Monday, November 5, 2012

For A Long Time Catholicism A "Religion Of Fear And Terror"

What hell is not
Nevertheless, we must talk about it.  For a long time the Church in its pastoral work has placed too much (sometimes, nearly exclusive) stress on this topic, 
thus generating a ‘religion of fear and terror’.  Basic responsibility and honesty require us to clear up misunderstandings that have done so much harm and to put things in their proper place. First of all, let us say that hell is not a ‘positive’ act, in the sense of something positively desired by God.  It is not a creation of God, a place established to punish the wicked.  
If hell were that, then it would call God’s justice seriously into question.  Hell would mean condemning non-eternal beings to eternal punishment for non-eternal actions.  Not only would God’s justice be called into question, so would his mercy.  All this is so clearly evident that we need not go into further arguments: the punishments of hell would not, shall we say, be a good ‘letter of introduction’ for divine mercy. 
In the ‘prayer for the conversion of the gentiles’ that Saint Francis Xavier composed, we read: ‘Eternal God, creator of all things, … Behold, Lord, how to thy dishonour hell is daily replenished with [the souls of the infidels]…’   
Hell is truly an insult to God.[1]  Like the ancient prophet of Israel, Xavier seems to be telling his God, in a final, supreme effort to convince him, ‘If you don’t do it for us, then at least do it for the honour of Your Name’ (cf. Ezekiel 36:22) – since he was convinced that, when all is said and done, the honour of God’s Name (his very reality) and the good of what has been created by God are one and the same thing.
Link (here) to the British Jesuit's online journal Thinking Faith. The piece is written by Fr. Josep Giménez Melià SJ

St. Ignatius of Loyola on Hell (here)
Doctor of the Universal Church St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. on Hell (here) , from his classic work, "The Art of Dying Well"
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Hell (here)

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