Skip to comments.On the Need to Be More Urgent in Preparing for Final Judgment
Posted on 05/02/2016 6:33:54 AM PDT by Salvation
At every funeral I celebrate, I spend a good portion of the sermon urging everyone, including myself, to be more intent on preparing for death and judgement. I remind the assembled of Jesus numerous parables on this theme. I remind them that no one loves them more than does Jesus, and yet no one issued more warnings of judgment and Hell than He did. I do this at funerals because the overwhelming majority of people I see there do not attend church at any other time. I feel that I have to take advantage of the opportunity to wrest them from the sin of presumption that is so prevalent today.
Indeed, the sin of presumption seems to be at an all-time high. This is due to many factors in the world where sin is minimized or declared of little import. Even within the Church, due to the error of universalism (the belief that most (if not all) people will go to Heaven), a view almost completely contradictory to Scripture, few people are earnest in preparing for death and judgment. This is tragic. While we shouldnt run around in a panic, we ought to have a lot more urgency in working for salvation. We can do this through daily prayer, frequent Confession and Holy Communion, holy fellowship, and reading/studying Scripture and Church teaching. We must practice the virtues learned in these holy sources and consistently seek the Lords grace and mercy.
It is foolish to fail to do this, to put it off day after day. St. Alphonsus Liguori makes this point beautifully and powerfully in his classic work Preparation for Death. He writes,
What would you say of the man who put off his preparation for a trial on which his life depended, till the day of the trial arrived? Would you not stigmatize as a fool the general who should not begin to lay in a supply of provisions and arms, till the city is besieged? Would it not be folly in a pilot [of a ship] to neglect till the time of the tempest to provide the vessel with an anchor and a helm? Such is the folly of a Christian who neglects his conscience till death arrives . The Lord called the virgins foolish who wished to prepare their lamps with the spouse came (Preparation for Death, 8th Ed., edited by Stephen Winchell, p. 91).
And yet this is precisely what most people do. Too many are busy pursuing lesser things such as career, money, and worldly possessions. Meanwhile, death and judgment, which are both more important and more certain, get little attention. Even comparatively frivolous things like sports, television, and gossip are often given more passion and priority than preparing to die well and in Gods favor. People tend to maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum.
According to the Lord, this is the very definition of foolishness. And yet most assume that either they will be able to repent in a flash as death approaches, or that God doesnt really care about all the things He said He cares about.
There is no basis in Scripture for the idea that last minute repentance or pleas will win the day. In the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins as well as in almost every similar parable, those excluded from the Kingdom (who hear the Lord say, I know you not) all protest and lament loudly. Some of the passages speak of wailing and grinding of teeth as the damned depart into outer darkness or into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Why is this so? Why does God disregard such pleas? Dont those pleas represent proper repentance? If they do, then why does God seemingly ignore them?
St. Thomas Aquinas provides some insight:
A person may repent of his sin in two ways: in one way, directly, in another way indirectly. He repents of sin directly who hates sin as such; and repents indirectly who hates it on account of something connected with it, for instance punishment. Accordingly, the wicked will not repent of their sin directly, because consent in the malice of sin remains in them. But they will repent indirectly, inasmuch as they will suffer from the punishment inflicted on them for sin. The damned still will wickedness but shun punishment. And thus indirectly they repent of the wickedness committed (Summa Theologica, Sup. 98. Art. 2).
It would seem that their repentance is not a proper repentance from sin, but rather represents more of a regret at the consequences. It is impossible to enter Heaven while still loving sin. Their repentance is not sufficient to grant the healing necessary to enter Heaven.
St. Alphonsus gives us an insight as to why direct repentance (i.e., the repentance of one who hates sin as such) is unlikely to be found suddenly at the moment of death:
It is necessary at death to hate sin, and to love God above all things. But how can he, then, hate forbidden pleasures who has loved them to till that moment? It is for this reason that God is deaf to their cry (Preparation for Death, 8th Ed., edited by Stephen Winchell, p. 92).
This is perfectly sensible. Most are simply not able to shift their desires 180 degrees in a moment. The Lord warns that if our desires at the time of our death are not for God and the values of His kingdom, it is highly unlikely that we will have a sudden change of heart. Further, when we die, our disposition either for or against God is forever fixed. The wicked do not depart wailing and grinding their teeth because they suddenly hate sin and love God and holiness. No, they wail due to more selfish motives, such as the fear of punishment. They hate the consequences, but not the sin.
Consider well these admonitions from two great saints, which speak directly and clearly against the presumptiveness and foolishness of our age. Get to work while there is still time. Tell everyone you love to set his or her house in order before the day of reckoning. Do not delay your conversion to the Lord!
Monsignor Pope Ping!
“Go...I never knew you.”
The most frightening words that Jesus ever spoke.
On the other hand, “Well done my good and faithful servant” are among the most comforting. That’s what I long to hear even if He says right after, “Close the gates behind you, you’re the last one in” :)
“..I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings” St Faustina (Diary 153)
But notice they had been “working for salvation”, per Charles’ instruction. THAT’S the scary part, they thought they had obligated God.
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?
Not a word about repentance, sorrow for their own sins, true conversion of heart, or seeking the mercy and grace of God. It's all, and only, "doing stuff" in God's name in front of other people.
Most weeks/months I hear a calling and this month it is alms giving, fasting, and prayer. Alms giving includes my volunteer work. Fasting for me an be as simple of only drinking one beer instead of two. Prayer is the easiest although I need to pay more attention when I do it.
Also, I’m trying to learn German. I have three months. LOL
The most frightening words that Jesus ever spoke.
They proved his point by becoming uppity and defensive. Now if they had shown sincere interest in the relationship, they would have greatly desired to rectify it via contriteness of heart and a genuine spirit of reconciliation.
Then he would have been merciful and open for a fresh start. Alas, though, they demonstrated that they were strangers all along, just wanting free stuff and attaboys without all the "trouble" of loving him personally.
If they had truly loved him, they would have felt lower than low, and would have been falling all over themselves in order to put the pieces back together. And he would have seen that, and responded accordingly.
He really just loves people. Simple as that. He has a lot of patience, but doesn't want to be messed with, either.
It was extrememly difficult to recognize and to trust him, what with shrewd and ruthless deceivers out there pretending to be him, but I worked past that, and he listened and understood. Praise God.
The Orthodox pray the “Litany of Fervent Supplication” at EVERY Divine Liturgy (Eucharist) and EVERY Vespers.
It closes with these petitions:
That we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentence, let us ask of the Lord.
Grant this, O Lord.
A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful; and a good defense before the dread Judgement Seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.
Grant this, O Lord.
Those who run around in a panic are the ones who imagine they must be "working for salvation". They are the ones who have fallen away from grace. They SHOULD panic.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:5-10)
Then we have Caths asserting that they do not work to earn salvation, even though in Cath theology they must become actually good enough to enter Heaven.
The soul who truly believes on the Lord Jesus to save Him, as a damned and destitute sinner, by His sinless shed blood, is "accepted in the Beloved" and made to sit together with Him in heaven, (Eph. 1;6; 2:6) - Christ's account. He therefore confesses the Lord Jesus in word and in deed, continuing in the faith, and thus it is both promised that those who believe as well as those who obey (be baptized, confess, etc.) will be saved, for the latter testifies to the former, which is what is counted for righteousness.
Working for salvation is actually selfish. While God does appeal to self-interest in motivating men to repentance, escape from Hell is not to be the supreme motive, but to glorify God. We should be willing to go to Hell if that would glorify God the most. While fear of wrath certainly is valid motivation to be saved (Mt. 25;30-46) and continue in the faith, (Heb. 3; 10) it is the love and mercy of God that is to be the enduring and supreme motivation. Which I need to be far more consistent and increase in.
We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:19-20)
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Do you think you can get into heaven some other way? The God of Truth isn't going to be moved by a legal fiction or sleight of hand. Sorry, Mr. Luther, He's smart enough to know the difference between a dungheap covered by snow and a snowdrift.
And He's powerful enough to change the first to the second, too. So no, Daniel, we don't earn salvation -- such a thing is not even possible -- and still less do we work to earn salvation. _God works it in us._ That's the Biblical teaching, not Luther's idea that God works a legal fiction, fools himself (!!), and agrees to ignore our sins.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure -- Philippians 2:12-13
Matthew 20:1-16 New International Version (NIV)
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right. 5 So they went.
He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?
7 Because no one has hired us, they answered.
He said to them, You also go and work in my vineyard.
8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.
9 The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 These who were hired last worked only one hour, they said, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didnt you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Dont I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?
16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
"Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom."
St. Alphonsus gives us an insight ...
Consider well these admonitions from two great saints,...
"Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer. John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine , © 1993 New City Press, Sermons, Vol III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327
Upon this rock, said the Lord, I will build my Church. Upon this confession, upon this that you said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,' I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer her (Mt. 16:18). John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 236A.3, p. 48.
Mary Leads Her Servants to Heaven
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
In this article taken from The Glories of Mary, Saint Alphonsus explains that there are countless souls in Heaven who are there now only because Mary, by Her powerful intercession, led them there. If a soul persists in true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, She will certainly lead that soul to Heaven.
Mary, Our Life, Our Sweetness, Our Hope
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
St. Alphonsus de Liguori explains how Mary is our life, how She is our sweetness, and how She is our hope.
The historical record of the worship of Mary accumulated by St. Alphonsus de Liguori who wrote The Glories of Mary in the year 1745, which has been since translated into English and printed again and again and again with the full affirmation and imprimatur of the official Roman Catholic Church. In this book there is the sum of all the glories of Mary which has been vouchsafe to the Roman Catholic Church and the Church itself calls upon all its constituents to give Mary that honor she is due. She is identified as Mary, our Queen; Mary, our mother; Mary, our life; Mary, our sweetness; Mary, our hope; Mary, our help; Mary, our Mediatress; Mary, our advocate; Mary, our guardian; and Mary, our salvation. It is said that Mary delivers us from hell, Mary delivers us from purgatory, and Mary leads us to heaven. And it should be said that de Liguori, who collected all the Marion dogma and devotion, was himself one of the most celebrated and revered authorities in the Roman Catholic Church. De Liguori was himself a cardinal in life, and a saint in death.
Jesus said "Without Me you can do nothing". In this crisis which looms ahead of us, Our Lady has told us that we need Her help, Her intercession. We must ask for Her help with the Rosary and the Scapular.
At Fatima, Our Lady told us very plainly that "Only I can help you". Today more than ever is this so true.
Pray the Rosary and sacrifice yourself for Our Lady.
I urge you to also make some sacrifices as Our Lady of Fatima asked us. For those who are able, do some fasting. If you can, abstain from meat by eating meat only during one meal a day. Try to do this for two days, even ten days or 30 days. Of course we should abstain totally from meat every Friday.
Jesus and Mary Our Hope
It is so urgent that we reach as many souls as possible before it is too late. Let us be of good cheer and remember the words of Jesus to each of us, "It's never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary." That is why it is so important to reach the many millions of souls who do not know this, and who do not know the grave dangers lying in wait for their souls.
No, we must never lose hope. Mary is our hope. She can obtain for us what we cannot by ourselves. Read what St. Alphonsus has to say regarding confidence in Our Lady's intercession in "Mary Leads Her Servants to Heaven". Father Manelli also reminds us of the importance of devotion to Our Lady. (See "Hail Mary, Full of Grace"). Our Blessed Mother tells us to turn to Her in confidence. She tells us repeatedly to ask Her intercession through the frequent fervent praying of the Rosary. (See "The Rosary"). She tells us we must pray the Rosary every day. She wants us to pray it many times a day.