How many people are going to Hell… and why?

Here is an interesting video from Michael Voris.

I suggest listening to the end.

This concerns whether many or few or none go to Hell.

I, and others, addressed this not long ago and a kerfuffle arose.  HERE

I wrote:

The greatest accomplishment of the Enemy of our souls is to deceive people that the Enemy doesn’t exist … that there is no Hell … that people can’t go to Hell … that no one is in Hell, blah blah blah.

Let’s be clear about this.  Catholics are obliged to believe in the existence of the Devil and of Hell.  These are de fide doctrines taught by the Church without the possibility of error.

The Devil exists.  Fallen angels hate you with a malice no human can imagine.  They have an intellect that surpasses our mere human faculties in a way that we can’t fathom.   They never tire.  They are relentless.  They are real.  If you don’t believe in the existence of malicious fallen angels, you are in serious risk of joining them in Hell.  This is no joke.

[...]

Some good grist for discussion here.

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94 Responses to How many people are going to Hell… and why?

  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Father Barron’s article is at:

    How Many Are Saved?

  2. Charles E Flynn says:
  3. inexcels says:

    It’s a shame because usually I think Fr. Barron is very good, but his contentions about Hell are just bizarre. I remember I saw a video of his once where he said he thought espousing an empty Hell had more evangelical potential. Seriously?? You think telling people “Nobody goes to Hell” is going to convince them to give up their passions to adopt a sacrificial Christian life? Good luck with that one!

  4. McCall1981 says:

    Thanks acardnal, that homily from the Pope today is pretty great

  5. avemaria says:

    Read this homily by St. Leonard of Port Maurice:
    http://www.olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml

  6. Lori Pieper says:

    Please, critics of Fr. Barron, read his article! He does NOT say what Mr. Voris implies he does – that no one goes to Hell. He does not side with Rahner and von Balthasar in this. Rather, he says very clearly that he sides with Pope Benedict that some people do end up in Hell, but not the majority of humanity. In addition, he makes the same point about Our Lord’s words that Voris does! Voris really has a habit of misstating things and wrongly accusing people like this.

  7. JoseTomas says:

    The Pope clearly does not agree with the “Everyone is going to Heaven” theory.

    Here is an even less summarized summary, including this:

    “On this point,” he said, “there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation” of us all.

    Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/10/11/pope:_guard_against_deceit_of_the_devil/en1-736378
    of the Vatican Radio website

    Where there is eternal salvation, there must be eternal damnation, too, isn’t it?

    For some reason, the above sentence – one where only the word “Hell” is missing- was cut off the summary linked to by acardnal. I wonder how these summarizations are done…

  8. Whether many or few do not attain eternal salvation is not really important to us as individuals. The main point is that Jesus was very clear that it is a possibility that we can choose for ourselves, and He was rather forceful in preaching that– and He clearly cared whether we are saved or not. He would not have spent so much energy preaching against a possibility that did not exist.

    I have found it interesting, nevertheless, that while the Church has taught that many particular individuals are in Heaven, she has never taught that anyone in particular is not. Still, it’s kind of hard to think that Judas Iscariot, of whom Jesus said “it would be better for him if he had never been born,” somehow was saved. That, coming from God, is about the worst thing that could be said of any human being.

  9. Lin says:

    I am reading Ralph Martin’s “Will Many Be Saved?” It seems to me that a lot of time was spent (perhaps wasted?) on the topic of who will be saved. Why would we not let that remain a mystery much like the Trinity? Can anyone truly define who gets into heaven and who does not? Does anyone truly know what is in a man’s heart? Or his culpability? Talk about Unintended consequences!?! Is this the forerunner to relativism?

    I was taught that you needed to be Catholic to be saved. I was also taught that God’s ways were not man’s ways. And that a person could make a final act of contrition and be saved. So even at the age of seven, I still held out hope for my Protestant grandfather. Besides Gramma was praying him into heaven along with the rest of us.

    In my humble opinion, perhaps they should have left things be on this subject. Would it not be better to be the best you can be, than to lead everyone to think that everyone goes to heaven no matter what?!? Why be Catholic?

    I certainly pray that most are saved but when I look around at this world today I would not bet my eternity on it! Pray, fast and do penance that GOD have mercy on our souls!

  10. msc says:

    John Paul in a general audience (28 July 1999; http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_28071999_en.html ) said of hell: ” To describe this reality Sacred Scripture uses a symbolical language which will gradually be explained…. By using images, the New Testament presents the place destined for evildoers as a fiery furnace, where people will “weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 13:42; cf. 25:30, 41), or like Gehenna with its “unquenchable fire” (Mk 9:43). … The Book of Revelation also figuratively portrays in a “pool of fire” those who exclude themselves from the book of life, … The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (n. 1033)…. Damnation consists precisely in *definitive* separation from God, freely chosen by the human person and confirmed with death that seals his choice for ever. God’s judgement ratifies this state…. Damnation remains a real possibility, but it is not granted to us, without special divine revelation, to know which human beings are effectively involved in it. The thought of hell — and even less the improper use of biblical images — must not create anxiety or despair….”

  11. lmgilbert says:

    This is from a paper I recently wrote for grad school:

    It would not be at all difficult to establish that eliciting servile fear has ever been the practice of the greatest evangelists in the Church:
    St. Paul of the Cross: “In Hell, never to see God, ever to be deprived of God! O what a dreadful necessity, to hate Him eternally who has loved us from all eternity!”
    St. Bernardine of Siena: “He giveth unto thee that part which thou dost choose in thine own way, or life everlasting, or hell. Dost thoii choose hell? Take thou the penalty thereof. Either to paradise or to hell thou must go; if thou didst not wish paradise, the worse for thee.” 28
    St. Vincent Ferrer: “Therefore, the Church in the person of every Christian makes petition in the Office for the Dead: ‘Deliver me, O Lord, from everlasting death, in that
    tremendous day when the heavens and the earth are moved, when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.’”
    St. Paul: “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 sodomites, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6: 9-10; see also Gal 5: 19; Eph 5:5).
    John the Baptist: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matt 3:12).
    Our Lord: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Also, Matt 7:23; 10:28; 13: 40-41, 50; 25:41; Lk 14:24; Jn 3:36.
    Of our Lord’s method St. John Chrysostom writes,
    “But why does He dwell so constantly on these subjects; judgment, resurrection and life? Because these are the most powerful arguments for bringing men over to the faith, and the most likely ones to prevail with obstinate hearers. For one who is persuaded he shall rise again, and be called by the Son to account for his misdeeds, will, though he know nothing more than this, be anxious to propitiate his judge.”

    The Church today is very reluctant to make similar arguments and it clearly shows in our sacramental practice. “As of 2008, according to CARA, 3 out of 10 American Catholics
    reported making a sacramental confession less than once a year, with another 45% saying they never receive the sacrament at all. Only 2% reported going to confession monthly or more often.” In short, unless and until the priests of the Church take up once again the powerful arguments Our Lord and his evangelists of old used and address them to those who already profess themselves Catholic; it seems beyond absurd to speak of a New Evangelization. To put it more positively, it would appear that the very first step in the New Evangelization needs to be the rehabilitation of the sacrament of Penance and the preaching needed to effect it.

  12. Jerry says:

    re: Lori Pieper – “he says very clearly that he sides with Pope Benedict that some people do end up in Hell, but not the majority of humanity”

    Lori, are you attributing both clauses to Pope Benedict, or only the first (that some people end up in Hell)? If both, do you happen to know where this is documented?

    I don’t see how the contention that the majority of people don’t go to Hell can be reconsiled with Scripture (“Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! Matt. 7:13-14)

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The exchange between he often called St. Dysmas and Our Lord as recorded by St. Luke (23:40-43) seems generally audible and intelligible, while that between Saul and Our Lord on the Damascus road seems not so certainly so for Saul’s companions (cf. Acts 22:9). What exchanges, utterly inaudible to anyone else who might be present, but equally fruitful may there be between Our Lord and anyone in articulo mortis?

    Yet to pray heartily that such may be so in every case, in no way detracts from the good of embracing the Truth and of witnessing to it – even at the cost of one’s life (however sharp the “tu non vis” (St. John 21:19) which may be entailed) – in this life, and the sooner by even a minute who can say how much the better?

  14. Lori Pieper says:

    Jerry, sorry, I thought people would have seen the article. Charles Flynn linked to it, just above mine.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=2383

    Here is is Fr. Barron quoted the Pope: “remarks in . . .sections 45-47 of the Pope’s 2007 encyclical “Spe Salvi,” which can be summarized as follows: There are a relative handful of truly wicked people in whom the love of God and neighbor has been totally extinguished through sin, and there are a relative handful of people whose lives are utterly pure, completely given over to the demands of love. Those latter few will proceed, upon death, directly to heaven, and those former few will, upon death, enter the state that the Church calls Hell. But the Pope concludes that “the great majority of people” who, though sinners, still retain a fundamental ordering to God, can and will be brought to heaven after the necessary purification of Purgatory.”

  15. The Cobbler says:

    @msc mentions John Paul II’s comments about Hell, the state of separation from God and symbolic imagery. I don’t think JP2′s a heretic or anything crazy like that — for that matter, I’m not certain whether he disagreed with what I’m about to say or merely wanted to emphasize that the choice of separation and what some older theologians called “pain of loss” is more essential to what Hell is — but it does make perfect sense for Hell to physically be eternal fire.

    [dons sophomore scientist cap] What is fire, after all, but the dissolution of matter? In our earthly experience it is pretty much inevitably followed by its recombination: one form of matter breaks down and comes back together into another form. (To be precise, the elements themselves are not broken down — although, at least in the physics/chemistry sense of “elements”, we’ve made that happen too both as a source of electric power and as a way to literally wipe cities off the face of the Earth, but I digress.) The forms before and after this process are, therefore, stable in our earthly experience; but stability of material form is a good thing. And good things come from God… and those in Hell have rejected God and His goodness. So if they are eternally devoured by fire, it means their material form is forever breaking down, unstable, but can never reach even the good stability of ashes, because they’ve rejected such goodness.

    Something like that anyway? I probably got my chemistry and my philosophy a bit mixed up somewhere in there and didn’t state everything quite correctly. But I can’t help but suspect that the basic idea is sound and could be more precisely expressed by someone with more knowledge than I of both chemistry and philosophy.

  16. I find this video an unfortunate exercise in simplistic thinking.

    First, we should not put Rahner and Balthasar in the same category. One was named a cardinal for his theological fidelity to the Church (Balthasar), the other was not. I don’t even think they are in the same field intellectually. Furthermore, Balthasar critiqued Rahner’s concept of the “anonymous Christian”.

    Secondly, Martin’s book is unfortunately mistaken in its whole take on Balthasar. This leads me to also point out a faulty logic on the part of Voris’ argument. First, he sounds rather Pelagian at some moments. Secondly, and this is more important, is that he equates hope with a possible reality. Well, if that is the case, then the hope (not the reality) for the salvation of all souls is based in 2 Peter 3:9: God wills that all be saved. If that is not enough, there is also 1 Tim 2:4. This is canonical scripture telling us about God’s actual desire! Now, the desire may not, indeed, equate with the reality, but Scripture is clear that the reality is possible. Voris’ problem is his isolationist reading of Scripture and his inability to look to the whole to get a fuller sense of the meaning of God’s desire for salvation.

    But my problem goes much deeper than all this. The issue in all this is not so much the problem of who will be saved. Ralph Martin puts the blame on the wrong area of concentration. He is right to group Rahner in the blame, but he puts the wrong blame on Rahner. The issue is not the number of souls to be saved, but rather the whole concept of mediation. In fact, if we are to root the whole problem of modernism to one concept, it can be seen to be a “denial of mediation”: that is, a denial of the ability of God to work in the world, or for God to use intermediaries in His process of creation and salvation. The issue of evangelization can be placed on the head of what is known as the transcendental movement in theology of which Rahner is the most key figure of the school. While I would not say they absolutely deny the possibility of mediation – then they would be heretics in the strictest sense – I would say that they downplay the whole act of mediation. Thus, when the soul self-transcends itself, it reaches God in an immediate way. The relationship becomes one that is God-soul and not God-soul-through-Church. The issue is that they have forgotten the Church as the mediating force of Christ’s salvific activity. This, I argue, is the real issue behind the problem of evangelization. Why would we need to evangelize if God works to the soul directly.

    But what we have forgotten, and what both Vatican II, our past two Popes, and, yes, Balthasar have argued for is that salvation only occurs through the mediating activity of the Church. If we we convinced by this fact, I believe we would be fervent once more in our missionary activity. This was one of the major thrusts of both Ratzinger and Balthasar’s theologies: the Church is the means to salvation and the mediating agent of salvation. But this has been left on the back burner. This is why I am ultimately unsatisfied with Martin’s book: it misses the big issue and puts the blame on one of the wrong people because Balthasar tried to do more about the missionary spirit of the Church than any 20th century theologian. I wish people would actually read people like Balthasar before blaming him for all the ills of the contemporary Church.

  17. jm says:

    Fr Barron and Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II are all, quite simply, wrong on this point. You have to be a theologian to miss it! Even suggesting “most” will be saved is a rather comical take on Scripture, and in his encyclical on hope Benedict uses purgatory to push a quasi-universalism. He states most everyone will end up there, prior to Heaven. All of this is plainly and extension of Vatican II’s reformation of doctrine. It is not a valid development, anymore than is the wholesale abandonment on inerrancy. I challenge anyone here to go read Barron, and re-listen to Vorris. Barron essentially says, the pope is always right. Vorris is spot on. God bless him.

  18. SpesUnica says:

    I think this can be an unhealthy question for some, leading to a temptation to feel smug about being righteous while all those sinners out there are gonna burn. Remember the publican. A better question than “How many will be saved?” is “Who may be saved?” And the answer to that is ANYONE.

  19. jameeka says:

    Hmm, well..the theme of the day is St Peter and St Paul, both martyrs–one the first Pope, and one, The Apostle.
    ( Thank you very much for the photos of their tombs) Michael Voris mentions their words.

    Despite some tensions/disagreement between Peter and Paul, both were anxious that souls be saved, that we recognize the existence of the devil, and that we not assume our salvation as the default option. We must turn to Jesus, and actually do what He says to do, and love the way He says to love.

  20. Chuck Ludd says:

    Fr. Z: I find it unfortunate that you have given airtime to this video. Mr. Voris has gone off the deep end with this one. While I am not a fan of either Rahner or von Balthasar (for entirely different reasons for each), this video does an enormous disservice by conflating the two as if they were of the same ilk. Von Balthsar was orthodox, though attempted to communicate Aquinas through a new lens. Rahner was…well, Rahner, and I’ll leave it at that. But perhaps more astonishing is the slam on Fr. Barron — a good, holy, and very orthodox priest. Mr. Voris doesn’t seem to recognize that this question is a matter of fine theological nuance (and about which people can disagree). He gets Fr. Barron wrong just about from start to finish. Indeed, reason does not dictate that a majority of people do not go to hell (it’s highly improbable that Fr. Barron would agree with that statement despite assertions in the video) but Mr. Voris is also wrong that reason dictates that a majority go to hell. That is just absurd that reason could lead us to know either conclusion with certainty.

    The great work that Fr. Barron has done in bringing orthodoxy to people through new media does not make him immune from criticism, but I think if a great man of wisdom and piety such as Fr. Barron suggests ideas worth pondering, then he must be given the benefit of trying to understand his thinking, rather than the sophomoric dismissal in this video. And in this case, Fr. Barron is simply not asserting what Mr. Voris claims.

    Unfortunately, I have found many of of Mr. Voris’ videos going over the edge the last few months. Mr. Voris has a talent, but unfortunately these days his work is doing a disservice. We should all pray for everyone in or mentioned in this video.

  21. Shane says:

    Putting Rahner and von Balthasar together concerning this topic simply proves to me that Voris has no idea of what he is talking about.

    Balthasar was quite critical of Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” concept, which was the mechanism that Rahner used to justify the hope of universal salvation. Balthasar grounded his hope in Christ’s harrowing of Hell.

    Also, there is a minority view among the Church Fathers that would support such a hope.

    I say all of this as someone who doesn’t really buy Balthasar’s contention, but I have little qualm about his orthodoxy.

    As to what Fr. Barron is saying about his own beliefs, he is badly misread by Voris. Charity compels me view it as unintentional. Reason…well, I’ll hold my tongue.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Chuck Ludd says:

    Von Balthsar was orthodox, though attempted to communicate Aquinas through a new lens.

    I don’t know of anyone–incl JRatzinger and Von B himself–who has thought that Von B was trying to communicate Aquinas. He was more influenced by Greg of Nyssa and Bonaventure.

  23. CarpeNoctem says:

    SpesUnica, above, has the best comment I have seen on this subject for some time… this IS an unhealthy question for some, and it is best left alone unless you know what you are talking about. Alas, Mr. Voris appears to fall in this category by virtue of his inconsiderate gloss (strawmen, really) of the arguments of the likes of Rahner and Balthasar.

    I think that Christian charity requires us to hope (theological virtue hope of trusting and desiring God, not just wishy-washy hope-aka-wishful-desire) that all men are saved, altough that is not in our competence to know or determine who or how many might be saved. For my own good, I need to be able to hope that an all-good, all-just God can find a way to let the likes of Hitler into heaven. I don’t know if that’s likely or even possible, but I need to be able to hope. In such hope, my own heart is broadened to try to love even this otherwise-pathetic insult of a human being… for we know that, even if damned, God still loves him. Indeed, that love would be the basis of his damnation, if so determined by God. To get on the ‘other side’ of God, where we can’t muster up enough love to hope that our unfortunate neighbor might be delivered unto salvation is to place ourselves opposite of the love of God, which is a dangerous place to be, eternally speaking. Obviously, this is not intended in any way to condone sin… always love the sinner, but hate the sin, afterall.

    Some are already definitively saved (declared saints), and we have pretty good scriptural evidence that there are people in hell, so both places are unquestionably ‘open for business’. Beyond that, it is hard to tell whether it is many or few and where they go. If we cannot find it in ourselves to muster the basic hope that all might be saved, then I think it is a warning to us of being small-hearted… not that we are right or wrong, but that we don’t understand the depth of the mystery of an all-just and all-merciful God ‘daring’ to give us free will to praise and glorify him… or not… and to predicate those choices toward an eternal destiny. To dare to hope is the best that I can do, and the more I can do it, the greater my heart grows in love of God and of neigbor, and my own desire for heaven itself… not that this ‘broadened’ love changes anyone’s eternal destiny (except perhaps my own,) but it strengthens my resolve to lead the moral life, to do what I can to help my neighbor find his/her way, and to trust that God has it all under control.

    To stridently hold anything else beyond a healthy theological speculation on the population of heaven and hell is either pride, hubris, dispair, or misanthropy.

    A quote from the eminent swordsman Inigo Montoya comes to mind, when considering how most people gloss over Rahner and Balthasar’s highly nuanced positions on this very complex issue: “You keep using [those words], I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  24. Bob B. says:

    From Fr. Barron’s book, Catholicism, page 268…
    “Satan is not the “dark side” that faces the light of God in a terrible cosmic struggle. He is a fallen creature whom God allows, for God’s own inscrutable purposes, to work woe in the world. We should take the devil with requisite seriousness, but we shouldn’t give this finally uninteresting and pathetic creature too much attention.”
    Since Fr. Barron wrote this, it isn’t too much of a great leap to believe that Hell and Purgatory aren’t such big deals either.

  25. Hugh says:

    According to Revelations, a third of all the angels failed their test and are in hell. Thus there are millions upon millions of spirits in hell already. Hell is by no means empty right now, even on the most favourable reasoned construction. This is good prima facie evidence that there are going to be many, many humans who will fail their own test and end up there.

  26. Imrahil says:

    Dear @inexcels,

    Fr Barron wrote that “the position that some but few people go to Hell is the most tenable and the most promising in evangelization”.

    I’m not going in for the tenability here, though I hold it, but there’s one thing that’s definitely sure and that it’s the most promising in evangelization.

    Do you seriously think that “you had better believe what I tell you to believe, or you will go to Hell” is more promising in evangelization? That “even if you believe and follow me, prepare to say good-bye to your friends, and your parents, and your great-grandparents, for they’ll surely end up in Hell” is more promising in evangelization?

    There may be Catholics who think that the Faith is as much an ordeal that, but for the threat of eternal damnation, they would not accept this cross; but apart from that I still think in such a case something somewhere has gone rather breathtakingly wrong, anyway will convince exactly zero unbelievers. Quite obviously. One catches mice with bacon, as the saying around here is, and, I may say, fish with worms; I don’t consider it a fruitful strategy for the men-fishers to fish with scaring-off.

    (I on purpose only argumented about strategy, here. We must preach the truth however good this is as strategy; but truth is not necessarily hard, and many do indeed argument for preaching so as to scare off on strategic arguments.)

    Dear @Jerry, “destruction” could mean “mortal sin”, for mortal sin is indeed a destruction of a man which only God’s mercy and omnipotence can cure.

  27. Palladio says:

    I appreciate the good intentions of Mr. Voris, but the situation is more telling, to my mind, than even Voris’s misinterpretations, which are demonstrated here by other readers. That situation is this: a lot of Catholic would sooner believe what a news reporter has to say about the one true faith than bona fide theologians. Von Balthasar, if he was mistaken in one detail (Father John Saward is interesting in that regard, and others) is one of the most genial, inspired, and learned Catholics of any age. I suspect he is a Saint, besides, and most certainly a Doctor of the Church.

  28. Joseph-Mary says:

    Fr. Barron has done a great service for all of us in his “Catholicism” series yet there were things there that made me cringe.

    When you read many of the saints, you do not get the idea that most of humanity is saved. Even St. Teresa of Avila was shown the place in hell where she would have gone for being a lukewarm nun had she not had a conversion.

    So many people now live as if there is no God! Great are the sins that cry out to heaven: sins against our nature and natural law, sins that are legal, protected, and promoted. So many unbaptized now even among “Catholics”. We just had the Gospel of the rich man who ignored the pauper at his gate. Ignoring the needy and living as if there is no God is not a ticket for heaven.

    St. Alphonsus Ligouri, for one, wrote a whole book on preparing for death so as to avoid hell.
    Death, judgment, heaven or hell….remember the last 4 things. St. Francis of Assisi spoke of the awful situation of a soul dying in mortal sin. As one who prays at an abortion mill, I pray very much for the souls in or going into darkness at that demonic place.

    We do not fall into heaven by accident, we are redeemed but must work out our salvation with “fear and trembling”. If almost everyone except those who distinctly choose hell goes to heaven then why bother living a holy life? Why not a life of ease and pleasure? But ease and pleasure was not the example set by Our Lord and Our Lady.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Joseph-Mary,

    and yet it is the Catholic teaching that an adult who does not distinctly choose Hell does not go there.

    True, this decision is implicit in any true mortal sin (though not beyond God’s mercy), which is where our difficulties to say clear things come from. Still, we come to Heaven by the – non natural, but in the actual way God chose to have still normal way. It is to Hell we go by accident, that accident being our own guilt.

    As for answers to your questions: 1. purgatory. 2. merit. 3. thankfulness. 4. because it is good, pure and simply.

    Not to mention that ease and pleasure seems not to have that bad a sound in Catholic culture. The six barrels of wine at Cana, at any rate, were not forgotten by the Catholics.

  30. robtbrown says:

    SpesUnica says:
    I think this can be an unhealthy question for some, leading to a temptation to feel smug about being righteous while all those sinners out there are gonna burn. Remember the publican.

    All knowledge can lead to someone being smug, but to avoid tough questions (incl theological ones) in order to avoid “occasions of sin” is hardly humility. Remember that we are commanded to know God.

    NB: Intellectual pride is preferring one’s own opinion to Church doctrine.

  31. robtbrown says:

    1. I find it hard to accept that holding that most of humanity will be saved is of greater advantage than holding its more pessimistic counterpart, i.e., that some will be saved. The latter led to the greatest expansion of the Church in history.

    2. Missionary strategy hasn’t just meant they landed in an area, learned the language, then held catechism classes. They would often arrive, providing food and medicine, winning the trust of the people.

    3. IMHO, much attention needs to be given to Christ’s use of the word “few”–oligoi, pauciores (used by St Thomas).

  32. inexcels says:

    Imrahil:
    Do you seriously think that “you had better believe what I tell you to believe, or you will go to Hell” is more promising in evangelization?

    No, that’s not what I think. This is straw man argumentation.

    To clarify my own position, since apparently I need to: To tell people that nobody, or only the most extremely perverse, go to Hell, is doubtful as an evangelical strategy. If I have no need of living a Christian lifestyle to enjoy eternal salvation then why should I bother? Think it through logically:

    If we accept that Heaven exists, then this finite life is just an insignificant drop in the bucket of eternity. To think of it mathematically: Measured against infinity, any finite value converges to zero. Our life on Earth is like that when measured against Heaven (or Hell for that matter). Therefore, if my going to Heaven is all but assured, then whatever I do in this life is virtually meaningless in the face of whatever my perfected self will do in Heaven for all eternity. Saintly near-perfection and thorough-going mediocrity would have precisely the same outcome. So I have no incentive at all to accept some of Christianity’s more difficult teachings, and it’s easier to just go with the flow of my own inclinations.

    It’s not about “Christianity is so hard that there’s no way I could live a Christian lifestyle unless you hold my feet against the fires of brimstone.” It’s about the fact that everyone has sinful inclinations and people tend to choose the path of least resistance. Most people need some incentive to apply the effort needed to overcome their vices. Not only does a guarantee of going to Heaven not provide incentive to apply that effort, it actually has the opposite effect: it is a destroyer of motivation.

    Concluding this line of thought, if it is in fact the case that people can go to Hell, then removing their motivation to live the most virtuous life they can (and therefore avoid Hell) is doing them a grave disservice. In which case it’s not only a bad evangelical strategy, it’s also extraordinarily uncharitable.

    Acknowledging that Hell exists and that it’s possible to end up there makes a lot more sense on all counts. That doesn’t mean that a fire-and-brimstone approach is necessary, and, just to reiterate, making that assumption is just straw man argumentation.

  33. Shane says:

    Bob B.:
    That seems eminently reasonable to me. To given Satan too much due is, paradoxically, something I think he would want. We shouldn’t raise him to some sort of opposite of God. As Michael Voris himself has said, Satan is the opposite of St. Michael, not God.

  34. acardnal says:

    Imrahil wrote, “it is the Catholic teaching that an adult who does not distinctly choose Hell does not go there.”

    Please provide a citation.

    I believe what Christ said in Matthew 7:13-14
    13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

  35. bookworm says:

    “Many” does not necessarily have to equal “a majority” or “a large percentage”. Let’s say, just as an example, that 1 out of every 10 people ultimately goes to hell. Out of the current world population of 7 billion, that would mean 700 million people would be lost — which is certainly “many”. Even if only 1 in 100 people goes to hell, that would be about 70 million people — still pretty “many”. And that’s not counting all the people who have ever lived in the past.

    Some of the diseases and conditions that have been described as “epidemic” — from AIDS to autism — actually strike pretty small percentages of the overall population. If there were a contagious, incurable and terminal disease going around that killed 1 of every 10 or even 1 of every 100 people exposed to it, that would be considered a huge public health crisis demanding an all-out effort at eradication. It would be prevalent enough to touch everyone in some way — even if you did not die from the disease you would at least know people who had, and would probably lose some of your own loved ones. And needless to say, you would probably consider no price too high to pay to stamp out this disease.

    Also, people will go to great lengths to mitigate or avoid dangers that have a relatively small chance of occurring if the danger is severe enough in their estimation. The average person’s odds of dying in a car wreck, for example, are 1 in 84; their odds of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 20,000. Yet people generally fear flying much more than they fear driving, and billions of dollars have been spent on air safety measures and on investigating plane crashes. Why not look at the risk of damnation the same way — even if only 1 in 100 people is lost, that’s still an “epidemic” and we should be doing as much as possible to minimize that risk?

  36. acardnal says:

    Don’t forget about verse 14, bookworm. “Few” will find “life” (heaven).

  37. acardnal says:

    One could use your same argument to support that “few” will go to heaven, e.g. “Let’s say, just as an example, that 1 out of every 10 people ultimately goes to [heaven]. “

  38. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Bob B. —

    Feeling that the Devil is an enemy but also not really someone we should think too much of? That’s perfectly orthodox and old school. For example, St. Athanasius’ biography of St. Anthony the Abbot, the guy who really started monasticism. Although St. Anthony “never relaxed his care” to avoid sin and defeat severe demonic attacks, he also didn’t think much of them:

    “….his mind was clear, and as in mockery he said, ‘If there had been any power in you, it would have sufficed had one of you come, but since the Lord has made you weak, you attempt to terrify me by numbers: and a proof of your weakness is that you take the shapes of brute beasts.’ … So after many attempts they gnashed their teeth upon him, because they were mocking themselves rather than him.”

    Later on, he teaches the monks: “….we, the faithful, ought not to fear [the Devil's] appearance or give heed to his words…. like a dragon he was drawn with a hook by the Savior (Job 41:1), and as a beast of burden he received the halter round his nostrils, and as a runaway his nostrils were bound with a ring, and his lips bored with an armlet. And he was bound by the Lord as a sparrow, that we should mock him. And with him are placed the demons his fellows, like serpents and scorpions to be trodden underfoot by us Christians…. through the grace of Christ all their practices are in vain.”

    “…. if no heed is paid to them immediately they weep and lament as though vanquished… For they are weak and can do nought but threaten… Since the Lord visited earth , the enemy is fallen and his powers weakened… [they] are ready for evil and wishful to injure… but though this is so, we are alive and spend our lives… in opposing him; it is plain they are powerless… if they had power, they would permit none of us Christians to live… demons are like actors on the stage….”

    “So then we ought to fear God only, and despise the demons, and be in no fear of them. But the more they [make attacks and threats], the more let us intensify our discipline against them, for a good life and faith in God is a great weapon. At any rate they fear fasting, sleeplessness, prayers, meekness, quietness, contempt of money and vainglory, humility, love of the poor, alms, the freedom from anger of the ascetics, and, chief of all, their piety towards Christ. “

  39. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and here’s St. Anthony the Abbot’s advice about why it’s a good idea to despise the Devil:

    “…. let us be courageous and rejoice always, believing that we are safe. Let us consider in our soul that the Lord is with us, who put the evil spirits to flight and broke their power. Let us consider and lay to heart that while the Lord is with us, our foes can do us no hurt.

    “For when they come they approach us in a form corresponding to the state in which they discover us , and adapt their delusions to the condition of mind in which they find us. If, therefore, they find us timid and confused, they immediately beset the place, like robbers, having found it unguarded; and what we of ourselves are thinking, they do, and more also. For if they find us faint-hearted and cowardly, they mightily increase our terror, by their delusions and threats; and with these the unhappy soul is thenceforth tormented.

    “But if they see us rejoicing in the Lord, contemplating the bliss of the future, mindful of the Lord, deeming all things in His hand, and that no evil spirit has any strength against the Christian, nor any power at all over any one— when they behold the soul fortified with these thoughts— they are discomfited and turned backwards. Thus the enemy, seeing Job fenced round with them, withdrew from him; but finding Judas unguarded, him he took captive.

    “Thus, if we are wishful to despise the enemy, let us ever ponder over the things of the Lord, and let the soul ever rejoice in hope. And we shall see the snares of the demon are like smoke, and the evil ones themselves flee rather than pursue. For they are, as I said before, exceeding fearful, ever looking forward to the fire prepared for them.’ “

  40. Johnno says:

    The Queen of Heaven has been desperately trying to warn us that SO MANY are going to HELL and she is WEEPING at the loss of her children.

    I believe she knows better than the Vatican II theologians and Popes.

    A sermon worth reading for those caught up in this false spirit of optimism. Anyone trying to claim otherwise ought to try refuting his arguments -

    The Little Number of those who are saved – St. Leonard
    http://www.fatimacrusader.com/cr92/cr92pg12.pdf
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMUPBFeI5Hc

    The reason the majority of people go to hell is because the majority of people don’t care and live their lives as if hell didn’t exist or by automatically presuming they are saved regardless like the Protestants foolishly believe. They do not bother to do the least bit of action or effort to save their souls. Death comes to many unexpectedly. If there was ever an era in which we might speculate that more people go to heaven than hell, it sure as heck isn’t the 21st Century.

    Our Lord and Our Lady’s warnings as well as the testimony of many of the saints and seers should not be taken lightly. Our feelings and sentimentalities about it are irrelevant. This does not mean however that salvation is impossible, don’t fall for that error. And indeed the number of the saved is still a vast and uncountable number. But in comparison to the damned, it is miniscule. This is precisely why Our Lord gave us His Mother! She is the Ark! Get on board! Many more could’ve been saved had they believed Noah. But instead they would not believe God was capable of justly punishing them to the extent that He did. This age is no different from that of Noah’s.

  41. slainewe says:

    If one third of the angels are in Hell, it makes sense to me that one third of mankind will reach Heaven to balance justice.

  42. pledbet424 says:

    I’ve decided to err on the side of caution. If do as St Paul suggests, and “work out my salvation with fear and trembling”, but find out I worked harder than I needed to, no big deal. Taking the approach that I will probably be saved in the normal course of events, but then end up in hell would be a rather large “fail”.

  43. Imrahil says:

    Dear @acardnal, I agree that having said what I said you are entitled to demand a citation.

    I do not doubt I could give one (Pius IX?), but have not the time. But, from memory, out of the CathEnc article on Hell, presented as a matter of course in apologetics against those who hold Hell to be unjust: “Noone goes to Hell who has not entirely deserved it.”

    I thought I had made myself clear when I said that a choice of Hell over Heaven is implicit in any subjectively mortal sin.

    Dear @robtbrown, I did not study the matter, but it seems that preaching fire and brimstone (unlike, indeed, preaching salvation from the rotten generations) only began to abound, for better or worse, when the population was already Christian, as a means to make them obey moral law – especially in Protestant nations where the resort to Purgatory was unavailable. (Folklore around here is strangely silent of Hell while abounding in mentioning of Purgatory.) But for better or worse, the Bl. J.H. Newman already observed, though, that it thenadays with the boys in the street, it would only succeed to induce them to blasphemy – which is not only true about the boys in the street, anymore.

  44. bookworm says:

    The main problem I have with interpreting “few” in an absolutely literal fashion — i.e., that only a small or tiny fraction of humanity will make it into heaven — is that it would make heaven out to be some kind of elite club that ONLY the best of the best can possibly attain (like, for example, getting into Harvard or qualifying for an Olympic team) for which available “space” is severely limited, and which some people must inevitably be barred from despite their best efforts because others will beat them to it. It would tempt me to think that there’s no use wasting time reaching out to marginal souls when the odds are severely against even the “best” making it; that the best approach is simply to hunker down, practice spiritual triage and only try to save those most likely to be saved. If we use my “epidemic” analogy and imagine a disease that kills 90% or 99% of all people who are exposed, with no way to avoid exposure, at some point the eradication effort is probably going to be abandoned and replaced with mere containment or concentration of resources upon those who “have a chance”, with others simply being written off as hopeless. And that is not, I think, a good mindset with which to approach evangelization. It could also have some very destructive and unintended side effects — for example, on another blog, someone argued that if your children only have a 1% or 10% chance of being saved, why would any Christian in their right mind want to have any? You would only be dooming them to an eternity of torment, after all.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief, based on a literal interpretation of Revelation, that only 144,000 people will make it to heaven is somewhat along these lines — but they, at least, believe people who fail to make the cut can still get into some kind of lower-level (perhaps earthly) paradise, and need not be eternally damned. However, they skip over the passage that follows in which John describes a “great multitude that no one can count” from every race and nation standing before the Lamb.

    Personally, I do NOT find it helpful or encouraging to my own spiritual life to assume either that 1) so few people go to hell that the average person has no need to worry about it, or 2) that so many people go to hell that the average person has little to no chance of being saved. I tend to believe — which I’m sure, some people will regard as potentially or actually heretical — that when Christ said “few” are saved, He was speaking figuratively to make a point, as He did when He said “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” or “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could order this mountain to cast itself into the sea”. He was not speaking as a statistician or demographer taking a census to determine the exact population of heaven or hell, but simply making the point that we should put our best effort into seeking God’s kingdom and not just “phone it in” or assume we can coast in without much effort.

    As I said, even IF only 1 of every 10 people is lost, that’s still high enough to worry about the possibility that you or someone you love might end up being one of them.

  45. Jean Marie says:

    We know that 1/3 of the angels fell with Satan. Perhaps when all is said and done, 1/3 of humanity will spend eternity with him. Our Lord must have the larger victory. It just makes sense.

  46. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Wouldn’t it make sense to say that our primary goal in this life is nothing other than to attain to the sublime happiness of being united forever with the good God, and that even here on Earth, a foretaste of that heavenly union may be available to those who seek Him earnestly and with a sincere heart? And that earnest seeking consists in nothing other a life of prayer, of the sacraments, of virtue, of penance and good works, and the detestation of sin, particularly our own sin.

    And persons who have progressed well along this way of holiness begin to attract others, because the joy and the peace that they radiate is irresistible. And because they have tasted and seen how good God is, they are eager to share the good news with others. That peace and joy together with the power of the good news itself will win (we hope) many others. Such persons would be unlikely to crow smugly over how they are among the few who will win Heaven; instead, the divine outpouring of love in their hearts makes their hearts strain after opportunities to win more souls to their Lover.

    Like a race hound straining at the gate to run his course, those who truly love God most ardently desire to win more souls to Him.

  47. Chuck Ludd says:

    A few points:

    1. I encourage everyone to listen to Fr. Barron’s August 25 podcast, “The Narrow Gate.” It reveals how wrong Mr. Voris is. He has distorted Fr. Barron’s views enormously.

    2. The idea of 1/3 of the angels ending up in Hell is not Catholic doctrine. It is speculative interpretation of the passage in Revelation on 1/3 of the stars being swept from the sky. It is dangerous territory to be taking Revelation’s imagery literally without careful guidance from the Church.

    3. Even if 1/3 of the angels are in Hell, it does not follow whatsoever that only 1/3 of humans will make it to Heaven. There is no basis in Catholic theology to conclude that or any number one way or another. As another poster comments, everyone can go to Heaven because Christ redeemed all mankind. As Fr. Barron notes in his Narrow Gate podcast, we need to not obsess over how many people go to Hell, but focus on our own spiritual lives since everyone’s goal is God. Obsessing about how many are in Hell is a distraction from working on our own spiritual life.

    4. robtbrown objected to my comment about Von Balthasar trying to express Aquinas through a different lens. My line was not very clear; it was an attempt to underscore Von Balthasar’s orthodoxy and his having been influenced by Aquinas. I did not mean to imply Von Balthasar was a Thomist — I don’t think he was. But Aquinas did heavily influence Von Balthasar. His reflections on beauty are very much based on Aquinas and he utilizes Aquinas and Aristotle’s metaphysics. I view Von Balthasar and Aquinas in a similar way as Ratzinger and Aquinas. I don’t think anyone would claim Ratzinger/Benedict is a Thomist, but Ratzinger (like Von Balthasar) uses the metaphysics of Thomas and has Thomas as a substantial influence. I contend both of these men express their theology through the metaphysical lens of Aquinas.

  48. robtbrown says:

    bookworm,

    No one is saying that many refers to a majority

    I don’t understand what you mean by few not being interpreted literally. By definition it’s not a specific reference. And St Thomas points out that the beatific vision is not a matter of human nature. If it were a matter of human nature, then it would make sense that a majority of men were saved

  49. av8er says:

    I choose to do God’s will not because I don’t want to go to hell, but because I want to be with God in heaven. God’s will is not easy. That, imo, is the message of the Church.
    The 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity said we are to be perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect. Mat 5:48. This weaves in well with the wide path to destruction and narrow path to life. It is not easy. In fact, Christ says it’s impossible to reach this perfection my man alone. Which is why in His genius and mercy He left us the confessional.
    As far as numbers are concerned, since the numbers of man will be finite, then calculations should be made using that finite number, X. If .1X is number saved, then it would be safe to assume, based on the last 4 things, that .9X will not be. What ever the fraction it must be less than half of X. Reasonably approximately .33X although according to the Saints, it would seem a far smaller number.
    Bottom line, as Fr. Z says, go to confession.

  50. av8er says:

    Chuck, I saw the video Fr. Barron posted on wordonfire regarding Hell and I understood it as if he sided with Von Balthasar and Rahner. The saints seem to say otherwise.

  51. tcreek says:

    There are now 46 posts on this topic by 23 different people (as well as I can count) and I judge that 7 of you (who don’t agree with me) will (should) go to Hell. Around 30% . That’s not bad. The Fishrap blog is generally in the high 90s.

  52. Charles E Flynn says:

    From Word on Fire.org

    Sermon 659 : The Narrow Gate : 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, (audio: 14 min 55 sec.)

    To gain eternal life is to participate to the fullest degree possible in the very life of God. It is to walk the path of love, surrendering to grace and allowing this grace to flow through you to the wider world. Is this an easy task? No. The Gospel of Luke reminds us that the gate is narrow precisely because it is in the very shape of Jesus Himself, and entrance through the gate involves conformity to his state of being. The path of love is traveled by taking up one’s cross every day.

  53. dans0622 says:

    If there is no reason to hope that all will be saved, or we should not think we can have such a reasonable hope, why would I bother to say “….lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy”?

  54. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    danso62 asked “why would I bother to say ‘ . . . lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy’”?

    Perhaps because Our Lady at Fatima asked the children to recite the following prayer: “O meu Jesus, perdoai-nos e livrai-nos do fogo do inferno, levai as alminhas todas para o Ceu, principalmente aquelas que mais precisarem”.

    Which, in English translation, contains the phrase you were asking about: ” . . . lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.” Alminhas todas would translate to all souls.

    I think, in using this language, Our Lady intended to convey the idea of “all souls who will permit themselves to be led by God to Heaven.” Because the reason some don’t go to Heaven is that throughout their earthly lifetimes, they don’t allow themselves to be led by the good God who wants nothing more than to lead them, that is, they follow their own wills, attach themselves to earthly pleasures, resist grace and good inspirations, set aside the invitation to conversion, neglect prayer and the sacraments, and generally run the other way from God, right up to the final moment of their lives.

    I don’t think Our Lady felt the need to go into all of that. She knew, and the children at Fatima knew, that to ask that “all souls universally, without exception, with or without their cooperation” would be a nonsensical request to make of Our Lord. The “all souls” she referred to were “all souls, who by their cooperation with the action of God’s grace in their lives, make it possible for Him to lead them to Heaven.”

    But how very like a sweet mother to keep things simple!

  55. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Italics off!

  56. Quanah says:

    I find it interesting that in his critique of Fr. Barron he jumps straight to his mentioning Rahner and von Balthasar. He practically ignores the saints and doctors Fr. Barron mentioned and completely ignores what Pope Benedict said in Spe Salvi. This last thing is especially curious since Fr. Barron based his conclusion on what Pope Benedict said, not on what Rahner or von Balthasar said. Finally, he misrepresents Fr. Barron’s position by lumping him with the hell exists but we can hope no one is there crowd. Fr. Barron made it clear, again based on Benedict, that there are people in hell. So he would be part of the most people eventually go to heaven not hell crowd. It is an important difference. Also, most could be 50.000001% There’s no reason to assume that hell is little populated simply because one believes most people go to heaven.

  57. Imrahil says:

    Dear @inexcels,

    thank you for your answer. I did not intentionally put up a straw-man. Thank you for making your position clear, although… and forgive me but I happen to understand little about anything that is not an answer of “yes” or “no” to a precise question… the position you described seems to me still little different from the one I attacked.

    As I said in the answer to the dear @JosephMary, incentives, such as purgatory, merit (regrettably two of the things which our Protestant brethren deny who, need I say it, shaped Christian preaching in general much, and in America especially), gratitude, etc. are abounding even if you do not put the feet of the feet on brimstone.

    My personal incentive, fwiw, is being or not being able to receive Holy Communion.

    Dear @robtbrown,
    I fail to understand what the beatific vision being nothing that pertains to human nature has to do here. Ontologically that is of course the case, but as a matter of fact, God does have set the supernatural goal of beatific vision for any man whatsoever (perhaps excepting unbaptized children about whom nothing is known for certain).

    If
    if it were a matter of human nature, then it would make sense that a majority of men were saved but supernaturally no,
    then God should have set up a terrestrian paradise (such as the one which is speculated about for baptized infants, and such as the ones in Jehova’s Witnesses and Mormon fabrications) for those who naturally deserve salvation but don’t qualify supernaturally.

    He has not.

    Which is why the doctrine that everyone goes to Hell who does not make it to Heaven is good-news. For it means that everyone who does not go to Hell actually gets to Heaven.

    If it was only about preferring the supernatural to the natural, oh boy, our chances would look bad.

    But it is not, it is about preferring the good to the sinful.

  58. Chuck Ludd says:

    [Note: I can't figure out how to turn off the italics]

    av8er: Yes, Fr. Barron does say in the video that he sides with Von Balthasar to the extent that Von Balthasar argues that it is reasonable to hope that all people will be saved. This is not saying that all will be saved but that we can hope all to be saved. (Emphasis on “hope”!) What is wrong with that hope? We are all redeemed by Christ; we are all free to choose God; we pray to lead all souls to Heaven — is this not a hope? Or are these doctrines and pious practices unreasonable? Fr. Barron is not saying in the video that all are saved or that a majority go to Heaven — and he definitely denies the universalism of Origen. He is quite simply saying that we can hope. Surely that is a good spiritual posture to have — if I do not hope to be saved, then I am obscuring God as my end.

    Listen to Fr. Barron’s podcast in which he castigates the post-V2 culture of de-emphasis on Hell and over-emphasis of God as love (suggesting this has lead people to think wrongly that everyone automatically goes to Heaven). While it is sufficient for contrition that we dread the loss of Heaven, isn’t it a more perfect contrition that we regret turning away from God and seek to be reconciled with him?

    This thread has become quite complicated because Mr. Voris distorts Fr. Barron’s views and conflates Rahner and Von Balthasar (it’s not clear to me he even gets Rahner right, and there is much to criticize Rahner on). Consequently, many people here have been trying to unravel the video’s damaging simplistic take by counter-arguing: (a) there is a significant distinction between Rahner and Von Balthasar (the latter being solidly orthodox); (b) Von Balthasar’s view on many/few/reasonable hope needs to be carefully understood and that Von Balthasar is not declaring that all will be saved; (c) to what extent does Fr. Barron agree with Von Balthasar (he does agree with Von Balthasar to a degree but Mr. Voris radically misstates Von Balthasar); and (d) an odd thread has developed about literalism in the Book of Revelation (such a discussion about Revelation always seems to get things off track and there is more than a whiff of a strain of Protestantism in some of the interpretations).

    By getting Von Balthasar wrong and noting Fr. Barron’s agreement with Von Balthasar, the video has dragged Fr. Barron into a muddy place which is neither Von Balthasar’s position nor Fr. Barron’s position.

  59. Bruce says:

    “Some will not be redeemed. There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it. If the happiness of a creature lies in self-surrender, no one can make that surrender but himself (though many can help him to make it) and he may refuse. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully ‘All will be saved.’ But my reason retorts ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say ‘Without their will’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say ‘With their will,’ my reason replies ‘How if they will not give in?…
    The problem is not simply that of a God who consigns some of His creatures to final ruin. That would be the problem if we were Mahometans. Christianity, true, as always, to the complexity of the real, presents us with something knottier and more ambiguous – a God so full of mercy that He becomes man and dies by torture to avert that final ruin from His creatures, and who yet, where that heroic remedy fails, seems unwilling, or even unable, to arrest the ruin by an act of mere power. I said glibly a moment ago that I would pay ‘any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem: so much mercy, yet still there is Hell…
    Finally, it is objected that the ultimate loss of a single soul means the defeat of omnipotence. And so it does. In creating beings with free will, omnipotence from the outset submit’s to the possibility of such defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle: for to make things which are not Itself, and thus to become, in a sense, capable of being resisted by it’s own handiwork, is the most astonishing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the Deity. I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside…
    In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is it’self a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.”
    C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

  60. Bruce says:

    The quantity of people in hell is an interesting question. Many theologians, Popes, and others have different opinions on this question.

    We should not get to caught up in who is criticizing who, or feeling hurt because our favorite theologian or priest is said to be wrong.

    For me the more important point is not how many are in hell, but that it exists and I could go there! It is my personal responsibility, with God’s grace, to not go there. That is the message I got from the Voris video.

  61. Terry1 says:

    I have always assumed that upon death we either accepted God’s mercy or chose hell, however I hedged my assumption with more than a little uncertainty after my father passed. Allow me to tell of my experience of God’s mercy with both of my parents after their death.

    Mom had been very sick for two months and had finally begun to rally back to health so she was transferred on a Wednesday to a rehabilitation hospital to recuperate . Two days latter I was informed that mom wanted me to be with her since she had only a few hours left to live. The doctor told me he had never seen an infection spread so fast, it was literally eating holes in her lungs and he didn’t expect her to live more than a couple hours longer. I asked for a priest and Father P. arrived an hour latter promptly giving her the Sacrament of Healing and absolution of her sins. After Father left I determined I should pray her into heaven and except for occasional short breaks I prayed and offered words of reassurance while at the same time I wondered why she stubbornly held on to life for 15 more hours. Looking up from the side of her bed towards the hospital window I could see that dawn was breaking, it was going to be cloudy day with the gloomy promise of rain, I felt this was a fitting atmosphere as I watched her draw her last breath. Ten minutes later while sitting in a chair beside my wife with both of us looking out the window we saw a beam of sunlight shining almost straight down on the empty hospital parking lot for a couple of seconds then as we watched the sunlight recede back up to a hole in the clouds I noticed immediately with the realization that I could see that that the sky was still dark blue just before the hole in the cloud closed in. I wasn’t shocked that this was a sign from the Holy Spirit, I only wondered why.

    Soon enough I regretted that I had not been a better son for mom and that regret turn into repentance for having offended God and in anguish I asked God to forgive me for my sins. One month later on the Feast of Corpus Christe I received God’s Consolation which filled me with an almost indescribable sense of peace and contentment and then the Holy Spirit removed a very heavy weight from my body, my sins having been forgiven. Three months latter dad passed away.

    Dad liked to live a hard life and my folks divorced years ago. Every time I asked him if I could take him to Mass I saw fear in his face , so I knew he felt guilt and anger. We went fishing and when I looked at him I knew this was our last outing, a week later he died in a hospital all alone. I prayed hard for him for awhile and after a couple of months I only offered prayers for him in my intentions. I wasn’t convinced my prayers were effective. 6 months after dad died I saw an imagine of dad pop into my mind in the middle of the night. Knowing that this image was inspired by the Holy Spirit since other unrelated images and thoughts have appeared in my dreams throughout my life and since, I started praying for dad again. After that following Sunday mass a blessing with a relic of then blessed Kateri Tekakwitha took placed and I asked for her help in interceding for me on behalf of my dad. I didn’t know we would have this blessing, so I have always associated the intercession of Saint Kateri with the image inspired by the Holy Spirit, but most importantly I believe it proves God’s mercy if we only accept it.

    Father told me most people can only dream of the relationship I have had with the Holy Spirit for I have only told about a small portion of this relationship. There will be a great event in our lives and there will be much suffering. Pray for the dead and dying in communion with the saints: who knows you might help someone accept God’s mercy.

  62. shin says:

    The reason for becoming a priest, the reason for the existence of priesthood itself, is to save souls. To not believe souls need saving..

    ‘St. Prosper says that to save his own soul it will not be enough for a priest to lead a holy life, for he shall be damned with those that are lost through his fault. . . The Council of Cologne declared that if a person take the Order of priesthood without the intention of performing the office of vicar of Jesus Christ, or of saving souls, a great and certain chastisement is reserved for him, as for a wolf and a robber, which he is called in the Gospel. . . And St. John Chrysostom says, “Not on account of their own, but on account of the sins of others that they did not prevent, priests are often condemned to hell.”‘

    St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

    The saints desire tears from their sermons rather than applause, this is what one should be gaining from the pulpit. Listen to the saints. . .

    ‘The path to Heaven is narrow, rough and full of wearisome and trying ascents, nor can it be trodden without great toil; and therefore wrong is their way, gross their error, and assured their ruin who, after the testimony of so many thousands of saints, will not learn where to settle their footing.’

    St. Robert Southwell

    Fewness – 101 Texts
    Hell – 102 Texts

  63. Eric says:

    Jesus said, “I am”

    The devil says, “I am not.”

  64. slainewe says:

    I will praise the Divine Mercy if the majority of men are in Heaven, but it seems only prudent to expect the opposite as well. After all, part of our Judgement will be to see the eternal destination of those we loved on earth. If we balk at seeing some or many of them in Hell, it may mean hard time in Purgatory or worse for us. I want to be just as ready to praise the Divine Justice no matter whom I discover in Hell.

  65. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Slainewe wrote: “I will praise the Divine Mercy if the majority of men are in Heaven, but it seems only prudent to expect the opposite as well. After all, part of our Judgement will be to see the eternal destination of those we loved on earth. If we balk at seeing some or many of them in Hell, it may mean hard time in Purgatory or worse for us. I want to be just as ready to praise the Divine Justice no matter whom I discover in Hell.”

    After the moment of our own individual death, we can say, think, or do nothing further to merit either Heaven or Hell. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ . . . 1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification or immediately,—or immediate and everlasting damnation.”

    Saint Thomas Aquinas explored the question of the attitude of the blessed (that is, those in Heaven) to the damned (that is, those in Hell), and concluded that the blessed neither pity the damned, nor rejoice in their sufferings per se, but that the blessed do rejoice in the fulfillment of all God’s justice, including His judgement of all men, according to their faith and works (ST, Supp., Q 94).

    Perhaps it might be said that some of those very works upon which you and I will be judged, include the prayers, fastings, forgiveness, personal example, material assistance, exhortations, counsel, admonitions, and encouragement that we made or gave during our lifetimes, to or on behalf of our loved ones, that they, too, might amend their lives and be saved. So that if we fail egregiously to help a brother or sister, other family member, friend, or neighbor with our prayers and other assistance, and they lose their souls, God may hold us to a certain extent answerable for their loss.

  66. Mojoron says:

    After reading Fr. Z’s comment and watching Mr. Voris’ video, I have determined that there will be no one going to Heaven. Furthermore, God’s Mercy does not exist and Jesus’ redemption of the human race on the cross did not happen. Consequently we will all be going to Hell thanks to the “narrow road” qualifier and the lack of supporting evidence that mercy is a real product of God’s love for us. Now that we have solved that problem, whats for lunch?

  67. Johnno says:

    Mojoron -

    That would only be so because what’s for lunch is of more import to the average human being than the spiritual norishment God’s mercy freely provides; which unfortunately includes a full course of hard to digest vegetables that many do not like and would prefer Hell over Broccoli.

  68. slainewe says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae

    Thank you for reining in my comment.

    @Mojoron,

    You seem to be implying that the existence of God’s Mercy is enough without men FIGHTING for it.

    We live in a world replete with examples that prove that only those who put all their heart, mind, and strength towards a cause, win the gold. How can we think that men (no matter how “nice”), who have not lifted a finger to know, love, or serve the God-Who-Is in this life, will be allowed to be happy with Him in eternity.

    It makes more sense to me to expect to see all the “nice” men in the upper regions of Hell, were Dante placed all the virtuous pagans.

    (Of course, God’s reality is fine with me, whatever it is. His Mercy is just and His Justice is merciful. What matters is that I trust His ways.)

  69. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Slainewe, thank you for your gracious reply to my earlier comment.

    Mojoron, flippancy about spiritual matters can be a sign of a conscience which has been slowly dying for quite some time, as a result of being wounded by sins, but never healed, refreshed, and restored by prayer, repentance, and the sacraments. I very much hope you are not in that state, but if you are, I hope you will begin to avail yourself of those remedies without delay.

  70. robtbrown says:

    Chuck Ludd,

    Excuse the delay. I am traveling:

    1. There are some serious differences between the theologies of St Thomas and Von Balthasar:

    A. Christology: Von Baltasar’s approach is Kenotic; St Thomas’ is not (kenosis is limited to the defects assumed). This is no small matter. Further, Kenotic Christology is IMHO the foundation of the Mass as Meal nonsense that has been perpetrated (which I’m not sure Von B embraced)

    B. Anthropology: St Thomas concept of man is natural–rational animal. Von B thought any concept of man should include Grace because First Man was constituted in Grace. This is a very basic and important difference.

    C. I don’t think Von B’s theology of Grace is the same as that of St. Thomas. To me this becomes apparent in “The Christian State of Life”, which is, despite that, a book worth reading.

    D. Procreation: Von B, following Greg of Nyssa, thought that in Original Innocence it would have occurred without coition. St Thomas disagrees.

  71. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Marion Ancilla Mariae, I very much, italics on, hope, italics off, that the dear @Mojoron is being flippant. For in itself this is the cry of despair, which is about the worst thing that you can get.

    Dear @slainewe,
    How can we think that men (no matter how “nice”), who have not lifted a finger to know, love, or serve the God-Who-Is in this life, will be allowed to be happy with Him in eternity.

    By God’s mercy.

    If it helps you to not feel your performances undervalued, be assured that justice will be meted out – in Purgatory.

    There is nothing in “lack of effort” which the mercy of God cannot undo – unless, indeed, in the lack of effort is implicit an actual, italics on, rejection, italics off, of God.

    There will be no nice people in Hell. There may, indeed, be people in Hell whom we had thought nice; they were in that case, however, not in reality.

    Hell is for the unrepentant mortal sinner, and for him only. And choosing Hell over Heaven, which is implicit in any mortal sin, and refusing to repent from this choice is not being nice.

    On the other hand, the (regularly very nice) weak man who does not lift so many fingers, commits mortal sins every now and then and repents of them afterwards without being obstinate, then going on in his weak life not lifting many fingers and being nice, gets (if the description fits) to Heaven.

    A personal note. I do know that to conclude from one’s own feelings to God is argument of last resort and quite weak. All the same I cannot really imagine that God is being less merciful and more harsh than a sympathetic father would be to his children.
    That is compatible with God requesting what must be requested (i. e. repentance from sins and acceptance of forgiveness in some ex- or implicit way), and I’m by no means saying that this is a given (the biblical saying comes to mind that precisely those who sinned against the Holy Spirit will be condemned while otherwise even blasphemy will be forgiven); but as for the image of a God enacting additional barriers seemingly as to make Heaven more exclusive on purpose… it’s no secret I have problems with that. (The alternative, after all, is Hell with all its torments. Were the alternative a natural paradise to be set against the supernatural beatific vision, then it would be logical to assume that the latter is a rather exclusive club of the really worthy. But that’s not how it is; we know by the teaching of the Church that all people go to Heaven who do not go to Hell.)

  72. robtbrown says:

    Chuck Ludd,

    Yes, Fr. Barron does say in the video that he sides with Von Balthasar to the extent that Von Balthasar argues that it is reasonable to hope that all people will be saved. This is not saying that all will be saved but that we can hope all to be saved. (Emphasis on “hope”!) What is wrong with that hope?

    It has been time since I read “Dare We Hope”, but I do remember that I didn’t think his arguments for hoping that all men be saved were reasonable. And then there is the little matter of Judas . . .

    One other point: I am a convert and still have many non-Catholic and anti-Catholic friends–also a few atheists. I have experience of the hatred of spiritual things that so many people have. And I’m not referring the sins of weakness or great murderers like Stalin, Hitler, or Mao.

  73. mightyduk says:

    I saw a study once that suggests as many as 75% of MASS attending Catholic couples use contraception. In the US, a majority of Catholics vote for a party that favors baby murder through 9 months from conception… I might suggest that a MAJORITY of mass attending Catholics are on the road to Hell, whether they come off that path is a matter of God’s Grace and their receptivity to the hard teachings…which they won’t even hear if we keep the focus on being “pastoral”.

  74. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    Hell is for the unrepentant mortal sinner, and for him only. And choosing Hell over Heaven, which is implicit in any mortal sin, and refusing to repent from this choice is not being nice.

    I don’t think sins of weakness are implicit choices of hell.

  75. Chuck Ludd says:

    Dear robtbrown:

    I appreciate your thoughtful replies, but can we not hope that Judas will be saved? Hoping for his salvation is not by any means condoning his act. We do not know with certainty what the disposition of his soul is. Indeed he betrayed Our Lord, but we have all betrayed him in some fashion. We do not know Judas’ state of mind at the time that he killed himself. I tend to agree with those who think that suicide is likely only committed by a person who has lost their reason; even so there is always the hope of repentance in that micro-second between when the act has been committed and consciousness is lost.

    As a minor counter-point to your other response to me: I don’t contend that Von Balthasar is a Thomist. Indeed, some of the items you list are why I tend not to side with Von Balthasar and side with Thomas. But my point was: (a) Von Balthasar for the most part uses Thomas’ metaphysics (particularly in relation to ideas of being) and was heavily influenced by Thomas; and (b) Von Balthasar was orthodox even though he was not a Thomist. Orthodoxy does not demand always using the language and explanations given by Aquinas (this is seen clearly in Ratzinger/Benedict who is no more a Thomist than Von Balthasar). I cast my lot with the Thomists that Aquinas has not been surpassed in providing the best articulations of philosophy and theology, but I do not think a non-Thomist is per se unorthodox and I stand by my criticisms of the video that it unfairly lumps Von Balthasar in with Rahner.

  76. JMody says:

    @ Chuck Ludd,
    if we hope that Judas Iscariot might be saved, how are we to interpret Christ’s comment that it will be better for him never to have been born? Judas was called by Him, loved as were the other eleven by Him, and then He makes this remark? Are we hoping that Christ is wrong? That He exaggerated, that is, deceived us, albeit for our own good?

  77. Chuck Ludd says:

    Dear JMody:

    Christ came to reconcile all things to Himself. Is his atonement for some sins and not for other sins? Did he redeem the debt of some sins but not others? Did he not redeem the sin of Judas? We do not know whether Judas is in Hell.

  78. prayerisouronlyhope says:

    May I offer a question that I have been wrestling with for years? I would truly love some feedback on this:
    God, being Omnipotent, knows all things. Why does He create so many souls that He already knows will be going to Hell? I know that He wants all souls to be saved, and to be with Him in Heaven, but He already knows what choices will be made, and where each soul will be.

  79. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    good point. However even the sin out of weakness, if it be mirtal and subjectively so, has a point where the sinner accepts rather to go to Hell than leave it undone.

    That said, such sins, if they don’t become obstinate, are quickly repented of afterwards – which contrary to modern feeling is a good thing.

  80. Imrahil says:

    mortal

  81. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Prayerisouronlyhope, Catholic answers has an article on Hell in general in which the question you ask is briefly treated: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/hell-yes-part-i . There are almost certainly other good articles on full-faith Catholic websites like EWTN.

    As for my own take on the problem of God’s intentions in creating those who would be damned, on predestination, on evil and suffering, and on all questions which the Doctors of the Church themselves concluded had no answer comprehensible by the simple and by beginners (Marion raises hand: “yo!”), I learned long ago for the sake of my serenity to go with Psalm 131, and leave it there.

    A song of ascents. Of David.

    LORD, my heart is not proud;
    nor are my eyes haughty.
    I do not busy myself with great matters,
    with things too sublime for me.

    Rather, I have stilled my soul,
    Like a weaned child to its mother,
    weaned is my soul.

    Israel, hope in the LORD,
    now and forever.

  82. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Chuck wrote, “Christ came to reconcile all things to Himself. Is his atonement for some sins and not for other sins? Did he redeem the debt of some sins but not others? Did he not redeem the sin of Judas? We do not know whether Judas is in Hell.”

    No, the Church pronounces definitively only those who are in Heaven, and then, only some of those – the canonized saints and the beatified – and even then, multitudes upon multitudes of anonymous triumphant souls rejoice in Heaven with God, the rolls of whom even the Church militant does not know or announce. God does not choose to provide us with definitive information about many of those in Heaven, about who is yet in Purgatory, and who is in Hell.

    Since it is clear that the good God has not deigned to make known to us definitively who is and who isn’t where, my question is, what would be the point of any Christian inquiring further into who is and who isn’t where? It seems to me that the question a Christian should ask himself or herself is: “Where am ***I*** heading?” Saint Paul exhorts us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) because we will one day face a king who “will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

    “Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

    “He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

    ” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt 25:41-46)

    These words do not sound to me as if Jesus was just “whistlin’ Dixie.” Clearly, *some* souls will go to Hell. God does not wish us to trouble ourselves about precisely how many or who. God wishes us to trouble ourselves about keeping *ourselves* and those whom He has given us to pray for, out of that infernal place.

    Yes, Jesus came to redeem the whole world, that, is to loosen the bonds of sin that kept us enslaved to the Evil One. However, we have a say in what we will do with that redemption as it applies to us individually, whether our redemption as it applies to us individually will go forward to culminate in our final salvation, or whether, sadly, our redemption as it applies to us individually will not yield the fruit of final salvation, but will wither and die in us, and we will die in final impenitence and be cast into Hell.

    Mary, Woman Clothed with the Sun, Refuge of Sinners, pray for us!

  83. robtbrown says:

    prayerisouronlyhope says:
    May I offer a question that I have been wrestling with for years? I would truly love some feedback on this:
    God, being Omnipotent, knows all things. Why does He create so many souls that He already knows will be going to Hell? I know that He wants all souls to be saved, and to be with Him in Heaven, but He already knows what choices will be made, and where each soul will be.

    When Garrigou-LaGrange was an old man in retirement, he was visited by a former student, who reported that GL told him: If he had to do it all over again, he would have concentrated more on the terrifying mystery of predestination (le mystere terrifiant de la predestination).

  84. robtbrown says:

    Chuck Ludd,

    1. Of course, Christ died for all. But, as has been said here more than once: Redemption is universal, but salvation not necessarily so.

    2. Neither Judas nor anyone else has been reversed canonized, but I don’t think that can be the foundation for an argument that it is possible that all are saved. If I remember correctly (it has been 20 years since I read the book, which is now in storage), Von B offered three arguments that I thought were poor:

    a. Any possibility of an empty hell is refuted by doctrine that there are devils. Further, can we say that God’s Grace, given to angels, is any less efficacious than the Grace given to man?

    b. As I remember, he seemed to take any general reference in the liturgy to praying for man or men as evidence that it is possible that all men will be saved. IMHO, this makes no sense.

    c. And he offered a worse argument: How can hell be eternal if there is no participation in God? In that he failed to distinguish eternity from infinite succession.

    3. There is little double that von B adopted the analogy of being, which is the foundation of St Thomas’ thought (also Bonaventure’s). NB:

    a. The application of the Real Distinction to Being (cf esse et essentia) affirms the unity of Being and of the particular being (existent).

    b. The RD, however, is also applied to the existent. The distinction between the form and matter (here the substantial form and the body) is also real.

    What I know of Von B, he concentrates on the “a”, partly in opposition to traditional SJ philosophy and partly as an antidote to Heidegger, who wanted Being without any reference to the First Cause. When he refers to the existent, however, Von B seems more interested in the unity of the thing (gestalt–trans into English as “form”). If memory serves, he wrote that Thomas’ philosophy is relational, whereas he opts for a more experiential approach.

    One other point that I forgot to mention yesterday: Von B’s Trinitarian theology is definitely not that of St Thomas (or St Aug). His is more an Eastern approach.

  85. Chuck Ludd says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae:

    Well said!

  86. Chuck Ludd says:

    robtbrown: While I appreciate your detailed responses, I think we should end this debate because we are talking past each other.

  87. robtbrown says:

    Chuck Ludd,

    First, you say that Von B uses St Thomas’ metaphysics, and I show that he indeed does with regard to analogy of being (also proportion, integritas, and harmonia), but that there is more to St Thomas’ metaphysics than that. Now you say we are talking past each other, which makes no sense.

    And I never questioned Von B’s orthodoxy (a word I almost never use). When I was reading him so time ago, I noticed that every time it seemed that doctrinal problems would follow from his positions, his approach would change, becoming less specific, more poetic. I have respect for Von B because in his writing he is indeed looking for the Truth–unlike Rahner, who was more interested in formulating a treaty among Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, non Christian religions, and agnostics/atheists.

    Von B (and JRatzinger) also believed in the Hellenic/Latin Christian culture (incl Literature and Music). Rahner seemed to adopt the Protestant notion that the faith is an idea.

  88. GregH says:

    I asked Father Levis this question once on EWTN and this is what he said:

    Number of the Elect
    Question from on 12-19-2004:
    Dear Father Levis,
    I know that the Church has never said nor will it ever say whether the greater the number of souls will be saved or damned. And most people will say it’s not even worth thinking about. However, after having read Massillon’s sermon on the Number of the Elect, I do think it is worthwhile to meditate on the how many will be saved. Especially because it can stir us to work more feverishly for the salvation of our fellow men. With that said, what is your opinion on the number of the elect? Most of the Church fathers were of the opinion that the greater number of men will be damned based on Our Lord’s sayings from the New Testament such “Hard is road and narrow is the way while wide is the road to perdition.” The Angelic doctor himself said fewer will be those who are saved. What is your opinion? Working in the secular world as I do, and seeing the number of unchurched people….I can’t help but think it is as the Church fathers said.

    Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 12-19-2004:
    Dear Greg, I strongly lean to pessimist on the number of the saved, most especially in our time. The great loss of Americans to their Catholic Church, the preponderance of aritificial birth control and aborti0n, TV which heavily portrays the libertine life and free sex, the youth movement which tolerates almost anything, etc. etc. All these will condemn millions upon millions to the fires of Hell, or else the Bible is a book of fairy tales. Merry Christmas. Fr. Bob Levis

  89. Sonshine135 says:

    Saying there is no hell is an insult to the sacrifice our Lord made. What type of idiot would God have to be to die on the cross for the sin of the world if it didn’t matter if you sinned? Perhaps this why so many have so little reverence for the Mass.

  90. acardnal says:

    prayerisouronlyhope says:
    “May I offer a question that I have been wrestling with for years? I would truly love some feedback on this: God, being Omnipotent, knows all things. Why does He create so many souls that He already knows will be going to Hell? I know that He wants all souls to be saved, and to be with Him in Heaven, but He already knows what choices will be made, and where each soul will be.”

    As others have said here, predestination is a mystery and I do not understand it. I believe, however, it is related to free will. And free will is necessary in order to love; and we know that God is love.

    Having said that I recall something Scott Hahn, Ph.D. said about predestination and the foreknowledge of God:

    Imagine you are sitting on high peak in the Rocky Mountains and had view of a vast expanse of the world around you. You can see for many, many miles. In the distance, you see a train approaching the curve that surrounds a high hill, but the engineer is blind to what is on the other side. And you can also see that there is another train approaching from the opposite direction and on the same tracks. You can see that there will be a head on collision between the two trains. Each train is blind to the other due to the hill between them…obstructing their view. But YOU can see what is about to happen! You KNOW what will occur. But you are not causing it to happen.

    This is one explanation of God’s permitting will versus His ordaining will. He knows what will happen but he doesn’t cause it. He allows it.

  91. Kathleen10 says:

    I will have to come back and read all the wisdom on this topic.
    But it has long seemed the emphasis has been on God’s merciful nature, not properly balanced with God’s just nature. So we have a contemporary vision of a smiling God that loves us unconditionally, and he doesn’t sound like the sort who might….pull the lever and send you down, down, down, to your eternal damnation? Well it just doesn’t sound like him, in contemporary descriptions.
    But what was that He said about entering through the narrow gate, and wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and many therein do find it…(shudder) That scares the heck out of me. I don’t know about you.
    So Jesus himself warned of the wide gate that leads, not to Six Flags, but to destruction.
    None of us will know on this side what the exact requirements are for entering either the wide or narrow path, but, the word destruction from my God will keep me on my toes.

  92. prayerisouronlyhope says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae and @acardnal-
    Thank you so much for your responses.
    @Marion Ancilla Mariae – I am concerned only because I think of all these poor souls who will end up in Hell. I know all I can do is pray for the salvation of all souls, but it is something that bothers me.
    @acardnal – I have heard a similar explanation as the one you recounted from Mr. Hahn. Also like watching a movie where you can intuit the outcome but have no input into the resolution.

    I know that God does not cause it – only allows it – I just still don’t understand. Guess I’m not meant to.

    Thank you again for your responses.