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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Saving Souls

It's been quiet around here of late as I've been busy at work, trying hard to make headway on my midterms and a paper, and this has exhausted me. When I left work this evening I had to pray I'd even make it home!

But one of the high points each evening has been reading more of "The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena", which is a conversation between she and God the Father, which was dictated during an ecstasy. As I've been reading, I've been amazed at the consistency with Catholic Doctrine (which would be the reason this is an approved private revelation and why St. Catherine is a Doctor of the Church), and I've been taking her words to heart.

A serious reading of this work leads one to reflect on the state of their own soul, to consider ones life through God's eyes...and the needs of all those people in one's life.

There are vivid (if theological) descriptions of souls in Hell, why they are there, and the torments they suffer and will suffer for eternity. There are descriptions of "the blessed", those souls enjoying eternal union with God, and those souls in purgatory who have not achieved in life the perfection of the blessed, but likewise enjoy a certain union even as they are purged of their own impurities as they are on the road to perfection.

God also describes the way of perfection as a bridge, and why some souls choose to walk in the sludge under the bridge, where they are swept away by the devil, instead of taking the high road designed just for them.

There is so much theological depth to this book, so many descriptive images of the spiritual life and spiritual realities that I find, each night I finish reading, that I love God even more.

Yesterday's reading left me pining for the souls in mortal sin; those who are obstinate in their rejection of God, their false anger at God, in their complete rejection of all that is holy. The torments they are destined to suffer should they die in such a state is horrifying; it makes me realize how much we all must do to reach out and simply pray for such people. God asks us to pray for each other, and in our current society, we see so much secularism, so much hatred of God that we as the faithful have to realize the eternal consequences of such attitudes.

There IS such a place as Hell, it's entirely possible to go there for eternity, and all that is required for such a ticket is...well....a lot of attitudes expressed today. Even among Catholics!

It's unpopular and considered "superstitious" to suggest that one is in danger of Hell; yet, one day we will all go to our judgment, and at that moment, we lose our free will, and if we have abused our freedom in this life we will pay for it for eternity in the next.

The tragedy of this is impossible to express, especially considering all we have been given to assist us in attaining holiness. And it's not just about us; it's about our awareness of the needs of others, not just materially, but SPIRITUALLY. If we're not praying, if we're not working to save souls...we're not doing our jobs.

And this post doesn't come close to coherent, nor can it possibly touch the depth of the thoughts I've had in reading this book...and I still have two-thirds to go, an a ten-page paper to write. I suspect I'll be able to write an entire book when I'm done with this one!

But I'm not just incoherent right now, I'm exhausted and I'm going to do some more reading and collapse into unconsciousness until the alarm goes off at Dark O'Clock in the morning.

St. Catherine of Siena...pray for us!

6 comments:

Father Cory Sticha said...

One of the scariest ideas I've ever heard is that we choose to go to Hell. God doesn't send us there to be vindictive, He does it because we have chosen to turn away from Him, cut ourselves off from Him, and embrace sin. I don't know about anyone else, but I really do not want to end up in Hell, but all it takes to spend eternity in Hell is choosing to hang on to sin and not ask God's forgiveness. Kyrie eleison!

Adoro te Devote said...

Father ~ It IS terrifying! I hear so many people say that if God were a loving God, he would not send us to Hell....they can't seem to understand that they are CHOOSING it! And I don't want to go there, either!

Mark said...

Kallistos Ware (a Greek Orthodox bishop well-known in the UK as a writer and speaker) is fond of saying that "the doors of hell are locked on the inside", which is a good way of making the point that people are in hell because, unrepentant to the very end, that's what they've freely chosen for themselves.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Hell is a place I don't want to end up...which is why I do my part, pass out TAN books to everyone, haha :)

Hidden One said...

Father, would it not be more terrifying if we could go to Hell against our wills?

Father Cory Sticha said...

Hidden One, I think we would still be terrified by the prospect of going to Hell if we were just arbitrarily sent there by God, but I think our fear would be more of keeping Him pleased with us so that he won't send us to Hell. Look at how the Greeks and Romans feared their gods. They didn't want to make the gods angry, so they did everything they could to stay on the gods' good sides. God does not want us to go to Hell, but to spend eternity with Him. It's more terrifying to me that His love for us and respect for the free will that He gave us is so strong that He is willing to allow us to "force" Him to do something He does not will. He has given us great power in our free will, and that we can abuse that power in such a way as to separate ourselves for Him really does frighten me.