Thanks to Anne Rice for Asking This Question

In light of Webster’s recent post regarding the roles and responsibilities of the laity, I thought I would share with you some correspondence on a related topic that I have had with Anne Rice, author of the The Vampire Chronicles and the Christ the Lord series. I had written her to share one of Webster’s posts and was flabbergasted when she wrote me back a few hours later.  Sheee-eesh! Be careful what you wish for.

Usually I’m the last to know news like this but I had discovered via Bloomberg News that in 1998 Anne returned to the Catholic Church.  Whaat?! The Vampire Writer? Surprised, I learned of  a new novel she had written entitled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. It is about Christ’s early years from the time when the Holy Family returned to Nazareth from exile in Alexandria, where they had fled in accordance with the instructions an angel had given to Joseph in a dream. She also writes of her return to the Church in detail in an autobiography, Called Out of Darkness.

You haven’t read these books yet? I know, I know, you are swamped with books right now.  So am I! But if you haven’t read them, put them on your list.  And make sure to add the sequel, The Wedding at Cana. And where am I going to find the time to read her new series about angels, which debuted recently with Angel Time? I have no idea.  But I am going to find the time. Anyway, I had written her as follows,

Ms. Rice:

We are kindred spirits despite our obvious and wild differences.  Much like the twelve apostles, huh?  What a motley crew: Zealot resistance fighters (Simon) to fishermen (Peter, Andrew . . . ), to tax collectors (Matthew, despised by all).  Wow!

I’m not gonna take up a lot of your time.  I wanted to share my partner’s latest post with you.  What a story . . . It’s the kind that my friend Blaise Pascal would probably smile at.  He’s probably smiling now (I hope).

Be well and thanks for all that you are doing for Our Lord. Have fun at your book signing in Riverside. Sadly, my family and I will just miss it.  We are coming to Southern California for the Holidays for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary and Christmas and New Years.  Any other signings in So Cal during that time?

Warmest regards and the love of Our Lord be with you Always,

Frank

Ahem, pretty presumptuous, I know, but what the heck? I was sure she wasn’t going to answer anyway. A few hours later I received this reply,

Thanks for your letter.  When you have time, tell me: do you believe that the majority of humans created go to Hell for all eternity? I am finding out that many Christians do believe this. I was not taught this growing up Catholic, and I find it very difficult to believe.  I am curious however as to what others believe.  Thanks for your note.  

Take care, Anne.

I received this note back on December 5, 2009, around lunch time. I had been riding shotgun with Webster at YIM Catholic for all of six days when it arrived in my  e-mail. Gulp!  The Anne Rice, noted author of the Vampire Chronicles and the Christ the Lord series has written back to little ol’ me? Golly! Then I re-read it and thought, whaat?! Is this some kind of a test? I sent her back a rushed reply as follows:

Anne:

I certainly hope not!  Otherwise, I am done for.  No, our God and Father is not limited by our human rules, norms, or best guesses.  The Pareto Effect does not apply to God. I have faith that Our Lord loves all of us so much that He does everything to help guide us to Him. And that is one of the beautiful, just spectacular Graces that Our Lord gives us through His Church. Thanks be to God!

I went to Reconciliation this morning to confess my sins and to speak with my pastor about this blog.  His counsel prompted me to edit this piece I had posted about the Saints yesterday.  While I was doing penance and pondering what I had been counseled on, I knew that I must edit my post as such:

“But don’t worry and please don’t forget the mission of Our King’s Church: to save souls, at any cost. Most of us haven’t been called into the Church’s equivalent of the Officer Corps (Holy Orders). But we can still serve with distinction, whether we are butchers, bakers, or candle-stick makers. Again, one of the heroes of the Church (St. Francis of Assisi) serves as an example to me. ‘Preach the Gospel always,’ he said. ‘Use words if necessary.’ Also, there is no age requirement (17–28 to enlist) either and no minimum or maximum (6–8 years) contract length. Heck you can even get “out” and rejoin! Just ask Anne Rice.”

I hope I answered your question and I thank you for writing me back.

Your friend in Christ,

Frank

I sent another quick note asking her for permission to post her reply, to which she responded, 

It’s fine with me if you share your response.  I never really write confidential emails.  My queries can be shared, of course.  Thanks for the feedback.  I’m pondering.  I started another Discussion on Amazon in the Christianity forum on what people believe about Hell.  I’m interested in the beliefs of all Christians on this. 

Anne

This left me pondering too. Before I was a Catholic, I would have answered her question the way that makes sense to a modern day Pharisee, you know, that most won’t make it to heaven. But you can be sure that I just knew that I would make it. Sigh. But as a Catholic, my frame of reference had changed drastically. Let the scriptures show that,

This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

and

He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

I could go on and on with verses from the Bible relating this fact, both Old Testament and New.  Want some more examples?
 
“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

“And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:23)

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:1-2)

So I ponder with Anne the astounding and yet true fact that Jesus came to save us all.  Every single last one of us, past, present, and future. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The healthy, the sick, the able and the lame.  You, me, and everyone here in my house and yours, in my town and yours, in my country, and in every other country as far away as Timbuktu and all points in between.  He died for me, and for you. For the whole world. The just, and the unjust.  For the forgiveness of all our sins, past, present and future.

And our free will comes into play in how we approach this fact. Because there is the capacity in heaven for every single soul to be saved. Isn’t that obvious? Space isn’t the problem. The only thing preventing this from occurring is freedom of choice and our temerity in sharing this good news. This freedom God has given us is an inalienable right. We can opt out or we can opt in. But the fact is that we have been given this great freedom to do with as we see fit, from the Original Sin of our first parents.

It is our Christian duty to proclaim the Good News. The Catholic Church actively pursues the saving of souls from the moment of conception until natural death. That isn’t popular with many folks.  Remember the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16) who all received the same wages whether they started working at 5 a.m. or 7 p.m.? That is how the Catholic Church sees it. Deathbed baptisms, confessions, etc? No problem. Because saving souls for Christ is job one and the true mission of the Church, among the laity and religious alike. Did you know that Holy Orders are not required to perform a baptism?

Thanks again for your question, Anne, and may we all keep job onein mind. And for our YIMCatholic readers, I turn Anne’s question over to you. How do you answer it? RSVP. Anne and I thank you in advance for your replies.

  • http://www.livingaliturgy.blogspot.com Michelle

    I posted this on the Book Club post earlier, but I think it applies in a way here. Maybe not specifically about Hell, but salvation in general."In some ways I do believe in a kind of inclusivism, as does the Catholic Church. Somewhere in the catechism it does say that people outside of the Church, even outside of Christianity can be saved. Paul says that the rocks and creation give evidence of God. So, while I can't say that all people will be saved, I will say that I do think some people who had no way to know about Christ, but served God as they knew best will be saved. "Coming from a protestant background, it is true that we think most people will go to Hell. Which is sad, isn't it? Shouldn't we have more hope for a world that Christ conquered in his death? Calvinism is even harder for me (I never got into it, but my family is). The God wills a few to heaven and the rest to Hell. A comment I heard recently regarding that sentiment was "Isn't it convenient that calvinist pastors know their children are 'of the elect'?" I don't really know what to think about Hell. Learning about purgatory kind of changes things in my protestant perspective. I can't say who's going for sure other than the Devil and his followers. I don't know who's going to Heaven, but I know the only way is through Christ – because of what He did. And I choose to worship Him. I feel like I read or heard or watched something recently about a devout person who prayed "Lord, send me to Hell if it would bring you honor." (Might have been St. Thérèse of Lisieux). Would that we all had that kind of faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18027792245405868950 edwinoel

    Be wary of our deeds or actions because the devil works 24/7. In John 5:28-30 Jesus said to the Jews who did not believe him and wanted to kill him, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." Believing is one thing, doing is another. I believe, therefore, it is best to glorify God by always doing good, repent, follow Christ and avoid evil so we can be truly saved.

  • Maria

    1861 MORTAL SIN sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God. CCC

  • Maria

    We must not speculate.FROM CCC—IV. HELL 1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." 1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616 1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. 1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618 Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."6191037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":621 Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.622

  • Maria

    John Hardon SJWhat should hell teach us?1.It first of all teaches us that the same God who is all good is also all just. God will not be mocked. He is merciful. He is patient but there is a limit. Hear it? There is a limit to God's mercy and that limit is man's willingness to return to God. Hell is what happens to a person who resists God's mercy.2.But do you know that we can also be grateful for, well, the harm or the injury or the evil that we’ve been spared. Right? If someone saves our life we should be grateful and we are. God has spared us the life of our souls. We are still alive in body. We can still depend on God's mercy and if any of you are like me we should now be in hell. Gratitude. Profound gratitude.3.Again the revelation of hell is meant to inspire us with a salutary fear. The fear of the Lord which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is not indeed a cringing, servile fear that we are afraid mainly of what God might do to us. Nevertheless it is a kind of a fear we have and should have of not wanting to offend God because, as we know from human relationships, there is no hatred like that of rejected love. God wants us to love Him. Oh! How He wants us to love Him, but if we resist and keep resisting His advances, well, He will do what any rejected lover will do.

  • Maria

    What should hell teach us? John Hardon SJ Continued…4.A fourth lesson and how powerful this should be in the apostolates to inspire us with an ardent zeal to save others from going to hell. And if this sounds fundamentalist so be it. If it sounds pietistic so be it. If it sounds unenlightened so be it. All I know is the greatest missionary, after St. Paul, declared by the Church as the patron of missions, Francis Xavier, was mainly motivated to spend his life and exhaust himself in working among the pagans to bring Christ and Christ's saving mercy to them was as he more than once wrote to Ignatius, I want to save these souls from hell. Call me whatever names you wish that's one of my motives for trying to keep people in God's grace.

  • Maria

    What should hell teach us? John Hardon SJ Continued…5.There is another lesson however and that is the fact of hell should remind us that though we are still in God's friendship we can lose it. We know that Cedars of Lebanon have fallen. All I know is that no position in the Church, no accumulation of virtue, no amount of learning, no amount of reputation in the eyes of others for holiness is any guarantee absolute that we shall persevere in grace. How we should pray daily, Lord, that I may live and die in your friendship. And when we recite the Hail Mary let's be sure we know what we are saying. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. To pray and keep praying for the gift of final perseverance because the devil is never asleep and the principal objective, demonic machination, is the souls that are consecrated to Him. In the three volumes on Christian perfection that we used to read in the novitiate by Rodriguez – ever hear about them? Well, my novitiate being some years back I forget the exact wording. All I remember; how could I forget? Rodriguez describing the horde of demons that some mystics saw invading convents of dedicated religious. If the devil had the audacity to tempt the Son of God be sure he won't hesitate tempting us.6.The resolution to work for God's service, now, and that now can be tomorrow, but now, as we would wish to have done when we come to die. My, what effort we would put into what we are doing if we knew that after finishing this, well, little task, we would be called into eternity.

  • Maria

    What should hell teach us?John Hardon SJ Continued…7.And finally, in as much as we have sinned, we are all Magdalens in our own way, because we have sinned much, and God has forgiven much; therefore we should love much and don't tell me this is a low motive for becoming holy because it is born of gratitude toward God's goodness to me. Indeed in His Providence this is why God allows us to sin and perhaps have deserved hell that having come to our supernatural senses we might from the time we wake up give ourselves entirely to God where no cost is too heavy or any task too hard since we want to give God everything, in as much as given us. Everything we now have and hope for having still His grace to cooperate with, until when we are judged, we shall be admitted to the life that awaits us after what we call bodily death. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  • EPG

    Someone else cited the Scripture verses which led me to conclude that God does not wish for anyone to go to Hell. However, I am only a universalist to the extent allowed by free will — we have to, in the end, accept what He offers,This could be from C.S. Lewis, or from a writer I've learned a lot from, Robert F. Capon: In the end, there are two groups of people — those who finally say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God finally says, "_Thy_ will be done." Heaven is populated with the former.Of course, I have no way of saying who is in which group. Or how many.At the risk of giving the readers of this blog an overdose of everybody's favorite Anglicn, C.S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce" is an effective allegory about choosing between Heaven and Hell.

  • Anonymous

    I'd like to chime in here. First of all, great blog post. When I first read Out Of Egypt (recently after it was published 5 yrs ago), I went looking for interviews, any information I could on Ms. Rice, as like many, I thought she only wrote dark, vampire novels (novels that, even though I've read plenty of vampire novels, I couldn't get into). As a lifelong Catholic, I was pleasantly surprised to read of her conversion.The interview I read, however, left me a bit disturbed. She has felt called to return home to the Church for a long time, but couldn't reconcile that thought with those that believed her gay son was going to hell, or the fact that as Catholics we're to believe that abortion is evil. I think she put it as 'women not being able to have control over their wombs'. Since reading your blog post I tried to find this article but couldn't. The above didn't disturb me. Many people struggle with one issue or another sometime during their lives. What I was disturbed about was her proclamation that she would 'change the Church from within'. I'm not sure if those were her exact words or if she's changed her thinking since then… but if those thoughts are still on her mind, it could very well be why she asked your thoughts on hell in the first place. If she's still very much struggling with hell as it relates to her deceased atheist husband, or homosexual son. Now, I'm not God, so I won't even begin to answer that question, even if backed by all the Scripture you listed in your blog post… I'm only offering a reason as to why she might have asked you the question about hell.

  • Anonymous

    He loved us first. We were created to love Him in return. He IS Mercy. We beg for Mercy. If we love Him, we obey His commandments. If we love one another, we obey His greatest commandment. We pray for one another. Our home is heaven. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03892529674664589034 Jeff Miller

    She is well known for her willingness to respond and has left multiple comments on Catholic blogs. Really quite amazing considering how many fans she has. She even linked to a review I did of her biography on her site.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02064673794877417232 Sarah Harkins

    First of all- LOL at Ann asking such a weird question!! OH, she definitely wrote the Vampire Chronicles! Anonyomous, I agree- I believe Anne Rice is also struggling with her own beliefs about hell. I haven't read her books. I've heard they are good for the most part, but some of the Theology is shaky. I can't remember what saint said this but he/she said we should not obsess about the dark side- Hell and such. I try to do the same. It's good to be aware of Satan and his followers, but I find I can busy myself enough just getting to more about know God and heaven :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03159006109175472513 Tap

    I believe it was Padre Pio that said we have 3 chances to see the Truth, believe and ask forgiveness in that 'between' time between being pronounced dead and being judged by God. All the information is there in front of us, the suicides who despaired to the most ardent of atheists. The Blessed Mother told the children at Fatima that souls fall like leaves into Hell. I guess there are a lot of stubborn people who would rather spend eternity with like minded people than enter into the kingdom of Heaven. God doesn't send anyone to Hell we go in full knowledge and belief that we would rather be there, its a totally scarey thought!

  • Ferde

    I read that interview Rice gave after her first revert work was published. It didn't sound right to me. There was something off kilter and I questioned her sincerity, not to mention her theology.When I read Frank's exchange with her, my first thought was, 'She's working on another book.' Sorry, Annie.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15292156826231664316 pennyyak

    Yes, I have heard of people delivering very ill babies and baptizing them (or dying, unbaptized adults).I have her latest book around here somewhere – a little swamped with books since Christmas, but I'll read it soon.

  • Warren Jewell

    Let me keep it simple and to the point. Such final sentencing is God's, and God's alone. It sure ain't MY job.I'll leave such questions to God's answers. Meantime, I am avoiding having Him condemn me and that takes up a lot of my time. O, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in greatest need of Your mercy. Amen.Ms. Rice and all about her – meh! Nothing I've read from her or of her has 'stuck' with me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01270550419011368834 Christine the Soccer Mom

    I was rather surprised when Anne Rice wrote back to me after I emailed her to tell her that the depictions of the Holy Family really touched me when I read her books.As far as her struggles with Church teachings, many people struggle, and even say they will change things within, only later to become assenting Catholics in every way. For Hell, as Catholics I think we're just called to pray for the dead and leave it in God's hands. I am brought great comfort that Jesus told St. Faustina that He offers His Divine Mercy to every soul before they die. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to get to Heaven and see someone like George Tiller there – to know that he accepted that Mercy? What a wonderful thought!So we must pray for the souls of the dead. Not because it will bring them out of Hell (if that is where they are, they are beyond hope), but because we just don't know if they ARE in Hell. Maybe they're in Purgatory, wishing that someone would pray for them!

  • MG

    Very interesting recent interview with Anne Rice on the BBC radio program Heart and Soul bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/heartsoul

  • Maria

    Ignatius Insight Scoop 1/2006"If this January 3rd article in The Baltimore Sun is accurate, Rice's views about Catholic doctrine are, well, a bit different than those taught by the Magisterium:Her views will not please all of the devout. Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, "sex-obsessed" church leaders and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church".

  • Maria

    "Today, society does not talk about hell. It's as if it did not exist, but it does. There is eternal punishment for those who sin and do not repent".–Pope Benedict XVI

  • Barbara

    She seems to be a fan of the National C. Reporter's view of what the Church should be. Doesn't mean we can't pray for her! Send her GK Chesterton!

  • Webster Bull

    As usual, I get much from Warren's comments, especially this: "Let me keep it simple and to the point. Such final sentencing is God's, and God's alone. It sure ain't MY job…. Meantime, I am avoiding having Him condemn me and that takes up a lot of my time."Good for you, Warren. See you in Purgatory, brother!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Link to post on Anne Rice's Facebook Fan PageThe Ongoing conversion: do the majority go to Hell?

  • Maria

    An optimist,huh Webster?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Maria:Thanks for all your comments. You have been working overtime!

  • Maria

    Frank:Thank you for making the discussion available. These forums force me to educate myself. I just cannot keep Hardon SJ to myself.

  • Anonymous

    I am a fan of Anne Rice on Facebook and I saw a link to your blog post. Thank you for the interesting blog post. I have recently come back to the Catholic church. If there is one thing She teaches us is humility.Those who profess to know who and who doesn't go to hell are playing God since they are judging others. I just hope, then, that they are judging others and they themselves would be judged. (ref: "Our Father" )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    Hell, like love, is a choice.It would seem that too many choose the former, and not enough choose the latter. But perhaps, those who seem to choose the former turn and choose the latter before it is too late. After all, one of the first, if not the first, to make it to heaven was the thief who converted on the cross.But if we find ourselves in the "wrong" place, we will have only ourselves to thank for it. God didn't send us there, we sent ourselves there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Anonymous 10:58 PM,Thank you and we extend our hospitality to all!

  • Sharon

    I don't know that there's anyone in Hell, although I believe in the existance of Hell. I think speculating on whether or not people are there or not, or how many people are there, can lead to people speculating on whether generalized subsets of people or even specific individuals are in hell or are headed for hell, which is a really nasty road to go down. I believe that no one who stands face to face with the pure goodness and love of God can ultimately deny Him, therefore no one is in hell. If that's not true, that's God's business and not mine and I'd rather not know.

  • Anonymous

    The number of the damned is frightening for us, especially when constrasting that idea with the loving mercy of our God. It is important to remember that damnation happens when we reject Christ and the Mercy He offers–and each of us is guilty of this in our private life. An eye opening article I recently came across can be found here: http://olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtmlIt is important to remember that our Yes to Christ is not a one time thing, nor is it limited to Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation. If we refuse to let Christ rule in our daily life, then we usurp God's place in our hearts and turn our backs on His Mercy. The idea of the narrow way is not meant to discourage us, but to encourage us to make God the center of our lives. May He grant us the grace to do so.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus seems to me to have always directed questions like this away from their intent to divine statistical probability–how many and under what conditions will go to Hell?–toward an aim of assessing one’s existential trajectory–am I currently on the path that God wants me to be on? Thus Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” If you're climbing a narrow, steep way, you'll be too busy watching your footsteps to look down at how others are doing. He also told the Apostles something similar when they asked if the Apostle John would stay around until the end of time: "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" Finally, Jesus seems to me to have lived this way, doing whatever God wanted him to do, and letting those who would follow him do so, and letting those would not, not. (See John 11:1-16. I’ve always loved the heroism of the doubting Thomas). To sum up, I think Jesus’ response to the question how many will go to Hell, has always been, but you, where are you going?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06368195895421044006 Matthew

    I have been following this discussion with interest primarily because I don't give a whole lot of thought to hell myself. It isn't that I don't believe in hell, because I do, it's just that I am focused more on my goal of loving Christ and seeking heaven. I don't consider myself a christian or a Catholic for the sole purpose of avoiding hell. So for me it is more productive to examine where I am headed instead of where I don't want to go.Here is a quote from the Vatican II documents which I have found valuable in sharing with people who are concerned about a loved one who did not believe in Christ or wasn't baptized, etc…"In fact, those who through no fault of their own are not aware of the Gospel of Christ and of the Church, but who nonetheless search sincerely for God, and with the help of grace attempt to carry out His will, known through the dictates of their conscience – they too can attain eternal salvation. Nor will Divine Providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who have not yet arrived at a clear knowledge and recognition of God, and who attempt, not without divine grace, to conduct a good life." (Lumen Gentium 16)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14406010936826251357 Lisa Julia Photography

    Anne Rice is a huge inspiration and extremely open. All i can say on the matter is i thank God every day that someone of her stature is willing to devote their work to Christ. She makes no apologies for her belief in the Catholic Faith, and in an age where it's not looked upon with favor, but disdain, Anne rises above it all and remains steadfast. She's a wonderful witness…a modern apostle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos (1924-1994)said (not necessarily in this order): The greatest sickness of our age is the vain thoughts of secular people, which bring stress. Only Christ can provide a cure with spiritual serenity, along with eternity, provided you repent and turn to Him.Whoever is at peace in the material world and is not concerned about the salvation of his soul is like the senseless birds who don’t make a noise from within the egg, so as to break the shell and come out to enjoy the sun –the heavenly flight in the life of Paradise – but instead remain unmoving and die inside the egg shell.The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines.If you want to grab God’s attention, so He’ll hear you during prayer, turn the dial to humility, for God always works in this frequency; then humbly ask for His mercy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10936303952493917859 Duane

    This is quite possibly one of the most troublesome (and necessary) paths of inquiry that a believer can tread. On one hand we know that God is merciful and extends salvation to us, but we also know that we have an obligation to permit a change of heart within ourselves. Because we all fall short of this calling it creates a necessary unease — have we journeyed enough from sin to walk in grace?If we believed that the punishments of Hell were so readily meted we might never have children. Either we are unbelieving of the real threat of Hell or we sense the depth of God's compassion overcoming a justice we would rather not see served.

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ Jan

    Sharon, I could be wrong about this but I think one needs to make the decision before we stand face to face with God. You don't get the chance after death – that would be too easy then for all of us who are believers to not mind the occasional 'slip' – knowing that after we die we can assure God that we did believe in Him and lived our lives for Him. We wouldn't have a need for confession, either, if that was the case.I can't say right off hand, but I believe there are at least several mystics and saints who have been given a look into hell, and there are indeed, souls there.But – you are correct that speculating about who might be there is not good – better to believe in God's mercy and in conversion before death of your Hitlers, Stalins, etc., than assuming they are in hell 'getting theirs.'

  • Sharon

    Jan, I'm not so sure, either — the only people who are can't tell us, can they? :)I think it's cheating for God NOT to give everyone at least one moment to stand before Him, though. I think, at the very least, He'll condemn you face to face. Anything else would be, well, kinda wussy. Also, fear of Hell isn't the best reason for us to avoid slipping up — love of God is. Fear and avoidance are bad motivators, ultimately, and tend to produce bad fruit, if you will. Anyway, I like the anonymous comment about Christ not really getting into the stats or other people's fates during His encounters with other people. That reminds me of Aslan's comments to the same effect throughout the Narnia stories — when anyone asked him the fate of another — especially one who'd done that person wrong — he'd gently remind them he was telling them their story, not anyone else's.

  • Webster Bull

    All I know and all I can say about Anne Rice is, I had no idea…. Gonna add her to my reading list, that's for sure. Thanks, Frank.

  • Anonymous

    I, too, am an occasional correspondent with Anne and can remember the surprise and pleasure I felt when I received a prompt reply to a note I had sent her. She really is a remarkable woman and I'm glad you've connected with her. Your life will enriched as a result of her words, her works, and her story. Mine has.Thanks for your blog. It's one of my daily stops on my path to spiritual enlightenment.Onward, Carlos

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15916231024423896527 Inanna

    What is the name of the thread in which Anne Rice announced that she no longer wishes to be identified as a Christian? Surely there are denominations which work for her? What about Unitarian Universalists?Or, if not, what about Reconstructionist Jewish? (Or Reform or Conservative Jewish, for that matter. Orthodox Jews have compassion for homosexuals but still regard the act as sinful, and their stance on feminism is also problematic, but all the others are OK on these issues.) But somebody please post the name of the Amazon thread in the Christianity forum where Anne Rice made her announcement. THANK YOU!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Inanna: Anne Rice made the announcement on her Facebook fan Page.


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