Obtain for me a favourable outcome
in the matter I recommend to you.
Mighty prince of the heavenly host,
and victor over rebellious spirits,
remember me for I am weak and sinful
and so prone to pride and ambition.
Be for me, I pray,
my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty,
and above all do not forsake me
in my last struggle with the powers of evil.

Amen.
 
Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 4
Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 3
Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 2 
Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 1
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I Believe

I taught my kids the Apostles Creed when they were little.

During the homeschooling years, we prayed the Apostles Creed after our daily Bible study every morning. We were Protestants at that time and I wanted to prepare them for the marketplace of ideas and ideologies that make up the wide world of many denominations. I told them that if a church did not believe what the Apostles Creed teaches, then it was not a true church and they should not join it.

If I was raising my kids today, I would have to take on a plethora of attacks on the Gospels, many of which are more subtle than simply denying the basic tenets of the faith that the Apostles Creed teaches. However, I think my original way of looking at the subject is still valid. A church — or a person, for that matter — who denies the basics contained in the creeds is missing the essentials of what constitutes Christian belief.

I view the Apostles Creed as the bedrock statement of the faith, the non-negotiable foundation on which everything else the Gospels teach is built.

What do you believe?

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Death. And What Comes After.

Death.

And what comes after.

Near death experiences happen to a lot of people. I know people who have been through near death experiences. I know that what these people say is the truth as they understand it.

What do these things mean? Well, first of all, the person did not die. They were near death, not dead. So, I think it’s safe to say that what they experienced was not death itself. At the same time, these are not just dreams or hallucinations as dreams and hallucinations usually are. There is a profound quality to what happened, and it fits with what also happens to the person afterward.

The near death experiences I know about that I feel secure in believing involve a good afterlife. However, this video contains the story of a Catholic priest who had to deal with the reality of judgement and hell. We will all stand before God one day and give an account of our lives. None of us will escape this. As the priest in the video says, the self-serving explanations we give ourselves for our actions here won’t avail us much on that day.

The video raises some of the most important questions any of us will ever have to answer. Give it a watch and see what you think.

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Frank Weathers Says it Best: Why the Catholic Church Will Never Support Gay Marriage

Franks Weathers, the brilliant writer, retired Marine and all around good guy who bills himself “Joe six pack,” wrote a fantastic post about gay marriage yesterday.

Instead of going off into arcane reasoning and trying to avoid the moral implications, Frank went straight to the heart of the matter. His argument can be summed up in a few words that belie the eloquence of what he wrote but still get the point across:

1. Hell is real.

2. People go there forever.

3. Homosexual acts can send you to hell.

4. The Church will never condone gay marriage because it will never condone anything that will send people to hell beause

5. The business of the Church is helping people go to heaven, not sending them to hell.

Frank, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, said it a lot better than that. In fact, he said it so well I have nothing to add. For a politician to say that she has nothing to add is, well, it’s incredible.

Here, is an excerpt from the incredible post, The Number One Reason the Catholic Church Won’t Support Gay Marriage, Updated. 

So what’s absolutely, positively, the A-1, best reason why the Bride of Christ won’t recognize Same-Sex civil unions as being a good?

Because Hell burns, and for all eternity. That’s why. The Church teaches that engaging in homosexual acts will lead one to eternal damnation.

Of course, the Church also teaches that committing all manner of other sinful acts, without compunction or repentance, leads one right to Hell too. Not much has changed in this regard since John the Baptist went around telling folks to “Repent!”

And the Church, that holy hospital built by Christ Himself to cleanse us, and lead us to the Promised Land, wouldn’t be doing her job properly for her Lord if she didn’t use every ounce of the Magisterial Authority she wields to do everything in her power to prevent souls from being destroyed forever in the Lake of Fire. (Read the rest here.)

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