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The Epistle appointed to be read during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today is taken from the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 10, Verses 6 to 13.
These things were done in a figure of us, that we should not covet evil things as they also coveted. Neither become ye idolaters, as some of them, as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ: as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. Neither do you murmur: as some of them murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them in figure: and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall. Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.
Please stand for the Holy Gospel.
The Gospel for today is taken from the Holy Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 19, Verses 41 to 47.
At that time Jesus:
Drew near [Jerusalem], seeing the city, He wept over it, saying:
If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.And entering into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought. Saying to them:
It is written: "My house is the house of prayer". But you have made it a den of thieves.And he was teaching daily in the temple.
Thus far are the words of today's Holy Gospel.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
It is a Dogma of the Catholic Church that God rewards those who are good and punishes those who are evil, as the Apocalypse testifies in these words:
“And He saith to me: ... He that hurteth, let him hurt still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is just, let him be justified still: and he that is Holy, let him be Sanctified still. Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his works.” (Apocalypse 22:10-12.)Over the years, various Catholics have told us that, while they believe this Dogma of the Justice of God, their question is WHEN?
When will God execute His Justice upon the wicked?
God executes His Justice upon the wicked two times:
1) The second time is always, without exception, at their Particular Judgement.
This explains why the Exterior Justice of God does not always appear in this life because it often happens that the wicked prosper materially, while frequently those who are good eat what is called “the bread of affliction”.
Saint John the Baptist, Christ Himself, and some of the Apostles, e.g. Saint Jude Thaddeus, led a life of poverty and all of the Apostles suffered persecution and martyrdom for the Faith - even though Saint John died a natural death, this was after he had been exiled to the island of Patmos because he emerged unhurt from the cauldron of boiling oil into which he was thrown outside the gates of Rome when the enemies of God tried to kill him.
By the same token, in the days of Christ, Herod, Pilate, the high-priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees were worldly and materialistic and certainly NOT Virtuous, did NOT live a Life of Prayer, and did NOT live a Spiritual Life.
They all had job security at very good wages and lived either in luxurious palaces or expensive mansions. In the blind eyes of the materialistic world these things supposedly make people happy.
The same is true today.
Yet Catholics observe how those people who are worldly, materialistic, paganistic, and even Satanic, and who often do not care about God, are perceived to be in the lap of worldly and materialistic luxury, living in multi-million dollar homes, with several luxury cars in their garages, with pantries stocked to the brim with all kinds of food, freezers and refrigerators packed with food and drinks, bulging bank accounts - especially of those who are millionaires and billionaires - wallets stuffed with large denomination currency, stacks of credit cards, closets oozing with high-end designer clothes and shoes, their children attending the most prestigious colleges and universities the world has to offer, rare and/or grossly overpriced art pieces which hang on their walls or sit on fancy pedestals, etc.
Some of the people who are worldly, materialistic, paganistic, and even Satanic, have a fleet of vintage vehicles, while others of them seem to have excellent health, at least the ones who do not take drugs, and many of them have multi-million dollar incomes from booming businesses, especially those who own banks and credit card companies which continuously break the law of God against usury.
Many sincere, devout, responsible Catholics do not understand this.
Some Catholics are even scandalized and ask: “Why does God permit this?”
However, Catholics need to remember that this life is not always the place where God’s Justice manifests itself. God permits the proverbial wheat and the cockle to grow together.
Nevertheless, in the next life things will be reversed!
God will separate the proverbial wheat from the cockle and burn all the cockle, and gather the wheat into His barn, i.e. gather the Souls of the Just into Heaven, or, as the Apocalypse puts it:
“Here is the patience of the Saints, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from Heaven, saying to me: Write: Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; for their works follow them.” (Apocalypse 14:12-13.)But what happens to the evil people?
Again, the Apocalypse is very descriptive where you read in part:
“And the angel thrust in his sharp sickle into the earth, and gathered the vineyard of the earth, and cast it into the great press of the wrath of God: And the press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Apocalypse 14:19-20). Because one furlong is 1/8 of one mile, 1,600 furlongs would be 200 miles.2) But when is the first time that God executes His Justice upon the wicked?
The first time is in this life when God sometimes, although not always, rewards the good and punishes the wicked, not always in an exterior way, but rather in an interior way.
Consider how even in this world wicked people are rarely happy. Even if they have everything they want, be it fame, fortune, or social position, they lack one thing - the interior peace of a good conscience.
Millionaires, Billionaires, corrupt and evil politicians, can NEVER kill the worms of corruption that gnaw at them in the midst of their luxurious life, just as their anguished conscience gnaws at them and constantly torments them about the Last Things and embitters whatever fleeting feelings of real happiness they might rarely experience.
For example, from time to time, the TV news abounds with stories of the revolving doors at so-called rehab centers for certain Hollywood multi-millionaires who use them to escape jail time for their transgressions.
Truly, the words of the Apostle are verified in sinners: Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first... (Romans 2:9.)
But how different it is with the people who are Just because their good conscience consoles them while they hope that whatever they suffer here in this life will be made up to them a hundred-fold hereafter in the next life. To the Just are added the interior consolations which God sends to His faithful people.
“It can neither profit me, the speaker, to speak, nor you, the hearers, to hear, unless we comply with the things which are spoken, ...so let us not limit the display of our zeal to hearing only, but let us observe what is said in our deeds. For it is indeed a good thing to spend time continually in hearing the Divine oracles: but this good thing becomes useless when the benefit to be derived from hearing is not linked with it.” (Patriarch Saint John Chrysostom [b. Antioch, c. 347 A.D. - d. at Commana in Pontus on Friday, September 14, 407 A.D.], Patriarch of Constantinople [Thursday, February 26, 398 A.D. - Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D.], exiled from his See the 2nd time on Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D., Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church. Sermon on Romans 12:20; emphasis added.)
For our resolutions, let all of us, by the Grace of God, firmly resolve to take comfort and consolation in this dogma of the Justice of God. Those Catholics who live a good, Virtuous, and devout Catholic life will be rewarded by God, as for example:
“For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in My name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:40.)Everyone needs to always be prepared because Christ comes quickly and we known not the day nor the hour where we read:
“Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his works. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the Blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the Tree of Life [a symbol of the Most Holy Eucharist], and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.” (Apocalypse 22:12, 14-15.)In other words, dogs [this allegorical word symbolizes moral filth as well as spiritual and moral cowardice], sorcerers [necromancers - those who practice divination by conjuring up the dead], unchaste [fornicators; adulterers; prostitutes], murderers, idolaters [worship of false gods, e.g. not just the false gods of pagan antiquity of Greece and Rome, but the modern false gods of money, self, devils, wealth, rampant materialism, etc.], liars ..[N.B. There is no such thing as a "white lie"!], and all who do evil [those who deliberately commit sin because they have an "I do not care" attitude, or who are grossly negligent and/or irresponsible concerning the means to procure the eternal salvation of their own immortal soul] shall “go into Hell, into unquenchable fire: where their worm [of corruption] dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.” (Mark 9:42-43.)
There are two things that motivate people to do good and not to commit sin. One is positive, the other is negative.
Positive Motivation to Avoid Committing Sin
The positive motivation is objective and is primarily the love of God and the pain of the loss of God for all eternity. Such a Soul deliberately tries to avoid committing sin because sin is an offense against God Whom the Soul loves and therefore the Soul does not want to hurt God, so to speak in terms of anthropomorphism (The representation of God as having a human form or human traits.), nor does the Soul want to lose God for all eternity.
This is the positive summary of the first three Commandments. The positive summary of the last seven Commandments is the love of one's neighbor. This is what Christ teaches all of us in the Gospel where we read:
36 Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.
38 This is the greatest and the first commandment.
39 And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
40 On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40.)
The negative motivation is subjective and is to avoid eternal punishment in Hell which is so painful it is beyond human comprehension and experience. While one should profitably meditate on the above Scripture which warns all of us concerning Souls which “go into Hell, into unquenchable fire: where their worm [of corruption] dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished” (Mark 9:42-43), perhaps the following might give more life and meaning to this Scripture which is about the horrible pains of Hell.
Saint John Bosco on the Horrible Pains of Hell
Many of the dreams of Saint John Bosco could more properly be called visions, for God used this means to reveal His will for the Saint and for the boys of the Oratory, as well as the future of the Salesian Congregation. Not only did his dreams lead and direct the Saint, they also gave him wisdom and guidance by which he was able to help and guide others upon their ways. He was just nine years of age when he had his first dream that laid out his life mission. It was this dream that impressed Pope Pius IX so much that he ordered Saint John Bosco to write down his dreams for the encouragement of his Congregation and the rest of us.
On Sunday night, May 3, 1868, the feast of Saint Joseph’s patronage, Saint John Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams in which he said in part:
“I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which totally exhausted me. Call them dreams or whatever you like. Always, as you know, on the night of April 17 a frightful toad seemed bent on devouring me. When it finally vanished, a voice said to me: ‘Why don't you tell them?’ I turned in that direction and saw a distinguished person standing by my bed...”Shortly after this part, Saint John Bosco relates the “vision-dream” he had of Hell in great detail. What follows is the conclusion of his “vision-dream” of Hell. The person to whom he refers is this same “distinguished person” whom he had seen earlier “standing by my bed” who was his guide in this “vision-dream” of Hell.
“‘May I mention all these things to my boys?’ I asked, looking at him straight in the eye. ‘Yes, you may tell them whatever you remember.’ ‘What advice shall I give them to safeguard them from such a tragedy?’ ‘Keep telling them that by obeying God, the Church, their parents, and their superiors, even in little things, they will be saved.’ ‘Anything else?’ ‘Warn them against idleness. Because of idleness David fell into sin. Tell them to keep busy at all times, because the devil will not then have a chance to tempt them.’”
“I bowed my head and promised. Faint with dismay, I could only mutter, ‘Thanks for having been so good to me. Now, please lead me out of here.’ ‘All right, then, come with me.’ Encouragingly he took my hand and held me up because I could hardly stand on my feet. Leaving that hall, in no time at all we retraced our steps through that horrible courtyard and the long corridor.”
“But as soon as we stepped across the last bronze portal, he turned to me and said, ‘Now that you have seen what others suffer, you too must experience a touch of Hell.’ ‘No, no!’ I cried in terror. He insisted, but I kept refusing. ‘Do not be afraid,’ he told me; ‘just try it. Touch this wall.’ I could not muster enough courage and tried to get away, but he held me back. ‘Try it,’ he insisted. Gripping my arm firmly, he pulled me to the wall. ‘Only one touch,’ he commanded, ‘so that you may say you have both seen and touched the walls of eternal suffering and that you may understand what the last wall must be like if the first is so unendurable. Look at this wall!’”
“I did intently. It seemed incredibly thick. ‘There are a thousand walls between this and the real fire of Hell,’ my guide continued. ‘A thousand walls encompass it, each a thousand measures [miles] thick and equally distant from the next one. Each measure is a thousand miles. This wall therefore is millions and millions of miles from Hell’s real fire. It is just a remote rim of Hell itself.’”
“When he said this, I instinctively pulled back, but he seized my hand, forced it open, and pressed it against the first of the thousand walls. The sensation was so utterly excruciating that I leaped back with a scream and found myself sitting up in bed. My hand was stinging and I kept rubbing it to ease the pain. When I got up this morning I noticed that it was swollen. Having my hand pressed against the wall, though only in a dream, felt so real that, later, the skin of my palm peeled off. Bear in mind that I have tried not to frighten you very much, and so I have not described these things in all their horror as I saw them and as they impressed me. We know that Our Lord always portrayed Hell in symbols because, had He described it as it really is, we would not have understood Him. No mortal can comprehend these things. The Lord knows them and He reveals them to whomever He wills.” (Dreams, Visions & Prophecies of Don Bosco, edited by Rev. Eugene M. Brown, Don Bosco Publications, New Rochelle, New York, 1986, pp. 211-227.)
So, for those of you who need negative motivation in order to avoid committing sin, remember this “vision-dream” of Hell of Saint John Bosco! Also remember the horrible pain in the Saint's hand from having touched only the outermost wall of the thousand walls that extend out from the center of Hell and how each wall is 1,000 miles wide, and how each wall is separated from each of the other 1,000 walls by a space which is 1,000 miles wide!!!
I hope and pray that either the positive motivation of your love for God or the negative motivation of the horrible, excruciating pain of Hell, will cause you to live a life of Virtue, the life of a pious, devout, religious, spiritual Catholic so that you will never become an evil person, loaded down with Mortal Sins, remembering the ultimate end of those who are evil:
It is to the evil people that Christ says of their destruction
“For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies
shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee
on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are
in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone:
because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44.)