Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J. On Hell

Last Judgement by Hans Memling
....in the abandonment of the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), a hymn used in funeral rites. ''It's a terrifying hymn,'' Sister Elizabeth Johnson said. ''It describes the tortures of the damned in great detail and ends with a plea for God's mercy.'' Both the Jesuit editorial and the Pope made a point of saying that hell is real. Yet in discussing what the church teaches about damnation, they showed that contemporary Catholic theology has outstripped popular beliefs about a fiery, subterranean hell. ''Where the tension comes,'' said Lawrence S. Cunningham, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, is between popular  imagination about hell and what church doctrine actually says.
The Rev. Joseph Koterski, an associate professor of philosophy at Fordhman, who lives in a residential college among freshmen there, said awareness of contemporary church teaching on hell is largely confined to students majoring in theology. Among many students, he said, more traditional ideas of hell exist as unexamined background images that they carry with them along with a general fear of the unknown.
If those traditional ideas remain real for many people, it may be because the art and literature expressing them remain so abundant. Religious art depicting heaven or hell remains widely accessible on church buildings, in art books and in museums. During the Middle Ages, said Prof. Peter Casarella, a theologian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, ''because beliefs about purgatory and hell were not known through literary documents, they were known through visual depictions, frescoes and reliefs and the fronts of cathedrals, and they were known through popular preaching.'' A common illustration showed naked sinners engulfed in Satan's mouth.
Link (here) to the 1999 New York Times Article.


Maria said...

Oh, that Cateschism. Just when we thought it was our imagination or art working out our salvation...


1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":621

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.622

Maria said...

Let’s make sure we know that hell is mainly reserved for those who fail in charity. There is a final summing up in the famous twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. To be exact, verse 46. Twice then, reflecting on the destiny of both the saved and the lost, He will declare, “And these,” speaking of the lost, “These will go into everlasting punishment but the just into everlasting life,” the Savior. The most important element in this prophecy, and I dare say one of the hardest tests of our faith, is that hell is the eternal, conscious duration of pain. We’d better know and be very sure that what we believe is an eternity of hell. The word used by the inspired writer, “eternal,” I will analyze, oh for some five or more minutes, because there is no single adjective in divine revelation that is more important than this one. How do we know? Are we sure that hell is eternal? We do know. We are sure. Here is some of the evidence. First; all the ancient manuscripts of the Bible going back in fragments as far back as the second century, all the ancient manuscripts of the Bible agree that Christ used the self-same words to declare the eternity of both heaven and hell. In the original Greek He said, “Into everlasting punishment (Into everlasting punishment),” and He said, “Into everlasting or eternal life (Into everlasting or eternal life),” same word. Since there has never been any question about the eternity of heaven, no believer dare doubt that hell is also eternal. Second evidence, Christ equated the punishment of sinful human beings with the punishment of the devil and his angels. Since the endless duration of hell for the devils was and is certain so too should be the endless suffering of the lost men and women. Moreover, the Greek word, “aionion,” is consistently used in the Bible to mean unending duration. For example, God is said to be aionios, eternal, when Abraham invoked by name, “The Lord God Eternal.” If God is called eternal and it’s the same word for God as for hell, you follow the logic? God’s eternity is endless duration so too must be the eternity of man’s punishment.

Maria said...


Isaiah foretells a song of victory that will be sung in the land of Juda to rest in the Lord forever for the Lord is an eternal rock. Same words. I won’t tell you how much time I’ve spent in going through ancient Greek Lexicons to nail down the word, “aionios.” As far back as I went in the Bible, and when I looked into the Greek classic writers, same thing. Aionios is referred to as eternal for God, for the Spirit of God. In other words, selectively under Divine Inspiration the sacred writers chose the one single word in the richest language of human history that’s Greek. When they had a word for it, that was the word for it. They had a word for eternal. It was referred to the eternity of God and the divine attributes, and the same word under the Holy Spirit is the word used to identify the duration of punishment. It is eternal. We know St. John affirms that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to recognize the One Who is True, and we are in the One Who is True for we are in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the True God and Eternal Life. The same words used by John, used by all the evangelists, used by St. Paul. In other words, the most unmistakably, unquestionably, certain adjective is, under Divine Inspiration, to describe the duration of hell is - it is unending. It isn’t often that I spent two hours tracking down a single adjective, but I thought it was worth it. Let’s make sure, and with this I close this section of our meditation.

St. Ignatius of Loyola then, whom I know of no spiritual master, who more emphasized the need for the love of God to inspire us to the practice of virtue. It was Ignatius, however, who said we should all be ready to call upon the fear of God and the dread of hell because, says Ignatius, even the saints could be so tempted that the love of God would not be enough to sustain them in resisting temptation. Even the saints, we are told, at times need the fear of God’s punishment to remain in His grace. For me, the most eloquent evidence of that is the martyrdom of the Jesuit Polish saint, Andrew Bobola. For years he had successfully converted thousands of Orthodox back to Catholic unity. The Russian Cossacks, to venge themselves on this apostle of Catholic unity, tracked him down and exhausted the cruelty of the most barbarous haters of the Roman Catholic Church to get Andrew to apostatize. When the Holy Father canonized Andrew Bobola he declared, “We know of no martyrdom in the annuls of Christianity more barbaric than this one.” Andrew under the hours of ordeal and torture, long before he died, kept praying, “Lord keep me faithful. Save me from the fires of hell.” The last recorded word of St. Andrew Bobola was the word, “hell.” “Lord save me from the fires of hell.” He was afraid of weakening under torment and denying his faith. What sustained him? The fear of an eternal loss of God in hell. It is the same need of that motivation, my friends, so do we. I cannot think of a more salutary and inspiring way to practice charity than to develop an extraordinary concern for the poor souls. Pray for them, and especially offer for their speedy release from their purgatory or, and hear it, the mitigation of their pains by our own patient endurance of our purgation on earth. The beauty of our patient endurance of suffering on earth is that it has a two-fold merit. One for ourselves; it purifies us. It expiates our own punishment due to sin and contributes to the release from and mitigation of pain in purgatory.


Anonymous said...


We all know who that is! In their Jan.11, 2012 edition the SF WEEKLY reported that documents revealed Fr. Hardon advised his superiors to harbor a sexual predator priest. The victims must have, to use Hardon's words, "endured suffering on earth."

Maria said...

All Saints 1 November 2012

First reading Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.
After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’
One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’

RIP Servus Dei John Anthony Hardon SJ

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hardon isn't a saint--not yet, at least. And with the revelations of his crime I doubt that he will be. Better just to have prayed for his soul yesterday.

Maria said...

The concluding paragraph of the motion filed against the Society of Jesus and Don McGuire on behalf of several victims:

"Meanwhile, scores of McGuire victims -- including the three remaining Plaintiffs in this
case -- have had their lives altered forever because of McGuire's abuse and the Jesuits' failure to take any action whatsoever to stop it. As set forth above, at least six Provincials of the Chicago
Jesuits -- Father Flaherty, Father Klein, Father Wild, Father Schaeffer, Father Baumann, and
Father Schmidt -- received specific reports regarding McGuire's abhorrent conduct and/or had access to confidential files detailing such misconduct. At least two Chicago Jesuits who served as Socius - Fathers Daly and Father McGurn - also had considerable notice regarding McGuire's pedophiliac tendencies during their terms in office. Yet none of the Chicago Jesuits who bear responsibility for McGuire's behavior and recklessly endangering the lives of these young men has been punished.

With the exception of Servant of God Fr. Hardon SJ who is mocked and calumniated by anonymous cowards.

Anonymous said...

Why is the good father being "mocked"? It seems from your last comment that you just want to remind us that other Jesuits are involved in the cover up.

Fair enough. I agree. If you had written a post lauding them I would point to their serious sin on this as well. You wrote about Fr. Hardon and I reminded you of what he did (and didn't do). BTW, none of these other priests are up for sainthood!

Maria said...

The Sodomites in the Society and the campaign they attempt to wage against Fr. Hardon, who had the good on them them by the way, fail to consider that if one "fight(s) to the death for the truth the Lord will war on your side". Somewhere in the Bible this...Fr. Hardon fought for the truth. Who was the father of lies again? I always remember what Fr. Hardon said: "Every person in the state of mortal sin is an agent of the enemy." Did you know that?

Anonymous said...

The evidence is that Fr. H. was in a state of mortal sin. I shall pray for him. Meanwhile, please don't ignore facts.

Maria said...