Reader Paul comments on “Those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant…”

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“Those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant…”

Paul writes:

We are all quite damnable sinners and our life style and actions may be far less than we hope them to be. As death approaches perhaps we should be in terror of our eternity especially if we think about God and his judgment upon our wretched selves.

It is not that I disagree with this point. Indeed it is strangely comforting to remember that God is All Just and everything we do we shall be called to account for. Many wicked people would do well to tremble at this thought and perhaps the fear of eternal damnation may allow grace into their hearts before it is too late. After Death it will certainly be too late to repent and if a soul refuses grace all its life and at death spits hate upon whatever grace is offered its fate may be what it desires. As C.S.Lewis noted; “hell is a door locked from the inside”.

Nevertheless, we should not be afraid of our final judgment. Rather we should welcome it and go blithely to Our Lord. That is not because we are mentally deranged but as Christians we believe in something even greater than Judgment . . . We believe in Hope.

This virtue comes not from what we do not know but from what we do know.

It is about knowing that God is Love and essentially is revealed by Jesus as a God of infinite mercy and compassion. Hence the thief on the cross asks “Jesus remember me when you go into your kingdom“. The response of Jesus is one of sublime mercy when he promises the thief eternal salvation that very day. It is not that the thief has asked for repentance because he fears final annihilation but because he dares hope that this man crucified beside him so unjustly is a king after all.

And if the Gospels are Good News then we must recall what they are good news about? That Jesus understands us and seeks out the company of sinners rather than condemning us and blasting us into oblivion because of this or that action.

Mortal sin is constantly being re-evaluated by the Catholic Church. We simply do not understand the eternal consequences of any temporal act. There are some actions that are heinous and these are universally abhorred. Yet our understanding of these has and does change in time because we are creatures of time and place. For example, Abortion is a horrible sin but not all people that have had an abortion are of equal guilt because time and sense make the individual culpable or less so. The act is monstrous but individuals take greater or lesser part by their understanding. Again for example, suicide used to be considered always a mortal sin but today we are more gentle in our understanding that we simply do not know the reasoning or intelligence of a person that takes their own life. It would be insensitive and immoral for us to dismiss the hope of paradise because of any action of which we are ignorant of the full story.

Instead we have come to understand that God is not about Judgment but about infinite understanding, kindness, gentleness, mercy. Our hope is therefore that our loving father whom knows us intimately will forgive us more often then we fall, prostrate with our own stupidity.

All people of good will are potentially redeemable and it is the will of Our Lord that we shall be saved and not condemned.

When we see the Sacred Heart of Jesus we are told that he loves us beyond all reason or rational consideration. The Sacred Heart does not require us to offer a prayer in word, a simple longing look for example is enough to bring grace of salvation upon us. We will never earn Paradise but Jesus gives us his everything so that we can obtain it. It is Love that we face at death and it will require us to open before it every window in our soul. We can never escape Gods justice and his final judgment upon us but as Christians we must not be afraid to embrace his Love. If we can do this then we believe that Salvation is assured no matter our faults or errors at death.

To turn from Gods grace is unfortunate and could be disastrous but we must never forget “God is Love” and that should encourage us to go into the light and give us faith to welcome our Risen lord.

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