Saturday, August 05, 2017

Hope for Eternal Life

There is always a part of the human heart which desires to have paradise now on earth. To those who read the Holy Scriptures thousands of years after they were written, it seems obvious that the Kingdom of Heaven spoken of in the Gospel was not a more glorious reign of a King David with great command over all temporal affairs and the respect of the nations given to Israel. However, this was not necessarily obvious to the Apostles. We know this because even after the Resurrection of Christ in the Acts we see them say to our Resurrected Lord: 

"They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6

Our Lord redirects the Apostles hopes not unto such things, but unto the hope of receiving gifts of the Spirit. I wanted to do a follow up article on this subject after reading some comments left on my brothers Boniface's article Five Unlikely Scenarios. 

We must at some point come to the realization that at no point either now or in the near future will this life cease to be a valley of tears. That all of us must first pass through death and judgement before dwelling in continual peace in the City of God which is Heaven to come. In the Rule of St. Benedict and the Rule of the Poor Knights it is put quite well when it says that we are to "Long for eternal life with all of your soul".

It is good to long for reform in the Church, so that institutionally the Church might be a faithful bride of Christ. It is good to hope for the reunification of the Church from schism, or that temporal leaders might be defenders of the Church.

But these hopes must be put in the proper place. It is an error to believe that before the last day God will systemically end all abuses, confusion, political persecution and so forth. Every day children are born into this world, made in the image of God, but nevertheless under the dominion of the devil. Even those that are baptized still suffer under the yoke of Original Sin, and will fall and sin throughout their life. God will always allow his Saints to be chastised and tried because He loves them, and   "And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:2

Even the people who lived during the 13th century - the supposed "golden age" of the Church - believed their own times were so bad and corrupt that they were living in the end times.  

If God allows abuses now in the Wisdom of His Providence, how dare any of us say that at some future point He will end all of those things before the Final Day!. We should rather believe that the reason why we have these crosses are to our benefit and that they may even be necessary for our salvation right now. There is another sin against hope seldom spoken of, but you will find in moral theology manuals, and that is the sin of aversion. Aversion is not the hatred of God but the preference of this life to the next. Yes, this world is a cross. Enduring poor liturgy is a cross. Enduring persecution for believing right belief in the Church is a cross. Enduring a hostile secular political order is a cross. Enduring tortured theology heavily influenced by humanism is a cross.

It is a real danger if we desire relief from these problems simply on account of the personal anguish they cause us because we seek peace and comfort in this life and despise the suffering that these things cause us to endure. It is through the bearing of these modern crosses that we merit Grace, that sinners are sanctified in patience, and which can help us yearn for Eternal life with all of our souls. We don't want to fall into the snare in our spiritual life of praying and hoping mainly for a good temporal order, or for that matter even allowing our peace to be destroyed because these things must be endured.

True Christian Hope is not that God will deliver us from these afflictions, but that God will give us to the grace to bear them well and persevere in His Grace until the very end of our lives, forgive us our sins and grant us eternal life. 

I would encourage you my brothers to view all of these temporal burdens as crosses and to let them help you long for death and eternal life. 

That you pray with sincerity for our leaders, especially the Church.

That you strive with all of your strength to Worship God with the proper reverence due to Him, and that the pious reception of the sacraments bears fruit in the life of the Church.

That you come to great wisdom through the humble studying of the Holy Faith, and you pass on the faith of the Fathers to those who are entrusted to you. 

That you are more so busy about laboring for your salvation and praying for those Gifts of Grace that can help you obtain it, than about pleading with God for a period of temporal peace brought on by the consecration of Russia.  

That you, with vigilant watchfulness, are eager for the salvation of the friends and enemies near to you and execute your civic duties with the love and piety fitting of a Catholic, not eagerly looking for a Monarch whom in the end could only institute a temporal order, not give people the gift of repentance that only comes from above.

May God bless us all.


Jack said...

You are unfairly reading into our comments something that wasn't necessarily there. That we think that the Church will have a triumph before the final apostasy does not mean that we are hankering after an earthly Kingdom because we have weak faith in the heavenly Kingdom; anymore than your opinion that we ARE witnessing the final apostasy means that you have succumbed to despair and have little faith in the power of God to overcome the current crisis. My opinion isn't based on a desire for an earthly Kingdom (it makes little difference for me either way), but based on revelation and reason. It makes sense for there to be a great triumph in the Church so that the final apostasy will be that much more wicked.

Boniface said...

Thank you for your comments. Please keep in mind, too, this article and the previous one were written by different authors. ~Boniface

Noah Moerbeek said...

I don't really know if we are or are not witnessing the final apostasy, but I wouldn't rule it out either.

The article was influenced by the comments left on the previous article, but if I had wanted to repudiate individual commentators I would have cited the individual comments then disputed them.

It is good that you are indifferent Jack Collinson to the matter, but I do not get the impression from our peers both on the web and in parishes that there is such a holy indifference to Fatima, the great monarch, the triumph of the TLM but rather great anxiety and attention. It is spoken of in such a way that it seems to be more joyously anticipated than the second coming of Christ. I cannot remember the last time someone started a conversation about looking forward of the life of the world to come, but I can remember the last time I have heard about the glories of life after Russia being consecrated to the Immaculate Heart.

Konstantin said...

I think I agree with everything you wrote, Noah. I hope I am not too attached to the idea of a reform; I rather look at it from the point of the salvation of souls. It seems to me that it would give greater glory to God if more sinners and non-believers are saved. I don't believe that a very great number of people will be saved through extraordinary means of salvation and it would seem that a period in which the members of the Church are more holy and zealous is more conducive to the salvation of souls. Of course God can do without the honor and glory we give him and there could be a period in Church history where less people are saved, but I guess this would be directly linked to our lukewarmness and lack of zeal. God called us to be collaborators in the salvation of souls. A great honor.

Btw, there is a prayer by St. Francis Xavier in which he pleads with God to save the heathens from eternal damnation since the loss of their souls would give Him less glory. I have it on my blog but don't know whether it has been teanslated into English before.

Konstantin said...

It is interesting that you are writing about aversion. St. Alphonsus says in "How to converse continually and familiarily with God":

"It is said that those who in this life have had but little longing for heaven are punished with a particular punishment, called the pain of langour".

Aaron D said...

Hear hear!

donnie said...

That you, with vigilant watchfulness, are eager for the salvation of the friends and enemies near to you and execute your civic duties with the love and piety fitting of a Catholic, not eagerly looking for a Monarch whom in the end could only institute a temporal order, not give people the gift of repentance that only comes from above.

I like this piece a lot but feel the need to quibble with this closing statement above.

If any of the Five Unlikely Scenarios should come to fruition (particularly the Fifth One) they will only occur as a result of much labor from many good souls. All of this labor in the macrocosm is sure to take several generations - and it could certainly be that all of it is in vain. God may not will for any of the Scenarios to be realized. So be it.

But consider Blessed Charles of Austria, the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He may have been the last person in recent history with any real shot at ushering in a restoration of Catholic Monarchy in Europe. And he was a complete failure. Nothing he tried in the political sphere succeeded: not World War I, not his attempts to settle his peoples, not his attempts to regain Hungary. He died of respiratory failure while in exile at the age of 34. A similar thing can be said for Blessed Thomas Percy. He tried, in the Rising in the North, to end Queen Elizabeth's persecution of Catholics and restore both England's church and state back to the Faith. He failed, and was executed for treason. Even Saint Louis IX, the exemplary model of the ideal Christian monarch, attempted to finally win the Crusades for Christ. He failed too, and died of dysentery in Tunis.

These men were not raised to the altars for their political efforts, but for their personal holiness. Nevertheless, their efforts played a role in their path to Heaven. So it may be for us, God willing.

It may be entirely futile to pray and to labor toward an end to the Novus Ordo, or a much belated consecration of Russia, or a restoration of Catholic monarchy. Even less ambitious (but by no means less important) efforts, such as working to end abortion and euthanasia, may be entirely in vain. Nevertheless we cannot give up our commitment to laboring, in whatever way we can, for the greater glory of God. Our work, fruitless though it may seem, may just be our path to Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Nice comment

Anonymous said...

I entirely disagree with the previous article. I wrote a comment about it there.

The "most likely" scenarios seem to be touched with despair. Nothing much will change, so stop hoping. Nothing wonderful will happen, so deal with it. But if we look at Church history, things are always changing. God is always bringing renewals, rebirths, and reforms.

I would suspect that Mary is a pretty good witness to the Faith, so if she comes and says something, I'd take it seriously. It is true that you don't have to believe in private apparitions to be saved, but I'd argue that it is as imprudent to ignore them as it would be to found your faith upon them.

I don't think that traditionalists think that God will come and save us all in an worldly way any more than I think that they are all bitter. These are just unfortunate generalizations applied to them. When we pray the Our Father, we ask for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, yet we also ask for our daily bread. There is no dichotomy between the two.

And dismissing prophecies when we can see them happening all around us just makes me assume that one has either not read any of them, or has willfully closed his eyes to them.