The Gospel Truth

Uncertain Truths II | March 23, 2015

My original rendition of Uncertain Truths created some interesting feedback! It was my treatment of salvation that caused the greatest concern.   My main critic erroneously thought that I had stated that one could be saved even after death. I never said or wrote that anywhere, not have I ever believed that!

I think I said that I hoped everybody went to Heaven eventually…even Adolph Hitler. I can easily make a case for that based on the complicity of the human mind and all the factors, genetic and cultural that go into the formation of the individual conscience. According to the Catholic Church to think otherwise is to be guilty of the negative sin of presumption.

I will admit that there was one ambiguity that I need to address. My Jesuit friend told me the story just after his ordination in 1969 as Catholics we had to only believe that there was a Hell but did not have to believe that anyone was there except the Fallen Angels. It’s a plausible statement but it did not clarify things well enough.   What he should have said was that while we can hope that all men are saved, we have to allow for the distinct possibility that some or even many souls will not be saved.

My understanding of salvation was seriously expanded while reading Fr. Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s marvelous book, DARE WE HOPE THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED. The book jacket contends that his was one of the most misunderstood works of Catholic theology in our times.

His critics falsely accuse him of universalism, which holds with certainly that all men will be saved.   However he does not actually say that.

He allows for the possibility that some or even many men will not be saved. But he adds that as Christians we may hope and I would add but also pray that all men may be saved.  This is the full extent of loving one’s neighbor.

In 1 Timothy 2:4 God wills that all men be saved. Can even sinful man thwart the will of God and contradict divine providence? Isn’t it reasonable to think that this just may be the case?

In the  DARE WE‘s Preface Father Robert Barron quotes a vision of St. Catherine of Siena where she suffered in her soul to even think that one of God’s creatures would be damned for all eternity.   She said she did not know how to reconcile even one of your creatures made in his image and likeness should be lost and slip from your hands.

The bottom line is that we can never know exactly what happened at that precise moment just BEFORE death. That is not ours to know with certitude but allows for the hope that God’s Mercy will win over His justice.

There was an article in the Wanderer many years ago that I think quoted where a 13th or 14th friar was so concerned with the salvation of all his fellow men that he reasoned that it was possible that on the precise second before the rope tied on the bridge snapped his neck God intervened and worked his divine mercy and saved the man.

He did not say it was certain only that we can never know that it didn’t happen… especially if God is not just a judge but also one of infinite and unconditional mercy. That’s the God I have to believe in. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE…an underrated virtue if ever there was one.

At the focal point of this disagreement is that my friend has both feet deeply implanted in the Church before Vatican II and I have only one foot planted there as I try to straddle the distance between the two different approaches to the Catholic Church.   I think I am more of a reformed traditionalist because I like some things of the old way of thinking but have accepted some of the new way of thinking since 1963.

There are some things that we were taught then that perverted the old Orthodoxy. It had become a church based on laws…dos and don’ts that had sacrificed some of the true virtues necessary for loving our neighbor.

With regard to morality it was still beholden to an Augustinian stoicism that jaded its perception of sex and marriage.   This Augustinian aura wounded millions of Catholics.   I can hear it in most of my fellow Bible study men–subtlety but it is there— I had a priest threaten me with eternal damnation in the Confessional because I could not explain something I had done.

I was 10 years old!

This particular priest was turned on by Almighty God and would shout those words from the pulpit every Sunday. Cotton Mather could not have done a better job of scaring a congregation to death.

Had I been proud like my paternal grandfather, I would have walked out of the Catholic Church forever…but thanks to the grace of God, pride is not one of my major failings.

Today I see dozens of other Catholics from that era…daily communicants that seem to have no joy or internal happiness (peace) that their religious devotion and abundance of grace is supposed to instill. They summarily judge other people and can be rude and even nasty to the small people around them.

At a meeting a while back one them snapped at me when I did not clearly hear what she had said to me. She said loudly what are you deaf?   I said…Yeeeaaah! Her late husband once yelled at me in a Parish Council meeting because I questioned something about the Serra Society he ran.

To me their religious faith seems more akin to pride and arrogance than it does holiness. That’s what the Orthodoxy of the old Church has done to many. It seems devoid of charity and compassion for their fellow man.

While the new Church has its serious faults, with its remote emphasis on sin and salvation and large emphasis on the horizontal love of neighbor, I have been trying my level best to eliminate the negative from both churches and stress the positive of both.

The old  church was a virtual dictatorship while the new one seems almost anarchistic at times.  The first provided necessary structure and moral order while the other has added love, charity and hope.

My religious belief is in there some place.  While I laugh a lot and feel, not warm and fuzzy but the warmth of having something special inside my soul…and I try to pass it on through my humor, stories and genuine friendliness, I still have a dark dread of the judgment to come.

One of my new acquaintances is a young waitress at Lester’s.  She made my day a few months ago when she told me I was the coolest guy she had met in her nine months on the job. That can do wonders for a 71-year old man.

One time we started talking about Philosophy and Faith and she told me she was still searching—aren’t most people just trying to get along–the basis of the very first Vitae Foundation ad 20 years ago.

I recommended Fulton J. Sheen’s Life is Worth Living to her. I said it was a better tip than the money I left her. As I was leaving I also told her I would put her on my nice list The people on this list are special people–mostly all female for whom I pray.   One candle at a time—.that’s all any of us can hope for.

I think we are all called to be messengers of grace and in today’s world that will not happen by preaching the Orthodoxy of the old Church— but by extending the warm hand of friendship and hope so they can see the glow in our souls that points to an all-loving, an all-forgiving God.

If we are all good beacons of these virtues legions will make that connection and follow Him in an instant! Weren’t people attracted to the early Christians by the way that they love each other?

The Catholic Church is not one of just laws and judgments. It is the Church of love and mercy. But it is one pregnant with paradoxes and deep esoteric truths that most cannot fathom.  God’s infinite mercy is irreconcilable with His absolute justice.  It is the ultimate squared circle.  We can’t understand it because it contradicts our human logic.

It is akin to the story I was told as a child about St. Augustine’s attempt to fully understand and explain the Triune God.   He was wandering one of the beaches in North Africa when he encountered a young boy who was digging a hole and putting seawater in it. When asked what he was doing the lad responded that he was trying to put the sea into his hole. Augustine understood immediately the futility of his own search.

I also read a story about a priest who quipped while I am alive, I am all for God’s Justice but when I die, I am all for His mercy! A resounding Rush Limbaughesque Dittos to him!!

Look for another similar post I will call Dead Certainties and follow me on Twitter @Savant28.

Advertisements

3 Comments »

  1. Knowing God is Love and Hoping that because of that He would never condemn one of His creation to eternal separation (Hell) doesn’t line up with the Gospel Message – For God so loved the world that
    He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NKJV)

    Next time you think of giving a searching waitress a TIP please don’t tell her about Fulton Sheen’s book – for God’s sake witness to her! Think of all the times we walked by the Holy Cross Dinand Library and the
    Latin quote at the top – “…that you might know the one true God and the one He sent JESUS Christ.”

    JESUS said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” As believers we need to witness to others and keep our eyes on Jesus our Lord and Savior. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing! Hoping every one is saved is great but we need to move our lips and tell as many people as we can what Jesus did for us all on the Cross! It’s our Great Commission. I believe that you are doing it and this note is sent to encourage you!

    Your friend in Christ,
    Jim Curran, HC ’65

    Comment by Jim Curran — March 23, 2015 @ 6:54 pm

  2. Dear Bill, I can’t recall whether you’re a cradle Catholic or a convert like me. I can say to you is walk boldly in your faith, with a conscience enlightened by God as you have found him through Scripture and experience as a 71 year old rather than one informed by the addition to Tradition.
    The being saved after death could very well come from the money making racket of healing the family tree and an insult to God who knows the heart of all men.
    What is of the flesh is flesh and what is of the Spirit is Spirit.

    Comment by L. Newington — March 23, 2015 @ 11:51 pm

  3. Bill:
    I appreciate your article and insights. Just yesterday I
    was in conversation with someone who apparently was damaged when very young. She is just a few yrs. younger than you but was frightened by the having to make her first confession. Before doing so she peaked in and was caught by a nun who really socked it to her.

    I can understand how back in those days kids were
    frightened by going to confession; today I do believe it is handled far better. Our granddaughter went to the priest who rewarded those who first confessed with candy. I was amazed but must say I think it made a positive out of what used to be feared.

    I will send your article on to the lady who I think will appreciate your thoughts. I don’t think you are alone.

    I recall being told by a nun that if we doubted anything she told us it was the devil tempting us and we needed to make the sign of the cross. Looking back on this it seems we were not allowed to think but were scared to death. As we age we do think about issues and have
    different opinions. What first comes to mind is the push for what is called social justice but what many
    realize is socialism in disguise.

    I do agree that both the old and new church have had positives but also negatives.

    It is hard for me to believe that anyone deserves ETERNAL punishment.

    I have a dear friend who is very religious who has had
    a very difficult time with an adopted child. She has been told by a counselor that genetics play a very significant part along with environment regarding human behavior. What makes us tick? I agree; it is a combination of genetics and environment.

    Personality = integrated totality of traits, habits and mannerisms that distinguish one human being from another and determines their unique reaction to their environment and themselves. This was the definition I learned at Fontbonne College in psychology 50 yrs. ago.

    God is the only one who fully understands each and every one of us and therefore knows why people sometimes make poor choices. I believe he loves all his creatures and that he will be merciful.

    The most serious sin a person can commit is that of
    despair – to despair that God will exercise his Divine Mercy.

    Looking forward to your next article as usual!!!

    Blessings,

    M Fritz

    Comment by M Fritz — March 26, 2015 @ 6:49 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

Search

Navigation

Categories:

Links:

Archives:

Feeds

%d bloggers like this: