I apologize for the whining this week!
We all have strengths, weaknesses, gifts, flaws. Put me up against an anti-Catholic, the Klu Klux Klan, the Communist, the foes of truth in the Chancery, parish, Congress, State House, etc., I am unwaivering. But finding an enemy in what I presumed or expect to be an ally-in-faith, I get thrown into Gethsemene where Christ sweat blood when He saw the condition of His Church.
I will spare you the ugly details of this week (including the two car accidents, rear-ended, within an hour!)but I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your thoughtful messages, texts, emails, comments, prayers, for listening, supporting... and the flowers.
Yes, flowers!! From an extraordinarily kind couple whom God has gifted to my life. Each of you, with the diversity of your gifts, bring so much enrichment to me personally and to readers at TTC in your own unique way.
I've read quite a bit now about salvation outside of the Church. It was my intention to follow up our original discussion with another post, but since the haunting was the fruit of that discussion, I think I'll just affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church..and tell a little story.
Here's the bottom line on Catholic teaching: If it were the intention of God for a soul to merit entrance into Heaven through any and every religion, church or through good deeds-then His Incarnation would not have been necessary.
He gathered the Apostles and instituted a Church with them and through them. He left us a way to eat and drink His Body and Blood.
I am not sure how we're even losing people on this one. There is only One Source to eat and drink of His Body and Blood: The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To whom else would you go?
Leaving us the Catholic Church to enlighten and feed us The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of God was the entire purpose of The Incarnation, Passion and Crucifixion of God. If you don't eat and drink of His Body and Blood, you have no life within you.
She is the Paraclete. THE source of enlightenment. The paraclete is not in our brain. When we want truth, we go to her. With the faith of a child, we surrender.
The Catholic Church is the price Christ paid for our soul's salvation.
Take a look-see----------------------------->
It wouldn't be necessary for God to leave a cozy throne in Heaven and go through all this bother if the gate to Heaven included any and every religion.
There would be no crosses to pick up and follow. No specific path. No specific source of truth. It would all be a guessing game. No need for evangelism or the 2000 years of martyrdom.
The narrow gate to Heaven is through The Catholic Church. This is the truth and a certainty.
But at the Head of The Church is Christ who will sit in judgement of all who were not inside of the Catholic Church. And those judgments are based upon whether our sins were of mortal origin. Whether we had access to the knowledge and rejected it or whether we were ignorant. If there was ignorance, He will judge whether it was willful or whether the ignorance is through no fault of our own.
There's a scriptural warning on accountability. If you see your brother sinning, tell him. If you tell him and he doesn't listen, he'll be held accountable. But if you know and you don't tell him, I'll hold you accountable.
The error in saying we see souls who are 'oriented' towards Hell, is that it implies mortals have insight into all that comprises the fatality of mortal sin. It's impossible to judge whether a soul is 'oriented' to Hell. That is a judgment that belongs to Christ alone.
What we have to do as evangelists is make an assessment of actions or the many false gods and religions and churches and teachings and respond to our baptismal call. Go and baptize all nations and men into the Catholic Church, the narrow gate left by God Himself. Just because we know that God will mercifully judge whether our sins were mortal, it does not forbear this duty.
Many have, because they are under the delusion that mortal sins will be pardoned through God's Mercy on our day of judgment. The Fr. John Unni's and Fr. Bryan Hehirs and the Bishops who enable the willful withholding of the truths that lead to conversion, or even recklessly lead souls into temptation. This is what what is going haywire.
But, we can NOT compensate for their sins of omission by rejecting the Catechism because it contains the teaching that God will measure whether the sins were mortal. All you're doing is piling more sins on top of the pile of dung. Putting your own salvation at risk.
In our discussions about salvation, I said I would talk about a personal experience - so here it is...
About fifteen years ago, two friends of mine struggled and suffered with cancer and died about a week apart.
Richard was a beloved friend, like St. John the Beloved. The kind of friend that loves unconditionally, present through thick and thin, gives of themselves, surprises you with small acts of kindness and charity. We met through work. He was my supervisor. He took a shine to me because we shared a snarky sense of humor. Richard claimed to be an atheist. He even went so far in his rebellion against God that he got thrown out of college for burning a cross on campus. We had many discussions about the existence of God and my convictions.
I learned that he was baptized a Christian in the protestant church but crossed the intersection to atheism when his mother died as a young child. "No God would take a mother away from a child", he would say.
I would talk about God the Father handing over his own Son to murderers, about the loss of Christ's good friend John the Baptist, about Lazarus and the symbolism of the resurrection into eternal life. I would talk about the loss of my own father at a young age, my faith. I never really felt him softening in the conversations. But many years later and near the end of his life, he told me he was formally mending his relationship with God.
I was not in good shape myself at the time - from the impending loss of two relationships and other things going on. I didn't say the things I perhaps should have said or would have said in other circumstances. I thought everything that needed to be said had already been said years ago. I was actually relieved he had come to the foot of the cross to acknowledge God, his rebellion and the need for repentance and unification with Christ. I entrusted the processing of the death of his mother as a young child and to God's mercy.
The other friend who died, Julie, was a neighbor. She was also a kind, loving and giving soul and our relationship grew through our children, playmates, playdates, etc. Julie was a baptized Catholic but had drifted away from the Church in the pain and confusion of circumstances in her own life. In the end, one of her sisters came to live and care for her who had married a muslim and rejected Catholicism for it. She spent that time trying to convert Julie who just really did not have any fight left in her. Arrangements were made for a muslim funeral and burial. Though the cancer had metastasized to Julie's brain, in a lucid moment she told me she did NOT want a muslim funeral and burial - she wanted to be buried from the Catholic Church. The promise I made to her in those lucid moments brought her peace. I did what I could to bring her requests and concerns to her family but they rejected it.
Lost in grief in the days after their deaths, we headed off on a planned family vacation. My heart was heavy with the pain of the loss, compounded with concerns about their salvation. In the storm, I fell to the temptation of asking God for a sign my friends made it through the narrow gate.
Poor Christ. Still a faithless generation, 2000 years later.
Anyway, I was standing in front of a stone memorial to the soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga in New York with my family and this clonked me on top of my head:
I mounted it on the stone, of course, but the message is loud and clear.
So when you want to characterize the baptism of desire and blood as a heresy perpetrated by the Catholic Church (which is actually impossible), this is another compelling reason why I won't smoke that crack pipe.