Tag Archives: death judgement heaven hell

Praying for the dead, All Souls

My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the Lord. (Lamentations 3:17)
These words are put on our lips at the funeral liturgy. We understand these words at the depths of our being not only at the time of someone’s death, but for many, many days ahead in dealing with the loss of a loved one. Time without the decedent can seem ugly, deprived, and hopeless. The author of Lamentations has it right: life can be very bleak. This would indeed be desperate if these words were the only ones we heard and remembered.
This reading from Lamentations also says, My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Good is the Lord to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the Lord.

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Who’s in hell?

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a good day to think about last things. No?

Most reasonable Catholics would agree that we don’t hear too much about the 4 last things. For some this is a good thing; for me I lament the absence. But why do we always have to avoid the last things that are a natural part of the Divine Plan? Are we THAT afraid of God? Are we THAT skeptical about the promises of Jesus? Do we really lack hope? Perhaps we are too comfortable in being self-contained to care.

You know what the 4 last things are: death judgment, heaven and hell.  Preachers, Catholic school curricula and CCD programs and parents don’t often address the 4 last things in their respective venues. Why? Likely because there’s a perceptible allergy against an honest look at the human condition and the supreme justice and mercy of God. Also, about the fact that we can and often do, turn our backs on God and His promises. We’d rather think of “good things” or “nice things” about ourselves and others than sin and the possible ugly. OK. I don’t relish looking at my ugly side either. At the same time I want an honest assessment of my soul and to live in a reasonable hope of what may or may not come of my relationship with God. At last I knew, the only person conceived without sin is the Mary, the Mother of God. Plus, I would hate to think I am going to heaven (or purgatory) when I really merited hell.
In case you need a fast primer on the 4 last things, see these links. I’d also suggest closely reading Avery Cardinal Dulles’ essay “The Population of Hell,” found in Church and Society unless you can get it for free on the First Things website (but I’d recommend buying the book for all the other excellent essays!).

Not long ago a friend sent me a blog where the blogger talked about a recent homily of Canterbury’s Rowan Williams where he wonders if Henry VII is in hell. Good question. What do you think? The Archbishop’s homily can be read here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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