Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Unfaithful Departed, more on Halloween

God desires that all Men are saved!
But what about those who choose not to be saved?

The doctrine of Hell is not about God's anger but about God's love and man's freewill. True, the Church never says anyone is in Hell, apart from the Devil and a few ancient fallen angels. It could indeed be empty. The doctrine however reminds us that Man can choose to reject God, because God forces no-one to accept him. Man's freewill is so absolute that it embraces Heaven and Hell. A fundamental Catholic understanding is Man's absolute freedom.

I criticise those priests who want to canonise everyone, who assume everyone really wants God but then I suppose although I might be a little more realistic like many "trads", I suppose I assume that though most of us are too damaged to enter heaven immediately that through a period of purgation God will heal them, and yes, they will be saved.

But what about those who have spent their whole lives saying, "No" to God? Halloween is presumably about acknowledge their existence, those who have rejected the Church and the Sacraments, Christ's teaching on marriage, those who have lived selfish lives, those who have died without the the slightest Hope in Christ. What about the Un-faithful departed?

The feast of All Saints is about the Saved, All Souls, the commemoration of the Faithful Departed is about those who rightly Hope - in the sense of the theological virtue - for Salvation but isn't it arrogance to assume everyone wants to be saved?

I accept that God has made us to love and desire him, it is part of our nature but habit and lifestyle, or even sin, can change and pervert that nature.

Tea at the Trianon presents an interest theory on the origins of Halloween, I just wonder if its origins are in fact about trying to deal with the Unfaithful departed who are part of the danse macabre.


Laura said...

"...isn't it arrogance to assume everyone wants to be saved?"

I suppose the arrogance consists in our assuming that we have to assume something - in other words that we have to judge. We don't have to do that, thank God.

Happy All Saints Father. If I could be there tomorrow evening, I would.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for the link, Father! A blessed All Saints Day to you! (I had never heard of the Danse Macabre connection to Halloween before seeing the article to which I linked. Interesting.)

parepidemos said...

Father, You raise an issue that causes angst in my heart: why some continue to reject the awesome love of God even though that very love fills our every need and deepest yearning.

I certainly do not believe that anyone is born evil or destined for hell, though we have a certain concupiscence towards elevating of the self above God. I do believe that we are all wounded and in need of the healing balm of God's grace. Some, for whatever reason, are more wounded than others; how one responds to this woundedness is crucial. Some turn their pain into a Christ-like empathy for others (I find that such priests make the best confessors) whilst for others the pain feeds on itself and bitterness ensues.
I have always found that those who cause deliberate pain and suffering do so because of their own pain and suffering. A happy and grace-filled soul brings joy, solace and healing to all it meets. This is not an excuse for wrongdoing, but a reason - a reason which can mitigate the voluntary nature and freedom of the act(CCC 1860).

Whilst it is true that God has unconditonal love for all people, our free will means we can reject that love, even forever. God can certainly never force anyone to love Him. A Trappist once told me that he believes when we die and meet God, there is both a realisation and acceptance of how stupid we have been; this is followed by an immediate embrace of God's purifying forgiveness.

Of course, this would mean the possibilty of conversion after death, and that is a thorny issue.
Yet, perhaps the Catechism touches on this when it deals with mortal sin(1861)which it calls a "radical possibility of human freedom" and then says that "...we must entrust judgement of such persons to the justice and mercy of God".

God knows the deepest recesses of our hearts, so your statement about hell possibly being empty may be accurate. Nothing is impossible for God.

Lucy said...

I pray for an empty hell every We have some of those unfaithful departed in our family - as far as we know, but what gives me great comfort was a story I was told about a great sinner who was in an accident - I think he fell off a horse. When he came out of his coma he was converted, having given his life to God in the time it took to fall to the ground. So I pray that those we love who have never expressed their love for God would have changed in those final moments of life.

Mike Cliffson said...

FR: one aspectof your post:
Tea at the trianon´s post seems to me well meaning but muddled.(The Guy Fawkes connection and I don't know what.)
Our fellowbaptized,barring puritan hiccups,(bad enough for any living through them) share with us Christmas and Easter,and those feasts' external trappings, originate where they may have.
They chose to follow Luther in utterly rejecting praying for the dead, and in not observing all Saints+all Souls, which left them with a palpable gaping hole.
(Add that to rejecting the sacrament of reconcialation aka confession , whatever, they dont got it, however much they do believe in God's forgiveness.Add in No purgatory, , NO distiction twixt mortal and venial sin, and you gotta mental-religious fog which anglosphere catholics seem to find attractive. Perhaps we get enough bright sunshine on long beach, bondai, or benidorm. I remember the clarity of priests' saying who so dies in Mortal sin , goes to hell- do we know anyone in particular's in hell, no, can't judge,no,even Judas, wi' a catch in his throat as you might say, MIGHT have repented while his footsies were a-twitching).Altogether they can get a bit losticated around Death -with liberalacious Catholics getting sameylikey Protestant; and with modern secularists, Death's the end of the world.
The point is that modernUSA halloween comes out of this hole in the (american) doughnut,the danse macabre may well have contributed, Irish high jinks certainly did, but but and but again it's NOT a christian feast's secular trappings come loose,like secular Christmases,(Some ingredients may be in there)but an antifeast.The way it's been pushed in the anglosphere and beyond, ought to be proof enough.Sure. mammon can lend a hand, and does. Spain Ive seen, get the latinAmerican bishop's take on internet, believe me , it's satanic, it robs Christian children of a Christian attitude to death and hands the devil yet another way to manipulate us on a plate, with cheese sauce.
Honestly, mischief night and applebobbing are small change, and bonfire night exists far enough away. Space prevents more , but a final note:
American catholic, reflected faithfully on internet , are full of arguments that run Catholicism is fun, american haloween is fun, therefore trim a few"excesses" and it's Cathlic. This would also justify incest........

Mike Cliffson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clare said...

Lucy raises an interesting point. On his show on EWTN, Fr Benedict Groeschel mentioned the possibility of choice at the moment of death. I find this very comforting.

A very chilling post on Damian T's blog a while back from a non-believer, who claimed to have had a near-death experience in which Christ reached out to him - only to be rejected. Maybe he's been given a second chance?

Ma Tucker said...

"True, the Church never says anyone is in Hell, apart from the Devil and a few ancient fallen angels."

While the Church never states who is in hell specifically it has always been taught as far as I know, that the number of the damned is far from insignificant. Many approved apparitions confirm this. Our Lord himself preached holy fear of hell. What does it profit..., fear not those who destroy the flesh but he who can destroy both body and soul...

To suggest hell may be empty seems quite wrong given the Churches teachings and the testimony of the saints. I know there have been recent writings by some theologians supporting this view that hell may be empty. However I simply do not know how this "possibility" can be supported either biblically or by Church tradition? It seems a very dangerous and irresponsible suggestion to me.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes, you are right!

johnf said...


According to the account of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in July 1917, (see EWTN), Our Lady shows the children a vision of hell and souls in torment. And according to the account She says

"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart"

Unless something has been lost in translation, it would imply that God wants to save the sinners in hell.

umblepie said...

The parable of the wedding feast, with those invited all too busy to attend. The Master's anger with the guest without a wedding garment, and the punishment imposed on him. Christ's words on Judas Iscariot, "It were better for him that he were not born..." The visions of Hell experienced by many Saints. Christ's own words that "many are called but few are chosen" - the infallible teaching of the Church. Heaven exists, as does Hell. The souls of the just are in Heaven, the souls of the damned are in Hell. No room for woolly thinking.

Alex Conway said...

I remember my great-grandmother used to leave a saucer of water by the fire place on All Souls eve. This was for the Holy Souls to come and wet their tongues,and so aid them in their agony due to their temporary separation from God. When we woke in the morning the saucer was empty, and so we were sure they had visited during the night. I don't think I understood the process of evaporation at that time, but it was a good catechetical tool.

Ma Tucker said...

Johnf it might suggest that but I thing that would be a misinterpretation. Some reasons to support this :

1)Save us from the fires of hell is the fatima prayer not save us out of the fires of hell.
2) The Church has always taught that there is a point of no return.
3)We do not pray for the souls in hell and never have.
4)There is a Church militant here on earth, a Church suffering in purgatory and a Church triumphant in heaven. That's all there is. Fatima could not be in contradiction to this without being false.

johnf said...


I understand that.

I'm just pointing out what is apparently in the record and am surprised no-one has commented on this before.

I remember the penny catechism which we learned at school

'Those who die in mortal sin will go to hell for all eternity'

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