Engage in the “Battle for the Eternal Salvation of Souls” – Wherein Fr. Z beats to Quarters


So that you don’t miss it, I provide below an explanation of the Holy Father’s oft cited and puzzling maxim “time is greater than space”.  Don’t miss it.


A young writer at the increasingly helpful – and descriptive – Crisis in a new must-read offering penned:

No happy bromides about non-condemnation can erase Christ’s fifteen warnings about Hell. No heady defense of sin, no tangled jargon on “time” and “space,” can theorize the Four Last Things out of existence.

How often do I remind you here of the Four Last Things?  And why?  Because it’s my task to try to keep as many of you out of Hell as possible.  Put another, happier way, to help as many of you as possible to heaven.

Let’s look at this great piece at Crisis with my usual treatment:

Amoris Laetitia and the Four Last Things

Hell—St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns to mentally visit the inferno during life so they would not be imprisoned in it after death. St. John Vianney sighed because the saints, who were so pure, cultivated holy fear while “we, who so often offend the good God—we have no fears.”  [I will sometimes ask people to imagine the first 10 seconds of a soul’s experience in Hell.]

At last month’s Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Burke recalled Fatima’s “terrifying vision of Hell, foreshadowed in the evils visited upon the world at the time.” That chilling image evokes a warning from Fr. Charles Arminjon’s The End of the Present World [US HERE – UK HERE]:

Remove the fear of eternal punishment from mankind, and the world will be filled with crime… Hell will simply happen sooner: instead of being postponed until the future life, it will be inaugurated in the midst of humanity, in the present life.

In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis announces: “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” (297). [I’d like to think that the Holy Father meant to add “… in this life.”] Josef Seifert warns that it’s “nearly unavoidable” to deduce a denial of Hell—a fear echoed by others. Anna Silvas notesAmoris Laetitia’s “missing” lexicon of eternity: “There are no immortal souls in need of eternal salvation to be found in the document!”  [We’ve seen here before.  HERE  That’s worth a review.]

But papal ghostwriter Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez is ebullient with joy because, as he declares in a 1995 article, “I rely firmly upon the truth that all are saved.” The author of Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, Fernandez elsewhere rhapsodizes that extra-marital sex can express “ecstatic” charity and “Trinitarian richness.”  [BLECH… I’m not linking that.]

And Fernandez the papal ghostwriter—as Michael Pakaluk and Sandro Magister have shown—repeatedly plagiarizes his previous work in Amoris Laetitia. For instance, Fernandez’s 2006 declaration that “Trinitarian” love can be “realized within an objective situation of sin” is echoed in Amoris Laetitia 305.  [Can it?  I wonder. I doubt it.]

Last September, the four cardinals submitted their dubia out of grave concern for “the true good of souls.” They’ve now published a letter from April requesting an audience with the pontiff—who has not responded.

As the months of papal non-engagement grow, Pope Francis’s maxim that “time is greater than space” feels increasingly ominous. Fernandez—whose cited and uncited work also appears in Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium—has long claimed that we’re in an age of revolutionary “time.” [What just popped into my head was the phrase “perpetual revolution”.  On the issue of the phrase “time is greater than space”, see what I add at the end.]

In his book The Francis Project, [Not linking that either.] Fernandez laments that conservative “fanatics” can’t accept that the “Spirit”—which can “elude the supervision of the institution of the Church”—is leading us “toward a different phase.” It’s a phase where, apparently, God is “Mother” and “you should follow your conscience” and “a pope who tells us that God wants us to be happy on this earth will never ask us to be obsessed with sacrifice.” It’s a phase where, to quote Pope Francis, the Church isn’t “obsessed” with abortion or sexual ethics either.

It’s a phase where, to quote Evangelii Gaudium, “time is greater than space”—where “initiating processes” in politics and the Church advances a “utopian future” with “no possibility of return” (222). It’s a frankly eerie “final cause”—“the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future … which draws us to itself” (222).  [Brrrrrrr!]

So “time” and the “Spirit” are the utopia’s shining protagonists. Time lets reformers “work slowly but surely” (EG 223). Time lets each “region” seek its own “solutions” because “not all … doctrinal, moral, or pastoral issues need to be settled by … the magisterium” (AL 3). Eventually, the “Spirit … overcomes every conflict by creating a new … synthesis” (EG 230), enabling us “to see all things as he does” (AL 3).

Silvas senses here the “gnostic spirit of the cult of modernity”:

I think ‘the spirit’ to which Francis so soothingly alludes has more to do with the Geist of Herr Heigel … [which] manifests itself in the midst of contradictions and oppositions, surmounting them in a new synthesis…

We are in a world of dynamic fluidity here, of starting open-ended processes, of sowing seeds of desired change that will triumph over time. Other theorists—you have here in Italy, Gramsci and his manifesto of cultural Marxism—teach how to achieve revolution by stealth.

Hence a revolution through an “incremental change of praxis” across time. [Creeping Incrementalism] Slowly, inexorably, “region by region, bishops around the world begin to ‘interpret’ Amoris Laetitia” subversively—“to a point of no return.” Buenos Aires, Rome, San Diego, the Philippines, Malta, Germany, Belgium, and Sicily have one by one embraced Communion for those in adultery—with some areas earning direct praise and thanks from the pontiff.

The four cardinals’ April letter told Pope Francis how “painful” it is to see “that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta.” Fernandez, for his part, has proudly claimed that Pope Francis goes “slowly” because he’s “aiming at reform that is irreversible.

So eternity must yield to “time”; the Four Last Things—death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell—must be swallowed up by the sparkly worldly utopia. Silvas sees the “end game” as “a more or less indifferent permission for any who present for Holy Communion”:

And so we attain the longed-for haven of all-inclusiveness and “mercy”: the terminal trivialization of the Eucharist, of sin and repentance, of the sacrament of Matrimony, of any belief in objective and transcendent truth, the evisceration of language, and of any stance of compunction before the living God.

A long, subversive march through the Church [“march”?… perpetual revolution?] —synced to the “siren song” of “accompaniment,” the mellifluous music of “mercy.”

At the Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Burke preached Fatima’s prophetic message of saving souls from “mortal sin and its fruit: eternal death.” He preached prayer, penance, reparation, and Marian consecration; he preached that pastors’ “failure to teach the faith” endangers souls “mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense.”

Cardinal Caffarra starkly described the world’s present attempt to place Christ and his gospel on “trial.” He described an Evil One who utters “banalities about man,” who seduces man into sin out of sneering “contempt.” The cardinal quoted Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor before Christ: “You judge of men too highly … they are born slaves … I swear to you that man is weaker and lower than You have ever imagined him to be!”

Cardinal Caffarra imagined Satan taunting God with an “anti-creation,” a sin-soaked hell on earth: “And man will say: it is better in the alternative creation than in your creation.” It’s precisely what Fr. Arminjon described—Hell irrupting into the present life, Hell happening early because mankind scoffs at its eternal reality.

No happy bromides about non-condemnation can erase Christ’s fifteen warnings about Hell. [No wonder some Jesuits say that we can’t know what Christ really said, because they didn’t have tape recorders.] No heady defense of sin, no tangled jargon on “time” and “space,” can theorize the Four Last Things out of existence. Cardinal Burke calls us to battle for the eternal salvation of souls; Cardinal Caffarra calls us to testify for Christ and his gospel—currently on trial.

More about that phrase, “time is greater than space”.  What’s that all about?

Tracey Rowland explains this in her terrific recent book Catholic Theology.  She wrote that this is an element of the Pope’s:

… ‘People’s Theology’. One of the most extensive articles on this subject is Juan Carlos Scannone’s ‘El papa Francisco y la teologia del pueblo’ published in the journal Razón y Fe. 86 In this paper Scannone claims that not only is Pope Francis a practitioner of ‘People’s Theology’ but also that Francis extracted his favourite four principles – time is greater than space, unity prevails over conflict, reality is more important than ideas, and the whole is greater than the parts – from a letter of the nineteenth-century Argentinian dictator, Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793– 1877) sent to another Argentinian caudillo, Facundo Quiroga (1788– 1835), in 1834. These four principles, which are said to govern the decision-making processes of Pope Francis, have their own section in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and references to one or other of them can be found scattered throughout his other papal documents. Pope Francis calls them principles for ‘building a people’. A common thread running through each of these principles is the tendency to give priority to praxis over theory. [Read that again… priority of praxis over theory.  Remember my comments that, right now more than ever even in the 80’s and 90’s, “pastoral” is used as a weapon against “doctrine”, “intellect”, “academics”, even “magisterium”, and certainly “law”.] There is also a sense that conflict in itself is not a bad thing, that ‘unity will prevail’ somehow [Hegel?] and that time will remove at least some of the protagonists in any conflict. The underlying metaphysics is quite strongly Hegelian, [yep] and the approach to praxis itself resembles what Lamb classified as ‘cultural-historical’ activity and is associated primarily with Luther and Kant rather than Marx. Professor Loris Zanatta of the University of Bologna has published an article entitled ‘Un papa peronista?’ in which he makes the claim that Pope Francis has used the word pueblo or people some 356 times in his papal speeches, that Pope Francis believes that poverty bestows upon people a moral superiority, and accordingly, that for Pope Francis, the ‘deposit of the faith’ is to be found preserved among the poor living in ‘inner city neighbourhoods’.  Such a reading situates Pope Francis squarely in the territory of Scannone’s ‘People’s Theology’.

Rowland, Tracey. Catholic Theology (Doing Theology) (Kindle Locations 4240-4257). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Friends, if you want to understand more about Pope Francis, you should obtain this book as soon as possible.

 Catholic Theology.  


Some of you will ask…

“What must we do?  What is our role in this Battle?”

First, examine your lives and consciences and GO TO CONFESSION.

Next, lay people, start forming your own “base communities”, in which you read together and study the classics and the solid documents of the Church’s perennial Magisterium.  Do not lie down mute before heterodox teaching: ask questions.  If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, ask the questions again.

Pray and offer mortifications for your pastors and each other.  Offer acts of reparation for the sins of priests and bishops who act like hirelings.

Embrace our traditional devotions and our traditional sacred liturgical worship.

Be ready to suffer.  Ready yourself for the Cross.  Be willing to stay on that Cross as long as it is offered.  Get your head into a mental place where, when the suffering comes, you will have the interior resources to bear it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Four Last Things, Francis, GO TO CONFESSION and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Thank you for this post, Fr. Z. What are “Christ’s fifteen warnings about Hell”? Are they Scripture references?

  2. dholwell says:

    “Next, lay people, start forming your own “base communities”, in which you read together and study the classics and the solid documents of the Church’s perennial Magisterium. Do not lie down mute before heterodox teaching: ask questions. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, ask the questions again.”

    Great idea. Does anyone have a syllabus or an ordered reading list for such a community?

  3. PA mom says:

    Several members of our moms group recently started a book club. Two books by CS Lewis, now The Shack, and next up is Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc.

    Trying to decide my own future book selection… maybe Anthony Ensolen.

    Attendance has grown each month, so it can be done!

  4. Kerry says:

    dholwell, Fr. Heilman at RomanCatholicMan(dot)com on his sidebar has Reading Plan, with lots of resources. Try there.

    [Fr. Heilenburg? Hillenstein? Who?]

  5. GypsyMom says:

    More than ever, I feel as if I am part of an underground Church. We must fight the despair that seeks to enter our hearts. [Right!] In the end, Jesus will come for His Bride. May the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart come quickly!

    [In the meantime, we must be busy and resolute.]

  6. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Hi, dholwell:

    You asked “does anyone have a syllabus or an ordered reading list?”

    Another commenter may have a better answer to your question, dholwell, because I can’t provide an *ordered* reading list. However, Brandon Vogt of the Catholic blog “Strange Notions” (whom in my experience over several years, has written articles and comments always of a reliably solid Catholic character) has a list called “Best Catholic Books of All Time.”


    One could put together such a list oneself. It shouldn’t be too difficult to weed out any authors or writings that are truly “iffy” in their theology or moral teaching, if one restricts such a list to

    1. Sacred Scripture
    2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
    3. Works by the Fathers of the Church (New Advent.org is a good resource for this)
    4. Works by other, later authors who have been raised to the altars of the Church (i.e., saints and blesseds)
    5. Works by other authors whose work has been *endorsed in writing* by one or more of the saints and blesseds.

    Most of the books put out by Tan Publishers are very worth reading.

    The encyclical (by a canonized pope – N.B. not all the popes are canonized saints) _Pascendi Dominici Gregis_ Encyclical of Pope Saint Pius X: _On The Doctrines of The Modernists_ is a worthwhile read for any Catholic. It’s available on the Vatican.va website.

    Good luck with your study group, and may God grant you success in this.

  7. Ocampa says:

    I find it hard to imagine my first 10 seconds in Hell. I’ve always thought, “If that’s where God chooses to send me, then God is just and it is where I belong.”

    [You need to rethink this.]

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    ? did you and a certain hefty pastor west of Madison who likes “Divine Mercy” have a falling out? or is there some kind of joke? [Not a joke. No falling out. I just don’t care for it.]

    I lead a book study group at my parish where we have been reading through the major writings of all three Carmelite Doctors of the Church for 2 or 3 years now. I make dinner and dessert every week (it’s always some kind of crowd pleasing vegetarian food that is affordable to make a lot and everyone can enjoy together). There are 12 or more people per week (yes the free good food helps). Great people. We form a greater density of friendships in the parish and learn directly from the spiritual masters about how God wants to make us saints. They have actually loved going through St John of the Cross’ writings in detail. Yes under the right circumstances it can be done. Parish book groups: DO NOT SETTLE FOR “THE SHACK”.

  9. Kerry says:

    Father Z., uh oh. Did I goof it? Isn’t it Father Richard Heilman at RomanCatholicMan?

  10. chantgirl says:

    GypsyMom- Yes, clearly Satan has been granted the time to sift us like wheat, and even in our own “catholic” families we can feel like outsiders. I take a somewhat perverse pleasure in knowing that my wayward family members cannot stop me from secretly praying for them or having Masses said for them. When I hear a disparaging remark about my faith, I smile to myself and think “Perhaps the Hound of Heaven will catch them yet!”. It’s either this, or I would despair at the apostasy around me.

    If the Church is undergoing the trial of Christ’s teachings, the scourging and crucifixion can’t be far behind. Increasingly in prayer, when I pray for my children, I have felt a terrible premonition of raising lambs for the slaughter. Perhaps it is a temptation to despair; perhaps it is the actual future. For many of us I think the most terrifying suffering is not that we may suffer, but that our children might. I admire the courage of Christians in the Middle East who still manage to take their children to Mass knowing that a bomb could make it their last. In the West, I admire those who adhere to their convictions even if it might cost them their livelihood. I am going to start invoking the intercession of the mother from Maccabees.

    Whatever terrible evils the internet has allowed to visit upon the earth, it has also allowed faithful Catholics a place to meet, to learn, to know that they are not alone, and to network.

  11. sibnao says:

    Been praying for a good while on how to fight for right, for the eternal truths of the Church, considering I’m a housewife and mother. My resolution, which I invite people to share with me, is the obvious one: I offer to bear the anxieties (true and severe) of my state in life, as cheerfully as I can, for God’s truth to prevail in our time. I also offer an ongoing health trouble, one we are thousands of dollars in debt for, so that God can raise up warriors. I am not warrior material. But dear God may I be ready at my post when I have to beat that drum and not run away.

  12. jaykay says:

    “More about that phrase, “time is greater than space”.  What’s that all about?”

    It’s all relative, Faddah. “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space”, original explanation of TARDIS, Dr. Who’s spaceship… erm, blue Police Box. What BBC writers cooked-up over a cup of bad coffee and many ciggies in the Beeb canteen in 1963 is now official Catholic doctrine. It’s all relative, don’tcha know? Eternal Truth… blech.

  13. THREEHEARTS says:

    Mike Hurcum writes…
    You are wrong in asking people to imagine the first moments in hell. We can’t as it is so awful. You are correct on Confession Fr. It is such a wonderful sacrament. I remind so many so often that we cannot go to hell if we have Christ in us. If scriptures are read in the right way, invoking the Holy Ghost by asking Him to come to us as Christ’s promised Paraclete gets us as one of the Psalms says “puts our feet on the right path”
    In the early 1990’s I was rather dramatically directed to go to Guadeloupe at Christmas and on Christmas Eve my birthday at 8.15 pm I was given a prayer for all people. Then at least 50 people saw Bl Mary standing on he moon. I have used this prayer locally for some time. Priests have cried and a priest tore out of the Confessional before I could finish. Others have cried with Joy and others have shook with fright. I asked Jesus who was to say this prayer for me. It was not right that I was to wonder what my options were. Some nights later I was awakened and told to come to our place to pray so after midnight I struggled out of a deep sleep and went towards the other end of the house.
    Before I got far from my bedroom door the house was lit up with a bright, bright silver light so bright I could see across the lake and the contrast between light and shadows was so bright it was like I could see each pine needle from the 100 meters or so away. Sit down I was told and I did, in fact I could not stand up and I had no way to stand . The world went black and I cannot describe this properly. I felt so lost so deserted my heart and body ached. I have never felt so lonely. I heard the hatred around me I felt I was being torn apart by despair. The loneliness was deafening I had no one to hold me. Again like the Psalmist said I looked for someone to suffer with me and there were none? My heart was broken and seemed to be torn apart. Then suddenly the darkness of normal light, the moonlight was back and I could move. How long did this last maybe a minute or two. I could not have been able to last it any longer. Well Father how can I or anyone stand an eternity in such pain and yet many of us will I live in a constant suppressed fear that If I do look for Grace in the Sacrament of Penance I will end up back there for ever. You see my name well I can say Mikey did not like it at all. If you want confirmation look in the history of the Heavens Mexico City and the magnificent shooting star so many saw around 9.300 must have been recorded.

  14. amenamen says:

    The answer to life, the universe and everything is Forty Two.

    I know that the saying, “Time is greater than space,” is supposed to be a kind of short-hand slogan that means something like, “Wait long enough and you will overthrow enormous obstacles.” However, these few words, without a lot of explanation, just do not mean anything to me.

    It sounds like gibberish. Something like, “Blue is softer than sideways,” or “Dog is rounder than music.”

    I have a yardstick and a stopwatch. On your mark, get set, compare.

  15. DJAR says:

    Regardless of what some think regarding the Divine Mercy Devotion, Saint Faustina’s diary entry about hell is quite sobering.

    Also, the Letter from Beyond, which was published many years ago with an Imprimatur, is sobering.


  16. mburn16 says:

    I fear we’re running out of time to see Cardinal Burke have a chance of following the Holy Father. sigh.

  17. bibi1003 says:

    There’s a great list at romancatholicman.com.

  18. hilltop says:

    It is His Holiness’s preferential option for Time over Space that rings flat to my ear:
    -For, as I understand things, in the end Time shall cease, but Space – at very least in the sense of two of the last four things: Heaven and Hell (two distinct places) shall endure.
    -The Last Judgment has Space -those on Christ’s right and those on His left, but no Time;
    -The Heavenly Jerusalem has Space -occupied by its very form described in meticulous detail in St John’s Apocolypse, and even measured for us by an Angel of God, but no Time;
    -The Heavenly Jerusalem descends through Space -from Heaven to Earth, but Time goes unmentioned;
    -That there are Four “Last” Things surely indicates 1) That the “Things” occur in time, and that 2) Time ends.
    And the above are just a few examples of what gives me pause about the idea of Time’s ascendency over Space. My sense is that things are quite the opposite: Time may even cease, Space shall not.
    Further, to place Time above Space may well be an attempt to postpone indefinitely the “Last” things. Hegel would certainly approve.

  19. GregB says:

    I saw a video where a rabbi goes through an explanation of the names of God. He says that YHVH(YHWH) in the original language is a composite of the three Hebrew words for existence. Existing in the past, the present, and the future all at once. This is the name of God in His essence. The rabbi places YHVH(YHWH) as existing totally outside of creation, where time is a simultaneous expression. He also compares YHVH(YHWH) to the concept of imaginary numbers. This makes God atemporal. To me this undermines the progressive, modernist arguments.
    Increasingly the progressive, modernist writings read like they were written by someone on a bad acid trip.


  21. JuliB says:

    “a pope who tells us that God wants us to be happy on this earth will never ask us to be obsessed with sacrifice.”

    I’ve often been surprised at the number of Christians who believe this. I’ve yet to see that idea expressed in the Bible (or any older Church documents). There’s a peace of being with God, and a certain happiness, but certainly not what most people think of when they think of happiness.

  22. Philokalos says:

    • Reading list? John Senior’s 1000 Good Books (included in The Death of Christian Culture).
    • Syllabus? Great Books (here’s one list; there are others: http://www.udallas.edu/constantin/core-curriculum/books.php). Learn Latin. Learn Greek. Stop putting yourself at the mercy of the translations of others. Would you sign a 30-year mortgage if you were only allowed to read a translation of the original document?
    • Plan? Scriptures every day. One chapter of the Gospel every day. No exceptions. Morning offering. Evening examination of conscience. Frequent confession.

    Stop reading the news.

  23. kram2181 says:

    Sacred Scripture should indeed be the #1 resource on your reading list, but be sure to select an orthodox translation and publisher. By all means, DO NOT choose the New American Bible (or any translation with the word “new” in it). It is a great scandal that the USCCB endorses and uses this version of the Bible. Anyone familiar with it knows of the confusing and practically heretical footnotes pockmarked across the holy pages of the Word of God.

  24. Philokalos says:


    Yes, I agree about the NAB.

    A word on my background: I have been reading the Gospels in Greek for a little over a decade now, a chapter per day, which comes out to a little over 30 times through all the Gospels, plus 7 times through the whole NT in Greek. I have also attended daily Mass regularly for say a little over 50% of that time. So I have been reading and re-reading and hearing and re-hearing different versions of the same text pretty regularly since my conversion.

    I have heard enough of the NAB in Mass to conclude that the wrong translations taken together represent a systematic effort, to effect folly or wickedness, rather than mere unfortunate ineptitude.

    • For example, the ICEL approved 2001 lectionary, taken from the NAB, for Luke 20.24, reads: “The children of this age marry and remarry.” The Greek says ???????? ??? ??????????? (i.e., the verbs are active and passive). So it means “marry and are given in marriage”. [Use unicode.]

    • Pronouns are often changed in number, from generic masculine singular in the original to plural.

    I like the RSV (CE), the King James, and the D-R (although this is not a translation of the Greek but of the Latin Vulgate). As a professional translator and as a Latinist, I consider the NAB of no account. As a Catholic, I hate the NAB and think the world would be a better place without it.

    I also like the Navarre Bible.

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