Hell

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

Amoris Laetitia and the Four Last Things

Hell—St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns to mentally visit the inferno during life so they would not be imprisoned in it after death. St. John Vianney sighed because the saints, who were so pure, cultivated holy fear while “we, who so often offend the good God—we have no fears.” At last month’s Rome Life [...]

Have We Forgotten the Hard Sayings of Christ?

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.” (Mk. 9:43) It requires no great insight in order to discern what the modern world would make of such a statement had it [...]

Life as Preparation for Death

Shortly before taking leave of this world, Sir Winston Churchill, who had lived a very long and illustrious life, was reportedly asked about the state of his soul: “I am perfectly ready,” he said, “to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Only someone of [...]

Will Anyone End Up In Hell?

In Robert Speaight’s The Unbroken Heart, a novel sadly neglected in the long years following its publication in 1939, a character named Arnaldo has just been told of his beloved wife’s untimely death.  His reaction, by today’s standards, seems very strange indeed.  “It does not really interest me,” he confesses, “to know by what accident [...]

The Harrowing of Hell

The second reading from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday is taken from an ancient homily on Christ’s descent into hell.  It begins: “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.  The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.”  The King fell asleep when [...]

Sympathy for the Devil and Mercy for the Damned

And Lucifer approached the Throne, and from across the abyss there came a clamor, a wailing bereft of beauty, tone, and voice, as though a malignant choir had become suddenly awash in boiling oil. “Oh Great One,” he began, he who had been known throughout history as the Tempter, but who could tempt no more, [...]

Hope: When A Loved One Dies in Sin

My mother died at age 27. She left a grieving husband and three little children: myself, age six, and my younger sister and brother, ages four and two, respectively. I remember my mother well, her death from pneumonia the day after Christmas 1934, and her funeral, the first I ever attended. I remember too my [...]

…But do Bad Dogs go to Hell?

It was somewhat of a surprise when George died despite his old age, for he had seemed to live through everything—much pestering from our younger dog, Wolfie; consuming way too much chocolate, candy, and paper towels; chewing on a poisonous tick collar; jumping out of a moving (quite fast) pickup truck after another dog; surviving [...]

The New ‘Brighton Rock’: Bad Romance

Last year, as I walked out of the theater after a showing of the 1947 gangster flick Brighton Rock, one of the men behind me had a question for his companion. “There was a lot of,” and he tried to put it delicately, “Catholic stuff in that. I mean…is that normal?” Both the 1947 film [...]

Hell, Heaven, and Progressive Catholics

With another presidential election looming, it won’t be long before many self-described progressive Catholics start issuing countless statements about numerous policy issues. Though many such Catholics sit rather loosely with Catholic teaching on questions like life and marriage, their “relaxed” position on such issues is belied by their stridency on, for instance, economic matters. Woe [...]

For God So Loved the World, He Created Hell

  Evangelical preacher Rob Bell has created quite a stir by suggesting in his recent book that there is no hell, because God loves us so much. But this is exactly backwards: There is a hell because God loves us so much. Nobody goes to hell except those who irrevocably prefer something else to God [...]

A Hell of an Argument

One nice thing about being Catholic is that when a dimestore Origenist (who is pretty certain nobody's going to Hell) goes up against dimestore Calvinists (who are certain they know just exactly who is in Hell), you don't have to feel as though TIME magazine is arbitrating a dispute that never ever ever occurred to Christians before. Just [...]

In Which We Deal with a Delicate Subject

A reader writes: I'm wondering if you could help me with a question about mortal sin. I recently learned that the Catechism teaches that masturbation, if done with full knowledge and consent, would count as a mortal sin. (I realize there are a few additional caveats.) Does this mean that masturbation is, in the eyes [...]

Grace and Sin in the Small Things

As I suppose everybody does when they reflect about their life, I sometimes sit back and think about the astonishing chain of little choices that have contributed to the fact that I exist. One evening about 30 years ago, for instance, I was stopped at a red light and the radio in the car was [...]

“To banish war, he must a warrior be”

In honor of today's commemoration, a few words from Joyce Kilmer, the Catholic poet who lost his life in the very war whose conclusion became the historical basis for Veteran's Day: The Peacemaker Upon his will he binds a radiant chain, For Freedom’s sake he is no longer free. It is his task, the slave [...]

My High Holy Day

All the decorations are up, folks are frantically shopping and preparing, and the anticipation is almost killing me as I await the brightest, best moment of the whole liturgical year: Halloween, of course. As far back as I can remember, this feast far outclassed Christmas on my personal calendar. No matter that Santa brought piles [...]

The Other Inkling

We all know about the Inklings, that astounding coterie of men who met twice weekly for some years in the l940s and 1950s at Oxford to drink beer and talk about everything. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are, of course, by far the best known of the group. But there was another [...]

Just Say ‘No’ to Brimstone

    Last week I made melancholy tribute to the shrinking cadre of men who heed the call to serve Christ's Church as priests, and tried to think of ways we can offer them human support while they go about God's business. Whenever I think about the question of calling, I'm reminded of my own [...]

Bear Wrongs Patiently

Me assuming the task of writing about "bearing wrongs patiently" is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger management counseling or seeking out Britney Spears for tips on marriage and child-rearing. I don't bear wrongs very patiently. Why should I? Those people are wrong! They need to be set right! I'm only doing my Christian [...]

Creator Red in Tooth and Claw?

  Whenever the moral confusions facing our Church begin to trouble me, to give me the slightest sense that the gates of Hell really might be prevailing, I know what to do: Stop reading that document from the USCC -- just put it down, kick it across the room -- and pick up something more [...]

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