Rely not on your wealth; say not: "I have the power." Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart. Say not: "Who can prevail against me?" or, "Who will subdue me for my deeds?" for God will surely exact the punishment. Say not: "I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?" for the Most High bides his time. Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: "Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive." For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the LORD, put it not off from day to day. For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance you will be destroyed. Rely not upon deceitful wealth, for it will be no help on the day of wrath.
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night. R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. He is like a tree planted near running water, That yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.Whatever he does, prospers. R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes. R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward."Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
"Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another."
"Those who profit from the health of others will find their reward in the jewels of hell."
If that "word of knowledge" bears credence, there are some in the medical industry (pharmaceutical companies, insurance conglomerates, hospitals, surgeons, specialists) who may want to pay heed.
For those who claim to have glimpsed sheol have been known to describe precisely this: mounds of tainted gold, filthy rubies, diamonds, and money under the throne of a beastly creature. Not pleasant. More than one has so testified. But perhaps necessary to consider.
Or one may want to listen to an anesthesiologist named Rajiv Parti, who says he was taken to the cusp of the netherworld precisely for this reason: due to his greed.
"Feeling like a master of the universe is easy in the world of modern medicine," he writes (in Dying To Wake Up"). "In my specialty alone, heart surgery anesthesia, the medical world had made so many advances in technology and techniques that we could literally bring patients back from the dead by doing everything from unclogging an artery with a balloon to replacing it or even dropping in a transplanted heart."
But Dr. Parti relates how he grew to view patients not as individuals but as numbers and dollar signs. His preoccupation: a huge house, luxury cars, and day-trading on the stock market. Then he "died."
Two days before Christmas in 2010, he was rushed to a hospital with a severe infection and resultant fever that shot his temperature to 104 degrees. Emergency surgery was initiated as the infection, caused by a recent procedure in the area of his pelvis, spread through his blood. Ironically, he "died" -- left his body -- due to the anesthesia.
"I was a mechanistic medical doctor, and this event represented new physical laws that I didn't understand," he said. "How can I be hovering? Where is my brain, and what am I seeing with? Am I breathing? Why can I hear?"
"My world turned dark, and for a moment I was relieved. I'm returning to my body, I thought.
"But that relief was replaced by fear as I saw a distant lightning storm off to my right, one that seemed to draw me in very quickly and soon became loud with the sound of thunder and... What is that?... screams and moans of pain and anguish as wildfire moved over burned souls that withered from the intense heat. I was made to lie on a bed of nails, where their needle sharpness tortured my flesh.
"I was drawn in as if on a moving sidewalk that took me to the edge of this flaming canyon. Smoke filled my nostrils and with it the sickening odor of burning flesh. I was on the lip of hell.
"I tried to turn and I couldn't. I tried to move back but couldn't. Every time I took a step back, an unseen force moved me forward, leaving me with a horrific view of the most agonizing place one could ever imagine."
As a Hindu, he knew this place as naraka (hell).
"You have clearly not been making love," Dr. Parti heard a voice say, telepathic but as clear as if spoken in his ears, "so powerful," he writes, "that it may well have been spoken by God." Added the voice: "You have led a materialistic and selfish life."
He knew that was only too true and felt ashamed.
"I saw my patients as profit centers, people who could give me the wealth and prestige I wanted in exchange for my services as an anesthesiologist," he bravely says, unconcerned with how others in the medical profession might view his otherworldly experience. "I was a doctor who did his job well but cared very little that he was working on a human being."
Now, standing on the rim of hell, he recalled a woman with arthritis who had come to him for pain medication (Dr. Parti, in addition to his hospital work, owned a pain clinic) and weeping, sought his counsel about her husband, who was suffering from lung cancer. "'I would love to talk to you,' I said, writing out a prescription for her pain and sleeping pills and handing them to her. 'But I have several patients waiting.' And I left."
This he saw in the review of his life.
It is not just sins like adultery and murder.
It's how we treat people. We are all subject to the temptation of selfishness. It's certainly not just the medical profession.
Many are the good and caring doctors. We've met many personally. And who can begrudge a comfortable living to those plugged through long years of medical school and then strenuous internships and residencies; who now find themselves on call, with long hours.
But are some -- too many -- in it for the money?
It is certainly a time of unrestrained health-care costs. And within that field -- whether hospital CEOs or laboratory owners -- are indeed those motivated far too strongly by profit.
That may go unaddressed in our current society, but apparently not after life on earth.
[Luke 16: "'Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24 And he cried out and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame."25 But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'"]
Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age.The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there. MT 13:47-53
July 28, 2016
Thursday Of The Seventeenth Week In Ordinary Time
Reflecting on the horrors of hell can help us to avoid ending up there
There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man' s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham' s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom: And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.
And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father' s house, for I have five brethren, That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.
And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead. -Luke :19-31,The Rich Man (Dives) and Lazarus.
Sister Josefa Menendez's Description of Hell
The following material is quoted verbatim from the book"Way of Divine Love" of Sister Josefa Menendez (1890--1923). Sister Josefa was a Spanish nun of the Society of the Sacred Heart and lived only four years as a religious, at the convent of Les Feuillants in Poitiers, France, where she died at the age of 33. "The Way of Divine Love" consists largely of her notebooks, that she wrote down under obedience from our Lord, with the revelations of his Sacred Heart, plus portions of her biography. This material was composed after Rev. Schouppe wrote his book on Hell.
This young Spanish sister, who had a short religious life of great suffering, experienced revelations throughout much of her life, compiled in The Way Of Divine Love. More than once, she was taken to Hell to witness and feel the suffering first-hand. Sister Josefa was reluctant to write on the subject of Hell, and did so only to conform to Our Lord's wishes. Sister Josefa repeatedly dwelt on what she described as the greatest torment of Hell, namely, the soul's inability to love. One of these damned souls cried out: "This is my torture...that I want to love and cannot; there is nothing left me but hatred and despair. If one of us could so much as make a single act of love...But we cannot, we live on hatred and malevolence..." (March 23, 1922).
She records, too, the accusations made against themselves by these unhappy souls: "Some yell because of the martyrdom of their hands. Perhaps they were thieves, for they say: 'Where is our loot now?' ...Cursed hands... Others curse their tongues, their eyes...whatever was the occasion of sin... 'Now, O body, you are paying the price of the delights you granted yourself!.. .and you did it of your own free will...'" (April 2, 1922).
"I saw several souls fall into Hell, and among them was a child of fifteen, cursing her parents for not having taught her to fear God nor that there was a Hell. Her life had been a short one, she said, but full of sin, for she had given in to all that her body and passions demanded in the way of satisfaction..." (March 22, 1923).
"My soul fell into abysmal depths, the bottom of which cannot be seen, for it is immense. . . ; Then I was pushed into one of those fiery cavities and pressed, as it were, between burning planks, and sharp nails and red-hot irons seemed to be piercing my flesh. I felt as if they were endeavoring to pull out my tongue, but could not. This torture reduced me to such agony that my very eyes seemed to be starting out of their sockets. I think this was because of the fire which burns, burns. . . not a finger nail escapes terrifying torments, and all the time one cannot move even a finger to gain some relief, not change posture, for the body seems flattened out and [yet] doubled in two. Sounds of confusion and blasphemy cease not for an instant.
A sickening stench asphyxiates and corrupts everything, it is like the burning of putrefied flesh, mingled with tar and sulfur. . . a mixture to which nothing on earth can be compared. . . although these tortures were terrific, they would be bearable if the soul were at peace. But it suffers indescribably. . . All I have written," she concluded, "is but a shadow of what the soul suffers, for no words can express such dire torment." (September 4, 1922).
"Others curse their tongues, their eyes... whatever was the occasion of their sin... 'Now, O body, you are paying the price of the delights you granted yourself!.. and you did it of your own free will... '" (April 2, 1922). (That is, illegitimate delights).
"It seemed to me that the majority accused themselves of sins of impurity, of stealing, of unjust trading; and that most of the damned are in Hell for these sins." (April 6, 1922).
"I saw many worldly people fall into Hell, and no words can render their horrible and terrifying cries: 'Damned forever... I deceived myself; I am lost... I am here forever... There is no remedy possible... a curse on me...'
"Some accused people, others circumstances, and all execrated the occasions of their damnation." (September 1922).
"Today, I saw a vast number of people fall into the fiery pit . . . they seemed to be worldlings and a demon cried vociferously: 'The world is ripe for me . . . I know that the best way to get hold of souls is to rouse their desire for enjoyment . . . Put me first . . . me before the rest . . . no humility for me! but let me enjoy myself . . . This sort of thing assures victory to me . . . and they tumble headlong into hell.' " (October 4, 1923)
"I heard a demon, from whom a soul had escaped, forced to confess his powerlessness. 'Confound it all... how do so many manage to escape me? They were mine' (and he rattled off their sins)... 'I work hard enough, yet they slip through my fingers ... Someone must be suffering and repairing for them.'" (January 15, 1923). ("Repairing," that is, "making reparation" for them).
"Tonight I was transported to a place where all was obscure. . . Around me were seven or eight people; I could see them only by the reflections of the fire. They were seated and were talking together. One said: 'We'll have to be very careful not to be found out, for we might easily be discovered.'
"The devil answered: 'Insinuate yourselves by inducing carelessness in them. . . but keep in the background, so that you are not found out. . . by degrees they will become callous, and you will be able to incline them to evil. Tempt these others to ambition, to self-interest, to acquiring wealth without working, whether it be lawful or not. Excite some to sensuality and love of pleasure. Let vice blind them. . . As to the remainder. . . get in through the heart . . . you know the inclinations of their hearts. . . make them love. . . love passionately. . . work thoroughly. . . take no rest . . . have no pity. Let them cram themselves with food! It will make it all the easier for us. . . Let them get on with their banqueting. Love of pleasure is the door through which you will reach them . . .' " (February 3, 1923).
"Tonight," wrote Josefa, "I did not go down into Hell, but was transported to a place where all was obscure, but in the center was a red smoldering fire. They had laid me flat and so bound me that I could not make the slightest movement. Around me were seven or eight people; their black bodies were unclothed, and I could see them only by the reflections of the fire. They were seated and were talking together.
"One said: 'We'll have to be very careful not to be found out, for we might easily be discovered.'
"The devil answered: 'Insinuate yourselves by inducing carelessness in them... but keep in the background, so that you are not found out... by degrees they will become callous, and you will be able to incline them to evil. Tempt these others to ambition, to self-interest, to acquiring wealth without working, whether it be lawful or not. Excite some to sensuality and love of pleasure. Let vice blind them...' (Here they used obscene words).
"'As to the remainder... get in through the heart... you know the inclinations of their hearts... make them love... love passionately... work thoroughly.. take no rest... have no pity; the world must go to damnation.. and these souls must not be allowed to escape me.'
"From time to time Satan's satellites answered: 'We are your slaves... we shall labor unceasingly, and in spite of the many who war against us, we shall work night and day. We know your power!'
"They all spoke together, and he whom I took to be Satan used words full of horror. In the distance I could hear a clamor as of feasting, the clinking of glasses... and he cried: 'Let them cram themselves with food! It will make it all the easier for us... Let them get on with their banqueting. Love of pleasure is the door through which you will reach them...'
"He added such horrible things that they can neither be written nor said. Then, as if engulfed in a whirl of smoke, they vanished." (February 3, 1923).
"The evil one was bewailing the escape of a soul: 'Fill her soul with fear, drive her to despair. All will be lost if she puts her trust in the mercy of that...' (here they used blasphemous words about Our Lord). 'I am lost; but no, drive her to despair; do not leave her for an instant, above all, make her despair.'
"Then Hell re-echoed with frenzied cries, and when finally the devil cast me out of the abyss, he went on threatening me. Among other things he said: 'Is it possible that such weaklings have more power than I, who am mighty... I must conceal my presence, work in the dark; any corner will do from which to tempt them... close to an ear.. in the leaves of a book... under a bed... some pay no attention to me, but I shall talk and talk... and by dint of suggestion, something will remain.. Yes, I must hide in unsuspected places.'" (February 7, 8, 1923).
Again, she wrote: "Souls were cursing the vocation they had received, but not followed... the vocation they had lost, because they were unwilling to live a hidden and mortified life..." (March 18, 1922.
"On one occasion when I was in Hell, I saw a great many priests, religious and nuns, cursing their vows, their order, their Superiors and everything that could have given them the light and the grace they had lost...
"I saw, too, some prelates. One accused himself of having used the goods belonging to the Church illicitly..." (September 28, 1922).
"Priests were calling down maledictions on their tongues which had consecrated, on their fingers that had held Our Lord's Sacred Body, on the absolution they had given while they were losing their own souls, and on the occasion through which they had fallen into Hell." (April 6, 1922).
"One priest said: 'I ate poison, for I used money that was not my own... the money given me for Masses which I did I not offer.'
"Another said he belonged to a secret society which had betrayed the Church and religion, and he had been bribed to connive at terrible profanations and sacrileges.
"Yet another said that he was damned for assisting at profane plays, after which he ought not to have said Mass... and that he had spent about seven years thus."
Josefa noted that the greater number of religious plunged into hell-fire were there for abominable sins against chastity... and for sins against the vow of poverty... for the unauthorized use of the goods of the community... for passions against charity (jealousy, antipathies, hatred, etc.), for tepidity and relaxation; also for comforts they had allowed themselves and which had led to graver sins... for bad confessions through human respect and want of sincerity and courage, etc.
Here, finally, is the full text of Josefa's notes on "the hell of consecrated souls." (Biography: Ch. VII--September 4, 1922).
"The meditation of the day was on the Particular Judgment of religious souls. I could not free my mind of the thought of it, in spite of the oppression which I felt. Suddenly, I felt myself bound and overwhelmed by a crushing weight, so that in an instant I saw more clearly than ever before how stupendous is the sanctity of God and His detestation of sin.
"I saw in a flash my whole life since my first confession to this day. All was vividly present to me: my sins, the graces I had received, the day I entered religion, my clothing as a novice, my first vows, my spiritual readings, and times of prayer, the advice given me, and all the helps of religious life. Impossible to describe the confusion and shame a soul feels at that moment, when it realizes: 'All is lost, and I am damned forever.'"
As in her former descents into Hell, Josefa never accused herself of any specific sin that might have led to such a calamity. Our Lord meant her only to feel what the consequences would have been, if she had merited such a punishment. She wrote:
"Instantly I found myself in Hell, but not dragged there as before. The soul precipitates itself there, as if to hide from God in order to be free to hate and curse Him.
"My soul fell into abysmal depths, the bottom of which cannot be seen, for it is immense... at once, I heard other souls jeering and rejoicing at seeing me share their torments. It was martyrdom enough to hear the terrible imprecations on all sides, but what can be compared to the thirst to curse that seizes on a soul, and the more one curses, the more one wants to. Never had I felt the like before. Formerly my soul had been oppressed with grief at hearing these horrible blasphemies, though unable to produce even one act of love. But today it was otherwise.
"I saw Hell as always before, the long dark corridors, the cavities, the flames... I heard the same execrations and imprecations, for-- and of this I have already written before --although no corporeal forms are visible, the torments are felt as if they were present, and souls recognize each other. Some called out, 'Hullo, you here? And are you like us? We were free to take those vows or not... but no!...' and they cursed their vows.
"Then I was pushed into one of those fiery cavities and pressed, as it were, between burning planks, and sharp nails and red-hot irons seemed to be piercing my flesh."
Here Josefa repeated the multiple tortures from which no single member of the body is excluded:
"I felt as if they were endeavoring to pull out my tongue, but could not. This torture reduced me to such agony that my very eyes seemed to be starting out of their sockets. I think this was because of the fire which burns, burns... not a finger-nail escapes terrifying torments, and all the time one cannot move even a finger to gain some relief, nor change posture, for the body seems flattened out and yet doubled in two.
"All this I felt as before, and althoughthose tortures were terrific, they would be bearable if the soul were at peace. But it suffers indescribably. Until now, when I went down into Hell, I thought that I had been damned for abandoning religious life. But this time it was different. I bore a special mark, a sign that I was a religious, a soul who had known and loved God, and there were others who bore the same sign. I cannot say how I recognized it, perhaps because of the specially insulting manner in which the evil spirits and other damned souls treated them. There were many priests there, too. This particular suffering I am unable to explain. It was quite different from what I had experienced at other times, for if the souls of those who lived in the world suffer terribly, infinitely worse are the torments of religious. Unceasingly the three words, Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, are imprinted on the soul with poignant remorse.
"Poverty: You were free and you promised! Why, then, did you seek that comfort? Why hold on to that object which did not belong to you? Why did you give that pleasure to your body? Why allow yourself to dispose of the property of the Community? Did you not know that you no longer had the right to possess anything whatsoever, that you had freely renounced the use of those things?... Why did you murmur when anything was wanting to you, or when you fancied yourself less well treated than others? Why?
"Chastity: You yourself vowed it freely and with full knowledge of its implications... you bound yourself.. you willed it... and how have you observed it? That being so, why did you not remain where it would have been lawful for you to grant yourself pleasures and enjoyment?
"And the tortured soul responds: 'Yes, I vowed it; I was free... I could have not taken the vow, but I took it and I was free...' What words can express the martyrdom of such remorse," wrote Josefa, "and all the time the jibes and insults of other damned souls continue.
"Obedience:Did you not fully engage yourself to obey your Rule and your Superiors? Why, then, did you pass judgment on the orders that were given you? Why did you disobey the Rule? Why did you dispense yourself from common life? Remember how sweet was the Rule... and you would not keep it... and now," vociferate satanic voices, "you will have to obey us not for a day or a year, or a century, but forever and ever; for all eternity... It is your own doing... you were free.
"The soul constantly recalls how she had chosen her God for her Spouse, and that once she loved Him above all things... that for Him she had renounced the most legitimate pleasures and all she held dearest on earth, that in the beginning of her religious life she had felt all the purity, sweetness and strength of this divine love, and that for an inordinate passion... now she must eternally hate the God who had chosen her to love Him.
"This forced hatred is a thirst that consumes her... no past joys can afford her the slightest relief.
"One of her greatest torments is shame, " added Josefa. "It seems to her that all the damned surrounding her continually taunt her by saying: 'That we should be lost who never had the helps that you enjoyed is not surprising... but you... what did you lack? You who lived in the palace of the King... who feasted at the board of the elect.'
"All I have written," she concluded, "is but a shadow of what the soul suffers, for no words can express such dire torments." (September 4, 1922).