Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Who to believe about mortal sin: Our Lady or Jimmy Akin?
Father Joseph Pelletier, A.A., was a native of Winchendon, Massachusetts. And he served the Church at a time when most priests were still reminding the souls entrusted to their care about the reality of hell and that mortal sins, unrepented of, render a soul incapable of eternal life.
Back then, most Catholics knew and accepted God's Holy Word: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10).
Although the Catechism of the Catholic Church assures us that, "Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the 'eternal punishment' of sin," (CCC, 1472), many today - priests, religious and laity - would have us believe that mortal sin is rare. For example, James Akin makes that case here. But if all, or most souls, are saved, how do we explain the Scriptures? When the Son of Man began His public ministry, He did so with the word "repent" (Matthew 4:17). And He advised the woman caught in adultery to "sin no more" (John 8:11). Likewise, in the case of the man cured at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus advised him to "sin no more lest something worse befall thee" (John 5:14). When queried on the subject of how many would be saved, Jesus replied "few" because the "gate" to Heaven is "narrow" (Matthew 7:13-14). And while no one can pinpoint the precise meaning of the word "few," still, it is sobering that Jesus chose the image of a narrow gate.
Jesus is likened in the gospel to a stern master who has lazy servants flogged and murderous ones put to death (Matthew 21:41; Luke 12:47). And while it is true that Jesus is Mercy, He is also Justice. And for every parable illustrative of His mercy, there are three or four threatening divine retribution. Someone just accused me of being "too negative" for reminding others of this fact. But I didn't start a Blog to be popular. I prefer the friendship of Christ to that of the world.
The Judgment Day is always described as a day of wrath and never as a day of rejoicing (Proverbs 11:4; Zephaniah 1:15; Sirach 5:10; Romans 2:5; Revelation 6:17). Why is this? If everyone (or even a large segment of mankind) is headed for Heaven, why does Sacred Scripture refer to the Judgment Day as a day of wrath?
The smug, self-satisfied "we-are-all-saved-already" attitude found in so many Catholic parishes is the result of the sin of presumption. Because there are priests who are betraying Jesus by refusing to preach on the reality of sin and the reality of Hell, a spiritual dry-rot has infected much of the Church. This is why nearly everyone receives Holy Communion at Mass but nearly no one goes to Confession.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about presumption: "There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit)." (CCC, 2092).
The words of Sacred Scripture remind us that such an attitude is very, very wrong: "Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not:' Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.' For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath." (Sirach 5:5-7).
Back to Fr. Joseph Pelletier, the Assumptionist priest who remained faithful to God's Holy Word. In his book entitled The Sun Danced at Fatima, he vividly describes one of the visits of Our Lady to the three children when she said, "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and repeat often, especially whenever you make a sacrifice for them: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary." Fr. Pelletier continues, "Then, as she utters these last words, she opens her graceful hands in that same gesture that recalls the Dominus vobiscum of the Mass. Almost immediately Lucia utters a cry of horror...For, as the Lady parts her hands, beams of reflected light radiate from them and seem to penetrate the earth. And the abyss of hell is unveiled before the children's horrified eyes. They observe an immense sea of fire which appears to be under the earth. Immersed in the fire are the devils or fallen angels and the souls of damned human beings. The two categories of individuals are easily distinguishable. The souls have a human form whereas the demons appear in the terrifying and loathsome forms of horrible, unknown animals. But both the devils and the souls are transparent and black or bronze-colored, like live embers. Floating and tossed about in the conflagration by the flames which issue from them with clouds of smoke, they fall about on all sides without weight or balance, as sparks do in a great fire. All the while they emit shrieks and groans of pain and despair which horrify the children and cause them to tremble with fear....It is fortunate that this vision lasts but a moment and that the Lady has prepared the children for it by her promise to take them to heaven, for otherwise Lucia believes they would have died of fright....The Lady reads their silent question and there is much tenderness and sorrow in her voice as she replies: 'You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people will do what I shall tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace..'" Our Lady promised the Fatima seers that, if people did what she would tell them, many souls would be saved. But, if mortal sin is as rare as Jimmy Akin and others would have us believe, what would these souls be saved from? Venial sin does not merit hell. Only mortal sin. There is an effort today to contradict the Fatima message and even to suppress it altogether. And this too is a preparation for the Reign of Antichrist - when sin will be celebrated.