You Can Go to Hell

You Can Go to Hell December 3, 2016

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod

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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26 responses to “You Can Go to Hell”

  1. “No morality free zone”. Gulp.

    Seems as if this essay was written just for me. It wasn’t now, was it 😉

    Thank you, much to consider here.

  2. “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…
    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.”

    My answers to your yes/no questions (Kind of like the four
    Cardinals’ asking those “inappropriate” yes/no questions of Pope Francis regarding “Amoris Laetitia”), are yes, yes, and yes.

    However, I’m not sure about the “there aren’t any more questions.”

    Perhaps you’ll even bring up some, when, as you say,

    you’re “going to be writing quite a bit about basic things.”

    I see you brought up the election again.
    I’ll just add that I also said YES to TRUMP!

  3. One thing I’ve noticed in the comments on National Catholic Register is how disturbing Christians find these words of Christ. I don’t think for one moment that anything I’ve said disturbs them. If it was just me, they’d take off on calling me names and be done with it.

    Nope. it’s Jesus, and the convicting power of His words. I have a feeling that if Jesus walked into our world today as the son of the carpenter as He did 2,000 years ago, we would crucify Him all over again.

    I repeat: If you believe that Jesus said what He said, if you believe that He meant what He said, and IF Jesus Christ is your Lord, then all this carrying on is unnecessary. You know what you should do and how you should live. And you know that when you fail — and every single one of us fails — you need to ask Him for forgiveness and try to do better.

  4. I find some of the most sobering words of Jesus to be these:
    “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.” [Matthew 7:13-14]

    Only God knows who and how many will go to hell.
    But, based on what He said, I’d be surprised if the majority
    of human beings does not end up in hell.
    And I’d be surprised if hell does not contain many Catholics, including many priests and bishops. And who knows, maybe even some Popes.

    Very sobering.

  5. I get the message quite strongly from Pope Franics- those who follow the law, those who try to do good, are going to hell. Those who don’t follow the law, or rather can’t follow the law, because those who believe in Liberty have stolen the law from them, are deserving of God’s Mercy- more deserving than the scum like me.

  6. Ted, that’s not his message at all. He’s saying that legalism won’t get you to heaven, that following Christ, including the Sermon on the Mount, is what we should do. He’s trying to throw the money changers out of the Temple — which Jesus did, and which was probably one of the things that led to His crucifixion, and that today’s Pharisee’s have missed the point of the Gospels — which Jesus also did, and which certainly contributed to His crucifixion. The money changers and the Pharisees, i.e., those who try to exploit Christianity and those who make little g gods out of themselves, that’s who the pope is condemning, and that’s who’s leading the charge against him.

  7. “He’s saying that legalism won’t get you to heaven, that following Christ, including the Sermon on the Mount, is what we should do. ”

    That seems to me to be a contradictory statement in and of itself. The Sermon on the Mount contains the new law- it’s significantly more strict than the old one. Today’s Pharisees *are* following the Sermon on the Mount, it’s this alternate view of how to be pastoral that is not.

    I read today that the Canadian Bishops have now applied AL Chapter 8 not to marriage, but to the Anointing of the Sick. As in accompaniment for people intending to take Euthanasia.

    Seems to me the money changers are those with novel interpretations of AL Chapter 8- not the faithful Pharisee following Christ, but those who would throw away the teaching of Christ.

    But then again, I’m just scum deserving of hell. No mercy for the righteous. Mercy belongs to the sinner. The Pope is condemning me for following Church Teaching and not getting divorced.

    This will figure prominently in my confession on Saturday, when I go to the Men’s Conference in Salem.

  8. No, you are most emphatically not scum. You are a child of God, made in the Likeness and Image of the Living God. Christ died for you Ted.

    The pope absolutely is not condemning you for not getting divorced.

    We all need mercy Ted. But that doesn’t make us scum. We need mercy and we get mercy because God loves us. THAT make us worthwhile.

  9. I wish I could still believe that. I’ve just spent a horrific jubilee year learning that mercy is not for people like me. Mercy for the unrepentant, by definition excludes the repentant. Worse than that- mercy for the unrepentant destroys justice.

  10. This is long. Because it is very complex and over a year of thinking that has led me to this point.

    It started, really, when I noticed that in his fight against Clericalism, Pope Francis was throwing out the baby with the bathwater- that many fine clerics were being censored, while clerics accused of clerical abuse were being promoted. That, in and of itself, was not enough,but it is what started me thinking this way. At first, I even looked on it as a big positive- Pope Francis’s concentration on mercy for the marginalized, has been an awesome thing to watch, pulling people into that church.

    And certainly, promoting the accused clerics and demoting the faithful clerics, fit within that narrative.

    But then came Cardinal Kasper and his ilk. Promoting divorce and remarriage as something holier, something more deserving of mercy, than any other sin. The two synods were excruciating, especially since between the first and the second, many dissenting Cardinals and Archbishops were quietly removed from participating in the second Synod at all.

    Then came Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8. I was even fine with that for a time. In my parish we had used a word cloud to discern the movement of the spirit and what sort of pastor we needed, with truly awesome results; I did the same thing for Amoris Laetitia and came up with the major theme phrase that really needs to be preached more within the church: “Church Family Can Love Life!”

    I so wanted to see marriage groups formed to help both young and old couples avoid the devastation of divorce- which I still see as a major evil in our society.

    The trouble is, we’re now seeing three different interpretations of Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8 emerge:
    1. The Kasper interpretation, which due to who Pope Francis chooses to promote, seems to be the Pope’s favored interpretation: That indissoluble marriage is no longer promoted as a Sacrament , and that lifelong marriage is no longer an ideal we can believe in.
    2. The Orthodox Interpretation (which my own Archbishop Sample has recommended- he describes it far better than I do here: )
    3. The interpretation of the “Pharisee Cardinals”, that Group #1 has gained far too much power in the church, and that Group #1’s interpretation is a valid interpretation that deserves outright refuting.

    I don’t think that groups #2 and #3 are far apart, despite group #2 utterly denying Group #1’s interpretation as valid, and Group #3 accepting Group #1’s interpretation as valid but heretical. We can’t move forward in universal unity without the Dubia being answered, and Pope Francis picking one of these three interpretations.

    Unfortunately, instead of actually answering the Dubia, the Pope has decided that #2 and #3 are just unreasonable Pharisees not worthy of the mercy of actually answering their questions. And by extension, not worthy of the mercy of God.

    It’s almost as if, at the end of the Story of the Prodigal Son, the Father had instead said to the Older Brother, “You’re just hired labor, you cannot have a party for your friends, your brother is worthy because he was dead and is now alive, but you who are alive and who were never dead are not worthy of the feast”.

    The preaching at the end of the Year of Mercy seems quite clear to me now. The one sheep- the marginalized- has been found and brought into the fold. But the gate was left open, and the other 99 sheep, neglected and starving, are lost without pastoral guidance, now wandering in a desert without the green grass of justice to sustain them. Accompaniment is for homosexuals and the divorced; there is no time left to accompany those whose lives are ordinary- no mercy left for the victims, only for the criminals.

    I hope you’ve had time to read this. I’m going to copy-and-paste it to my own blog, because it really belongs there, not here.

  11. Ted, my dear friend, you need to stop reading those nasty hate-Francis blogs. Those people are mental and they are using hate-the-pope to deal with their problems. If it wasn’t the Pope, they would be hating on somebody else. In fact, I think they do switch hit and hate on others from time to time. They also make little demigods out of whatever cleric they think agrees with them, but if said cleric disappointed them in any way, (which means, doing something that does not affirm their ideas) they would turn on them.

    These people are sad, twisted little souls who marinate themselves and their readers in a bath of hatred and self-rigtheousness.

    Now, I was into the Kasper/Pope Francis/Synod/On/The/Family thing when it was happening. I felt quite strongly that changing the rules on who could take communion was bad, bad, bad.

    But then, three things happened.
    1: I got cancer.
    2: The pope spoke.
    3. The Pope came under attack from the nuts jobs I write about above.

    I can tell you Ted, when you realize that your life ain’t gonna be nearly as long as you had thought, things shift. Jesus, your family and a few friends are all you find that you have that matters to you. I would not trade the Catholic Church and its sure route to heaven, the wondrous gift of the Eucharist or the people I love for anything.

    When push comes to shove, the only courage I have comes from Jesus, and, as it turns out, the only courage I need IS Jesus. The Catholic Church centers and strengthens us in tough times.

    That man in Rome that so many people are loving to hate is the head of the Catholic Church. These attacks on him are an attack on the Church itself, even if they are being done in the name of the Church.

    He spoke, and that’s it so far as I’m concerned. I am not going to quibble about it, and neither should you. It doesn’t matter what other people can or cannot do. All that matters is are YOU faithful. Do you love Jesus?

    Stop reading those stupid blogs. They will make you as crazy as the people who write them.

    Trust Jesus. Trust His Church. And stop worrying about it.

    You are not on the outside looking in. That’s satan’s trick to separate you from the simplest, surest and single best road to heaven we have: The Catholic Church with the Pope at its head.

    As for me, I am standing with the Pope. Period.

  12. I was unaware that Monsignoir Charles Pope was a Francis Hater:

    I’ve noticed something about this all:
    2. The Pope *has not* spoken, and in fact, seems to be utterly silent.
    3. These people aren’t “Nut jobs”, they’re people that care about Truth and Jesus Christ over the Pope.

    That’s why I’m saying I’m frightened. Extremely scared. If you are right, then I am now on the outside looking in, and I am no longer sure Jesus loves ME. That’s what I’ve lost in the last year from this, my own confidence in MY salvation.

    If salvation is only for the sinner, and the righteous man is damned, then I’ve spent a lot of years as a cradle Catholic running in the wrong direction.

  13. Ted, there are a number of things to be afraid of in this world, but Pope Francis is not one of them. You are not on the outside looking in. Jesus’ love is something that you cannot lose because it is real love. It is the source of all love. Yes, He loves you.

    Theology is not the way to Christ. Christ Himself is the Way; the way to eternal life and heaven. Stop overthinking things you don’t have to think about at all. Enjoy the grace and privilege of being Catholic without making yourself miserable with all this craziness. The people who engage in it are spreading mistrust in the Church and the Holy Father like a disease. Just dismiss them. They truly do not matter. In a little while, they’ll be off, attacking something else.

  14. You are not understanding. It is not Pope Francis I am afraid of. I am afraid of a world in which marriage is no longer a Sacrament and theology, the Knowledge of God and the teachings of Christ, have been utterly lost. If we lose the theology that Christ taught us, then he can try to love us all he wants, it will not change anything at all.
    You say that theology will not lead us to Christ, but what you are overlooking is Theology IS Christ- you cannot separate them. Christ is The Way of Life, and embracing divorce is The Way of Death, just as much as Abortion and Contraception and Euthanasia are. If I did not believe in the theology of Christ, I would have nothing, and Christ’s love would be a lie. THAT is what is at stake, that is why cradle catholics cannot accept the end of Sacramental Marriage, no matter what “Spirit of” proposes Jesus Christ to be a liar.

  15. You said: “I am afraid of a world in which marriage is no longer a Sacrament and theology, the Knowledge of God and the teachings of Christ, have been utterly lost. If we lose the theology that Christ taught us, then he can try to love us all he wants, it will not change anything at all.”

    Ted that won’t happen. Can’t happen.

    We may very well be well into a mass apostasy of the end times. It may be that most of the faithful will fall away from the Church to follow little g gods ranging from politics to internet gurus to bishops and cardinals who enjoy heading up cults.

    But the Church will not fail and the Pope will not teach anything other than truth. Marriage between one man and one woman was instituted a sacrament by Our Lord. Nothing can change that. However, a lot of people already ignore it, which has led us to this discussion now, focusing as it does on how the Church may best minister to them and bring them back into the fold.

    Just because the Shepherd seeks the lost lambs it does not mean that those already in the fold are to be turned away. It also does not mean that we will or even can be lost out of His hand.

    You are putting too much faith in the powers of this world and not enough faith in the power of Christ. No matter what troubles await us, and I, for one, think we are going to go through so hard times, Jesus will be there with us every step of the way.

    Don’t be afraid. And don’t worry about theology. It’s as simple as saying “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom,” or, as I said, when I found Christ, “Forgive me.”

    You are right in a way. Theology is Christ, and Christ is love. If you want to understand Him, look to the cross.

    And do not be afraid. There is nothing to fear, not in this life, or the next.

  16. It has already changed in Germany, San Diego, Argentina, Spain, France, and Italy; seemingly with the Pope’s blessing since he would much rather lambast Pharisees like Monsignoir Charles Pope than uphold the teachings of Christ. What everybody told me cannot happen, is happening. The Cross is already being forgotten, the Pope has already unwittingly taught against marriage, and when asked by faith filled Catholics for clarification to clean up the mess, he refuses. I will go with The Way of Life, not the modernist interpretation where divorce is not even sinfull.

  17. That’s fine Ted. I have no problems with calling a sin a sin. Just know that you are beloved of God and His dear child, that you are made in the Likeness and Image of the living God and are worth the price of Calvary.

  18. Maybe this weekend after confession I’ll feel it again. I need to talk to our “Ambassador of Mercy”- Fr Theo Lange. Hopefully he’ll be taking a few confession slots after his talk at the Men’s conference.

  19. And I ended up feeling it again, but not in the way you would exlect. Pope Francis feels like a Loki worshipper more than ever. But I know that the Mercy of Christ requires Truth AND repentance, not just making the sinfull feel comfortable.

  20. Thanks to a couple of upvotes, I just re-read this. I’m still seeing more Loki than Christ from liberal Catholics in general, but a bit less so from our Pope. I’m living with less and less hope every week.

    I only cling to one thing, the last thing I have left- that if My Lord Jesus Christ chooses to send me to hell for believing in indissoluble, procreative, hetero-normative marriage, then I shall gladly go to minister to the poor souls there.