painting depicting hell in the
Church of Debra Berhan Selassie
This morning I was fortunate to hear a homily by a very impressive young Augustinian friar whose youth belies his spiritual perspicacity. He drew our attention to the approaching finality of the Christmas season and called us to remember that Jesus was born “on the margins” of his society and that he spent his life with those who lived on the margins. Jesus came not for those in the establishment but for those who had been pushed to the edges—to the lepers, to the prostitutes, to those who “didn’t belong.” In other words, he did not come for the ƙάθάρί but for those very ones on whom the spiritually elite look down.
Recently Michael Voris has been pushing the reality of Hell and his certainty that it is filled with people who are not like him. The usual chorus of Super-Catholic Gnostics has taken up this cry. I believe in hell. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux—one of my favorite saints—seemed confident that the Mercy of God would always prevail. I appreciate her optimism, but I believe we need Hell to preserve the freedom of our human will. I know that God loves me and will love me eternally and I think the Love of God would eventually wear me down and I would finally surrender to his love, but then I am a pretty weak man when it comes to being loved. Just say you like me and I give in to whatever you want--love me and I become your pet dachshund. Nevertheless, I claim my freedom to resist—eternally resist if I so choose—yielding to the Love of God. If I want to remain eternally estranged from God, I have that freedom: God gave it to me. God will love me whatever my eternal destiny--Saint Thomas assures us that God loves even those in hell. Saved or damned our destiny is to be eternally loved by God. For some that is a blesing; for others a soul-wracking curse. I suspect that those who will find themselves in Hell will be those who like the older brother of the Prodigal Son will refuse to come into the banquet because the wrong sort of the people are there. They will want their heaven to be a reception at Buckingham Palace and be appalled to find that God's heaven is more "dive chic." But then i think most people who will find themselves in God's eternal company are those who have spent plenty of time in seedy bars and will be right at home.