BREAD OF LIFE

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you have no life in you. (John 6: 53)

Monday, November 24, 2014

IMPLICIT REPENTANCE

Baptism Provides Sanctifying Grace

Through the sin of Adam and Eve, the human race lost sanctifying grace. Baptism remedies this loss by providing sanctifying grace. However, another effect of original sin, the tendency toward personal sin, remains. Every valid Baptism provides the gift of sanctifying grace. The purpose of Baptism is to remedy the loss of sanctifying grace, a loss caused by original sin. Any Baptism that does not provide sanctifying grace is not a Baptism at all.

Baptism Forgives All Sin

What if an adult seeking Baptism has committed an actual mortal sin prior to Baptism? He cannot go to confession before he has been baptized. However, in the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, he is forgiven from all past sins from which he is repentant. Notice, though, that there is no requirement that he confess or even call to mind his sins at the time of Baptism. He is forgiven by the grace of the Sacrament and by the choice of his own free to repent. His free will is necessary for his forgiveness from personal sin, just as it is necessary in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

But what if an adult seeking Baptism has committed an actual mortal sin and is not repentant?

Some misguided theologians have claimed that, in this case, Baptism does not forgive his sin, and that he receives the Sacrament validly, yet without receiving sanctifying grace. They claim that he has the character or mark of Baptism on his soul, but without any fruitfulness (i.e. to no avail) until he confesses his past actual mortal sins. Baptism is the one and only remedy for the effect of original sin whereby we lack sanctifying grace. Yet this claim takes that gift and moves it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as if that Sacrament could in any circumstance remedy the stain of original sin. This entire concept of a fruitless or ineffective Baptism is heretical. For the Church has always taught, as a truth essential to salvation, that Baptism forgives all sins.

True doctrine on this point is that an adult Baptism is only valid if the adult, of his own free will, accepts the Sacrament of Baptism. His acceptance constitutes an implicit repentance from all past sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual. Thus Baptism forgives all sins, just as the Church has always taught, and actual mortal sin is only forgiven through repentance, just as the Church has always taught. Even though an individual might be unrepentant up to the very moment of his adult Baptism, and even though such a refusal by him to repent is unwise and imprudent and sinful, if and when he accepts the Sacrament of Baptism he has then acted with his free will in a manner that constitutes a real and full implicit repentance and all his past sins are forgiven him at the very moment of his Baptism, by the power of that Sacrament.

If an adult receives the Sacrament of Baptism, but without consenting to the Sacrament of his own free will, then the Sacrament is not valid and his sins are not forgiven. Neither is the stain of original sin removed or affected at all, because he is an adult who has not consented to the Sacrament. If he is unrepentant from actual mortal sin, and he also refuses to consent to the Sacrament of Baptism, then he has rejected even implicit repentance and the guilt of that actual mortal sin remains. Forgiveness from sin requires repentance from sin, at least implicitly.

Confession and Implicit Repentance

The Sacrament of Baptism has a greater power than the Sacrament of Reconciliation to forgive sins. For Baptism can forgive original sin as well as personal sin. But even the Sacrament of Reconciliation can forgive sins through implicit repentance. For it often happens that a penitent goes to Confession without calling to mind every actual mortal sin. But if he is generally repentant from sin, and if he confesses the mortal sins that he remembers, even when such a Confession is deeply flawed, he is forgiven from all his sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual. But if instead, he is obstinately and deliberately unrepentant from actual mortal sin, then he is not forgiven by the Sacrament of Confession, for there is no repentance, explicit or implicit.

Extreme Unction and Implicit Repentance

Implicit repentance is also found in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (the Anointing of the Sick). If a baptized Catholic Christian is unconscious and near death, and he has an unrepented actual mortal sin on his conscience, the priest can give him the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and it is possible, depending upon the state of his soul and the final acts of his free will, that he may be forgiven from that mortal sin by means of implicit repentance and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, even if he never awakens before he dies.

Mystical Baptism and Implicit Repentance

A valid Sacrament of Baptism can be received through non-formal means, namely through a mystical Baptism. Since Baptism forgives all sins, a mystical Baptism must also forgive all sins. And, in this case also, a person might not be explicitly repentant from each prior actual mortal sin. Even so, the full cooperation with God's grace found within mystical Baptism contains an implicit repentance on the part of each person receiving a mystical Baptism. Therefore, even a non-formal Baptism forgives all sins, even past actual mortal sins from which the person receiving a mystical Baptism is not explicitly repentant. On the other hand, it is not possible to receive a mystical Baptism without at least implicit repentance from past actual mortal sins.

Conclusion

Every valid Baptism forgives all sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual, even those from which the candidate for Baptism has not explicitly repented. The acceptance of the Sacrament of Baptism by an adult, of his own free will, constitutes, in and of itself, an implicit repentance sufficient to permit the Sacrament of Baptism to forgive all sins. Without this acceptance of the Sacrament of Baptism by the free will, the Sacrament of Baptism itself would not be valid and the individual's sins would not be forgiven.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

November 5, 2006

Monday, November 17, 2014

CRY OF A LOST SOUL

And the Lesson that it Teaches

This unusual narrative recounts the revelations of a lost soul to a former acquaintance. It is a powerful record of the steps which led a young woman to lose her soul in Hell for all eternity.

Although it has several times been printed with imprimatur, this in itself does not guarantee the authenticity of the story.

An imprimatur merely indicates that the subject matter is free from error in faith and morals.

Is it true?

Obviously, it cannot be "guaranteed" because the only evidence is that of the girl herself.

It certainly may be true and its instructional qualities would pertain even if the story itself were not true.

In the July apparition at Fatima a vision of a Hell of fire was given to the three little children, and significantly, its existence was confirmed by the great public miracle on October 13th.

Yet Hell is little spoken of in the pulpits. Because of this, the special intervention of Heaven, may, as at Fatima, be necessary to restore this sobering doctrine to its important place in Christian dogma.

It is well to remember that the Hell spoken of here is the Hell which has a significant place in Catholic doctrine, the Hell described vividly by Christ Himself, the Hell seen in all its livid horror by the children at Fatima on July 13th, 1917.

The names of persons and places are omitted because of the nature of the story, plus the fact of its recent origin.

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Clara and Annette, both single Catholics in their early twenties, worked adjacent to each other as employees of a commercial firm in Germany. Although they were never very close friends, they shared a courteous mutual regard which led to an exchange of ideas and, eventually, of confidences. Clara professed herself openly religious, and felt it her duty to instruct and admonish Annette when the latter appeared excessively casual or superficial in religious matters.

In due course, Annette married and left the firm. The year was 1937. Clara spent the autumn of that year on holiday at Lake Garda. About the middle of September she received a letter from her mother. "Annette . . . is dead. She was the victim of an auto accident and was buried yesterday at Wald-Friedhof."

Clara was frightened since she knew her friend was not very religious. Was she prepared to appear before God? Dying suddenly, what had happened to her? The next day she attended Mass, received Holy Communion, and prayed fervently for her friend. The following night, at ten minutes after midnight, the vision took place. . .

"Clara, do not pray for me! I am in hell. If I tell you this and speak at length about it, do not think it is because of our friendship. We here do not love anyone. I do this as under constraint. In truth, I should like to see you to come to this state where I must remain forever."

"Perhaps that angers you, but here we all think that way. Our wills are hardened in evil - in what you call evil. Even when we do something 'good', as I do now, opening your eyes about hell, it is not because of a good intention."

"Do you still remember our first meeting four years ago at. . .? You were then 23 and had been there already half a year. Because I was a beginner, you gave me some helpful advice. Then I praised your love of your neighbor. Ridiculous! Your help was mere coquetry. Here we do not acknowledge any good - in anybody."

"Do you remember what I told you about my youth? Now I am painfully compelled to fill in some of the gaps."

"According to the plan of my parents, I should not have existed. A misfortune brought about my conception. My two sisters were 14 and 15 when I was born."

"Would that I had never existed! Would that I could now annihilate myself! Escape these tortures! No pleasure would equal that with which I would abandon my existence, as a garment of ashes which is lost in nothingness. But I must continue to exist as I chose to make myself - as a ruined person."

"When father and mother, still young, left the country for the city, they had lost touch with the Church and were keeping company with irreligious people. They had met at a dance, and after a year and a half of companionship they 'had' to get married."

"As a result of the nuptial ceremony, so much holy water remained on them that my mother attended Sunday Mass a couple of times a year. But she never taught me to pray. Instead, she was completely taken up with the daily cares of life, although our situation was not bad."

"I refer to prayer, Mass, religious instruction, holy water, church with a very strong repugnance. I hate all that, as I hate those who go to church, and in general every human being and everything."

"From a great many things do we receive torture. Every knowledge received at the hour of death, every remembrance of things lived or known is for us, a piercing flame. In each remembrance, good and bad, we see the way in which was present - the grace we despised or ignored. What a torture is this! We do not eat, we do not sleep, we do not walk. Chained, with howling and gnashing of teeth, we look appalled at our ruined life, hating and suffering. Do you hear? We here drink hatred like water. Above all we hate God. With reluctance do I force myself to make you understand."

"The blessed in heaven must love God because they see Him without veil, in all His dazzling beauty. That makes their bliss indescribable. We know this and the knowledge makes us furious. Men on earth, who know God from nature and from revelation, can love Him, but they are not compelled to do so. The believer - I say this with gnashing of teeth - who contemplates Christ on the cross, with arms extended, will end by loving Him."

"But he whom God approaches only in the final storm, as punisher, as just avenger, because he was rejected by Him, such a person cannot but hate Him with all the strength of his wicked will. We died with willful resolve to be separated from God. Do you now understand why hell lasts forever! It is because our wills were fixed for eternity at the moment of death. We had made our final choice. Our obstinacy will never leave us. Under compulsion, I must add that God is merciful even towards us. I affirm many things against my will and must choke the torrent of abuses I should like to vomit out."

"God was merciful to us by not allowing our wicked wills to exhaust themselves on earth, as we should have been prepared to do. This would have increased our faults and our pains. He caused us to die before our time, as in my case, or had other mitigating circumstances intervene. Now He shows Himself merciful towards us by not compelling a closer approach than that afforded in this remote inferno. Every step bringing us closer to God would cause us a greater pain than that which a step closer to a burning furnace would cause you."

"You were scared when once, during a walk, I told you that my father, a few days before my first Communion, had told me: 'My little Annette, the main thing is your beautiful white dress, all the rest is just make-believe.' Because of your concern, I was almost ashamed. Now I sneer at it."

"The important thing is that we were not allowed to receive Communion until the age of 12. By then I was already absorbed in worldly amusements and found it easy to set aside, without scruple, the things of religion. Thus, I attached no great importance to my first Communion. We are furious that many children go to Communion at the age of seven. We do all we can to make people believe that children have insufficient knowledge at that age. They must first commit some mortal sins. Then the white Particle will not do so much damage to our cause as when faith, hope, and charity - oh, these things! - received in Baptism, are still alive in their hearts."

"Marta K - and you induced me to enter "The Association of the Young Ladies." The games were amusing. As you know, I immediately took a directive part. I liked it. I also like the picnics. I even let myself be induced to go to confession and communion sometimes."

"Once you warned me, 'Anne, if you do not pray, you go to perdition.' I used to pray very little indeed, and even this unwillingly. You were then only too right. All those who burn in hell did not pray or did not pray enough."

"Prayer is the first step towards God. And it is the decisive step. Especially prayer to her who is the Mother of Christ, whose name we never pronounce. Devotion to her rescues from the devil numberless souls whom sin would infallibly give to him."

"I continue my story, consumed with rage and only because I have to. To pray is the easiest thing man can do on earth. And God has tied up the salvation of each one exactly to this very easy thing."

"To him who prays with perseverance little by little God gives so much light, so much strength, that even the most debased sinner will at the end come back to salvation. During the last years of my life I did not pray any more, so I lacked those graces without which nobody can be saved. Here we no longer receive graces. Moreover, should we receive them we would cynically refuse them. All the fluctuations of earthly existence have ceased in the other life. For years I was living far away from God. For, in the last call of grace I decided against God."

"I never believed in the influence of the devil. And now I affirm that he has strong influence on the persons who are in the condition in which I was then. Only many prayers, others and mine own, united with sacrifices and penances, could have snatched me from his grip. And even this only little by little. If there are only few externally obsessed, there are very many internally possessed. The devil cannot steal the free will from those who give themselves to his influence. But in punishment of their, so to speak, methodical apostasy from God, He allows the devil to nest in them."

"I hate the devil too. And yet I am pleased about him, because he tries to ruin all of you; he and his satellites, the fallen with him at the beginning of time. There are millions of them. They roam around the earth, as thick as a swarm of flies, and you do not even notice it. It is not reserved to us damned to tempt you; but to the fallen spirits. In truth every time they drag down here to hell a human soul their own torture is increased. But what does one not do for hatred?"

"Deep down I was rebelling against God. You did not understand it; you thought me still a Catholic. I wanted, in fact, to be called one; I even used to pay my ecclesiastical dues. Maybe your answers were right sometimes. On me they made no impression, since you must not be right. Because of these counterfeited relationships between the two of us, our separation on the occasion of my marriage was of no consequence to me. Before the wedding I went to confession and communion once more. It was a precept. My husband and I thought alike on this point. Why not comply with this formality? So we complied with this, as with the other formalities."

"Our married life, in general, was spent in great harmony. We were of the same idea in everything. In this too, that we did not want the burden of children. In truth, my husband would have like to have one; no more, of course. In the end I succeeded in dissuading him even from this desire. Dresses, luxurious furniture, places of entertainment, picnics and trips by car and similar things were more important for me... It was a year of pleasure on earth, the one that passed from my marriage to my sudden death. Internally, of course, I was never happy, although externally at ease. There was always something indeterminate inside that gnawed at me."

"Unexpectedly I had an inheritance from my Aunt, Lotte. My husband succeeded in increasing his wages to a considerable figure. And so I was able to furnish our new home in an attractive way. Religion did not show its light but from afar off, pale, feeble and uncertain."

"I used to give free vent to my ill humor about some mediaeval representations of hell in cemeteries or elsewhere, in which the devil is roasting souls in red burning coals, while his companions with long tails drag new victims to him. Clara! One can be mistaken in depicting hell, but never can one exaggerate."

"I tell you: the fire of which the Bible speaks, does not mean the torment of the conscience. Fire is fire! What He said: 'Away from Me, you accursed one, into eternal fire', is to be understood literally. Literally! How can the spirit be touched by material fire, you will ask. How can your soul suffer on earth when you put your finger on the flame? In fact the soul does not burn; and yet what torture all the individual feels!"

"Our greatest torture consists in the certain knowledge that we shall never see God. How can this torture us so much, since on earth we are so indifferent? As long as the knife lies on the table, it leaves you cold. You see how keen it is, but you do not feel it. Plunge the knife into the flesh and you will start screaming for pain. Now we feel the loss of God. The lost Catholics suffer more than those of other religions, because they, mostly, received and despised more graces and more light. He who knew more suffers more cruelly than he who knew less. He who sinned out of malice suffers more keenly than he who sinned out of weakness. But nobody suffers more than he deserves. Oh, if that were not true, I should have a motive to hate!"

"My death happened this way . . ."

"A week ago - I am speaking according to your reckoning, because according to pain, I could very well say that it is already ten years that I am burning in hell - a week ago, then, my husband and I, on a Sunday went on a picnic, the last one for me. The day was glorious. I felt very well. A sinister sense of pleasure that was with me all the day long, invaded me. When lo, suddenly, during the return, my husband was dazzled by a car that was coming full speed. He lost control."

"Jesus, used frequently by some people of German language - escaped from my lips with a shivering. Not as a prayer, but as a shout. A lacerating pain took hold of the whole of me. (In comparison with the present only a trifle). Then I lost consciousness. Strange! That morning this thought had come to me in an inexplicable way: 'You could go to Mass once more', It seemed like the last call of Love."

"Clear and resolute, my 'NO' cut off that train of thought. You will know already what happened after my death. The lot of my husband and that of my mother, what happened to my corpse and the proceedings of my funeral are known to me through some natural knowledge we have here. What happens on earth we know only obscurely. But we know what touches us closely. I see also where you are living."

"I myself awoke from the darkness suddenly, in the instant of my passing. I saw myself as flooded by a dazzling light. It was in the same place where my dead body was lying. It was like a theater, when suddenly the lights in the hall are put out, the curtains are rent aside and an unexpected scene, horrible illuminated, appears. The scene of my life."

"My soul showed herself to me as in a mirror; all the graces despised from my youth until my last NO to God. I felt myself like an assassin, to whom his dead victim is shown during his trial at court - Should I repent? Never! - Should I feel ashamed? Never!"

"However, I could not even stand before the eyes of God, rejected by me. There was only one thing for me: flight! As Cain fled from the dead body of Abel, so my soul rushed from the sight of horror."

"This was the particular judgment: the invisible Judge said: 'Away from Me'. Then my soul, as a yellow brimstone shadow, fell headlong into the place of eternal torture."

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It is hoped that the above story will cause the reader to be most serious about the salvation of his soul. ("The greater part of men choose to be damned." St. Alphonsus Liguori) This is consistent with the teaching of the Holy Bible. "Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it." (Matt. 7:13, 14)

The Catholic Church is the one true Church. The history of all nations; of all people bear testimony that the Catholic Church is the oldest, the first, the one established by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now if you are really serious about saving your soul, you must adopt the Catholic Faith as there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. This has been defined dogmatically by three different popes, even before the Protestant church came into existence. You are urged to contact a Catholic Church where the traditions of the Holy Catholic Faith are being maintained. Call us at 502-425-9738 if you need help locating a traditional chapel in your area.

Promote the faith. Distribute this article. Pray and work for the salvation of souls. If we are responsible for the salvation of one soul, we also insure the salvation of our own. (St. James 5: 19-20)

www.olrl.org/doctrine/

Copies of this article available from: Our Lady of the Rosary Library 11721 Hidden Creek Road Prospect, KY 40059

Thursday, October 30, 2014

FOR THOSE WHO HATE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

(and especially for Catholics who need some inspiration)

Ask yourself: why do I hate the Catholic Church? Who taught me what I think I know about the Catholic Church? Is what I was taught true? Have I looked at what the Catholic Church has to say about itself, using official resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and papal encyclicals?

Could my opinion of the Catholic Church possibly be based on bias, bigotry, bad history, propaganda from the secular media, or the bad priests who get publicity (i.e., the sick, and sickening, pedophile priests or those certain heretical modernist priests the secular media love to give press to)? Is it fair to judge doctrine by such things? Is any group with human beings in it free from sin and scandal? If I am wrong about the Catholic Church, what does that mean?

Here are some common myths about the Catholic Church:

Because Catholics reject the tradition of "sola fide" ("faith alone"), they think they can work their way into Heaven and believe they are saved by works

Catholics think the pope does not sin

Catholics re-crucify Christ at their Masses (or at least think they do)

Catholics think Mary is part of the Godhead and is to be worshipped

Catholics worship statues

Catholics think they can't pray to God directly but have to go through saints

Catholics conjure the dead

Catholics believe people can be saved after they die

The Catholic Church teaches that one who isn't formally a Catholic is damned to Hell

The Crusades are an example of Catholic aggression

The Inquisition(s) killed hundreds of thousands of people and targeted Jews

Pope Pius XII was "Hitler's Pope" and didn't do a thing to help Jews during WWII The Catholic Church wasn't around until the time of Constantine, a pagan who controlled the Church.  The Catholic Church did more than baptize pagan calendar days for the good of Christ, it is pagan in its very roots.

If you believe any of the above myths, I implore you to research. For doctrinal questions, ask the Church what it teaches; it's the only fair thing to do. For historical questions, look at balanced and objective scholarly research from a variety of sources (including Catholic ones).

And as you research, keep in mind the common logical fallacies that are often used in attacks against Catholicism:

Generalization: "I knew a Catholic/ex-Catholic (or I was a Catholic) who was (mean, a drunk, not holy, didn't like the Church, was superstitious, didn't know the Bible, didn't have a deep relationship with Jesus, etc.), so therefore, the teachings of the Catholic Church are wrong." (Ignores the fact that bad catechesis, miunderstandings, or other shortcomings of a few Catholics do not reflect on what the Catholic Church teaches)

Bifurcation: "If the Catholic Church doesn't teach that it's faith alone that saves, then it must teach that men are saved by their own works." (Ignores that we teach that we are saved by Grace alone -- a Grace with which we must cooperate through "faith that works in love")

Cum hoc ergo propter hoc: "Winter Solstice is on 21 December; Christmas is 25 December. Therefore, Christmas is a pagan holiday. (Ignores that fact that there are only 365 days to choose from in a year and that the early Church Fathers had good reasons to choose the date they did. It also ignores that Protestants' "Reformation Day" is celebrated on 31 October, the pagan festival of Samhain.)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: "Constantine must have been the real source of the Catholic Church's teachings because after his reign the Church grew tremendously, and before his reign it wasn't as well-known" (Ignores the simple fact that Constantine merely stopped the persecution of Christians with the Edict of Milan and allowed Christianity to spread. It also ignores the writings of the Church Fathers who lived before Constantine -- and who were Catholic.)

Straw man: "You guys worship statues, and that's evil. Therefore, your religion is Satanic." (Ignores that fact that we don't worship statues)

Meanwhile: The Final Challenge ... and now I challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ to take two hours of your life to listen to theologian and former Presbyterian minister Scott Hahn and to Rosalind Moss, who was raised Jewish and later became Evangelical. Both are now 100% Catholic; don't you want to know why? Truly, I challenge you to listen and pray and think about what you hear, all with an open heart to God's will.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PRACTICING CATHOLIC

What it really means to be a “Practicing Catholic”

by Stephen Spiteri

A few years ago, before I started this blog and before I seriously started getting into apologetics, I trekked cyberspace for an online Christian community to discuss all matters pertaining to faith. I came across one particular Christian forum (which shall remain nameless) and before learning that is was very, very anti-Catholic and filled with rabid-mouthed fundamentalists, I read their forum disclaimer and the administrators had something to say about Catholicism in particular. Apart from claiming that they believed Catholicism was not Christian, their disclaimer read something like this:

“… we are Christians who believe in the biblical message of Christ and that a personal relationship with Christ is the only way to get to Heaven. We don’t ‘practice’ our faith; we believe that your relationship with Christ is not something that has a set of rules, rituals or is something that is formulaic. We live our faith, preach it and desire others to come to the full biblical truth of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ …”

It’s the middle part that really caught my attention and got me thinking. Up until recently I’ve never really thought about what it truly means to be a “practicing Catholic” and dare I say there would have been a point in my life even as a Catholic that I would have agreed that being “practicing Catholic” meant going to church, receiving the sacraments, and more or less going just through the motions; attending, being present, and ticking boxes. How wrong I would have been; how wrong these fundamentalists are.

You could define “practicing” in terms of doing something frequently or habitually, true, but one someone describes themselves as a “practicing Catholic” without knowing it, they are professing sound deeply profound. I play the guitar and I have played the guitar since I was 12 going on 13 years old, and while the practice has slowed down these days, for years and years I practiced playing the guitar. Why did I practice? Because I wanted to get better.

When a Catholic says they’re a “practicing Catholic” what they really say is that they’re trying to become more like Christ; to be a better Catholic-Christian. Being a “practicing Catholic” means putting your faith into action. When the priest says to the congregation at the end of Mass, “Go forth, the Mass has ended”, “Go and proclaim the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” he is indeed exhorting you to go out and be a practicing Catholic; to put your faith into action. We are not called to be Catholic-Christians once every week on the Lord’s day, but every day and in every moment in our lives.

We know that “faith without works is dead faith” (James 2:26), so in order for our faith to grow, as exercise strengthens muscles and improves our fitness, faith must be put into action and we must allow ourselves to be led by God’s grace. Christ himself tell us “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and becoming more Christ-like and Christ to other requires practice. And this we all know, practice makes perfect.

Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

FINAL JUDGEMENT

What the man without a wedding garment was lacking, A reflection on the day of judgment

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Matthew 22:1-14

Posted by Father Ryan Erlenbush

My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?

The Savior invites all people to the wedding feast of the Lamb, the eternal banquet of heaven. Yet, though salvation is offered to each, yet only few accept the gift and come to the wedding. However, what is most striking about this Sunday’s parable isn’t only that many who are called refuse to be saved, but that even this one who had come was cast out into the darkness.

What is the symbolic meaning of the wedding garment which the man lacked? What is our Savior teaching us about the judgment?

Overview of the parable

In this Sunday’s Gospel, our Lord gives us a parable about the kingdom: The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.

The first portion of the parable is divided into two parts: The ingratitude of the Jews, He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come; and the opening of salvation to the gentiles, The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.

After the hall has been filled with the newly invited guests, the king came in to meet the guests. However, one guest was not dressed in a wedding garment, who was reduced to silence and then bound hand and foot and cast into the darkness outside.

We consider who this man is who is cast out from the wedding feast.

A parable of the final judgment

But when the king came in to meet the guests…

While the first portion of the parable emphasizes that fact that salvation is indeed offered to all people bad and good alike, the latter scene describes the day of judgment when each will receive the proper reward of his labors.

When the king comes into the wedding feast to greet the guests, we are meant to recognize our Savior coming on the day of his judgment. Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide speaks well, “When the king came in, that he might survey and examine them. This shall take place when God shall come to the general judgment at the end of the world, to judge, and reward or punish all mankind.” This follows the interpretation of Origen and many others.

Recognizing that this scene is a representation of the judgment, we can quickly discern what this man is lacking who had no wedding garment.

Who will be judged on the last day

In his Commentary on the Letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews, St. Thomas (on the authority of St. Gregory the Great) states the following concerning the last judgment: “There are four orders in the judgment: some will not be judged, but will judge and be saved, namely, the Apostles and apostolic men; others will be judged and be saved, as the moderately good; still others will be judged and be damned, as wicked believers; finally, some will not be judged, but will be damned, as all unbelievers.” [On Hebrews 10:31, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.]

There are four classes of men on the day of judgment:

1. Those who will not be judged and will be saved.

2. Those who will be judged and will be saved.

3. Those who will be judged and will not be saved.

4. Those who will not be judged and will not be saved.

When we consider this parable carefully, we will see each of these classes of men.

Preliminary note about the final judgment and the particular judgment

We admit that those who die before the final judgment will have already receive the pronouncement of their eternity in the particular judgment at the moment of their death. The damned in hell and the blessed in heaven will nevertheless also undergo a general judgment in which the particular judgment is made manifest to all.

The judgment given by God at the moment of death certainly cannot change or be altered, yet the general judgment is necessary as extending the authority of God throughout all history. If in the particular judgment God reveals his sovereignty over each individual, in the general judgment this power is revealed as triumphing over all the injustices which occurred throughout the course of human history.

Not judged, and saved

Those who will not be judged but will be saved are represented by the servants in the parable of the wedding feast. They go out and call all men to salvation, they are the apostles and other great saints who are so clearly united to the king that there is no need to discuss their merits or demerits.

So excellent and holy, these greatest saints will simply be saved without any judgment of their actions, for there is no need to weigh merit and demerit with such as these.

Judged, and saved

Those who will be judged and will be saved are the guests who have come to the wedding feast. Upon the king’s arrival, they are found to be properly clothed and are welcome to remain at the feast.

These men and women have died in the state of grace and, upon the inspection of the king, are found worthy.

Not judged, and not saved

There are also those of the fourth class, who are not judged but are simply damned straight away. These are those who have no meritorious works as never having possessed the gift of faith. Without faith, man cannot please God – without sanctifying grace, no work can be of any value for eternal salvation.

These are those who refused to believe but, hardened in their perfidity, refused to come to the wedding feast. These ones are not judged by the king, but rather the king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. These ones are simply damned without any judgment, and this is made manifest on the last day.

Judged, and not saved – without a wedding garment

And now we can see whom this man without a wedding garment represents: Those who are judged, but who are damned. These are those who do have faith and who therefore are united to the Church (either visibly or, at least, invisibly), but who lack charity which gives life to the soul.

The man without a wedding garment is the believer who is in the state of mortal sin, lacking charity and good works – this is the teaching of Sts Jerome, Hilary, Gregory, and Augustine, as well as Tertullian. Such is the man who has faith, but no works; present at the wedding feast, he is yet found wanting and will be rejected by the king.

Many are called but few are chosen

Thus, we are encouraged to preserver in virtue and to accomplish good works. Ultimately, it is most necessary that we should die in the state of grace with charity in our soul. Indeed, even if a man were to have worn his wedding garment for most of his life, if he were to throw it away for some cheap momentary pleasure and to be found naked when the king should return!

O how sad a thought! To be found without charity’s garment and cast into the darkness of hell! To have traded heaven away so lightly!

And yet, the one act which will assure us of being among the few who are chosen is open to all! It is to pray! Prayer assures us of salvation! If only we pray daily for the grace to persevere to the end, and if we pray also during moments of temptation, we shall surely be saved.