It is very possible that by the end of the day I could be standing before God at my judgment. Now that you’re awake!…This actually could happen of course to any one of us. I hope it doesn’t, but we never know how much time our Lord is going to give. It’s also true that we need to die to self every single day of our lives, as our Lord calls us to do.
Saint Teresa of Avila reminds us: “Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, you will stop worrying about many things.”
Our Lord is asked if many will be saved (cf. Luke 13:22-30). He turns the answer back on this man:” Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” He turns the question to each one of us.
Many will attempt, and the master of the locked house will respond: “I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’”
How many of us receive the Eucharist—eat and drink the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Savior, and do not examine our conscience? Why is it that almost everybody receives the Eucharist and so few come to Confession? We cannot say we examine ourselves if we never or very rarely go to confession. Once or twice a year is not enough. A business that balances the checkbook once a year would not last very long.
Our Lord wants to make this point very clear: the message of salvation is meant for all, but those who hear it and want to enter into eternal life have to correspond to the graces God gives. It is NOT enough to allow the words of our Lord to pass over us like water over a rock. Many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. In the life that Christ pours into us through the Sacraments, we are given the strength we need.
Our Lord has come to offer this gift of salvation to all, but it is not something we simply presume we will get. If there is something in our lives that is sinful, we must strive with every human effort possible, and with God’s grace, to get it out of our lives. Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege, so we should never do that. There are so many wrong things that in our society are now viewed as normal: Couples who are in civil unions which are not sacramental marriages, couples who contracept, mothers and fathers who put the sports games of their children ahead of bringing the family to mass, voting to further abortion or other grave societal evils, sexual relations outside of marriage, treating employees unfairly, the list could go on…
If we die unrepentant of mortal sin, we could hear “depart from me” at our judgment. If there is a situation in your life you don’t know how to overcome, come to confession and ask the priest. Our Lord conquered sin on the cross, but we have to respond to that gift.
What terrible words from our Lord—I do not know you. We must make every effort in our lives to not allow those words apply to us. Hell is real. It is the most terrible suffering imaginable times infinity. It is eternal. Once a soul has died unrepentant and apart from God, there is no further point of conversion. That is it. That is the point our Lord is making with this very graphic example of the workers of iniquity, even those who ate and drank in his presence, who are locked out of the house. Instead of being welcomed into the banquet, they will be cast out.
The greatest deceit of the devil is to trick people into thinking that he does not exist and that hell does not exist. We will be very clear: there is hell, it is possible to go there, it is a terrible place, and it lasts forever. Our Lord is very clear about this. We should also be clear: our Lord offers the gift of salvation to the whole world. We need to know our Lord—a real life of prayer, a life of virtue, a life lived for God. In gratitude for this offer of salvation, we do as the Psalmist tells us: “Go out to all the world and tell the good news”.
We must repent of sin, turn to God, and work to spread the Faith. Saint Paul reminds us that we must “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:15). In the letter to the Hebrews (5:7-13) we hear of how God allows some suffering in this life in order to discipline and to strengthen us just as a good father disciplines his children. The suffering in this life, and even some of the difficulties we may experience in struggling to live the right way—living according to God’s commandments—are how we grow in holiness. It’s not easy to live the way God calls us to live, but it is definitely worth it! He gives us the strength to do it. We cannot be complacent!
Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), a Polish nun who received divine revelations from Our Lord recorded a vision she had regarding two roads she saw before her in her diary known as Divine Mercy in My Soul. She writes: “I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.” (Diary 153)
The joy, the beauty of heaven make all the suffering, the difficulties, the scorn, the real financial challenges that we might face worth it. It’s worth it in the end. Heaven isn’t the automatic destination of all human beings, so we really should take our Lord’s warning to heart. He has given us such powerful ways to receive power from His body in
Confession and the Eucharist, especially in Eucharistic adoration where we get to experience a small glimpse of heaven on earth. This power to allow Christ to conquer the sin in us, and to propel us into the world to labor for the salvation of souls: turn from sin and death to Jesus Christ, who on the cross is the narrow gate that leads to heaven.
Saint Gertrude the Great once remarked that “Angels constantly guard the clients of the Blessed Virgin from the assaults of hell”. Stay Close always to the Blessed Mother wielding that great and powerful Rosary every single day of our lives.
Mary, Refuge of Sinners, pray for us!
Saint Faustina described her vision of hell in her Diary. It is certainly something to really take to heart: we all need to convert and turn to Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist! Remain close to the Blessed Mother!
“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)
The Apostle of Divine Mercy
“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 Torture 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 Torture is:
The constant company of Satan.
The Seventh Torture 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.
Our Blessed Mother gave a similar vision to the three children at Fatima. Lucia described this (for more on this):
“As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly: You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
Pray the Rosary everyday!