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Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
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However, I'm with Patrick: it's not the responsibility of anyone here to judge anyone else.
The self-righteous can sit down and mind their own souls. God decides who goes to hell. No one else.
God is love and mercy. That's what encourages us to live and to improve ourselves, not the constant vision of being punished and condemned. A child of a loving and forgiving parent will most likely succeed. Doesn't God want all of us to succeed?
Good post Patrick.
Even Mother Church has never said definitively that Judas is in hell. We don't judge that, we leave that up to God but Jesus said "woe to the man who betrays the Son of Man. It would be better for him if he were never born" or words to that effect.
We can make assumptions about what that means but that is mere curiosity voiced as an emphatic opinion. Curiosity stems from an inner need for knowledge and that is what stirred up Eve's conversation with the devil. He was bright enough to know that if he could sustain her curiosity, he could outsmart her in the long run. So beware of spiritual curiosity. It can get you into trouble. Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.
And to get back to the gist of your comments--Blessed Mother told us that sins of the flesh cause more people to fall into hell than that of any other sin. She didn't say that it is permissible to engage in sex prior to marriage if you are in love. Did she? Why not listen to her? She is after all the Mother of God. Would she lie to us? Therefore, we should guard ourselves against this, not with scrupulosity but certainly not with presumptuousness.
This thread has so many points to it. I will try and center on only one. Patrick said, I do believe (hell) is a place for the worst of mankinds souls . . . and I infer from his comment about pre-marital sex, that hell would not be a place for others (meaning those who are not the worst) If my inference is off, Patrick, please clear that up.
Im taking the St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius (who I believe represents the Catechism - but Ill have to check on that) would not agree with this part of Patricks statement. (I was feeling pretty confident that St. Ignatius is in line with the Catholic Church being that Pope Francis (as a Jesuit) has also done the Spiritual Exercises.
Patrick goes on to ask if we should not let God decide. What is your point in classifying the severity of sins Patrick? Does that aid in helping us see sin as God sees sin (again from the Spiritual Exercises.) I believe this to be a relevant quote from Pope Pius XII The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.
St. Ignatius says that Gods Mercy happens when we are alive and his Judgment comes at our Death.
(Patrick its dawning on me that you might be well aware of the Churchs teaching on this subject and you simply disagree. Is that what youre saying? What about the others here who said Excellent post Patrick? How do you ring in on that question, as it relates specifically to the point on which I centered? Knowing that answer would sure clear things up.)
God's judgment is truly His business but taking for granted His mercy is dangerous (ie downplaying the ramifications of mortal sin in the spirit of being positive). It is truly more positive and beautiful to do anything out of a love of God rather than out of the fear of Hell but don't take God's mercy for granted is what the experts say. Are we doing the right thing by picking and choosing what we believe to suit ourselves thinking that God will automatically pardon us (and spare us from perdition)? That is not being positive but is being stupid.
There is a good article from the CM Blog by Mary Beth B that I have pasted below where I have highlighted a great comment about the counter punches between those who follow the Church's teachings and those who ignore them in respect of a couple of "hot" areas of faith and morals:
Ah yes, the eternal 7/7 debate. For those of you not familiar with this aspect of CatholicMatch, this is a reference to the seven questions of Catholic doctrine that are posted on every members profile, along with the members answers. If a member agrees with all seven, he or she is referred to as a 7/7. Someone who agrees with only five of them is called a 5/7, someone who agrees with four of them would be a 4/7, etc. There are a lot of 5/7s here. And Ill give you a hint: the two matters on which they dissent rarely include Transubstantiation, Holy Orders or the Immaculate Conception. No, the disagreement usually revolves around much more immediate concerns for dating Catholics, namely the Churchs teaching on pre-marital sex and contraception.
I have a profile on CatholicMatch, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about me that I am a 7/7. Heck, Ive spent my entire adult life speaking and writing on the beauty of those two points of doctrine that so many people have dismissed.
So, Im always kind of surprised when I hear from a 5/7 man who is interested in getting to know me, given how important 6 and 7 are to meparticularly in the context of a dating relationship. I guess they would have no way of knowing that. After all, if they knew who I am and what Ive been doing for the past 20 something years, that would mean they would have heard me speak or read one of my books and they would be fully convinced and converted 7/7s, right? Right?
There are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of debates on the various CatholicMatch forums between the 7/7s and the 5/7s. Basically the 7/7s are telling the 5/7s they arent really Catholic, and the 5/7s are telling the 7/7s that theyre judgmental for dismissing them just because they reject these antiquated teachings that no one could possibly take seriously anymore. Or something like that.
Ive never felt the need to write about them in the past because I figured all of those forum discussions pretty much had the issue covered. But then you, Mr. Seven, wrote your note and got me thinking. I havent participated in any of those debates. What would I have to say to those 5/7s?
Quite simply, 5/7s, I think youre missing out on something very beautiful. Im not surprised that youre missing it. Im frankly surprised there arent even more of you. There arent a lot of places where youll hear about it. The larger world has done a really good job of conveying the message that those teachings are antiquated and irrelevant, and the Church has for the most part done a very poor job of explaining them. Looking at the Churchs teaching from the perspective of modern American culture, they do seem ridiculously outdated and prudish.
My turnaround on these issues happened after I started studying what the Church really teaches about sex and marriage. Im not going to go into a lot of detail about what I learnedI could write a whole book about that. (As a matter of fact, I did. Its called Real Love, and you can read it if you want to learn more.) I just want to tell you that what I discovered is that the Churchs teaching arent random rules, they arent antiquated and they arent about oppressing or repressing anybody. They are about helping us to live loveand lifeto the fullest. I found the teachings to be beautiful and deep and profound in a way that I never expected.
Before you dismiss those teachings out of hand, Id like to challenge you to learn more about themabout why we believe what we do, and why we so stubbornly cling to it even in the face of such enormous cultural opposition. Read the Catechism. Read my book Real Love. Go back and read previous CatholicMatch blog entries, by myself and others, on the topic. Read other books by Catholic authorsthere are a lot out there. Heck, read the Churchs documents for yourself. Blessed John Paul IIs Familiaris Consortio would be a good place to start.
Look, if youre here on CatholicMatch, I assume that means you are at least somewhat serious about your faith. So give your Church the benefit of the doubt. Learn the why behind the thou shalt nots.
Who knowsit might just change your life