Monday, July 11, 2016

The Denial of Hell by Fr. François Xavier Schouppe, S.J.Fourth in a Series on Hell (from Radical Catholic)

The Denial of Hell

Fourth in a Series on Hell

 Fr. François Xavier Schouppe, S.J.

There are some miserable men 
- let us rather say, fools 
- who, in the delirium of their
 iniquity, make bold to
 declare that they laugh at hell. 
They say so, but only
 with their lips; their 
consciences protest and give
 them the lie.

Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois

Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois,
 famous for his impiety as
 much as for is sanguinary
 ferocity, was the chief 
author of the massacres of 
Lyons in 1793; he caused
 the destruction of at least
 1,600 individuals. Six 
years after, in 1799, he 
was banished to Cayenne,
and used to give vent
 to his infernal rage by 
blaspheming the holiest
 things. The least act of
 religion became the 
subject of his jests. Having 
seen a soldier make the 
sign of the cross, "Imbecile!"
 he said to him. "You still
 believe in superstition! Do 
you not know that God, the 
Holy Virgin, Paradise, Hell,
 are the inventions of the 
accursed tribe of priests?" 
Shortly after, he fell sick
 and was seized by violent
 pains. In an access of fever
 he swallowed, at a single 
draught, a bottle of liquor.
 His disease increased; he
 felt as if burned by a 
fire that was devouring his
 bowels. He uttered frightful 
shrieks, called upon God, 
the Holy Virgin, a priest,
 to come to his relief. "Well,
 indeed," said the soldier to
 him, "you ask for a priest? 
You fear hell then? You used
 to curse the priests, make
 fun of hell! Alas!" He then
 answered: "My tongue was
 lying to my heart." Pretty
 soon, he expired, vomiting 
blood and foam.

The following incident 
happened in 1837. A young 
under-lieutenant, being in
 Paris, entered the Church 
of the Assumption, near 
the Toilers, and saw 
a priest kneeling near 
a confessional. As he made
 religion the habitual subject
 of his jokes, he wished 
to go to confession to while
 away the time, and 
went into the confessional.
 "Monsieur l'abbé," he said,
 "would you be good
 enough to hear my 
confession?" "Willingly my
 son; confess unrestrained."
 "But I must first say that I
 am a rather unique kind of
 a sinner." "No matter; the
 sacrament of penance
 has been instituted for all
 sinners." "But I am not 
very much of a believer
 in religious matters." 
"You believe more than 
you think." "Believe? I? 
I am a regular scoffer." 
The confessor saw with 
whom he had to deal,
 and that there was 
some mystification. He 
replied, smiling: "You 
are a regular scoffer? 
Are you then making
 fun of me, too?" The 
pretended penitent smiled 
in like manner. "Listen," 
the priest went on, "what
 you have just done here
 is not serious. Let us leave
 confession aside; and, if
 you please, have a little 
chat. I like military people
 greatly; and, then, you 
have the appearance of a 
good, amiable youth. Tell
 me, what is your rank?"
 "Under-lieutenant." "Will
 you remain an under-lieutenant
 long?" "Two, three, perhaps
 four years." "And after?"
 "I shall hope to become
 a lieutenant?" "And after?"
 "I hope to become a captain."
 "And after?" "Lieutenant-colonel?"
 "How old will you be then?"
 "Forty to forty-five years."
 "And after that?" "I shall 
become a brigadier general."
 "And after?" "If I rise higher, 
I shall be general of a 
division." "And after?" 
"After! there is nothing
 more except the Marshal's
 baton; but my pretensions 
do not reach so high." "Well 
and good. But do you intend
 to get married?" "Yes,
 when I shall be a superior 
officer." "Well! There 
you are married; a superior
 officer, a general, perhaps 
even a French marshal, who 
knows? And after?" "After? 
Upon my word, I do not know 
what will be after."
"See, how strange it is!" said 
the abbé. Then, in a tone
 of voice that grew more sober:
 "You know all that shall
 happen up to that point,
 and you do not know what 
will be after. Well, I know,
 and I am going to tell you.
 After, you shall die, be judged,
 and, if you continue to live
 as you do, you shall be 
damned, you shall go and 
burn in hell; that is what 
will be after."

As the under-lieutenant, 
dispirited at this conclusion,
 seemed anxious to steal away:
 "One moment, sir," said the 
abbé. "You are a man of honor. 
So am I. Agree that you have 
offended me, and owe me an
 apology. It will be simple.
 For eight days, before retiring
to rest, you will say: 'One day
 I shall die; but I laugh at the
 idea. After my death I shall 
be judged; but I laugh at the
 idea. After my judgment,
 I shall be damned; but I laugh
 at the idea. I shall burn 
forever in hell; but I laugh 
at the idea!' That is all. But 
you are going to give me 
your word of honor not to 
neglect it, eh?" More and more 
wearied, and wishing, at any
 price, to extricate himself 
from this false step, the 
under-lieutenant made the 
promise. In the evening, his 
word being given, he began
 to carry out his promise.
 "I shall die," he says. "I shall
 be judged." He had not the
 courage to add: "I laugh at
 the idea." The week had not 
passed before he returned
 to the Church of the Assumption, 
made his confession seriously,
 and came out of the confessional 
his face bathed with tears,
 and with joy in his heart.

A young person who had 
become an unbeliever
 in consequence of her 
dissipation, kept incessantly
 shooting sarcasm at religion,
 and making jests of its most
 awful truths. "Juliette," some
 one said to her one day, "this
 will end badly. God will be 
tired of your blasphemies, and
 you shall be punished." "Bah,"
 she answered insolently. 
"It gives me very little trouble.
 Who has returned from the 
other world to relate what
 passes there?" Less than eight
 days after she was found in her
 room, giving no sign of life, and
 already cold. As there was no 
doubt that she was dead, she 
was put in a coffin and buried.
 The following day, the 
grave-digger, digging a new 
grave beside that of the 
unhappy Juliette, heard some
 noise, it seemed to him that 
there was a knocking in the 
adjoining coffin. At once, he
 puts his ear to the ground,
 and in fact hears a smothered 
voice, crying out: "Help! help!"
 The authorities were summoned;
 by their orders, the grave was 
opened, the coffin taken up and
 unnailed. The shroud is 
removed; there is no further doubt,
 Juliette was buried alive. Her
 hair, her shroud were in disorder,
 and her face was streaming with 
blood. While they are releasing 
her, and feeling her heart to be 
assured that it still beats, she 
heaves a sigh, like a person for a
 long time deprived of air; then
 she opens her eyes, makes an 
effort to lift herself up, and 
says: "My God, I thank thee." 
Afterward, when she had got
 her senses well back, and 
by the aid of some food, 
recovered her strength, she
 added: "When I regained 
consciousness in the grave 
and recognized the frightful
 reality of my burial, when
 after having uttered shrieks,
 I endeavored to break my
 coffin, and struck my forehead
 against the boards, I saw that 
all was useless; death appeared 
to me with all its horrors; it was 
less the bodily than the eternal
 death that frightened me. 
I saw I was going to be damned.
 My God, I had but too well 
deserved it! Then I prayed, 
I shouted for help, I lost
 consciousness again, until 
I awoke above ground. O,
 goodness of my God!" she
 said, again shedding tears, 
"I had despised the truths 
of faith; thou hast punished
 me, but in thy mercy, I am 
converted and repentant."

They who deny hell will be 
forced to admit it soon; but 
alas! it will be too late.

[The following video contains a Lenten retreat sermon
 delivered by a traditional Catholic priest on the subject
 of Heaven and Hell.]

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