What is Easter? REV. JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J: Re-Blogged


What is Easter?


Easter Sunday this year falls on April Fools’ Day. A tradition exists about “Christ the Fool.” It probably originates from when Pilate sent Christ to see Herod. Herod was anxious to see him. See him do what? See him perform. He had heard much about this man and his miracles. So naturally the king wanted to see what Christ could do; he wanted a private show to entertain the court. In response, Christ was simply silent. Herod promptly sent him back to Pilate.

The Polish philosopher, Leszek Kolakowski, wrote of Christ the Jester. The famous “juggler of God” story was about the poor juggler who could do nothing much for the Lord as far as he knew. So in the quiet of a church, he did his act before the tabernacle as his offering to Christ. It was the best thing he could do. It was enough. To the wise Greeks, as St. Paul tells us, the whole aura around Christ’s death and resurrection seemed to be “foolishness.” And it is foolishness unless considerable evidence is found showing that something astonishing was in fact going on. This evidence is basically the testimony of the women and men who attested to the fact that Christ did rise again. This is the same Christ whose death on the Cross they had witnessed a few days before.

Easter was a surprise to the Apostles. Even though Christ had indicated to them that he would rise again on the third day, they still did not understand. Who can blame them? While there are some stories in Scripture about characters sent to heaven, to deny the reality of the Resurrection seems natural. Yet, no resurrection is possible unless a death has first taken place. Resurrection does not mean the “creation” of a new being from nothing, but the restoration of life to one who already had existed in this world. The Resurrection is depicted both as a final ending in death and as the beginning of eternal life. Indeed, what is most curious about the Resurrection is not so much its happening as thinking about how it happens.

This approach does not mean that the fact was not the initial impetus to the thinking. It does mean that such an event must be accounted for, must be made sense of. This “making sense” is where the thinking comes in. We are aware that, in the history of our civilization since Christ’s death and Resurrection in the days of Tiberius Caesar, an enormous amount of energy—popular, scientific, political, historical, and psychological—has gone into efforts to prove that this event either did not take place, or did not mean what Christians say it means, namely, that Christ, true God and true man, did live, die, and rise again.

Yet, the event makes sense. It contains a certain logic. Everyone would grant that, if Christ were not who he said he was, namely, the Son sent into the world at the behest of his Father, it would be senseless to take the Resurrection seriously. But everything follows if Christ is who he said he was. We are dealing here with something unique, something that is going to happen only once in our actual history. However, it does imply that this same resurrection is to happen to all human beings, good or bad, since that was the intention for them at their initial creation. The Resurrection of the body thus has about it something that connects each existing human person with the purpose of his own existence.

Why was Christ, the Word, sent by the Father? It was so that we might repent of our sins. Do we have sins to “repent”? This is a question of some importance. Generally speaking, the Greek discussions of virtue and vice combined with the Ten Commandments gave us a pretty good understanding of human frailty. Human beings before they reach their final intended glory are asked to indicate where they stand on these issues of virtues and commandments. During our lives, we are given second, third, and many chances to see the rightness or wrongness of what we in fact do.

This is why the Incarnation is viewed as a salvation or redemption. It recognizes that anyone can acknowledge sins and vices, but it is not easy. Moreover, such sins and vices do not involve only ourselves. Such is our importance and dignity that what we do concerns even the Godhead. After all, someone must forgive us. In effect, this designation of how sins were to be forgiven is the manifest purpose of the Incarnation. We were created to participate in the inner life of the Trinity. We live in a world in which all our sins concern others. Every day, we experience the consequences brought about by the disobedience of our first parents.

The Incarnation was designed to re-establish this initial relationship to God and the purpose of our individual creation. But there was one hitch. No one could be in God’s presence, could be his friend, who did not choose to be. It is the very nature of our being for us to choose what we shall be for eternity. By contemplating the meaning of Easter, we are addressing the truth that explains what we are and what we are doing in this life. The Easter event makes sense because we now know or realize just who this Christ is. He is who he claimed to be. The rise and fall of nations, however dramatic or fascinating, is not the purpose of our individual existence in any of these nations, rising or falling. What is important is how we live our lives, whenever or wherever we live. How do we live? What do we hold to be true?

In this light, Easter explains our destiny. Each one of us, whether good or bad, is to die and be restored to eternal life. What kind of eternal life we will rise to depends upon us, upon what we make of the “why” of our redemption. We sometimes think that it does not matter how we answer these questions. The fact is that it makes all the difference. We are given minds and graces to know the right answers. Not accepting the truth of our being, of our existence, is possible for us because we are free to reject what is true. We live in a time when we are asked, almost forced, to affirm intellectually, personally, and politically that many of our sins and vices are virtues and laws. We must take a stand against this trend.

What is Easter? It is the reminder that Christ is who he said he was. The reasons he was killed are the same reasons we are asked to affirm as true beliefs and practices that run counter to the virtues and the commandments. All things are not relative. We are still, more than ever, called fools for affirming the wisdom of the Cross and the Resurrection. So be it.

Every effort is still made today to prevent us from considering the central truth that Christ is who he said he was, that what he taught was what he intended to teach. He taught not only that the truth alone will set us free, but also that the truth abides in those who are disciples of Christ. The Roman governor, having received him back from his new friend Herod, once asked this man about to be crucified “What is truth?” When April Fools’ Day and Easter Sunday coincide, it is well to sort out just who is the fool, the man who was crucified but rose again or the Roman governor and those who sent this man to him. END QUOTES

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a detail from “The Resurrection of Christ” painted by Raffaellino del Garbo in 1505.

Tagged as Christ ResurrectionEasterLeszek KolakowskiTruth

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., taught political science at Georgetown University for many years. He is the author of The Mind That Is Catholicfrom Catholic University of America Press; Remembering Belloc from St. Augustine Press; and Reasonable Pleasures from Ignatius Press. His newest books include A Line Through the Human Heart: On Sinning and Being Forgiven (2016) and On the Principles of Taxing Beer and Other Brief Philosophical Essays (2017). His most recent books are Catholicism and Intelligence (Emmaus Road, 2017) and The Universe We Think In (CUA Press, 2018).


Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference?: today Mr James Akin addresses Indulgences


Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference?


For those of you who may not be familiar with Mr. Akin, he is an internationally known and respected Catholic Theologian, Author and Speaker.


James Akin

Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210

You’ve heard it many times: “Catholics used to believe in indulgences, but we do not believe in them today.” This statement is heard from the lips of many Catholics, even from some priests. It is said with mild embarrassment and a desire to close a chapter of Church history with which many Catholics feel uncomfortable.

Those who claim that indulgences are no longer part of Church teaching have the admirable desire to distance themselves from abuses that occurred around the time of the Protestant Reformation. They also want to remove stumbling blocks that prevent non-Catholics from taking a positive view of the Church. As admirable as these motives are, the claim that indulgences are not part of Church teaching today is false.

This proved by The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states, “An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins.” The Church does this not just to aid Christians, “but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity” (CCC 1478).

Indulgences are part of the Church’s infallible teaching. This means that no Catholic is at liberty to ignore or disbelieve in them. The Council of Trent stated that it “condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them.”[1] Trent’s anathema places indulgences in the realm of infallibly defined teaching.

This was not the first time an ecumenical council had discussed Indulgences—the first times was in 1415, when the Council of Constance affirmed the practice—but at Trent the doctrine was proclaimed infallibly for the first time.

The pious use of indulgences goes back centuries, far beyond the Council of Constance, into the early days of the Church. The principles underlying indulgences extend back into the Bible itself. Catholics who are uncomfortable with indulgences do not realize how biblical they are. The principles behind indulgences are as clear in Scripture as those behind more familiar doctrines, such as the Trinity.

Before looking at those principles more closely, we should define indulgences. In his apostolic constitution on indulgences, Pope Paul VI said: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as a minister of Redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions won by Christ and the saints.”[2]

This technical definition can be phrased more simply as, “An indulgence is what we receive when the Church lessens the temporal penalties to which we may be subject even though our sins have been forgiven.” To understand this definition, we need to look at the biblical principles behind indulgences.

Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210

End of Part Seven of 14                                                                       03/31/2018


2. <Indulgentarium Doctrina> 1.

3. The Latin terms for these liabilities are the <reatus culpae> and <reatus poena>.

4. See also Ephesians 5:26-27, Acts 22:16,1 Corinthians 6:11,1 John 1:7, and Revelation 7:13-14.

5. See also Matthew 12:36 and Romans 2:16.

6. See also Matthew 25:41, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and Revelation 14:11.

7. Scripture is filled with other examples of God sending temporal punishments on account of sin. See, for example, Genesis 4:9-12, Deuteronomy 28:58-61, and Isaiah 10:16.

8. See 2 Samuel 12:7-12 for a list.

9. Teaching on indulgences, Pope Paul VI’s stated, “The punishments with which we are concerned here are imposed by God’s judgment, which is just and merciful. The reasons for their imposition are that our souls need to be purified, the holiness of the moral order needs to be strengthened, and God’s glory must be restored to its full majesty” (<Indulgentariam Doctrina> 2).

10. Here confessors are not priests who hear confessions but those who confessed the Christian faith before the state during a persecution. Confessors, like martyrs, pleased God in a special way by holding to their faith at the risk of their lives.

11. This kind of argument, with the form “If X is the case then how much more likely is Y the case,” is called an <a fortiori> argument. <A fortiori> arguments were favorites of Jesus and Paul; see Matthew 7:11, 10:25, 12:12, Luke 11:13, 12:24, 28, Romans 11:12, 24, 1 Corinthians 6:3, and Hebrews 9:14.

12. <Indulgentarium Doctrina> 3.

13. The Old Testament sin sacrifices dealt only with the temporal expiation of sins, “for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away [the eternal punishment for] sins” (Heb. 10:4); see sidebar on expiation.

14. This is one reason the Church cannot simply “empty purgatory,” as Martin Luther suggested it should. Because it lacks jurisdiction, the Church can only <pray> for purgatory to be emptied, and it does.

15. Some parties may be one and the same person. The person who provides the basis for an indulgence may request one and apply it to another; the person who requests an indulgence may ask it for himself or someone else. The only limit is that under current canon law one may not obtain an indulgence for another living person (although it is possible to do so in principle, as the case of the early penitents shows).

16. These rewards are referred to metaphorically as “the treasury of merits.” A merit is anything that pleases God and moves him to issue a reward, not things that earn “payment” from God. Humans can’t earn anything from God, though by his grace they can please him in a way he chooses to reward. Picturing the saints’ acts under a single, collective metaphor (such as a treasury) is biblical: “It was granted her [the Bride] to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” (Rev. 19:8). John tells us, “[F]or the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Here the righteous deeds of the saints are pictured under the collective metaphor of clothing on the Bride of Christ, the Church. Jewish theology also recognizes a treasury of merits. Jewish theologians speak of “the merits of the fathers”—the idea being that the patriarchs pleased God and inherited certain promises as a reward. God fulfills these promises and ends up treating later Jews more gently than they would have been treated. The idea of “the merits of the fathers” is essentially the same as the Catholic concept of the “treasury of merits.” Both postulate a class of individuals, the Old Testament patriarchs on the one hand and Christ and the saints on the other, who have pleased God and whom God chooses to reward in a way involving lesser temporal punishments on others.

17. <Indulgentarium Doctrina> 11.

18. A plenary indulgence—difficult to obtain, because requiring perfect love for God and complete sorrow for sins—remits all temporal punishment due for sins; a partial indulgence remits only part of that punishment, with the exact amount being left indeterminate.

19. For example, it does not offend Christ for a fireman to pull a child out of a burning building. The idea of one human saving another from temporal misfortune does not besmirch Christ.

20. <Indulgentarium Doctrina>, 9, 11.

James Akin is a contributing editor to This Rock.

This article was taken from the November 1994 issue of “This Rock,” published by Catholic Answers, P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177, (619) 541-1131, $24.00 per year.


God Is Dead   by David Warren: Re-Blogged

If anyone is to “have a problem with” Christianity, Good Friday would be the day to resolve it. From different angles, and to different degrees, each pagan culture, including our own, comes up against a problem: men die. But here is a religion in which, at what must seem its key moment, “God is dead.”

A problem, one might say, in a human way, that Jesus Christ set for Himself. Notwithstanding the dark prayers in Gethsemane, or rather in light of them, He walked into his own Crucifixion with what we call open eyes. Being God as well as Man, He knew implicitly and explicitly how it must end.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” in this world, and in the extreme, it is impossible that the Man who embodies perfect goodness will not be executed. When and where might be open to discussion; the pretexts will be quite flexible; but the fate of the perfect saint is sealed from the beginning. So it has been with Christ’s martyrs through the centuries; and so it began with Christ himself.

Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum: “Jesus the Nazarene King of the Judaeans.” This was the charge nailed to the Cross, above Jesus himself, and in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, lest anyone mistake it. It was meant for mockery; but also as formality.

Note that He was “hanged” (on the Cross) not for claiming to be God. Then as now, that probably only got one put under restraint. No, the high crime and misdemeanor was in placing himself above the State; in presenting Himself as law-giver.

Whether from the Roman or from the rabbinical perspective, this was the highest treason. It could not be “walked back” with any words, such as “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” That would, given the rest of His doctrine, overheard even partly, be taken as facetious.

Jesus himself did not attempt a defense, and left poor Pontius Pilate (I can easily imagine the Roman governor feeling sorry for himself) at a loss. It is a strange, because commonplace, dialogue that Pilate is left having with himself. He sounds every inch the Ivy League, or Oxbridge graduate. Jesus has confuted him with His silence.

Pilate knows it: I have great sympathy for him. He is that (once again strange, because commonplace) combination of cynicism and decency. He’d very much like to let Jesus go. Turning to the mob for their opinion was, however, the wrong way to do this; democracy always fails in the pinch.

That indeed could be construed from Christ’s own teaching, which does not overlook original sin. Left to their own judgment, men will always take counsel among themselves; and having taken counsel, they will elect to kill you. Do not look for mercy from humankind. They’d have killed Barabbas, too, if Pilate had given them the “both” or “neither” options.


Jesus Christ must die, not because he is the Son of God – that they may only find out later – but because He is an affront to the State; to the duly constituted order of things; and to the pride of all men who would be their own masters.

He has insulted Power. To the ancient pagan mind, more sophisticated than ours in some ways, less so in others, He could still beat the charge. If, as He claimed, He was God’s proxy, He had only to summon the legions from Heaven. Angelic warriors could, presumably, make short work of them all.

Hence the taunts to this man, suspended on the Cross. Notice that while they deny Christ, they do not deny God. Even among the polytheists of that era, as among Hindus and others to this day, the notion of many deities is not in conflict with that of some Vishnu, or “supreme soul.” This “ultimate” seems hard-wired in us, like the propensities to food and language.

In common speech, then as now, “God” could be evoked without qualification. Even the more obnoxious atheists mention “God,” quite obsessively I’ve noticed, for even they cannot escape the mysterious focus. They must renew the denial every morning, lest they slip.

“The problem with that” – with the Christian revelation – is that it becomes a little too clear about the attributes of God. It was, for that matter, a criticism also hurled at the ancient Dvaita (“dualist,” but not in our Western sense) school of the Vedanta. By separating out what is “Godly” from what is “creaturely,” they were getting too specific about God.

That is inconvenient. We humans would rather have a God who can be anything we want “it” to be; one which will not too much impose “its” values on ours; one who doesn’t get so personal. Let us, by all means, worship this “force,” and ask it to be with us, but not if the messaging goes both ways.

Christ, to the ancients, as to our neo-pagan selves, is the worst kind of God imaginable. One can understand wanting to kill Him, finally, just for being what He Is; and for coming to save us, finally, from ourselves; for bothering our conscience (also somehow hard-wired), and bothering it the more, the closer He approaches.

Here, for instance, is a problem: Who killed Christ?

We did. Every Christian learns this in his heart, or must spend his life learning it. Of course, we’d rather blame the Jews, or the Romans, or “the times,” or anything else that we could damn and punish. But nothing else works. For even if it is true that others participated, insofar as we are human, we were also there, and the words, “Crucify him!” came from our own lips.

In the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass, we acknowledge this; in the Confession of our sins, we recall the many occasions in which we caught ourselves out, denying the Christ; and in mortal sin it goes farther, for we kill Him again. END QUOTES


*Image: What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix) by J.J. Tissot, c. 1890 [Brooklyn Museum]

David Warren

David Warren

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: davidwarrenonline.com.

Start of Part Six of 14 Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference: by Patrick Miron

Start of Part Six of 14

Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference

In this section we will discuss Temporal Punishment and Indulgences; Both controversial topics in the Christian community so I will rely on the experts to share and explain our beliefs here

TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT. The penalty that God in his justice inflicts either on earth or in Purgatory for sins, even though already forgiven as to guilt End QUOTES Father Hardon’s Dictionary

Why does GOD choose to do this?

We discussed earlier that God must in an absolute sense be “fair” and “just”; this is particularly true in God –man- relations. It is exactly these Divine attributes that cause God to attach a penalty [Temporal Punishment] to all sins.

Sin is personal affront, an attack on God’s Sovereignty. Sin tells God that we don’t love Him; that we don’t respect Him. God recognizes these challenges for what they are; an obstinate refusal of His offer of Graces which could help us choose not to sin. Therefore He chooses to penalize all sins with an imposed debt; Temporal Punishment; that He directly attaches to all sins, and He alone monitors any repayment to the “TP” debt that He, God does apply. God permits His Church to offer repayments, in part or it total, [through Indulgences] [*****] when very precise and specific conditions are fully met.  … Even if the formula for repayment is accomplished; God alone knows if He accepts partial or full repayment which is dependent on the precise fulfillment of the conditions AND the worthiness of those actions in light of our degree of sincerity and our intent and humility which God alone can judge.

How, or even “IF” God somehow works “TP” out for Protestants is beyond my “pay grade.” We can be certain though, that God in fairness, must charge those outside the CC with this same debt. After all, all humanity is equally gifted with a mind, intellect and freewill. So I will continue this Lesson in the vein of a Catholic Discussion

I am personally VERY uncomfortable saying that GOD “Can’t”, “doesn’t”, “Couldn’t” or “Will not” judge Protestants differently; BUT I suspect that He will not particularly in regard to “TP.”

New Testament [Purgatory] The Catholic Encyclopedia


There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) {[Page 110] CANON XII.–If any one saith, that God always remits the whole punishment together with the guilt, and that the satisfaction of penitents is no other than the faith whereby they apprehend that Christ has satisfied for them; let him be anathema….TRENT Secession 14 Canon #11 inserted} these words prove that in the next life “some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire.” St. Augustine also argues “that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come” (City of God XXI.24). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers.

A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

“For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.”

Temporal punishment

**That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of ScriptureGod indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wisdom 10:2), but still condemned him “to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow” until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the “land of promise” (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God’s enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In the New Testament as well as in the Oldalmsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8Luke 17:33:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent(Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.

Council of TRENT; secession #14 canon  #12 & #13

CANON XII.–If any one saith, that God always remits the whole punishment together with the guilt, and that the satisfaction of penitents is no other than the faith whereby they apprehend (f) that Christ has satisfied for them; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.–If any one saith, that satisfaction for sins, as to their temporal punishment, is nowise made to God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, by the punishments inflicted by Him, and patiently borne, or by those enjoined by the priest, nor even by those voluntarily undertaken, as by fastings, prayers, almsdeeds, or by other works also of piety; and that, therefore, the best penance is merely a new life; let him be anathema END QUOTE

End of Part Six of 14                               03/30/2018

Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference Start Part Five of 14: by Patrick Miron

Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference

Start Part Five of 14

WHY MUST Purgatory exist?  … Divine Justice.

1Tim.2: 3 -4 “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is to be understood as YOU needing to align with this teaching.

Isaiah 43: verses 7 & 21[7] And every one that calleth upon my name, I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, and made him. & [21] This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise..

These passages I have shared many times, in many lessons. But today I would like to cull a few more passages from this same book and chapter.

[8] Bring forth the people that are blind, and have eyes: that are deaf, and have ears.

[22] But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob, neither hast thou labored about me, O Israel.

[25] I am he that blot out thy iniquities for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins.

And then came Christ and the world, and the world would be forever changed.

Luke.9:23 “And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke.14: 27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Matt 28: 18-20[18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power [**] is given to me in heaven and in earth. [19] Going therefore, teach YOU all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have commanded YOU: and behold I am with YOU all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Douay Bible explanation [**]18All power”: See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s church. He received from his Father all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power, he sends them (even as his Father sent him, St. John 20. 21) to teach and disciple, not one, but all nations; and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, not for three or four hundred years only, but all days, even to the consummation of the world. …. END QUOTES

Some bible teachings seem easy to grasp and accept; others are more difficult; and some seem impossible, but none are pliable. Why do you suppose this is? It is because the practice of religion is often termed “one’s faith”, precisely because that is God’s desire and goal; that even through difficulties or at least confusing teachings; our faith may/ might /could/ can] increase by FAITH, through Hope and In Love.

When a human Soul dies it has three possible destinations:

Heaven: for a Soul to attain heaven it must literally be “perfect”; which is to say: have [1] No unconfessed /unforgiven Mortal sin; [2] no unremitted Venial sins; [3] and no Debt of the unpaid punishment of Temporal Punishment for past sins.

Matt.5: 48 “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Hell: [1] Unrepented denial of God is self-condemnation to Eternal Hell [2] Dying with unforgiven, unconfessed Mortal sin [NOT “in the State of God’s Grace”]; too is self-condemnation for eternity. [3] For a sin to be a Mortal sin; as the NORM, three conditions must exist [I have previously discussed “Intrinsic Evils” which are nearly-always a Mortal sin] 1 Serious Matter: if one were to ask a group of 10 Informed and Practicing Catholics IF such and such an act is a Mortal sin and more than half agree that it is or  it is not; that likely would qualify As a “serious matter” [if in doubt discuss it with your confessor-priest] 2 It must be known that doing this act will be a Mortal Sin before one chooses to sin that way [***] 3 then one must freely DESIRE to commit that sin; even if one is for some reason is able to do so….Desire to do so is the same as actually committing the act.

 #2[***] except of course for unforgiven, unconfessed Intrinsic Evil Sins

Purgatory; WHY does it;  WHY Must it exist?

Purgatory is a direct and precisely clear manifestation of God’s Mercy. Consider this. [1] Because only those human Souls, all of which retain their human Rationality [Mind intellect and freewill] which are already & truly PERFECT can ascend directly into heaven, and only those human Souls that die outside of God’s grace are self-condemned to eternal Hell which still leaves a great many human Souls that are neither perfect; yet remain in a mysterious manner, “in God’s graces”; and in Divine Justice are neither fit for heaven or justly suited for eternal hell. So WHAT does an All Powerful God; a God of fairness and Justice; a God of Mercy and Love do? …. Right; He creates Purgatory.

PURGATORY. The place or condition in which the souls of the just are purified after death and before they can enter heaven. They may be purified of the guilt of their venial sins, as in this life, by an act of contrition deriving from charity and performed with the help of grace. This sorrow does not, however, affect the punishment for sins, because in the next world there is no longer any possibility of merit. The souls are certainly purified by atoning for the temporal punishments due to sin by their willing acceptance of suffering imposed by God. The sufferings in purgatory are not the same for all, but proportioned to each person’s degree of sinfulness. Moreover, these sufferings can be lessened in duration and intensity through the prayers and good works of the faithful on earth. Nor are the pains incompatible with great peace and joy, since the poor souls deeply love God and are sure they will reach heaven. … End Quotes Father Hardon’s Dictionary

Purgatory has its Biblical roots in the Old Testament 2nd Book of Maccabees chapter 12: [41] Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. [42] And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. [43] And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, [44] (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) [45] And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

[45] “With godliness”: Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death.

[46] It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” [****]

[****] It can be safely assumed that Luther choose to delete the Maccabee’s books {dates from 124 BC} for this precise teaching; and how it would “muddy the waters” of his NEWLY invented- moral teachings.

Given MY lack of theological and philosophical training; I have in the past summed Purgatory up as being a sort of Spiritual Soul-Wash.

Protestants might feel a bit isolated by not knowing our next topic; although that is neither my hope nor desire. The “Four Last things” Death, Judgment, Hell of Heaven; are rarely taught any more [POST Vatican II].  But you’re in luck; I predate Vatican II which ended in 1965, and Truth remains Truth even over time.

End Part Five of 14

Start Part Five of 14              03/28/2018 Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference: by Patrick Miron

Start Part Five of 14             03/28/2018

Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference

WHAT is sin?

Father Hardon presents the answer.

SIN. “A word, deed or desire in opposition to the eternal law” (St. Augustine). Sin is a deliberate transgression of a law of God, which identifies the four essentials of every sin. [1] A law is involved, implying that there are physical laws that operate with necessity, and moral laws that can be disregarded by human beings. [2] God is offended, so that the divine dimension is never absent from any sin. [3] Sin is a transgression, since Catholicism holds that grace is resistible and the divine will can be disobeyed. And the [4] transgression is deliberate, which means that a sin is committed whenever a person knows that something is contrary to the law of God and then freely does the action anyway… End Quotes

Hmmmm,; while I don’t disagree with this definition; I do nevertheless find it lacking in the fullness necessary for OUR present lesson. Father is actually addressing Mortal sins; not “all sin.” There are sin’s that each and every time they are committed; things God has “written on every human heart” [Heb. 10:16] as being grossly sinful. Things like Murder, Abortion, Adultery, slander, gross-envy, lying, Gossip that is demeaning another; and more, that every human Soul ought to know as Evils and hence attacking God’s Sovereignty; termed “Intrinsic Evils”; additionally there are what we might term “spur-of-the-moment” sin’s like cussing, momentarily-eye-lust, fleeting envy and the like that are too sins, though not premeditated, and most often NOT “mortal sin’s.”

What are we to know about sin?

1 That it is a direct offence against our God

2 Sin attacks God’s Sovereignty [the right to BE our God and Demand certain behaviors and disciplines.] 

3 Sin affects US, but not God who is “Perfect” and cannot be made less or more so.

4 All “sins” are not equal. … God in order to BE God cannot fairly Judge all of our sins as being worthy of equal punishment. [Which is one of the reasons Purgatory has to exist.]

The Church then in order to make this evident has created theological terms to “bring home” what the bible teaches in 1 John 5: 16-17, which we have shared earlier. There are two broad categories of sin: Venial [lesser] and Mortal] Grave & Serious sins.

5 ALL sins accrue a Moral Debt to God whom they OFFEND which is imposed and monitored by Christ Himself. This is TRUE even of sins Confessed and Forgiven. This is a DEBT is unrecognized; unknown or denied by the Protestant community. Theologians have termed this Debt; “The Temporal Punishment” that ALL sins accrue.

What are we to know about God?

God is:

1 God is and can only be “Good.” Hence God must be “Fair” AND “Just.” God CAN do any and only “good thing.” Permitting humanity to freely choose evil is itself a “good-thing” because in doing so; God is Glorified and we could have chosen the good and therefore be sanctified [graced].

2 God is Perfect [unable to error] and in emulation of God, Soul’s must be perfect to attain the Beatific Vision

3 God is: OMNIPOTENCE. The almighty power of God. He can do whatever does not deny his nature or that is not self-contradictory. Since God is infinite in being, he must also be infinite in power. (Etym. Latin omnis, all + potentia, power: omnipotens, all-powerful.) Father Hardon’s Dictionary

4 God is OMNISCIENCE. God’s knowledge of all things. Revelation discloses that the wisdom of God is without measure (Psalm 146:5). And the Church teaches that his knowledge is infinite.

The primary object of divine cognition is God himself, whom he knows immediately, that is, without any medium by which he apprehends his nature.

The secondary objects of divine knowledge are everything else, namely the purely possible, the real, and the conditionally future. He knows all that is merely possible by what is called the knowledge of simple intelligence. This means that, in comprehending his infinite imitability and his omnipotence, God knows therein the whole sphere of the possible.

He knows all real things in the past, present, and the future by his knowledge of vision. When God, in his self-consciousness, beholds his infinite operative power, he knows therein all that he, as the main effective cause, actually comprehends, i.e., all reality. The difference between past, present, and future does not exist for the divine knowledge, since for God all is simultaneously present.

By the same knowledge of vision, God also foresees the future free acts of the rational creatures with infallible certainty. As taught by the Church, “All things are naked and open to His eyes, even those things that will happen through the free actions of creatures” (Denzinger 3003). The future free actions foreseen by God follow infallibly not because God substitutes his will for the free wills of his creatures but because he does not interfere with the freedom that he foresees creatures will exercise. (Etym. Latin omnis, all + scire, to know.) Fr. Hardon’s Dictionary.

4 Because God is all of the above; in an absolute sense Purgatory MUST exist.

END Part Five                      03/28/2018

Wisdom Shared: a Reblogged article of merit

On the Absurd Stumbling Block

The brief “reading” for the midday Office on Tuesday of Holy Week is taken from 1 Corinthians 1, the famous passage that reads: “The Jews demand ‘signs’ and the Greeks look for ‘wisdom’, but we preach Christ crucified – a stumbling block to the Jews and an absurdity to the Gentiles.”

Christ was not entirely averse to giving “signs.” He gave quite a few, in fact. Greek “wisdom,” moreover, was not to be disdained either. A whole book in the Bible is named “the Book of Wisdom.” Paul was sent, immediately, not to India, China, or Africa but to Macedonia, the home of Aristotle and Greek wisdom.

What was the problem here? At the Crucifixion, the mockers shouted to Christ to come down from the Cross and they would believe. But would many of them have believed if He did come down?” Probably not. What precisely was this “stumbling block” that the Crucifixion presented? Why was it an obstacle?

Evidently, the Via Crucis was not the way that the Messiah ought to have come – in majesty and power. He raised no armies, accepted no civil authority. Therefore, He was not the long-awaited Messiah.

Why did the Crucifixion appear so “absurd” and “foolish” to the wise Greeks? Paul tells us that to those Jews and Greeks who did believe, those who were “called” in other words, Christ was both the “power” and “wisdom” of God. If this latter is true, the Crucifixion itself, for all its hapless horror, contained the reason why the path to human redemption led through betrayal, false accusations, Pilate’s “truth,” and the High Priests’ plottings.

Jews did not execute by crucifixion. They tended to use stoning. The Romans really did not want to be involved in this whole mess of what was an intra-Jewish squabble. They used crucifixion as the final deterrent, a death everyone knew was horrible. Avoid it at all costs! Yet, here they were – stuck with, conned into something that seemed to be against their own renowned law.

The Crucifixion took place in Jerusalem under the procedure of Roman Law at the instigation of contemporary Jewish authorities. Tiberius was the Caesar. But the Crucifixion was also under divine law. What does that mean? It means, as St. Basil says in the Second Reading of this same day, that we are observing a “plan” being worked out.


First, we must realize just “who” it was who was being crucified. It was a man all right, but a man who was the Logos, the Word made flesh. He is being “obedient” to the will of His Father. The Word evidently does not concoct this “plan.” The Father does.

Surely, this Father could have come up with a better “plan”? The Romans and the Jews would have accepted power. The Greeks would have been delighted to see how this “plan” through suffering made sense. Yet if we recall the great teaching of Aeschylus, that “man learns by suffering,” maybe it did make sense when spelled out. Maybe this relationship is why Paul was sent to Macedonia.

What was the Father’s problem with the human race anyhow? They had rejected the initial offer in the Garden whereby they should not taste death. How was the Father to counter this rejection without showing overwhelming power or forcing men to be free?

The Father, as it were, had to come up with a counter plan for mankind that left them free, but also one that would make clear to them that the Crucifixion was the result of their sins. They were to be redeemed by someone else, a divine Person, no less, taking their place.

Since we are created free, we cannot accept God’s plan for us until and unless we choose to accept it. In other words, no one is saved who does not himself want to be saved. This fact means that no one is saved automatically or in spite of himself.

Christ, as Paul said, is both the “power” and the “wisdom” of God to those who accept the plan of salvation through suffering, the suffering of Christ on the Cross.

What does that mean on the human side? It means initially that, even in such a serious issue as our own redemption, we are left free to accept God’s invitation or to reject it. If we were forced to accept it, so that all human beings would be saved, salvation would not be worth our time. It would have no real relation to us as the kind of beings that we actually are.

In the end, the stumbling block to the Jews and the foolishness to the Greeks is the wisdom of God. It can be made evident both to the Jews and the Gentiles and even, as Isaiah says in the first reading at Mass, to those at “the ends of the Earth.” END QUOTES


Part Three of 14 Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference? by Patrick Miron


Part Three of 14

Does having a Hell, Heaven, Purgatory and Limbo Make any difference?

In Divine Justice, the absolute necessity of Purgatory, a term like “Bible” itself are recent terms not actually found in the bible, yet their teaching and beliefs are.

One cannot comprehend the Divine necessity of Purgatory without first gaining some insight into the very Nature of God, and the nature of sin itself.

I confess at the start of this third part; that I am sadly aware that no amount of logic; no amount of evidence will likely sway, or make right understanding possible for those Christians who have brought into the 16th Century innovative teachings of Luther, Calvin and Wycliffe and there many disciples; I PRAY; not to the detriment of their personal salvation. Presuming that the centuries old Holy Spirit guided; Jesus Personally Protected as evidenced in [John 17:19-20], teaches that today’s  Roman Catholic Church is literally, directly, precisely and exclusively], Bible articulated and commanded to spread worldwide, ALL” that Christ had taught them. [Mt 28:18-20]. Catholics are the first teachers and the only teachers that are God commanded and protected to share the Fullness of His Faith.

Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

PURGATORY. The place or condition in which the souls of the just are purified after death and before they can enter heaven. They may be purified of the guilt of their venial sins, as in this life, by an act of contrition deriving from charity and performed with the help of grace. … The souls are certainly purified by atoning for the temporal punishments due to sin by their willing acceptance of suffering imposed by God. The sufferings in purgatory are not the same for all, but proportioned to each person’s degree of sinfulness. Moreover, these sufferings can be lessened in duration and intensity through the prayers and good works of the faithful on earth. Nor are the pains incompatible with great peace and joy, since the poor souls deeply love God and are sure they will reach heaven. As members of the Church Suffering, the souls in purgatory can intercede for the persons on earth, who are therefore encouraged to invoke their aid…. END QUOTE

Father; defining; not teaching, does not touch here on the absolute need for Purgatory because of God’s Divine Will that “All Souls be saved: and Divine Justice which must also be considered. This will be my task in this teaching Lesson. … 1Tim.2:4 “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the [singular per defined issue] truth.”

Lev.22: 21 “And when any one offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, to fulfil a vow or as a freewill offering, from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it”

Rev.21: 27 “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Matt.5:26 “truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

Matt.5: 48 “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Heb.2:10 “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

1Cor.3: 13 – 14 “each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.”

Rev.21:27 “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

It’s interesting what one CAN find in the bible when one is looking for it. And lest I be accused of only looking for it with “catholic eyes”; let’s jump right in to exactly WHY Purgatory has to, in Divine Justice exist.

In this discussion one must have a understanding of God’s Nature as well as a fuller understanding of the nature of Sin.

Sin can be briefly described as any offence against God.

Divine Justice as well as the Bible teaches us that God separates our sins into two broad categories. Greater and Lesser; or in Catholic Theologian terminology: Venial- sins {lesser} and Mortal Sins{greater}; sin sufficiently evil in God’s view to cause a separation; a break in in ones relationship with Him until true-contrition and a firm purpose of amendment are evidenced. What precisely do these terms mean?

Father Hardon’s Dictionary: ….CONTRITION. The act or virtue of sorrow for one’s sins. {Firm purpose of amendment}The virtue of contrition is a permanent disposition of soul. However, only an act of contrition is required for the remission of sin, whether with or without sacramental absolution.

The act of contrition is a free decision involving a detestation of and grief for sins committed and also a determination not to sin again. This detestation is an act of the will that aims at past sinful thoughts, words, deeds, or omissions. In practice it means that a sinner must retract his past sins, equivalently saying he wished he had not committed them. The grief for sins is also an act of the will directed at the state of greater or less estrangement from God that results from sinful actions. Concretely, it means the desire to regain the divine friendship, either lost or injured by sin. There must also be a determination not to sin again, which is an act of the will resolving to avoid the sins committed and take the necessary means to overcome them.

Four qualities permeate a genuine act of contrition and affect all three constituents of the act, the detestation, the grief, and the determination not to sin again. A valid contrition is internal, supernatural, universal, and sovereign.

Contrition is internal when it is sincere and proceeds from the will, when it is not the result of a mere passing mood or emotional experience. It is supernatural when inspired by actual grace and based on a motive accepted on faith. It is universal when the sorrow extends to all mortal sins, and for valid sacramental absolution there must be sorrow for whatever sins are confessed …. END QUOTES

The Protestant idea of Substitutory-Salvation; a recent 16th Century invention has always interested ME, as it has to deny the [1] bible, [2] Divine Justice, and [3]and a right understanding of Sin. So let’s further investigate these three elements.

[1] The Bible

1John.1: 8 – 9 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”



Ver. 9.—If we confess. S. John here suggests a remedy for sin, namely, its sincere acknowledgment, and humble confession, and penance, for by this is the Blood of Christ applied to us, to cleanse us from it. But what is the kind of confession which he requires? a general confession made to God, or a special confession to a Priest?… St. John seems to require both of those, a general confession for lighter sins, special confession for grave ones. Mortal sins must be confessed, not only to God, but to the Priest, who has power to forgive (John xx. 23). See Bellarmine, de Pænit. i. 13, iii. 4. As S. Cyprian says (Serm. de Lapsis). “in this way do they remove the burden of their mind, and seek for a salutary remedy for such small and slight wounds.” And Tertullian (de Pænit. ch. 3) says, “Confession removes the burden of sins, just as concealment adds to it.” He then sets forth the acts of penance; as sackcloth and ashes, simple food, frequent fasts, tears and sighs, &c. As S. Chrysostom briefly says, “Penitence is contrition of heart, confession with the lips, and humility in every act.” End quotes.  That was then in the early Church. Not

Our Catrchism: #1491 “The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest’s absolution. The penitent’s acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation

Also termed: Contrition; Confession and Satisfaction

One must be truly Sorry; Confess at least all Mortal sins in kind and quantity and complete the given “penance” before the graces and effects of this sacrament are made manifest.

1John.5: 16 – 17 “If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; {unto spiritual death}I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is {also} sin which is not mortal.”

John.20: 19 – 23 “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” {This entire teaching is to be understood literally} And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy SpiritIf YOU forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if YOU retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  {Dear friends this TEACHING is included in the Bible because the Holy Spirit demanded it be there}.

While there continues to be for the past 500 years, an active- ungoing discussion of Matt 16 and the term “ROCK” which in Aramaic; the language Jesus Spoke, the term Peter has ONLY one definition = “Rock”; I wonder at times if perhaps this debate is not a deflection of verse #19? Which is 1.  Direct to the Apostles 2. Precise & specific 3. Absolutely exclusive?  … [19] And I will give to YOU the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever YOU shalt BIND upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever YOU shalt LOOSE upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”  [This passage has two meanings: 1. Full authority to make and cancel Church Laws; 2. The Power and Authority to forgive or Hold sins as conditionally not forgiven Sacramentally.]

I can understand how some pastors, can and do seem to ignore these Jesus teachings as being to explicit and profound, or perhaps just too confusing to explain; but am amazed that the bible reading church members don’t insist on an explanation; unless perhaps they are blocked from right understanding? Personally I have never head the Protestant explanation for them. These teachings are Holy Spirit Inspired, [1 Tim 3:16-17] so one can be assured that God intended them to be in His Bible for His specific purpose.

END Part Four of 14                           03/27/2018

The Dark Night and the Cross VERONICA ARNTZ: Re-Blogged


The Dark Night and the Cross


Perhaps the most haunting words of the Sacred Scriptures are the following from Jesus as he was dying on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Matt 27:46; Ps 22:2, RSV2CE). These words may startle and surprise us—how can Jesus who is perfectly united with the Father say something that sounds like despair? Did not Jesus know the Father was always with Him?

Indeed, in these words, we find not despair, but the expression of the soul experiencing the dark night. Christ said these words for all of us, so that we can unite ourselves with Him on the Cross when we are experiencing a dark night in our spiritual lives, when we feel entirely abandoned by God, even though we know that He is present with us.

Union of the Father and the Son

From the Sacred Scriptures, we know that the Father and the Son are perfectly united. In Psalm 2:7, we read, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.” These words are interpreted in reference to Christ, who is the only begotten Son of the Father, indicating that the Father and Son are united through filial relation. Second, in Christ’s High Priestly prayer from John 17, he expresses the idea that his mission, given to him by the Father, has been fulfilled. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made” (John 17:4-5). Moreover, he prays three times for unity among the people that they might be one as he and the Father are one. “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:20-21). He prays that those to whom the Apostles will preach might be one with those who believe, that all might be one with the Father and the Son.

A final example of the unity of the Father and the Son, which we will investigate, is his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, while his soul was sorrowful, even unto death (Matt 26:38). “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). In these words, Jesus expresses his human fear of his impending Passion and Death, but his will is so perfectly united with the Father that he does not will anything other than what the Father wills.

How, then, are we to understand the words of Jesus on the Cross—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Indeed, given the Scriptures citations above, we cannot interpret it to mean that Jesus was despairing in the union between himself and the Father. Rather, he was expressing the deepest human loneliness: the feeling of being separated from God. Even though Christ himself was perfectly united with the Father, in his humanity, he was expressing the loneliness of man when he feels separated from God. Christ chose to enter into that suffering so that, when we experience that loneliness in the crosses we carry, we might be able to turn to him and ask for him to remain with us in our sorrow. Christ’s love for men is so profound that he experienced the depths of human loneliness and suffering for our sake, even though he knew no sin (2 Cor 5:21).

The Dark Night and the Spiritual Life

What does it mean for us, when we are in the dark night of the senses or the soul, that Christ has first entered into our sufferings? According to the great spiritual writers, particularly St. John of the Cross, the dark night of the senses occurs when we no longer experience sensible consolations, but deeply desire for a prayer that allows us simply to “dwell” with God. To undergo this purgation of the senses, we must detach ourselves from our vices, bad habits, and the sensible things that are attractive to us. This process might be long, and it could be lonely, because we no longer experience the consolations that we once did. God desires this detachment for us because, while it may seem that our spiritual life is dry, we are actually becoming more attached to Him rather than the consolations He gave to us in the beginning of our spiritual journey. We may feel like Christ on the Cross—that God has forsaken us and forgotten us in our misery. But, we should recall that, just as the Son and the Father are always one, so too is God truly with us, even when we do not feel his presence directly.

The one who has passed from the beginning stage of prayer into that of proficient, after experiencing the dark night of the senses, must undergo the dark night of the soul in order to enter into the way of the perfect. In the dark night of the soul, not only are the sensible consolations removed, but also “the supernatural lights on the mysteries of salvation, of its ardent desires, of that facility in action, in preaching and in teaching, in which it had felt a secret pride and complacency…. This is a period of extreme aridity” (Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life; available online here).

These souls perhaps feel most keenly what Christ felt on the Cross. Because they are being purged of all their pride and attachments, even attachment to spiritual goods, they will feel most detached from God and separated from him—they will truly feel forsaken. In these moments, these souls can enter into the suffering that Christ experienced on the Cross, and take refuge in the immense love that he had for us. Moreover, like St. Teresa of Calcutta, these souls can follow in her imitation and remain faithful to daily duties and prayer despite long periods of aridity and feeling abandoned by God.


The path described above is the normative way to holiness, which means that all souls are called to be purged in their senses and their souls to attain holiness. Each of us is at a different point in the spiritual life. As we come closer to Holy Week, let us consider our particular attachments. What things are preventing us from uniting ourselves completely to Christ? Are we holding onto sins or material goods, such that we cannot be united with Christ as the Father and Son are one? Are we experiencing the loneliness that Christ did on the Cross?

Wherever we are in the spiritual life, let us recall the great sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross to die for our sins, and let us unite ourselves with him in his suffering and pain—he will grant us the grace to endure the dark nights, and he will ultimately bless us with his abundant joy (John 10:10). END QUOTES

By Veronica Arntz

Veronica Arntz graduated from Wyoming Catholic College with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, which included courses in humanities, philosophy, theology, and Latin, among others, using the Great Books of Western thought. The title of her senior thesis was, “Communio Personarum Meets Communionis Sacramentum: The Cosmological Connection of Family and Liturgy.” She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology from the Augustine Institute.