Tag Archives: Heaven

Particular Judgment

 

Complete justice will not be done in this life, but in the next. Then everything will be weighed in the balance of God’s justice, and punished or rewarded. If on earth we have obeyed the commandments of God and of the Church we shall be given an eternal reward in heaven (1). If we have obeyed all the commandments, but die with unforgiven venial sin, or without having satisfied for forgiven mortal sin, we shall be sent to purgatory (2). Alas for us if we die with even one mortal sin! For then we shall be banished from the sight of God and suffer torments in hell forever (3).

    What is the judgment called which will be passed on each one of us immediately after death? –The judgment which will be passed on each one of us immediately after death is called the particular judgment.The existence of the particular judgment can be deduced from the parable of Dives and Lazarus; a soul is shown rewarded immediately after death.

  1. As soon as each soul leaves the body at death it undergoes the Particular judgment, at which its eternal destiny is decided. “We must all be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ.” “It is appointed unto men to die once, but after this comes the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). “Every one of us will render an account for himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).Let us remember that even while the relatives gather around the bed of the departed one, even while his body is still warm, the particular judgment is gone through and finished; the judgment is passed, and the soul gone to his reward or punishment. If we remember this, we shall be more fervent in praying for the dead, in helping others die a happy death, so that without fear they may meet God at the judgment. 
  2. Jesus Christ is the Judge at the Particular Judgment. Before Him each soul must stand. The soul will stand in the awesome presence of God the Son, to give an account of its whole life: of every thought, word, act, and omission.“Neither does the Father judge any man, but all judgment he has given to the Son” (John 5:22). 
  3. A man’s whole life will be spread before him like a great picture. He will remember everything, although he might have forgotten much at the moment of death. How he will wish then that he had done only good! We are not to suppose that the soul will go to heaven before Christ to be judged. God enlightens each soul in such a manner that it fully knows Christ has passed a true judgment on it.“Of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). The judgment will embrace even the good which has been neglected: a strict account will have to be rendered of the use we made of the talents and graces given to us. Even good actions badly performed will come under scrutiny, careless communions, hasty confessions, etc. Only then shall we know the exactness with which God sees and measures every act, word, and even intention in our deepest thought. 
  4. The good and the evil that the soul has done will be weighed in the balance of God’s justice. Then the sentence will be passed by Jesus Christ alone, without the intervention of witnesses. This sentence is final and will never be reversed. The soul will learn the sentence, the reasons for it, and its absolute justice.“But of every one to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
    What are the rewards or punishments appointed for men after the particular judgment? –The rewards or punishments appointed for men after the particular judgment are heaven, purgatory, or hell.“With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2). As we have loved God and our fellow-men during life, so we shall be given the proper reward or punishment.

  1. He who dies in his baptismal innocence, or after having fully satisfied for all the sins he committed, will be sent at once to heaven.The just will enter into everlasting life (Matt. 25:46). Only those souls enter heaven who are free from all sin, and from the penalty due to sins which have been forgiven. Nothing defiled can enter heaven (Apoc. 21:27). 
  2. He who dies in the state of grace, but is in venial sin, or has not fully atoned for the temporal punishment due his forgiven sins, will be sent for a time to purgatory.The souls in purgatory are saints, because they are sure of going to heaven. In purgatory they cannot commit any more sin, not even the slightest. They only long for God. 
  3. He who dies in mortal sin, even if only with one single mortal sin, will be sent at once to hell.“For the hope of the wicked is as dust, which is blown away with the wind, and as a thin froth which is dispersed by the storm: and a smoke that is scattered abroad by the wind: and as the remembrance of a guest of one day that passeth by” (Wis. 5:15). By mortal sin a man cuts himself off from God. It is really he himself that sends himself to hell. God’s desire would be to see all His creatures with Him in heaven.
    How should we prepare for the judgment? –We should prepare for the judgment by being most careful to lead a good life and die a happy death. 

  1. We should do all the good we can, so that God may forgive the evil we may do. We should not only obey carefully all the Commandments of God and the Church, but do good works in prayer and alms-deeds, practicing charity for the love of God. How can we be careless about a matter of such importance, when we are absolutely certain of being judged by God! “For what shall I do, when God shall rise to judge?” (Job 31:14). 
  2. We should do voluntary works of penance, for love of God, in expiation of any sins we may have the misfortune to commit. The “Imitation of Christ” says on this topic: “In all things look to the end, and how thou wilt stand before the strict Judge, from Whom there is nothing hid; Who takes no bribes, and receives no excuses, but will judge that which is just. … Be, therefore, now solicitous for thy sins, that in the day of judgment thou mayest be in security with the blessed. … Then shall the poor and humble have great confidence, and the proud fear on every side. Then it will appear that he was wise in this world, who for Christ’s sake learned to be a fool and despised. … Then shall the flesh that was afflicted exult more than if it had always fared in delights. … Then a pure and good conscience shall bring more joy than learned philosophy. Then shall the contempt of riches far outweigh all treasures of the children of earth. … Learn to suffer now in little things, that thou mayest be delivered from more grievous sufferings. … All is vanity except to love and serve God alone” (Bk. I, chap. 24). 
  3. We should never go to sleep without being prepared never to awake on earth again, but in the presence of our judge. Let us examine our conscience every day, make acts of contrition for our sins, confess them, and resolve to avoid them in the future.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

Advertisements

Death

 

Respect for the dead requires that cemeteries be properly kept. We should remember that the bodies of the buried will one day rise again to join immortal souls and live forever with God. Respect for the dead would also advise us to give up the recent fad of dolling up corpses, painting their faces to make them seem alive, as if they were prepared for some flighty show.

    What happens at death? –At death the soul is separated from the body.

  1. The soul is judged by God, and rewarded with heaven, punished with hell, or sent for a time to be cleansed in purgatory. The body begins to corrupt and returns to the dust from which it came.St. Peter spoke of the body as a tabernacle for the soul: “the putting off of my tabernacle is at hand” (2 Pet. 1:14). At death, “the dust returns to its earth, from whence it came, and the spirit returns to God, Who gave it” (Eccles. 12:7). The only exceptions have been the bodies of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, which rose to join their souls, and are now in heaven. 
  2. All men must die, because death is a consequence of original sin. “Therefore as through one man sin entered into this world and through sin death, and thus death has passed into all men” (Rom. 5: 12) .By their sin our first parents lost the immortality of the body, for God condemned them to die. “Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return” (Gen. 3:19). Even Jesus Christ and His Mother submitted to death. 
  3. No one knows when, where, or how he will die. All we know is that we shall die, and that when our hour strikes, nobody can take our place.God has mercifully hidden from us the hour of our death. If we knew when we should die, we might be overcome by fear when the moment approached. Some, besides, might lead sinful lives in the hope of repenting just before their death. 
  4. We must therefore always be ready to die. Death comes “as a thief in the night”, when we least expect it. We must live as if every moment were the last of life, always ready to appear before our Divine judge.“Therefore you must also be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matt. 24:44).
    How should we prepare for death? –We should prepare for death by leading a good life, avoiding sin, and doing good. 

  1. We must keep in God’s grace and love, so that when the Angel of Death comes, we may welcome him as one who takes us home to see the face of our loving Father. The good do not fear death.Let us die with joy, saying to God, as Holy Simeon did: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace” (Luke 2:29). Let us imitate St. Paul, who says, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me in that day” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)St. Augustine exclaims: “O how sweet it is to die, if one’s life has been a good one!” For such as he, “to die is gain.” To the just man death is only a passing into a better life. It is a journey to his everlasting home, where his heavenly Father dwells. Death is to be feared only by the sinner, for it is the end of his earthly pleasures, and the beginning of his eternal punishment. 
  2. As a man lives, so he dies. Holy Scripture says: “As the tree falls, the trunk will lie” (Eccl. 11:3). We should often recall the thought of death and eternity so that we may avoid sin. “In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin” (Ecclus. 7:40) . Those who put off reforming their lives in the hope of a death-bed repentance are like a traveler who starts packing when the train whistles for departure.Let us picture the death of a just man, one who all his life has done good and avoided evil. He has often seen people taken away suddenly, when they least expected it, and made up his mind to be always ready to die and face his judge. He has hoped he would, at the end of his life, die with the Last Sacraments, a priest, and his family by his side. But his obligations have taken him into the wilderness; there he is dying, with only the guide at his side. But he is at peace, and a smile is on his lips, for he is ready to die: being always in the state of grace, he is ready to meet his judge anywhere, any time. He knows the judge will smile, too, and welcome him as a good son, a friend. 
  3. We should also have our temporal affairs in order when we die. This is why adults should make a will in order that no confusion may arise as to the disposition of their property after their death. A sudden death is not to be desired, for then we may not be able to put in order our spiritual and temporal affairs.This is why in the Litanies we pray: “From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord!”
    What are cemeteries? –Cemeteries are the burial grounds for the dead.

  1. The word “cemetery” comes from the Greek, and means sleeping-place;there the bodies of the dead sleep till Judgment Day.It is the custom to engrave the letters R. I. P. (Requiescat in pace. May he rest in peace) on headstones. 
  2. Cemeteries are solemnly consecrated. Catholics should be buried in a Catholic cemetery, if there is one; at least the grave should be blessed.Some day the bodies of the just will rise in glory, and unite with their souls in heaven; is it befitting their high destiny to bury them like animals in unconsecrated ground? The bodies are buried facing the east, as a symbol of the hope the deceased placed in Christ, Light of the soul. 
  3. Cemeteries should be properly kept. They should be such as to invite everyone to go there and pray for the departed.We should go regularly to the cemetery to see to it that the graves of our beloved dead are clean and well kept, and to pray for them. If when they were alive we liked to visit them, why shouldn’t we continue to visit them even now that they are dead? Such visits would attest to our living faith in the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. It is true the souls of the dead are not in their graves, but the bodies there will some day be inhabited again by the souls. Our prayers in the presence of the bodies are the proof of our love for our dear dead. 
  4. Apostates, heretics, schismatics, the excommunicated, suicides, duellists, Masons, and public sinners, are not permitted to be buried in a consecrated Catholic cemetery.The refusal of the Church to give Christian burial to her bad children does not mean that she sentences them to damnation: judgment of the dead is in the hands of God. It is merely a public expression of her condemnation of sin, and a disciplinary measure so that her other children may avoid falling into such sins. Non-Catholics are not permitted burial in a Catholic cemetery, because since they did not belong to the Church during life, there is no reason for including them in the burial grounds for members of the Church, at death. 
  5. The Church forbids cremation not because it is in itself wrong or contrary to divine Law, but because it is in opposition to the Jewish and Christian tradition. In cases of great pestilences, when it is impossible to bury the dead in time to prevent wider spread, the Church permits cremation.Cremation has been advocated by anti-Christians with the express purpose of destroying belief in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. The Fathers of the Church defended the custom of burial, by reason of the resurrection of the body, and the respect due it as the temple of the Holy Spirit. The day may come when the Church may grant permission for cremation.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

​Salvation and the Catholic Church

 

Christ said: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn” (John 15:4-6). Time has continually proved the truth of what Christ predicted about schisms and their divisions. This is the reason for the fact that they change so often and finally disappear: they are branches broken from the tree, and must wither as He said.

    What do we mean when we say, “Outside the Church there is no salvation? –When we say, “Outside the Church there is no salvation”, we mean that those who through their own grave fault do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church, or knowing it, refuse to join it, cannot be saved.

  1. All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved. Christ said: “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into, the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).The Catholic Church is founded on the Apostles, to whom Our Lord gave the commission to baptize; by Baptism one is made a member of the Church. If then Baptism is indispensable, the Church must be indispensable. 
  2. Christ did not die for a part of, but for all mankind. He did not leave His legacy the Church for the benefit of a few, but for all. Our Lord said: “He who hears you hears me; and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16).Since God commanded all to be members of His Church. those who deliberately disobey His command will not be saved. Whoever, through his own fault, remains outside of the Catholic Church, will be lost eternally. 
  3. One who, knowing the Catholic Church to be the true one, leaves it or does not join it because he wants to make a good marriage, to advance his business, or for some other worldly motive, will not be saved. He is a willful and malicious unbeliever.One who leaves the Church or does not enter it because of human respect, or because its doctrines require personal sacrifices, will not be saved. One who belongs to another church and has doubts about the truth or falsity of his own church, but takes no pains to find out the truth will not be saved. “If you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin.” 
  4. It is not enough to belong to the Church. We must also live up to our beliefs, otherwise our membership will only work to our greater condemnation. Only those Catholics who, live according to the teachings of the Church will be saved.The Church is a guarantee of salvation to those only who obey it. Unfortunately, there are bad Catholics. We must therefore study our religion and then practice it. God has given us the grace to be members of the true Church; we must not waste that grace. 
  5. Catholics who have committed grave sins such as murder, arson, adultery, etc., are still members of the Church. As long as a Catholic does not deny a doctrine of the Catholic faith, or is not excommunicated, he is a member of the Church.Catholics in grave sin are called dead members, for their soul dead in mortal sin. Nevertheless they remain members, and have the privilege of receiving the sacraments to wash away their sins. Christ Himself predicted that in the Church there would be bad people with the good, cockle among the wheat. Mother Church is a good mother that patiently awaits the return of her sinful children, and does not exclude them from her gifts. 
  6. An excommunicate is one who has been cut off from membership in the Church for some serious sin against faith. He is excluded from the sacraments, from Catholic burial, and from being prayed for in the public prayers of the Church. In order to become once more a, member of good standing in the Church, an excommunicate has to obtain the absolution of the bishop.Catholics who join Masonry, or marry before a non Catholic minister, are automatically excommunicated, if they knew the serious nature of their action.
    NOTE: Some revisions have been made to this 1956 edition watering down the Catholic Doctrine: “Outside the Church there is no Salvation.” Some clarifications need to be made. The use of the word “outside” refers to those who are in the state of Invincible Ignorance of the Church and Invincibly Ignorant of the Doctrine: “Outside the Church there is no salvation”. These invincibly ignorant souls, who cooperate with all the graces God sends them are implicitly INSIDE the Catholic Church. Invincible ignorance is quite rare considering the great availability of the truths of the Catholic Faith in today’s information age.Can they be saved who remain “outside” the Catholic Church[[not official members of the Church, but Invincibly Ignorant of the Church and obey the natural law through the use of their reason, are implicitly INSIDE the Church(RMO)] because they do not know it is the true Church? –They who remain “outside” the Catholic Church[not official members, but Invincibly Ignorant of the Church are implicitly INSIDE the Church(RMO)] through no grave fault of their own, and do not know it is the true Church, can be saved by making use of the graces which God gives them.NOTE: TECHNICALLY, NO ONE CAN BE SAVED WHO IS OUTSIDE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. INVINCIBLY IGNORANT SOULS, WHO COOPERATE WITH ALL THE GRACES GOD SENDS THEM, WHO ARE INVINCIBLY IGNORANT OF THE CHURCH ARE IMPLICITLY INSIDE THE CHURCH. Honestly, in today’s information age, the typical Invincibly Ignorant soul would have to be a native on a primitive island. Most people know the Catholic Church’s basic Doctrines. After all, Protestants protest many Catholic Doctrines so they are very familiar with Catholic Doctrines.

  1. God condemns no man except for grave sin. Therefore He will not condemn those who through no fault of their own are unaware of His command to belong to the True Church[which is quite RARE], provided they serve Him faithfully according to their conscience[However they will be responsible and culpable for what they should know given the information available to them], have a sincere desire to do His will in all things, and therefore implicitly wish to become members of His Church. They are members of the Church, in desire [and they must also be INVINCIBLY IGNORANT of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church’s Doctrine: “Outside the Church there is no salvation”].baptized Protestant, of Protestant parents, lives all his life a Protestant without ever having a doubt that he is in the wrong. Before death he makes an act of perfect contrition for the sins he has committed. Such a man will be saved, for he dies in the state of grace.[However this Protestant is responsible and culpable for what he should know, given the information available to him. It is unthinkable that this Protestant has never heard the Catholic Doctrine “Outside the Church there is no salvation”.] 
  2. It is possible for one that has never even heard of Jesus Christ to be saved, for God “wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4) and “Christ died for all” (2 Cor. 5: 15) . In order that such a one may be saved, it is required that he observe the natural law; with the help of God; everyone having the use of reason can do that.Whoever then obeys the natural law will be enlightened by God, at some time in his life, with the grace with which he can make an act of Divine faith. If he makes good use of this grace and firmly believes whatever God has revealed, he will receive the further graces with which he can make the acts of hope, repentance, and charity that must precede before God will bestow on his soul sanctifying grace, with which he can merit eternal life. 
  3. The fact that it is possible for those “outside” the Church to be saved[those who are not official members, but are INVINCIBLY IGNORANT OF THE CHURCH, which is quite RARE, are actually implicitly INSIDE the Church, for if anyone is to be saved, it will ONLY be BY and THROUGH the Catholic Church] should not make us lose sight of the great disadvantages they are under, as compared with Catholics who live in the full light of Divine revelation. Such persons have not the infallible Church to guide them in what they are to believe and do in order to serve God. They have to live without the Sacraments, Holy Mass, and Holy Communion, and the other countless sources of grace which the Church supplies for the sanctification of its children, those professed Catholics who are members of the body of the visible Church.These disadvantages should make us Catholics realize more fully the many reasons we have for humbly thanking God for the priceless blessings we have received without any claim or merit of our own. They should also spur us on to give Him a more worthy service, and help spread our Faith.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

​Indefectibility of the Church

 

The Catholic Church will endure to the end of time, for it is founded on a rock. The powers of evil will beat in vain against it. They will break themselves and perish, but the Church will remain, indefectible. The testimony of almost two thousand years proves the perpetuity of the Church. Nothing that malice and envy could invent; nothing that the world, the flesh; and the devil could do have been left untried in the past 1900 years. Still the Church is with us, exactly as Christ founded it, and stronger than ever.

 

    What is meant by the indefectibility of the Catholic Church? –By the indefectibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, as Christ founded it, will last until the end of time.The Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that Christ “shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33) 

  1. Christ meant His Church to endure to the end of the world. It is to be indestructible and unchanging,-to possess indefectibility. Christ, God Himself, could scarcely have come, and with such incredible pain and labor have founded a Church which would die with the Apostles.He came to save all men. Those to live in future ages needed salvation as much as the people of Apostolic times. 
  2. Christ said to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). By the “gates of hell”, He meant all the power of the devil-all kinds of attacks, physical violence as well as false teaching.Christ promises here that the Church would be assailed always, but never overcome. This promise of Our Lord has been proved for almost 2000 years by the facts of history. Not one of the persecutors of the Church has prevailed over it. On the contrary, many of them have come to a fearful end. There will always be Popes, bishops, and laity, to Compose the Church; the truths taught by Our Lord will always be found in His Church. 
  3. After telling His Apostles to teach, all nations, Christ said: “Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20).As the Apostles were not to live to the end of the world, Christ must have been addressing them as representatives of a perpetual Church. 
  4. The Apostles themselves understood Christ to mean that His Church should endure. After organizing Christian communities, they appointed successors in their place, to live after them and carry on the Church.The Apostles instructed these successors to ordain in turn other bishops and priests. All these acts were to assure the perpetuity of the Church. 
  5. Christ intended the Church to remain as He founded it, to preserve the whole of what He taught, and the shining marks which He gave it in the beginning. If the Church lost any of the qualities that God gave it, it could not be said to be indefectible, because it would not be the same institution. Indefectibility implies unchangeability.Our Lord promised to abide by the Church, to assist it, and to send the Holy Ghost to remain in it. God does not change: “Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20). 
  6. Because of its indefectibility the truths revealed by God will always be taught in the Catholic Church. St. Ambrose said: “The Church is like the moon; it may wane, but never be destroyed; it may be darkened, but it can never disappear.”St. Anselm said that the bark of the Church may be swept by the waves, but it can never sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in greatest need, Christ comes to its help by miracles, or by raising up saintly men to strengthen and purify it. It is the bark of Peter; when the storm threatens to sink it, the Lord awakens from His sleep, and commands the winds and the waves into calm: “Peace; be still!”
    Has the Catholic Church actually proved itself indefectible? –The Catholic Church has, throughout its long history, proved itself indefectible, against all kinds of attack from within and without, against every persecution and every heresy and schism.As its Founder was persecuted, so the Catholic Church has been and ever will be persecuted. “You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake” (Matt. 10:18). “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). “No disciple is above his teacher, nor is the servant above his master” (Matt. 10:24).They will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9). “They will arrest you, and persecute you” (Luke 21:12).

     

  1. The Church survived three hundred years of incredible persecution under pagan Rome. Of the 33 Popes that ruled before the Edict of Milan, 30 died as martyrs. That mighty Empire, with its colossal strength, before whose standard the nations quailed, could not kill the infant Church or stop its progress. In a short time the Popes were ruling where the imperial Caesars had issued edicts against the Christian Church.The Roman Empire waged ten fierce persecutions against the Church, but could not destroy it. In the year 313 the Emperor Constantine was converted, and granted the Church freedom by the Edict of Milan. 
  2. Then for two centuries hordes of barbarians swept upon civilized Europe, destroying the old Roman Empire. The Church not only survived, but converted and civilized the barbarians.God’s ever-watchful providence brought about the conversion of the Frankish king Clovis, with a great number of his warriors. This was the beginning of the firm establishment of the Church in the Frankish kingdom, although missionaries had gone there from the first century. In the eighth century St. Boniface converted Middle and Northern Germany, until then the home of violent paganism. 
  3. For nine centuries Mohammedanism threatened Christian civilization. It was the Church under the Popes that urged the nations to league against Mohammedanism.In the sixteenth century the Mohammedan menace was removed. 
  4. Not only non-Christians, but its own rebellious children have persecuted the Church. From the beginning heresy has attacked it from within. And still the Church lives, greater than ever, changeless, indefectible.The long history of the Catholic Church is attended by schism and heresy, but each attack has only strengthened it. It has continued to live and spread in spite of everything and everybody. 
  5. The Church is the Bride of Christ, cast into prison, starved, thrown to the beasts, trampled underfoot, hacked, tortured, crucified, and burned. But this fair Bride emerges from it all in the bloom and freshness of youth, serene, calm, immortal.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

Sobriety and Serenity

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I use to think sobriety was just about not drinking and trudging through life and trying to tell people not to do what you did. Today I know that sobriety for me is a simple equation.

Being Dry + Serenity = Sobriety

But what is serenity? Better still how do I find it, reach it, etc? By definition serenity is the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness. Serene is calm, peaceful, tranquil; unruffled. The word originated in between the late 1400s to early 1500s. It came from the latin word serenus which was in reference to weather and a clear sky.

For me serenity comes with a realization that the only thing I have power over in many situations is my emotions,  my actions, and most of my thoughts. Serenity is an inner peace attained by letting go and letting God. This is where I come to qualms with the program of AA.

A higher power, is merely a descriptive term for God, it does not identify who the true God is. There is only one God, for all of us, whether one accepts Him as God or not; it is the triune God with His three natures the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I understand that AA is a program of attraction rather than promotion. And for good reason, to save individuals from the disease of addiction no matter what they happen to believe in.

However what good is it to have a sober life when your soul is damned for eternity?  Let’s be realistic,  when we die we either go to Heaven or Hell, forever. If one used a scale to measure their life, with the things they were suppose to be doing in order to know, love, and serve Our Creator to get to Heaven; and they started at zero (which is untrue from original sin, but lets say we start at zero), then addictive behavior or alcoholism would put them in the negative.

Achieving sobriety therefore, cancels out addiction and removes that distraction from our lives. However, it does not set us on the path that Christ Himself gave us through the Church He established. Sobriety may give us a clearer mindset, but it does not give one the Faith. AA is a program based on mostly charity (which is essential,  but not the only requirement for salvation), and a touch of spirituality.

Sober living is wonderful, in just the short time I’ve been sober I have learned and gained appreciation for so much.  Being sober is the way one should be to make life decisions. But what good is a sober life if it is not used to glorify the One True God? Being sober is not the end all be all. And being sober without the Faith established by Christ is likened to trying to catch up to someone running down the street by jumping on a treadmill.

Another big saying in AA is that it is a program of progress not perfection. I have to disagree here too. Most everyone has heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect” but what if one is practicing (whatever they are doing), the wrong way? Should not the phrase be modified to say, “perfect practice makes perfect?” 

We are not saints, the point is we are willing to grow along spiritual lines…”, A.A. HOW IT WORKS

Why can’t we strive to be saints? Is this not what we are called to be? I understand the humility of this statement, could it be modified to state that we are not saints but we are striving to be in the eyes of Our God?

“Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

Considering how many examples of saints are across the world in all the ages…even if one were to not believe about one example of a story they hear about a saint; there are too many accounts of people in all places and times, testimonials from Catholics, Protestants, and people from all different beliefs converting because of these Catholic saints!

Saints who so loved God and did His will that they actually had supernatural abilities!! Testimony after testimony after testimony…all over the world!

“Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.” John 14:12

Sobriety is undoubtedly a good thing. When, like all good things, it is used for the glory of God. Why all for Gods glory? Because we have absolutely no right to claim anything as our own. Not even our own bodies, it’s all His, everything is His. We are living on borrowed time, why? Because He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

All good comes from God as we know, but have we given that obvious statement much thought? If all good comes from God then the things that are not good do not come from God. The things that appear as good are deceitful lies that steer us away from God to Hell. Sobriety is the tool we have to see through the lies. This is how we discover objective truths, and this is how we find God and how to serve Him the right way.

Truth is in history, its in day to day activity,  its in everything. The truth about what things really are, what truly matters and what matters not is where you find God and from God and His Will you can achieve true serenity, true happiness, and true life for eternity. His Will is not easy according to the comforts of the world and society, and it’s because the world lies to us. It makes us comfortable so the devil can take us from Him who made us.

True serenity is found in doing the Will of God. Doing otherwise leads to impossible expectations that don’t get met and get people angry, lustful, or drunk. Sorting through the world of chaos and finding His Will for us will lead us to a perfect peace we will never know here.

God Bless BJS!!

Where are the elements needed for Eternal Salvation?

“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day“.John 6:55

“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” John 6:54

If it is a matter of indifference  what a man believes,  assuming he is a “decent person” then it was absolutely  useless for God to make any revelation.  If someone is free to reject what God reveals, what purpose was it for Christ to send forth His Apostles and disciples to teach all nations, if those nations can freely believe whatever they desire? This would be insulting to the very nature of God. If God makes a point to reveal something through Divine Revelation (by miracle or prophecy) He wants it to be believed. Mankind is bound by his conscience among other things, to believe what God has revealed. Man is also bound to worship God with his reason and intellect along with his heart and will.  God owns everything He has given  us, we are only stewards of these gifts in our lives and are to use them for His glory alone and not ours.  There should be no man and certainly not a Christian who rightly asserts that we are not bound to believe what God has has revealed and taught.  This religious indifferentism (more in a later writing), is heretical to everything Christ has put before us as our God, and is a rejection of the one true religion revealed by Him. 
True Faith as stated by the majority of Protestants, is to believe in the Lord Jesus.  Catholics agree with this as well, they share the belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and that we must believe all that He has revealed and taught us to have True Faith.  Without which, there is no salvation, no hope of Heaven, and eternal damnation as we have Jesus’ own words for it.  If Jesus under that pains of Hell commands me to believe what He has taught, then He must provide a means in which to learn and understand His teachings.  This has to be a means that is present at all times, through all ages, and to every type of person smart or ignorant, all over the world.  This means must teach without error, because if it did not, it would surely not be a means for salvation at all. Both Catholics and Protestants state that Christ has provided such a means, but where they differ is the means in and of itself.  Protestants state it is the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible, while Catholics state it is the Church of the Living God.

Suppose God had intended for mankind to learn His religion from a book. Would not have Jesus given us all books? Perhaps, He would have instructed His Apostles to “write Bibles and give them to everyone so they can figure out what works best for their salvation.”  Instead Christ said, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” If Christ had stated the former, there would have been no Christianity, just confusion.  As we can see from history however, THAT did not start happening until the 16th century.  Ever since then, religion after religion, and church after church popped up all fighting against each other due to private interpretations of the Bible.

Christ never even gave His Apostles the command to write anything down.  They went forth and preached everywhere, planted the Church of God throughout the earth, never writing during Our Lord’s time on Earth.  

1.) St. Matthew – wrote about 7 years after Christ left the Earth for the benefit of a few people. So there was a Church that had already existed for 7 years prior to that.

2.) St. Mark – wrote about 10 years after Christ.

3.) St. Luke – wrote about 25 years after Christ.

4.) St. John – wrote about 63 years after Christ. And he wrote the last portion of what is in the Bible, the Book of Revalation, about 65 years after Christ. So the Catholic (comes from Hebrew “Catholo” or universal), Church had existed for 65 years prior to this point.

If anyone during anytime was to be considered Christian, it was these direct followers of Jesus Christ Himself.  They were the pillars on which Christ built His Church.  How were they suppose to know how to achieve salvation if they were in the process of writing parts of the Bible?  Would Jesus have left His Church 65 years without a teacher if the Bible is suppose to be that?  The answer is no, God would not do that.  Out of these men, maybe St. John read the Bible, but no other did, everyone of them died martyrs and heroes for the Church of Jesus Christ.  They knew how to save their souls just as true Catholics do today, from the teachings of the Church of God.

For over 300 years the Church that Christ established at the Last Supper spread itself all over the world without the Bible.  No one even knew what books constituted the Bible at this time.  During the time of the Apostles many false gospels and epistles were being spread.  Gospels such as Simon, Nicodemus, of Mary, of Barnabus, and the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus were all being spread amongst people who had no way of knowing which were truly inspired and which were false.  Even those more learned disputed their validity.

In the 4th century the Pope of Rome, Head of the Church, succesor of St. Peter, brought together all the Bishops of the world into a council.  The decision was made to decide which books constituted the Bible which is how we Catholics have it now.  The Gospels that did not display sufficient evidence of Divine Inspiration from the Holy Ghost were rejected.  Until this point in history the Bible was unknown to the whole world.  There was no Bible to guide anyone.  It is impossible to believe that Christ would leave the human race without a book for salvation if that was His intended means to learn His religion.  And not just for 300 years was the Christian world left without the Bible but for over 1400 years!

The printing press was invented in the middle of the 1400s, about 100 years before there was a Protestant in the world.  Before the printing press was invented, Bibles were rare and costly things.  Historians will tell you that only about 1,000 years ago, Bibles were so rare and costly that it took a fortune for one to buy himself a copy.  Everything had to be written by hand with pen, upon parchment or sheepskin.  It was very tedious, slow, and costly.  Historians also state that it took approximately 20 years to hand copy a Bible, if someone were paid even just a dollar a day that would amount $8,000.  With todays standards of minimum wage that would be well over $300,000!  How could people afford such a thing so necessary to the salvation of their souls?  Before printing it is estimated that not even 1 in 20,000 people owned a copy of the Bible.  Why would Jesus make it so hard for men if He intended for the Bible to be the end all be all for eternal salvation?

Supposing that every person did have a Bible, what good would it do those who could not read?  As the Bible was also written in Greek or Hebrew, what good would it do for someone who could not understand these languages?  Even as today it is translated into English, French, and many other languages; how are we to know whether or not these translations are faithful to the original text?  If they are not, then it is no longer the Word of God but a false translation.  Most people have to depend on the opinions of the learned.  But if learned opinions vary and often contradict one another on how the Word of God is to be translated, than who is correct?  There are a great number of Protestant layman, preachers, and bishops, who have written whole volumes on errors contained in different versions, the King James Version alone is said to have over 30,000 errors.  How can one be so sure of eternal salvation with 30,000 errors?

Assuming the problem of unfaithful translations is completely out of the picture, and everyone had enough money to procure faithful translations of the Word of God for use in private interpretation; who’s interpretation is correct?  How are you to save your soul if you hesitate and doubt certain people’s interpretation of Scripture?  Throughout the world there are over 350 different denominations or churches that all state the Bible is their guide and teacher.  However, just as truth is one, God is one, there can be no contradiction.  Protestants state that the man who reads the Bible right and prayerfully has truth, and they all say they read it right.

Scenario:

Let us suppose there is an Episcopal minister.  He is a sincere, honest,, well-meaning and prayerful man.  He reads his Bible in prayerful spirit, and from the word of the Bible, he concludes that it is clear there must be Bishops.  For without Bishops there can be no priests, without priests no Sacraments, and without Sacraments no Church.  The Presbyterian is a sincere and well-meaning man.  He reads the Bible also, and deduces that there should be no bishops, but only presbyters.  “Here is the Bible to give you the lie,” says the Presbyterian.  Yet both of them are prayerful and well-meaning men.

Then the Baptist comes in.  He is a well-meaning, honest man, and prayerful also.  “Well,” says the Baptist, “have you ever been baptized?”  “I was,” says the Episcopalian, “when I was a baby.”  “And so was I,” says the Presbyterian, “when I was a baby.”  “But,” says the Baptist, “you are going to Hell as sure as you live.” 

Next comes the Unitatrian, well-meaning, honest, and sincere.  “Well,” says the Unitarian, “allow me to tell you that you are a pack of idolators.  You worship a man for a God who is no God at all.”  And he gives several texts from the Bible to prove it, while the others are stopping their ears that they may not hear the blasphemies of the Unitarian.  And all of them contend that they have the true version of the Bible.

Next comes the Methodist, and he says, “My friends, have you got any religion at all?”  “Of course we have,” they say.  “Did you ever feel religion,” says the Methodist, “the spirit of God moving within you?”  “Nonsense,” says the Presbyterian, “we are guided by our reason and judgement.”  “Well,” says the Methodist, “if you have never felt religion, you never had it, and will go to Hell for eternity.”

The Universalist next comes in, and hears them threatening one another with external hellfire.  “Why,” says he, “you are a strange set of people.  Do you not understand the Word of God?  There is no Hell at all.  That idea is good enough to scare old women and children,” and he proves it from the Bible.

And now comes in the Quaker.  He urges them not to quarrel, and advises that they do not baptize at all.  He is the sincerest of men, and gives the Bible for his faith.

Another comes in and says, “Baptize the men and leave the women alone.  For the Bible says, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. “So,” says he, “the women are all right, but baptize the men.”

Next comes in the Shaker and he says, “You are presumptuous people.  Do you know that the Bible tells you that you must work out your salvation in fear and trembling, and you do not tremble at all.  My brethren, if you want to go to Heaven shake, my brethren, shake!”

End

So in this scenario we see seven or eight different denominations, all differing from each other as to what is essential for salvation.  All using whatever version of the Bible, illustrative private interpretation to justify their reasoning, and opinions.  What if one were to bring over 350 different denominations that exist in the world?  All taking the Bible as their guide and teacher, and all differing from each other.  Are they all right?  Some believe in Hell, some do not.  Some believe Christ is God, others do not.  Some believe Baptism is essential, some do not.  All cannot be true.

Who, then, is correct?  He who has the true meaning of the Bible?  The Bible never tells us who holds the true meaning, it never settles that quarrel because it is not the teacher.  The Bible is a good book, we Catholics admit the Bible is the inspired word of God (Jesus being the actual Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us), the language of inspiration, but your explanation of the Bible is not the language of inspiration.  Your understanding of the Bible is not inspired, for surely you do not pretend to  inspired!

When the Constitution in the United States was established George Washington did not say, “Let every man read the Constitution and make a government unto himself.  Let every man make his own explanation of the Constitution.”  If Washington had done that, there would have never been a United States, it would have been a Divided States.  Instead the Constitution along with Supreme Law, was given to the American people.  A Supreme Court and Judges were appointed to provide the true explanation of the Constitution for everyone from President to homeless Veteran.  In fact its a three tier check and balance system (3 is a good number, remanant of The Blessed Trinity), if anyone takes the Constitution and laws into their own hands and are not kept in check, anarchy ensues.

Every government is of this way, a Constitution and a Supreme Court or Judge that gives the meaning of this Constitution.  Someone visible that you can go to, lay complaints or questions before.  Our Divine Lord established His Supreme Court, His Supreme Judge, “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18)  It gives us the true meaning of Scriptures, The Son of the Living God has pledged His Word that His Court is infallible, and therefore, the TRUE Catholic never doubts. 

“I believe,” says the Catholic, “because the Church teaches me so.  I believe the Church because God commanded me to believe her.”  Jesus said:  “Tell the Church.  And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”  (Matthew 18:17)  “He that believeth you believeth Me.  He that despiseth you despiseth Me.”  (Luke 10:) Sadly everyone despises the Church nowadays and there has always been great adversity towards it.  The Catholic believes because God has spoken, and upon the authority of God.

Protestants say, “We believe in the Bible.”  They understand it to the best of their opinions as those who came before them (most broke off from the Church for some personal gain), and use private interpretation.  This is only a testimony of man, therefore it is only human faith, not Divine Faith or taking God’s Word for something.  It is Divine Faith alone by which we give honor and glory to God, by which we adore His infinte wisdom and veracity.  That adoration and worship is necessary for salvation.

God Bless, BJS
Parts of this blog were taken, adapted, and abridged from a sermon given by Fr.  Arnold Damen, S.J. (1815-1890)