Among the many problems within our Church today is the fact that far too many Catholics do not know or live their faith. This is in large measure due to poor catechesis and the reluctance of some priests to teach the full and undiluted Truths of our Faith. Too many are content to tickle our ears and not seek to save our souls.
I believe, as did St. Vincent Ferrer, O.P., that we cannot be timid when addressing problems in our Church and the lukewarm manner in which many of us live out our faith. St. Vincent, like the noted Italian Franciscan preacher, St. Leonard of Port Maurice referenced below, was direct and confronted people with the Truth since it is only the Truth that will set hearts and souls free.
There is a fear that the average Catholic in the pew can not "handle" the Truth, will not accept the Church's teachings and will take a hike when they are forced to listen to and live them. Better, many argue, that we skip over the "hard points" of what we must believe, so that we don't lose any more parishioners. For those of this theological bent, zeal for the salvation of souls is an archaic and unnecessary concept.
During this Holy Week, we Catholics should have some solid instruction on sin and the eternal consequences given the price our Loving Lord Jesus paid for our transgressions. The realities of sin and Jesus' suffering and death are front and center this week in our liturgy, Scripture and meditations.
Yes, Virginia. Hell is real - real hot. It's a fiery forever furnace of torment for souls who did not believe it existed and who failed to avoid it by seeking God's forgiveness and mercy. Not a few of these sorry souls eagerly acquiesced to the false teachers among them who told them not to worry about hell. God, they proclaimed, is merciful and would never condemn any one to hell. Therefore, we can have a reasonable hope that all men are saved. Hell, these pundits suggest, is vacant (if it even exists at all).
Though preachers who say these things are dead wrong, once they and their followers arrive in hell, no one will have any recourse against them for their untruthful and heretical teachings. They and their followers will suffer eternal separation from the God who always wanted them to be with Him eternally and who provided them with all the graces they needed to achieve His goal. They can't blame Him if they end up in hell. It was their choice not to believe God..
So in order to avoid such an unnecessary and eternal fate, let's act as adults this week. Take the time to read, absorb, ponder, understand and accept the Church's full teaching on hell. Read this homily preached by St Leonard of Port Maurice.
His sermon, The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved, will make you think. It will cause you to become uncomfortable and even squirm. But you can give yourself no greater gift this Lent than to listen to the Truth penned by the hand of a man emboldened by the Holy Spirit, who though deceased now for more than 268 years, is still being used by God to save souls. Thank God we can still read his sermon today.
St. Leonard's words were true then; they are true now. They have always been and will forever be true.
Choose eternal life!
Lord, Jesus Christ, be merciful to all of us sinners!