Whether Judgment and Condemnation Accord with the Gospel?

Objection: It seems that judgment according to works, especially condemnation of the evil-doers, conflicts with the Gospel. For the Gospel seems to preach only mercy and to condemn pharisaical self-righteousness.

On the contrary: St. Paul preaches, in Rom 2:

Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. But glory, and honour, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

St. Paul preaches that this judgment is according to his Gospel. Furthermore, our Lord himself is the source behind the Gospel, and he preaches that he will judge the living and the dead. We confess this, furthermore, in the creed.

Judgment is the good act of the righteous ruler doing his duty. To fail in judgment is rebellion against the law. “But who cares about the pharisaical law”? Not all law is pharisaical. Rather, true law is the right ordinance of reason, directing those who must reach their end towards that end. Thus, it is an act of loving concern to lay down and point out the law, for those who are not already the end must achieve it by their actions. If they fail to achieve it by their actions, they will remain in the loneliness of their sin. Not to preach to them, to awaken them from darkness, to illumine their path towards true righteousness, not to apply the salve, not to dress the wounds, not to move them towards the good, is an act most hideous.

“But it is more hideous to yell at them about how guilty they are.” That too would be a cruelty. But listen: We do not achieve the proper virtue by a falsely balanced caricature. We achieve it by the correct via media. And that is this: The one unbreakable law is the way and condition for salvation. The medicine is informing the sinner how destructive are his wicked deeds, and how powerful is the remedy of grace, available in the saving Mysteries Christ left his Church.

Not to avail oneself and not to open to the poor sinner these saving remedies is a crime most vile, a cruelty than which a greater is difficult to fathom.

Whether Anyone Can Be Condemned Forever?

Objection: It seems that no one can be condemned forever. After all, God is Love, and love never wrongs someone. But to punish someone everlastingly is to wrong him. Therefore, no one can be condemned forever.

On the contrary: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.” But all things that exist are created by God. And God is not evil but good. Therefore, by God’s authority, an eternal hell exists, and it is good that it exists. Therefore, it cannot be wrong to punish forever, since God does this for whoever is damned.

Objection: But perhaps no one is damned.

Response: Your first statement — with its “no one can” seems to imply the very possibility of condemnation would be an affront to God’s mercy. We have already argued against such a claim, on the authority of God’s one true Church. You seek an explanation. We will give one in a moment. But first, it is False and Heretical to say, “No one is damned.” Because the devil most certainly is damned, and all his evil angels. And he is a “one,” a person. Now, what is actual most certainly is possible.

The explanation is this. God creates rational beings with dignity, able to forge their identity, either for God or for something else. God makes them for himself. Therefore, if they choose to order themselves to themselves rather than to God, as they were made, they become flattened, deformed, muted, blinded, narrowed, constrained, monotoned, monolithic, boring, repetitive. Yes, all those who seek not to climb to God by way of the grace he lets down from the mountain peak, all these find their way lower to the center. And the center is but one little point. Littler, therefore, must they become. Darker. Narrower. Constricted. Un-breathing. But those who climb towards God with the grace he lets down from the peak, each of these becomes more unique, startling, amazing, beautiful, individual, free, glorious, committed, determined, actual. Each gains more substance. Why more unique? Do not the rays from a center expand outwards? This is the way creatures go “up” to God. Each becomes more unique, more what it was to be. Yet, also, more bonded, intimate, close. You cannot cleave to yourself. You can only cleave to an “other.” As we grow towards God, we each embrace more and more our true uniqueness. There is more “otherness” and at the same time, through the communion of love, more intimacy. The damned all return to their navel. They seek to return to the nothingness from which they arose, at God’s quickening call. Thus, they converge in the slime of undifferentiated chaos, the limit of the point of the center. Nothingness. And yet, enough of them remains that they are justly punished. Only, they are nothing much to write about any more, except to awaken the slumbering pilgrim to his possible fate.

Now, part of the dignity of this self-determination, under God’s inviting grace, is the capacity to define the self. The clay is wet for a while. There is time before the cement dries. But the essence of “to choose” is to commit, to define, to set, to become this or that. It is true that until the clay has been baked in death, there is time to repent. The pilgrim is not damned. Nonetheless, one thing is a sin of weakness. Another thing is a sin of habit. Yet another is an impenitence that refuses to leave an objectively sinful situation. Such impenitence is well nigh the pit of eternal wrath, for it participates in the very rebellion of the Damned themselves, the “NON SERVIAM” of each isolated and narrow, self-proclaimed “automaton”. Not yet condemned, those in this situation drive themselves towards it.

Hence, there is but limited time, O Man, for you to choose your way. Your self. Your end. Those who are damned have done so. Justly, then, does God execute his retributive judgment on those who choose not him.

Therefore, it is most false to say that no one can be condemned forever. It is no truly merciful and dignifying thesis. The merciful thesis is one based on truth that can be contravened by no one.

On the other hand, if we are speaking of an act ecclesiastical, such as ex-communication, then there are a number of different stories to tell. Excommunication is the sentence of punishment the Church issues in order to protect the common good of the Church. Thus, the good is real and very crucial and important to defend. But the Church does not “condemn to hell” the excommunicate, so far as I know. It is simply a juridical act within her competence. It is not in her competence, but only in God’s to send to hell. One can even say that the act of excommunication is for the good of the excommunicated, since he thereby knows how serious was his act that incurred such a woeful sentence. In short, the very act is still an act of hope. In that sense and in the sense that the Church does not judge the quick and the dead, the excommunicated is not condemned forever.

Up and Down

When I was young, I thought like a child, acted like a child. But when I became a man, I put off childish things.

These words of Paul are haunting to me. I sometimes think how children see everything as either up or down, black or white. Then they wade into the ocean of “shades” in between. In our day and age, it can get dizzying. Confusing. And our world, our times, are confused. There really is no up or down, is there? That is how we end up thinking. We see that there is no fixed place in the universe. It is all relative.

Why, O Lord, have you made a world without a fixed point?

But then again, there are fixed points. I suppose — presuming the current narrative of the universe — that the reason God did not make a fixed center is that he is not able to be determined vis-a-vis the world. His infinity makes him totally not locatable by reference to the world. Otherwise, he would be finite.

And yet, the whole universe is as it were “down” in the most important sense of the word, and He is “up” in the most important sense of the word. On him we depend; he depends not on us. Our truths speak his truth. And our reason can discern real truths. Everything is not gray.

God’s Law is NOT a Mere “Ideal”

The normal meaning of the word “ideal” is simply a goal, an aim. If you tell someone that it would be “ideal” if he did XYZ, he will realize that you really want him to do these things, but that doing all of them is not absolutely necessary.

Now, the Divine Law is necessary. The negative moral precepts bind always and everywhere, such that to violate a negative moral precept is always a grave evil. Period.

Hence, the Divine Law is not a mere “ideal”. It is not a mere goal, to which it is best that we live up to it, but the adequate doing of which is not absolutely necessary for salvation.

To the contrary: The adequate adherence to the Divine Law in the form of doing what one is commanded positively to do when the circumstances allow and avoiding what one is commanded never to do is necessary for salvation.

Therefore, to present the Law of God as an “ideal” is to confuse this very important teaching, which is the faith of the Church. Why would one want to present the Law as but an “ideal”? Because, perhaps, one does not think that God offers sufficient grace to every free actor? But that thought, too, is contrary to the faith of the Church. And if one despairs of this over oneself, one is doing just that despairing.

But we should not be afraid. Not be fearful. Not read our faith in fear that God is not our Shepherd, does not care for us and supply for us. Not us not understand God’s mercy as his “not judging us because he never supplied for us.” That would be doubly desperate and doubly false. He does supply and he does judge. He judges us according to our works.

Let us listen to words that truly are full of hope, words that don’t cast us down in spirit, words that don’t console us with a false understanding of mercy and judgment but that indicate the truth of God’s mercy: God’s mercy enables true obedience.

Let us listen to John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, art. 103:

“It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question”. But what are the “concrete possibilities of man”? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: thereality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit”.

These are words that bind us, words that bind Catholics magisterially. These are words consonant with Sacred traditions and with the Holy Scriptures.

Does Blind Mercy Truly Love Man? NO

Blind Mercy is something like a mercy divorced from justice.

One version of it is the downplaying of the very real possibility that one can reject God and go to hell. To downplay this possibility does no service whatsoever to man.

Why not?

Well, let’s just examine what our life is worth, the why of our life, if all go to heaven anyway. It means that your actions are not really acutalizations of your self. Your free actions are just ‘frames’ of juxtaposition of you-and-this-choice and you-and-the-next-choice. Just frames. As in a classical movie. Picture frames. No relation one to another except succession. So it is just the succession of various juxtapositions. You don’t really engage anything when you act. It is all an ‘act’ in the most superficial sense of acting. You cannot really commit yourself. You cannot really give yourself, relate, choose a friend, etc.

You just kind of go through the motions. And then, at the end of the day, you go to heaven.

Is this how the ‘experts’ like Balthasar propose their theories? Of course not. However, is this the kind of ‘rubber hits the road’ of the theology of universalism? Yes it is.

I recall an undergrad remarking: If we all go to heaven just for having faith, and no sin can damn us, why don’t we commit suicide now, and jump into the vision? After all, life has its burdens.

Her question was right on the money. Rather than producing love of life, true and proportionate love of life — of life as the preparation for the final consummation of heaven — the idea of Blind Mercy produces spite for this world. What a terrible God would drag us through all these years of pain, mixed with joys, and only then give us true happiness. Why not right now? That is the question anyone hearing the drivel of practically universal salvation should raise.

On Amoris Laetitia

One sound principle – practically a truism for Catholics – is that no Catholic whatsoever has any grounds whatsoever for holding X when X has already been proscribed infallibly. Further, no Catholic has any grounds whatsoever for not holding Q when Q has already been taught infallibly. All are under this obedience of faith, including members of the hierarchy. These principles cannot be brooked by anyone.

Now, some are concerned about whether or not doctrine has been overturned, directly or indirectly, by the recent papal document Amoris laetitia.

In addressing questions such as this, I call the above unquestionable principles to mind. No one will disagree with that principle, however they choose to address this question concretely But, in order to retain this non-negotiable principle, different people facing an apparent difficulty are drawing up different strategies.

One strategy is that of Cardinal Burke. Burke suggests the following in the National Catholic Register:

The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching.

His counsel is wisely ordered to the clear retention of the actual teaching of Holy Mother Church. Thus, he is wisely shepherding souls. Confusion is harmful to souls. It takes the wind out of the spirit’s sails, and thus hinders our pursuit of God. It alienates and frustrates. It obscures the truth from those who might be good willed and are trying to seek it, but are tempted by near comforts and habits of sin. The weak – those weak sheep who most need our love – can be tempted to remain astray if the path of return is not clearly announced and laid out.

And so, we come back to Burke’s advice. We must read the Tradition to know what it states and what it forbids. What does Holy Mother Church teach?

The Church teaches that the Laws of God are not suggestions, not “ideals” that cannot be lived. Rather, they are true laws, universal commandments. Further, the Church teaches that grace is actually offered so that God does not command the impossible but indeed gives what he commands, as that Glorious St. Augustine said long ago.

“It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question”. But what are the “concrete possibilities of man” ? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: thereality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit”. Veritatis splendor, art. 103, by John Paul II

Indeed, as John Paul II reiterates, it is heresy to suggest that the laws of God cannot be obeyed. Obedience can be agonizing at times, truly trying, life-taking. But God gives what he commands:

Keeping God’s law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is never impossible. This is the constant teaching of the Church’s tradition, and was expressed by the Council of Trent: “But no one, however much justified, ought to consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, nor should he employ that rash statement, forbidden by the Fathers under anathema, that the commandments of God are impossible of observance by one who is justified. For God does not command the impossible, but in commanding he admonishes you to do what you can and to pray for what you cannot, and he gives his aid to enable you. His commandments are not burdensome (cf. 1 Jn 5:3); his yoke is easy and his burden light (cf. Mt 11:30)”, art. 102

Cardinal Brandmüller reminds us of a particular law of God, the indissolubility of marriage:

It is the Catholic Church’s teaching (Dogma) that a validly contracted and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any power on earth – also not by the Church. Jesus says: ‘What God has bound, man may not separate.

No one on earth can dissolve a valid and consummated sacramental marriage. This is the law of God. This brings solace. This is a boon, not merely a burden. This indissolubility is a firm rock on which to rely. It anchors society. It is stability. It is life-giving. Thank God for his wisdom and goodness in shepherding us in so many ways with wise laws and abundant grace. Help us, Lord, in our weakness.

What is Scandal?

Cheeky people will sometimes say, “You could read this, but you might find it scandalous.” This is a condescending remark. It is as though to say, “I’m man enough to take it, but I think you have a weak stomach.”

Scandal is not a threat to an effeminate man or weak-kneed woman. Scandal is occasion of sin. For an alcoholic to surround himself with drinkers is likely scandal, an occasion of sin for him. A seductive book or picture or person is a scandal for men because it can occasion thoughts not appropriate for them.

Scandal leads another, or self, to sin. The sin of scandal is very serious. It is mimicry of demonic leadership.

APOLOGY OF AUGSBURG CONFESSION vs. JPII and TRENT

Apology of the Augsburg Confession John Paul II and TRENT
“If the promise required the law and condition of our merits, it would follow that the promise is useless since we never keep the law.”

 

Melanchthon’s implication is clear: Therefore, the promise does not require obedience to the law as condition of final salvation.

In this way, a close connection is made between eternal life and obedience to God’s commandments: God’s commandments show man the path of life and they lead to it. From the very lips of Jesus, the new Moses, man is once again given the commandments of the Decalogue. Jesus himself definitively confirms them and proposes them to us as the way and condition of salvation. The commandments are linked to a promise. – From Veritatis splendor, art. 12.

 

Perfection demands that maturity in self-giving to which human freedom is called. Jesus points out to the young man that the commandments are the first and indispensable condition for having eternal life, art. 17

 

The performance of good acts, commanded by the One who “alone is good”, constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). Jesus’ answer and his reference to the commandments also make it clear that the path to that end is marked by respect for the divine laws which safeguard human good.Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life, art. 72.

 

Keeping God’s law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is never impossible. This is the constant teaching of the Church’s tradition, and was expressed by the Council of Trent: “But no one, however much justified, ought to consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, nor should he employ that rash statement, forbidden by the Fathers under anathema, that the commandments of God are impossible of observance by one who is justified. For God does not command the impossible, but in commanding he admonishes you to do what you can and to pray for what you cannot, and he gives his aid to enable you. His commandments are not burdensome (cf. 1 Jn 5:3); his yoke is easy and his burden light (cf. Mt 11:30)”, art. 102.

Communion for Those in Mortal Sin?

Absolutely absurd to entertain offering communion to those in the state of mortal sin.

I heard at Mass today the following verse from the just man: “When evildoers assail me, to devour my flesh, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall,” I was consoled and took comfort.

For the Bible teaches us to read the Psalms as hymns of Christ, either speaking of himself or speaking in the person of a sinner. Here, Christ speaks of himself and also in the person of the victim. But let us hear this speaking in a Eucharistic key. Christ is lamenting that wicked men who have not yet repented of their malice are approaching to consume him in the Eucharistic species. This rends his heart for two reasons. First, it is sacrilege that defiles his August Sacrament. Second, it is hurtful to the very persons who do this. For this is a sacrament of union. Yet, one cannot embrace one’s friend in union when one has offended him mortally, until one first apologizes in the proper way. This proper way is repentance and reception of the Sacrament of Confession.

O Lord, spare the sinner this injustice to you and this injustice to himself. Let not the wicked devour the flesh of Christ.