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The Church must challenge the idea that life on earth always ends with heaven

The drama of salvation is one in which we all play a part, whether we like it or not

By on Thursday, 6 September 2012

Michelangelo's Last Judgment (CNS photo)

Michelangelo's Last Judgment (CNS photo)

In the August 24 edition of the print version of The Catholic Herald I wrote an article which dealt with the necessity of evangelisation in the face of declining Catholic practice in the United Kingdom. This attracted two replies in the letters column of the paper the next week, one of which came from Fr Andrew Pinsent, of Oxford University. What he says is so interesting, I thought I would reproduce it here.

Fr Pinsent identifies two problems which have led to our current state of affairs:

First, there has been an almost complete loss of any sense of the “drama of salvation”, namely that the eternal outcome of our lives is an open question. If you ask churchgoers today what they think happens to them when we die, many of them will say that we go to heaven, not judgment (cf Hebrews 9:27).

He is completely correct in this and puts his finger on something important. I remember once being in the Cathedral of Torcello, which boasts a huge mosaic of the Last Judgment. I was resting my weary feet while a guide explained the significance of the mosaic to some tourists. The person next to me said: “He is explaining it from the outside.” In other words, modern people look at the Last Judgement as a picture in which they themselves are not present.

But in every picture of the Last Judgement, if we look carefully, we will see ourselves depicted. This is a drama in which we will play a part, whether we like it or not. To imagine that heaven follows life on earth almost as a matter of course is to delude oneself.

Here one might add that the Church needs to tread carefully: we need to challenge people’s idea that salvation is automatic, without driving them away. We must of course stress God is Love and Mercy; but we must also stress that he is perfect Justice as well, and that in Him charity and justice coincide without any contradiction.

Fr Pinsent goes on:

Second, there has been a loss of any distinction between the life of nature and the life of grace. Much teaching and pastoral example today implies that being a Catholic is simply one way to cultivate civic virtue and good manners. What has largely been forgotten is the meaning and importance of sanctifying grace, by which we become adopted children of God, enjoying the gift of second-person relatedness to God, the ultimate fruit of which is to enter the communion of saints in heaven.

Again, I find myself in complete agreement. While it is true that religion is socially useful, we must resist all attempts to understand religion as purely a socially useful phenomenon. You become a Catholic to experience God’s grace at first hand in the sacraments, not because Catholics are a nice bunch of people, or because they have good schools. All the social and secular activities of our parishes must be subordinate to this one end – the reception of divine grace; indeed that is the only reason behind the social structures, to make the sacraments more accessible to people.

Fr Pinsent concludes:

This combination of lethargic universalism and loss of grace, aided and abetted by certain perverted theological writings of the last century, drains much of the urgency out of Catholic life and mission and cuts us off from most Christians of previous ages. Unless we recover an appreciation of such principles, I fear that even serving better coffee after Mass will not arrest the decline.

I wonder which theologians he has in mind? But of our contemporaries, let me point the finger at whoever invented the phrase “faith-based initiatives”. This implies that people have faith and so go on to found schools or hospitals. But it is the faith that matters more than the initiative. The phrase subordinates faith to socially useful works, which is dangerous. Faith matters.

This danger crops up in certain missionary ambiences, where the Church can be hugely successful in building schools, hospitals, and model farms, all great faith-based initiatives. But in the midst of this success, the missionaries can lose sight of what it was they came for: not any physical structure, but the proclamation of what Fr Pinsent so rightly terms “the drama of salvation”.

  • MCarroll



    Maybe it is about time priests started to remind
    congregations what the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have to say on the
    issue of how many will be saved………….

    1. St.
    Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church teaches in the Summa Theologica about the
    ‘extreme fewness of the saved’ He states that “relatively very few people will
    be saved” and explains that “salvation is a good which is above the normal
    human state or ability, and therefore very few will attain to it”. 


    2. “Out of one hundred thousand sinners who continue in sin
    until death, scarcely one will be saved”. St. Jerome,
    Father  & Doctor of the Church


    3. “A multitude of souls fall into the depths of Hell, and
    it is of the faith that all who die in mortal sin are condemned for ever and
    ever” – Saint Anthony Mary Claret.

    4. “Meditate on the horrors of Hell, which will last for eternity because of
    one easily-committed mortal sin. Try hard to be among the few who are chosen.
    Think of the eternal flames of Hell, and how few there are that are saved.”
    Saint Benedict Joseph Labre.


    5. “Among adults there are few saved because of sins of the
    flesh…. With the exception of those who die in childhood, most men will be
    damned.”-Saint Regimius of Rheims.


    6. “In the Great Deluge in the days of Noah, nearly all
    mankind perished, eight persons alone being saved in the Ark.
    In our days a deluge, not of water but of sins, continually inundates the
    earth, and out of this deluge very few escape. Scarcely anyone is saved.”
    -Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Doctor of the Church.


    7. “On the threshing room floor few are the grains carried
    in to the barns, but, high are the piles of chaff burned in the fire – Pope St.
    Gregory the Great, Father & Doctor of the Church.


    8. “What I am about to tell you is very terrible, yet I will
    not conceal it from you. Out of this thickly populated city with its thousands
    of inhabitants not one hundred people will be saved. I barely doubt whether
    there will be as many as that” – St. John Chrysostom – Father and Doctor of the


    9. “I do not think that many priests are saved, but that
    those who parish are far more numerous” – St. John Chrysostom – Father and
    Doctor of the Church.


    10. “The majority of men will not see God except those who
    live justly, purified by righteousness and by every other virtue” – St Justin


    11. Our Blessed Mother stated at Fatima
    that she could no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the
    world with a just punishment for its many crimes.


    12. Another common misconception about salvation was voiced
    by the Lady herself during her August appearance. She warned the children:
    “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go
    to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them”

  • Jason Clifford

    If we do not truly believe in eternal damnation the question has to be asked as to precisely what people believe eternal salvation actually is. What is it we’re saved from?

  • Winjanefish

    Your final quotation, 12, from Our Lady herself really points to the Way: prayer and the acceptance of Grace with repentence are the key to finding the road to Salvation which the compassion and mercy of Our Lord urges for us, each one of us.  The light of God’s justice is far too searing for any to survive – a terrifying awareness so real to the Fathers and others close to Holiness.  In its light, all men are doomed to hell.  But, thank God for the Gift of His Son – simply to turn to Him and live within Him in His Church eager for His sacramental Grace and determined with repentence to lead a sanctified life, despite continuing inevitable failure, will keep one in His loving Heart.  Nor must we discount the power of our loving prayer for others – even despite their own darkness, it will shine God’s light upon them – even after their death.  Such is God’s mercy.  Such is the urgency of Christ in His Church. Such is the awesome and wonderful vocation of the sacred Priesthood – urgently to proclaim this and administer in persona Christi this amazing Grace.

  • Peter

    God has given us his poor little brethren in need on earth so that whatever we give to them relative to our means is converted into treaure in heaven.  When we face Judgement, God will weigh that treasure and if we have none, we face damnation.

  • karlf

     Maybe God should try helping them too, instead of just watching their suffering and waiting for people to sort out the problems.

  • nytor

    Same comment as on Francis Phillips’ confession article, really. The world has lost its sense of sin. Priests who do not encourage confession and do not preach on the need for it before communicating add to that.

  • nytor

    It isn’t just about good works, though. We’re not social workers. It is about avoidance of (as much as possible) and repentance for (where it occurs) personal sin, as well.

  • Peter

    The worst personal sin is ignoring the needs of the poor.  As Archbishop Chaput said in his 2004 sermon, “If we ignore the poor we go to hell”.

    This implies that going to mass regularly, taking the sacraments and even avoiding sins of commission (as opposed to omission) are not sufficient for salvation, for if we omit our duty to the poor, we face damnation.

  • Peter

    God has helped the poor by putting rich populations on earth as well as poor population, so that the rich can help the poor.

    That is why it is so serious for the rich if they fail in their God-given duty to the poor.

  • Cestius

    I think a lot of the trouble is failing to build a personal relationship with Jesus. It’s easy to go to Mass and be outwardly Catholic, but you may be one of those to whom Jesus says “I never knew you”. In that way, the sacrament of reconciliation is a useful reality check, if you’re too proud to confess your sins to the priest (who is quite possibly an even bigger sinner than you and also much in need of mercy), then surely you may not be being completely honest with Jesus.  Especially not in realizing how much you are in need of mercy.

  • Peter

    The best relationship with Jesus is to help his little brothers and sisters who are in need, because in helping them, you help him.

  • Peter

     Sadly many priests, who are entrusted with our eternal salvation, do not encourage giving to Jesus, by means of giving to the seriously poor, as the surest way to avoid damnation, despite it being very clear in the Gospel and the Catechism.

  • Winjanefish

    Of course, to live in Grace is to be drawn ineluctably to the plight of the poor and those in any kind of need – this is a defining mark of such a Graced life.

  • Peter

    Yes, living in grace allows one to see the face of Jesus in the poor and needy, so that giving to the poor and needy is giving to Jesus himself, which draws even more grace upon oneself and one’s community.

  • karlf

     But he must have known that was going to be an ineffective plan, so it’s ultimately God’s negligence.

  • Peter

     Not at all.

    God has not been negligent.  Far from it.

    He has generously provided the rich poulations of man with the resources to help the poor populations.

    But greed has caused the rich populations to hoard those resources for themselves instead of using them for the benefit of the poor populations.

    What God’s generosity has provided, man’s greed has taken away.

  • karlf

    What a load of twaddle! The rich populations produced their own wealth, often off the backs of the poorer populations who also had adequate natural resources.
    God doesn’t help those of the richer populations who experience terrible suffering either.

  • C_monsta

    As Karlf says, God must have known that the rich would behave in that way and the poor would ultimately suffer. So it was negligence.

    But what is God’s generosity anyway? If I want to keep pet fish I need to buy an aquarium and all the other bits and bobs to create a world in which they can thrive. But I don’t feel I’m being generous.

  • C_monsta

     How would you be helping Jesus? How do you know this?

  • Celiaparker65

    The last paragraph reminds me of a missionary who came to our parish a few years ago to appeal for funds. he worked in an African country where 50% of the population is Muslim, 25% animist,15% protestant and 10% Catholic.  80% of education is provided by the Catholic Church and he was enormously proud of his own ‘good relations’ with all the Muslims who had passed through his school. My feeling was: if they’re still Muslims, you’re not doing your job- which is to proclaim Christ and save souls, not provide a school with a ‘Catholic ethos’ that Muslims (or anyone else) can use as and when its suits them and discard subsequently.

  • rjt1

    There are other good works such as praying for the living and the dead, counselling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant etc, based on a wider interpretation of human need. Man does not live on bread alone.

  • rjt1

    How do you know anything?

  • karlf

     Does praying actually cause God to intervene in earthly matters?

  • karlf

     By the rational interpretation of what I experience through life.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Those devoted to Our Lady shall be saved. 

    Proverbs 8:35 - He who shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

    St. Bonaventure - Listen, all you who desire the Kingdom of God! Honor and serve the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, and you will find life and eternal salvation!

    St. John Eudes - Whoever honors, loves, serves, and invokes Mary with humility and confidence will ascend to Paradise. 

    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - If you persevere until death in true devotion to Mary, you salvation is certain.

    Office of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - O Holy Mother of God, all those who will be partakers of eternal happiness dwell in thee.

    Ecclesiasticus 24:12-16 - He Who made me rested in my tabernacle, and He said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My Elect . . . And I took root in an honorable people and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of the Saints.

    Pope John Paul II - One cannot talk about the Church if Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is not present with His brothers. Only Mary could make one heart and one mind of Jesus’ Apostles, as though Christ wanted to show us that He entrusted to His Mother’s maternal care the mission of making the Church a single family. Yes, in Mary we have the bond of communion of all of us who, through faith and Baptism, are disciples and brothers of Jesus.

    Ecclesiasticus 24:4 - In the multitude of the Elect she shall have praise, and among the blessed she shall be blessed. 

    Ven. Mary of Agreda - Blessed are they who turn with sincere affection to most holy Mary, extending her glory in the world and magnifying her name in the Catholic Church in opposition to the crack-brained insanity of heretics and infidels . . . Those who magnify her attain eternal life. No sinner, howsoever great and abominable he might be, shall be excluded from redemption and justification, nor shall he fail to attain eternal life, if he invoke the intercession of this powerful Lady and Advocate.

    Judith 13:23, 25; 15:10,11 - Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon earth  . . . because He hath so magnified thy name that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord forever . . . Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the honor of our people . . . and therefore thou shalt be blessed forever!

    St. John Eudes - There is no country in the world, no nation under the sun, either great or small, rich or poor, there is no religious or priest, no man or woman, who is not under the obligation to confess and proclaim that the Mother of the Savior is the most blessed, powerful, generous, compliant, admirable, and amiable of all creatures.

    Proverbs 31:28 - Her children rose up and called her blessed.

    St. Luke 1:48; St. John 1:13 -  For behold: from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed .. who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    St. Augustine - O Mary, blessed are you among women, for you have brought forth life for both men and women. The mother of our race brought punishment into the world; the Mother of Our Lord brought salvation to the world. Eve was the originator of sin, Mary was the originator of merit.

    St. Peter Chrysologus -  Mary is the Mother of those who live by grace, as Eve is the mother of those who die according to nature.

    St. Bruno - Eve was the cause of death, but Mary restored life to us.

    St. Jerome - Death through Eve, life through Mary.

    St. John Chrysostom - Instead of Eve, we have Mary.

    St. Peter Chrysologus - The Mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20.  Eve was by nature the mother of the children of death; Mary is by grace the Mother of the children of life.

    Pope Leo XIII - Everyone of the multitudes, therefore, whom the evil of calamitous circumstances has stolen away from Catholic unity, must be born again to Christ by that same Mother whom God has endowed with a never-failing fertility to bring forth a holy people.

    St. Anselm - O Lady, thou art the Mother of Justification and of the justified; thou art the Mother of Reconciliation and of the reconciled; thou art the Mother of Redemption and of the redeemed.

    Pope St. Pius X - Bearing in her womb the Savior, Mary can also be said to have borne all those whose life the Savior’s life enshrined. All of us, then, as many as are knit to Christ  . . . have come forth from Mary’s womb: one body, as it were, knit together with its Head.

    St. Ambrose - Although in the most pure womb of Mary there was but one kernel of grain, which was Jesus Christ, nevertheless her womb is called a “heap of wheat” (Canticles 7:2) because all the Elect were virtually contained in it.

    Psalm 86:5; 117:20 - This Man and that man is born in her  . . . This is the Gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it.

    St. Bernard - Mary is that Happy Ark, in which those who take refuge will never suffer the shipwreck of eternal perdition.

    St. Peter Chrysologus - Everyone has been saved in the Virgin.
    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - He who is faithful in the service of Mary will certainly be saved  . . .There is no one, however wicked, whom Mary does not save by her intercession when she wishes . . . He who has recourse to Mary shall be saved.

    St. Catherine of Siena - No one, not even a sinner, who devoutly recommends himself to her shall ever become the prey of Hell.

    St. Hilary of Poitiers - However great a sinner may have been, if he shows himself devout to Mary he will never perish.

    St. John Chrysostom - Mary was made Mother of God to obtain salvation for many who, on account of their wicked lives, could not be saved according to the rigor of Divine justice, but might be saved with the help of her sweet mercy and powerful intercession.

    St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe - The Saints assert that anyone who prays to the Mother of God in time of temptation will be preserved from sin, and that whoever approaches her with perfect trust throughout his life will surely be saved.
    Pope Pius XI - He will not taste death forever who, in his dying moments, has recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    St. Philip Neri - My children, if you desire perseverance, be devout to our Blessed Lady.
    St. John Berchmans - If I love Mary, I am certain of perseverance, and I shall obtain whatever I wish from God.

    St. Vincent de Paul -  I firmly believe I owe my deliverance to the sole intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    St. Bonaventure - The gates of Heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary.

    St. Antoninus - Souls protected by Mary, and on whom she casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved  . . . Just as it is impossible that they be saved from whom Mary turns away her eyes of mercy, so is it certain that they who are loved by Mary, and for whom she intercedes, will obtain justification and eternal life.

    Pope Benedict XV - All those who seek Mary’s protection will be saved for all eternity.

    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - Mary obtains salvation for all who have recourse to her. Oh! If all sinners had recourse to Mary, who would ever be lost? . . . He who is protected by her will be saved; he who is not will be lost.

    St. John Chrysostom -    It is impossible to be saved without the help of the Most Blessed Virgin, because those who are not saved by the justice of God are saved by the intercession of Mary.

    St. Bonaventure - We believe that Mary opens the abyss of God’s mercy to whomsoever she wills, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner however great who is lost if Mary protects him.

    St. Anselm - Hell is not the lot of any true client of Mary for whom she prays even once, and for whom she says to her Son that she wishes him to be saved  . . . It is sufficient that you desire our salvation, O Mary, and we cannot help but be saved.

    St. Ignatius of Antioch - He who is devout to the Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost.
    St. John Eudes - Not one of those who love her can perish; not one of those who try to imitate her can fail to attain eternal salvation.

    St. Louis Marie de Montfort - Not a single soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned.

    St. John Eudes - No one who shall invoke this Mother of Grace with devotion and perseverance can possibly perish forever.

    St. Fulgentius - By Mary, God descended from Heaven into the world, so that by her men might ascend from earth into Heaven.

    Pope Pius VII - O Mary, thou art the noblest, the most exalted and purest, the fairest, the holiest of all things created! I desire a greater and more tender love of thee, and this thou must obtain for me, because love of thee is a great sign of predestination, and a grace granted by God to those who shall be saved.

    Bl. John of Avila - The sign of those who will be saved consists in this: that they have a great devotion to Mary in their hearts.

    St. Gabriel of the Most Sorrowful Virgin - I believe that devotion to thee, O Lady, is a certain sign of eternal salvation.

    Bl. Alan de la Roche - Devotion to Mary is a sure sign of predestination to him who possesses it.

    St. Frances Xavier Cabrini – Mary is the Mysterious Book of Predestination to glory.

    St. Bernard - Love of Mary and devotion to her are a sure sign of obtaining eternal salvation.

    Bl. Pope Pius IX - O Mother of Perpetual Help, confidence in thee is a certain pledge of everlasting salvation. 

    St. John Damascene - O Mother of God! If I place my confidence in thee, I shall be saved; if I am under thy protection, I have nothing to fear; for the fact of being thy client is a possession of a certainty of salvation which God grants only to those whom He intends to save.

    St. Bonaventure - O Most Blessed Virgin, just as everyone who hates thee and is forgotten by thee must necessarily perish, so also must everyone who loves thee and is loved by thee necessarily be saved!

    St. Fulgentius - O how long ago the earth would have been destroyed, if Mary had not interposed!

    Ven. Pope Pius XII - Hail, Mary, gracious Mother of Mercy; who would not love thee? Thou are our certain salvation!

    St. John the Almoner - She is the eldest daughter of the Great King. If you enjoy her favor, she will introduce you to the Monarch of the Universe. No one has so great an interest with Him than Mary, who was the occasion of His coming down from Heaven to become man for the redemption of mankind.

    St. Joseph Cafasso - If you wish to walk securely and be certain of your salvation, if you aspire to a great crown in Heaven that will never fade, love and honor Mary, and strive to make her known, loved, and honored by others. 

    Pope Pius XI - What will it cost you, O Mary, to hear our prayer? What will it cost you to save us? Has not Jesus placed in your hands all the treasures of His grace and mercy? You sit crowned as Queen at the right hand of your Son: your dominion reaches as far as the heavens, and to you are subject the earth and all creatures dwelling thereon. Your dominion reaches even down into the abyss of Hell, and you alone, O Mary, save us from the hands of Satan.

    St. Anselm - Just as it is impossible for one who is not devout to Mary, and consequently not protected by her, to be saved, so is it impossible for one who recommends himself to her, and consequently is beloved by her, to be lost.

    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - No, he can never be lost who recommends himself to thee, O Mary.

    St. Bernard - If she protects you, you have nothing to fear, for you cannot be lost.

    Pope Benedict XV - Mary, not one of thy devout servants has ever perished; may I, too, be saved!

    Old English Missal: Christmas Season - And after this, can men be found who deem it wrong to call thee The Way of Life? O Mary, thou art the hope and refuge of humble sinners; thou healest them whose hearts are sick from crime, and thou winnest salvation for them who repent. Thou art the glory and helper of those who have confidence in thee; and by thy prayers thou obtainest the reward of eternal life for them who serve thee.

    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - A true servant of Mary cannot be lost.

    St. Andrew of Crete - Being thy servant, O Mary, is a surety of salvation God grants solely to those He will save.

    St. Bonaventure - Whoever bears the mark of a servant of Mary is already enrolled in the Book of Life.

    St. Bernard - To serve Mary is a mark of eternal salvation to come.

    St. Bernardine of Siena - As many serve the Virgin as serve God.

    St. Cecilia - Happy are the faithful slaves of the Queen of Heaven, for they shall enjoy true liberty!

    St. John Damascene - To serve Mary and to be her courtier is the greatest honor we can possibly possess; for to serve the Queen of Heaven is already to reign there; and to live under her command is more than to govern.

    St. John Eudes - Every Saint belongs to the court of the Queen of All Saints.

    St. Gertrude the Great - Angels constantly guard the clients of this Blessed Virgin from the assaults of Hell.

    St. John Mary Vianney - Happy is he who lives under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.

    St. Ignatius of Constantinople - He who is devout to the Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost.

    St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe - Rest confidently assured that whoever belongs to her will not be lost.

    St. John Bosco - If you love her, she will shower on you many graces in this life, and be an assurance to you of Heaven hereafter. 

    St. Dominic Savio - The future will be resplendent, and an untold number of souls will be saved, but on one condition: that your sons be devoted to the Blessed Virgin.

    St. Bridget of Sweden - O Mary, you give assistance to everyone endeavoring to rise to God!

    St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - If you are in danger, if your hearts are confused, turn to Mary; she is our comfort, our help; turn towards her and you will be saved.

    Pope St. Eutychian - Who, O Lady, ever faithfully employed your all powerful aid and was abandoned by you?

    St. Bernard - O Blessed Mary, whoever loves you honors God; whoever serves you pleases God; whoever invokes your holy name with a pure heart will infallibly receive the object of his petition.

    St. Francis of Assisi – I therefore command all my Brothers, those living now and those to come in the future, to venerate the Holy Mother of God, whom we always implore to be our Protectress, to praise her at all times, in all circumstances of life, with all the means in their power and with the greatest devotion and submission.

    St. Sharbel Makhlouf - Do you want certain salvation? Then have great devotion to the Virgin Mary. . . She will guarantee your salvation. She infallibly saves the one who honors her.

    Wisdom 7:14 - For she is an infinite treasure to men. They who use this treasure become the friends of God. 

    Ecclesiasticus 4:15 - God loves those who love her.

    St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori - Most amiable Queen, I, a miserable sinner, also
    love thee, but I love thee too little. I desire to obtain a greater and more
    tender love for thee. Obtain this for me; because to love thee is a great sign
    of predestination and a grace which God does not grant except to those whom He
    will save . . . If thou dost not assist me, I shall be lost. No. No one can be
    lost who recommends himself to thee. In thy hands, therefore, do I place my
    eternal salvation and to thee do I consign my soul, which was lost, but which
    thou wilt save by thy holy intercession.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Yes, karlf. I have seen this in my own life countless times. And in serious ways too; unmistakeable ways. 

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Without doubt, karlf. I have seen this in my own life countless times. And in serious ways too; unmistakeable ways. 

  • karlf

     Please give an example of one of the unmistakeable

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Drop your cynicism for a few minutes and listen to this. And then tell me from your heart that God does not exist. 

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    “Men are improperly called rational: it is not those who have studied the sayings and books of the wise men of old who are rational, but those who have a rational soul and can discriminate what is good from what is evil, avoiding what is evil and harmful to the soul, but keeping carefully, through practice, what is good, and doing this with many thanks to God. These men alone truly deserve to be called rational.”

    St. Anthony of Padua

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    No, I shall not if you don’t mind. It is too close to my heart and not for public display. 

  • James

    No, karlf, you are the one spouting pure twaddle…This is a Catholic website and it is incredible how many commentators on here have scant knowledge of Catholicism, let alone Christian faith….
    God allowed rain to fall on the rich and poor alike….
    God helps the richer populations in just the same way that he helps the poorer populations…

    “The rich populations produced their own wealth, often off the backs of
    the poorer populations who also had adequate natural resources.”…ok, I don’t know where to start with this stupid statement….Inevitably, there were going to be some parts of the world which were less productive, and some people will end up poorer in material terms than others…this is just a fact of life and is not God’s negligence….unless you expected God to turn us all into robots…The crass stupidity of some comments on here is infuriating!

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    ” … scant knowledge of Catholicism, let alone Christian faith ..”.

    There’s a difference?

  • karlf

     I know just what you mean – it seems to transcend our earthly experience. I have always enjoyed such things.

  • karlf

     Oh well. Thanks anyway for letting me know they exist.

  • karlf

     “God helps the richer populations in just the same way that he helps the poorer populations” Helps them in what ways?

  • karlf

     Yes – I’d say a rational man would indeed avoid evil.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Good man! That’s a fair start. 

    But can he????? I mean on his own, without the help of Divine Grace. We say “no, he cannot”. 

    What say you?

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    I did it before (on a Telegraph blog) Karl and the result was some trolls posting wicked things and I decided I wouldn’t again. 

    You aren’t in that category, but once bitten, etc. 

    All I will say is that something happened in response to a prayer late one night in Moscow some years ago that left me awake and trembling (not with fear, but with awe) until morning. 

    As a result, I don’t think God exists, I KNOW He does (and no; I didn’t see him!). 

  • karlf

     I say he has the potential to do better than the religious man. By trying to explain and control our natural, animal behaviour using
    religious theories, such as ‘original sin’, religion only suppresses
    this behaviour rather than overriding it through true understanding.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    You’re already on the side of the angels. :-)

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Not suppressing it. Explaining it, yes.

    There’s nothing that can suppress it except Grace. 

    And we do need to subordinate our animal instincts, don’t we? The evil that flows from indulging them is plain to any sentient being. 

  • Peter

     Matt 25:31-46

  • JabbaPapa

    No, the trouble is to help others build a personal relationship with God — those talking about “have you met Jesus” are Protestants who have lost the plot of their own salvation.

    Most come to God through The Christ, but it is entirely possible to be chosen or to choose the Father, the Spirit, a Saint or some Saints, a Prophet, or simply just a friend or relative or husband or wife, for the focus of one’s relationship with The Eternal.

    We are God’s creatures — not He one of ours !!!

  • Peter

    CCC 1033 says:  “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from if if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren”

  • JabbaPapa


  • Meena

    The transcendental spiritual realm certainly exists and the music can demonstrate this, to some people. 

    But whether or not this is a consequence of your god’s existence is a wholly different matter. 

  • Peter

    Having a pet implies generosity to that creature, otherwise release it into the river and let it fend for itself.

  • JabbaPapa

    Does praying actually cause God to intervene in earthly matters?


    God’s Will causes Him to intervene in earthly matters.

    God is not your butler.

  • JabbaPapa

    God is not, in fact, a superhero.