Archive for the ‘Hell’ category

On the Fatima Prayer

April 23, 2010

While praying the rosary I was thinking about the Fatima prayer, specifically the line “save us from the fires of hell.”  For those familiar with the story, naturally the brief glimpse of hell granted to the Fatima children may come to mind.  I was meditating on another vision which I read about in Fr. Gabriel Amorth’s “An Exorcist Tells his Story” ( it is not nearly the snesationalist book that some make it out to be.  Very level headed).

One day Father Candido asked a 13-year-old girl, “two enemies, who hated each other all their lives, hated each other to death, and both ended up in hell.  What is the relationship that they will share now, since they will be with each other for all eternity?”  And this was the answer: “how stupid you are!  Down there everyone lives folded within himself and torn apart by his regrets.  There is no relationship with anyone; everyone finds himself in the most profound solitude and desperately weeps for the evil that he has committed.  It is like a cemetery.”

Kind of reminds me of chapter 2 of Jerry Pournelle’s “Inferno” – a modern retelling of Dante’s Safari through hell.  The narrator finds himself in a void with no sensation no sound no sight and only his thoughts, which quickly lead to madness.  Hell is the absence of God, where we choose to send ourselves.  While through our love for others we can make a bit of the kingdom of Heaven present here on Earth; likewise through our selfishness and living folded within ourselves we can bring about a little bit of hell on earth too.  May God grant me the courage to continue to step outside of myself.

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“I’m not surprised, the times we live in.”

July 23, 2009

In the July 8 issue of ‘Catholic San Francisco’ (hey, last one out, turn off the lights) covered the 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, by Matt Baglio. The Rite, describes the training and practice of San Francisco-born Father Gary Thomas, a contemporary Bay Area exorcist. In 2005, Father Thomas was sent by San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath to study in Rome under master exorcist Capuchin Father Carmine De Filippis. Father Thomas observed 80 exorcisms as Fr. De Filippis apprentice. I can’t recommend the book enough, as it really sets the Rite in a contemporary understanding, and dispels a lot of the nonsense that most folks have about what it is, and what it is not.  It also opens the door onto the a plane of spiritual combat that we often disregard as stories meant to scare us into being good.  Father Gary started off as a skeptic in the whole idea of the melodramatic battle for our souls.  What he saw turned him into an exoricst-evangelist.


From the Catholic San Francisco, article: “What sets exorcists apart from priests who are skeptical of the ministry may be their biblical belief in the physical reality of evil and the power of prayer and the sacraments to vanquish it.” 
The skeptical attitude is not unique to the United States. On July 15, 2009, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, addressed a conference of exorcists. The cardinal warned that the existence of the devil must be taken as fact, without either exaggerating or minimizing his actions out of skepticism or credulity taken to the extreme. 
Since his return to the United States, Father Thomas has prayed the rite in five cases, two of which are ongoing. Before the Church will authorize an exorcism, there is a period of discernment, where other possible causes of the victim’s suffering must be excluded. Father Thomas’ team includes a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a physician, as well as a second priest. After the period of discernment, says another trained exorcist, Father Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International, “A report is made to the diocese, and then the bishop must authorize a solemn exorcism.” 
Both priests agree that for demonic possession to take place “a door must be opened.” This opening can be involuntary. Such doors include the use of ouija boards and other occult practices. Both also agree that abuse, violence, and the use of pornography can cause spiritual wounds through which something other than the physical can enter. Father Thomas says: 
“People think that Ouija boards are harmless. They are not, because what people do is they begin tapping into a realm that’s beyond science, that’s beyond the physical nature of human existence.” 
For Father Euteneuer, some consequences are apparent. He considers a demonic presence in the abortion industry to be obvious. 
“Abortion is a demonic industry,” he told the Philadelphia Bulletin. “Abortion is blood sacrifice of innocent blood to the devil. The clinics are like temples, the doctors are like priests, the medical table is like their altar. It’s a ritualized sacrifice. They have a dogma called choice, a hierarchy called Planned Parenthood, and guardian angels in the form of police guards that will arrest you if you try to stop them.” 
Both priests caution against pop-cultural misunderstandings of the rite. “The devil doesn’t have the power you see in the movies,” Father Euteneuer says. “He cannot hold onto a state of possession for a given length of time. The movies glorify his power. They do a good job in showing the priest coming to care for these people, but the priest carefully binds that devil, and he is a prisoner in that person.” 
Father Thomas says: “I’m always telling people if you have a prayer life and you are in close to the Lord, you have nothing to worry about. That doesn’t mean there are not other levels of temptations.” 
“Exorcism is a pastoral ministry of the Church, and it’s an important ministry,” said Fr. Euteneuer. “But confession is a much more important ministry, because it pulls out the sins which are the conditions for a possession.”

The worst of the “Last Things”

February 10, 2009

I recently received my January/February issue of ENVOY MAGAZINE.  It is an excellent issue with many good articles.  In the Bible we read: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Taken from St. Sister M. Faustina Kowalska’s  DIARY: Divine Mercy in My Soul” — we have recounted her experience of hell.

“I Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence…the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God.  What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw.  But I noticed one thing:  that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.”  (Diary 741)

 

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We do not reflect on hell to try to scare anyone, instead we wish to be rooted in true reality.  St. Ignatius Loyola in his “SPIRIUTAL EXERCISES” tells us of the importance of this meditation, especially to keep us from mortal sin.  Let me continue with some of what Sister Faustina relates to us concerning hell:

 

“Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell.  It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is!  The kinds of tortures I saw:

 

The first torture that constitutes hell is — the loss of God.

The second is — perpetual remorse of conscience.

The third is — that one’s condition will never change.

The fourth is — the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it.  A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger.

The fifth is — continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.

The sixth is — the constant company of Satan.

The seventh is — horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.  These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.”

 

Sister Faustina goes on to speak about the “indescribable sufferings” of hell:

“There are special tortures destined for particular souls.  These are the torments of the senses.  Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.  There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another.  I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

 

Let the sinner [i.e., one who dies in the state of mortal sin] know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin.  I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like…how terribly souls suffer there!  Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners.  I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them.  O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.”  (Diary 741)

 

The “Divine Mercy” of Jesus Christ is all the more meaningful in light of this vision of hell.  The vision of Christ’s mercy that comes to us through His sacrificial death on the Cross is our consolation and our hope.  He has saved us from eternal damnation, suffering and death and has opened the way to everlasting life and happiness in heaven.  Choose today!  I set before you the blessing and the curse, life and death!