Ask a Theological Question (closed)

Another post for questions and answers.

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54 Responses to Ask a Theological Question (closed)

  1. Marco says:

    Ron, my question above was serious. Why the good thief was blessed with that Grace before his death, despite him having lived an unfaithful life?

    I have treated that question even here https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/why-the-souls-in-hell-cannot-repent/#comment-5538

    In other words, what I was asking is the following: what if God gives to human souls, at least to the souls of persons who aren’t totally corrupted and even, a “Good Thief” kind of experience, when the end of life is approaching, maybe even in the very last moments of his life (since we know that instant death, even in incidents, is very rare, and even when the person looks dead, the soul has not departed from the body yet)?

    You said that this would be heresy, and if that is true, I will abandon this thought. But my question is: how can it be heresy, when we know that the Good Thief was saved because, and only because, he met Jesus at the end of his life?

    How can it be heresy thinking that Jesus may offer this opportunity to many souls?

    • Ron Conte says:

      OK. The good thief and the bad thief were both crucified next to Jesus. One repented and the other did not. The difference is free will. God did not arbitrarily decide that one would repent, and the other not. He humbles himself before our free will, for we are made in his image.

      But the good thief repented while alive and conscious. It is heresy to propose that, after the heart and breathing stop, and the body is in fact dead, there is some other space of time in life that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell, repentance or not. For that would nullify all that the Church teaches on the path of salvation. When the body is dead, the soul departs. The opportunities are all in this life. And since the soul is the form of the body, when the body is dead, the soul separates.

      God is fair to all souls, so no one needs a space of time between bodily death and the departure of the soul in order to meet Jesus and be saved. We meet Him in this life by meeting other human persons, made in his image.

    • Marco says:

      @Ron

      “ But the good thief repented while alive and conscious. It is heresy to propose that, after the heart and breathing stop, and the body is in fact dead, there is some other space of time in life that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell, repentance or not”

      I’m also talking about a time where the person is still alive. Of course when the body it’s dead, the soul departs from it, i’ve never disputed that.

      What i meant is that, in the last moments the body is still alive, or in the last moments someone is conscious, maybe Jesus offers another opportunity to be saved if the souls is in the state of actual mortal sin.

      At that moment, if he/she behaves like the bad thief, he can’t be saved and will go to hell, for God cannot forgive those who don’t want forgiveness.

      That’s what i meant. I don’t see how this contradicts what the Church teaches on the path of salvation, since it is clearly established that if someone repents at the end of his life, he is saved.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Okay, that’s quite a bit better. The person is still alive and conscious. So the person is offered grace to repent, but that would apply to everyone. The soul in the state of grace is offered repentance from venial sin; the soul not in grace, from mortal sin. But this grace is also available throughout one’s life.

      What is not tenable is the idea that everyone gets a special meeting with Jesus, in a private revelation, in the last moments of life, that determines one’s eternal destination. It would nullify every teaching on the path of salvation, and salvation would depend on each one’s private revelation, rather than on the public revelation of Tradition and Scripture.

    • Marco says:

      Oh, and one more thing: of course i was talking about repentance. The good thief repented and was saved, the bad thief chose to not repent and went to hell.

      I’ve never said that someone who commits actual mortal sin can be saved without repentance.

    • Marco says:

      “What is not tenable is the idea that everyone gets a special meeting with Jesus, in a private revelation, in the last moments of life, that determines one’s eternal destination. It would nullify every teaching on the path of salvation, and salvation would depend on each one’s private revelation, rather than on the public revelation of Tradition and Scripture.”

      I meant something slightly different.

      I meant a moment of “clarity” so to speak, where the soul knew that that is the moment where her eternal destiny is decided.

      Maybe not a full-fledged meeting with Jesus, what i have in mind is a moment of major clarity.

      Let me quote Saint Faustina

      “God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly it seems as if everything were lost. But it is not so. The soul illuminated by a ray of God’s POWERFUL FINAL GRACE turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things. Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! … Although a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that INTERIOR VIVID MOMENT , so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God (Diary, 1698).

      That’s what i meant. A Grace more powerful than others (it makes sense since that is the moment where there can be no more forgiveness if you refuse it) which allows people to be safe, even though it’s predictable that a very corrupt soul would refuse it.

      That’s what i mean with the “Good thief” moment.

      There are records of people visited on the deathbed by Jesus in the last moments of life, even great sinners, but i’m not saying that’s the way Jesus acts everytime.

      But a very powerful final Grace, which nontheless still allows us to retain our power to refuse it, it’s another thing, and i see no reasons to believe that Saint Faustina was wrong about this.

      Saint Faustina even says, in chapter 1698

      “But – horror!- there are also souls who VOLUNTARILY AND CONSCIOUSLY reject and scorn this Grace! Altough a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that INTERIOR VIVID MOMENT, so that IF THE SOUL IS WILLING, It has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes the OBDURACY in souls is so great that CONSCIOUSLY THEY CHOOSE HELL; they [thus] make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to them and even the efforts of God Himself”.

      This doesn’t seem heretic in the slightest to believe that the souls can receive a moment of vivid consciousness where they inevitably realize what is going on and what will happen if they don’t repent and accept Jesus embrace.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Sometimes it happens, as St. Faustina said. And I see from what you are saying that your position is not heretical. I would not over emphasize that experience, though. The path to heaven is to live a life in imitation of Christ, for a much of your life as you are able. But God continues to seek the repentance of sinners, even through the last moment of life.

      I was speaking about other points of view, that I’ve read online, where a special private revelation to each person is supposedly given, and that alone decides the person’s final destination. That idea is heretical, as it replaces living a life of faith and love with responding to a private revelation.

    • Marco says:

      Of course Ron, but i would like to put emphasis on what Saint Faustina said in the following words

      “God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly it seems as if everything were lost. But it is not so. “

      When she said “ outwardly it seems as if everything were lost.” she is obviously speaking about a person who seems dead already, and here we return to what i said earlier, when i said that death is very often not as instanteous and immediate as we would tend to believe.

      Maybe the person didn’t even look “conscious”, but God managed to give one last vivid moment to this soul, so that this person can repent or refuse such Grace, condemning himself/herself in the process.

      That’s what i meant when i talked about the fact that there is a difference between actual death and apparent death.

      I think that what Saint Faustina taught really highlights the Grace of God and the truth that He really wants everyone to be saved.

      Think about it: if God left a sinner on his own during such a crucial moment, so that he practically goes to hell without even noticing, just because he happened to have an incident or because he went insane, i wouldn’t see a good God in that.

      And about the fact you mentioned that someone who is insane cannot repent anymore, i would also point out that many times, at the end of the life, even people who were insane and demented, somehow regained consciousness.

      Here https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/one-last-goodbye-the-strange-case-of-terminal-lucidity/ is an article about this.

      I believe that God gives that powerful final grace to many sinners that otherwise would have been lost forever, with a more normal Grace.

      If you think about it, maybe they sinned a lot during their lives and maybe they didn’t even believe in God, but thanks to that Grace, to that “interior vivid moment”, as Saint Faustina said, they manage to repent.

      Of course i agree with you when you say

      “The path to heaven is to live a life in imitation of Christ, for a much of your life as you are able”.

      But i think that Saint Faustina’s teaching emphasizes much more your following words “God continues to seek the repentance of sinners, even through the last moment of life”.

      If the final Grace is more powerful and gives more clarity, as Saint Faustina said, this means that maybe only the very corrupt souls go to Hell and cannot be saved.

  2. Tom Mazanec says:

    I am reading on Trad sites that Francis denied the existence of Hell and proposed annihilation in an interview.
    You may want to cover this.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The claim is based on the report of a 93 year old atheist communist, who has misreported Francis’ words before. And this time, it was not an interview, but a brief audience. I don’t believe the atheist’s claims at all.

    • Tom Mazanec says:

      who has misreported Francis’ words before.

      It’s just me, but if so I would not grant an audience to such a person again.

  3. Mark P. says:

    To Tom’s question above, perhaps the Vatican should reconsider allowing this “journalist” (Eugenio Scalfari) to interview the Holy Father any more. I believe they have met five times already, and after each encounter, multiple supposed errors / unorthodox opinions / borderline heresies are attributed to the Pope, and then more press releases have to clarify what he really said. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. . .you think they’d catch a clue after the fifth time.

  4. matthieu says:

    How should we read CCC 634 relating to death moment ?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It doesn’t relate to that question/claim. CCC 634 is about Jesus visiting the deceased souls in Purgatory.

    • matthieu says:

      Wasn’t purgatory impossible before the death on the cross ?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Before Christ’s salvific death, the souls who died in grace went to purgatory, to suffer for their sins, and then to the limbo of the fathers, to await His death and resurrection which opened the gates of heaven to them.

  5. Francisco says:

    Example of a case: A minister (priest) performs a valid and licit Sacrament of Baptism on a person, but this person (the recipient) is not sincerely repentant of his mortal sins at that moment, but let’s say that 10 years later, the person has a change of heart and sincerely repents of all of his past sins and wishes he was truly Baptized. How does this particular Sacrament of Baptism work on that person? Not valid when he received under those conditions, but then becomes valid years later when he repents? Should this person be conditionally Baptized?

    • Ron Conte says:

      If the person sincerely wished to be baptized, this desire necessarily includes at least imperfect contrition, which is sufficient for the Sacrament to forgive all sins. Conversely, if the person was truly repentant from his sins, this is sufficient for baptism to be received validly, even if the contrition is imperfect.

      On the other hand, if the person did not sincerely receive baptism and was not at all repentant from grave sin, but only received baptism for ulterior motives, then the baptism is not valid, because he did not intend to do what the Church does. He should be baptized conditionally, whenever he is willing.

  6. Kevin says:

    Dear Ron
    Can you please comment on the “Conversation of the Merciful God with a Despairing Soul” in St Faustina’s Diary (para 1486) with respect to the Church’s teaching on dying in the state of grace. Is this possibly how the Lord converses with souls just prior to death, when there is still time to repent even of mortal sin? After death, a soul has already made its choice, either for or against God, and it is despair that prevents a soul accepting the merciful love of God. The more that a soul is weighed down by sin, the harder it is to not succumb to despair.

    • Ron Conte says:

      There is no special revelation just prior to death which determines Heaven or Hell, as that would nullify the Church’s teaching on the necessity to live a holy life to get to Heaven. God is always seeking the repentance of sinners, at all times, not only at the end of life.

  7. Kevin says:

    I see that my question relates to a conversation already underway with Marco. But here is another related question… how is the justice of God served by the comment that has been attributed to Our Lady (I forget where) where she laments the loss of many souls because “there is no one to pray for them”? On the face of it, I see incontrovertible evidence that God favours some souls with extraordinary and particular graces, but I also see your point about how His justice cannot favour one soul over another. We see evidence of this even in scripture where John the Baptist is sanctified in the womb during the Visitation.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Some souls are chosen by God to receive salvation, without the possibility of going to Hell. I don’t see how this is unjust. Yes, God does favor some souls, but for particular reasons, and the reasons make the favor fair. John was baptized in the womb, and he was preserved from all personal sin. But he had a role to fulfill which required a very severe life and a martyr’s death. Many would not like to trade places with him. Of those to whom more is given, more is required. Consider the children who die in the womb. They necessarily go to Heaven by a baptism of blood. They have no possibility of Hell. But they also are deprived of a normal lifespan, and of any life beyond such a young age. So it is fair.

      The system of salvation, as we say, the “economy” of salvation, requires that we help one another to Heaven. The path is like the destination. Heaven is a place of love of God and neighbor, so to get there, we must love God and neighbor. Praying for one another is necessary as part of that path. When so many persons fail to pray, their neighbors lose that benefit, and some of them will then end up in Hell — not of necessity, but because prayer makes the journey to Heaven easier, and with less prayer, some souls fall away.

  8. Tom Mazanec says:

    From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycephaly
    In humans, there are two forms of twinning that can lead to two heads being supported by a single torso. In dicephalus parapagus dipus, the two heads are side by side. In craniopagus parasiticus, the two heads are joined directly to each other, but only one head has a functional torso. Survival to adulthood is rare, but does occur in some forms of dicephalus parapagus dipus.

    Are these babies given two Baptisms?

  9. Mark P. says:

    Should “scientism” be condemned as a heresy, or is it already condemned as part of modernism?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t see that scientism has much to do with the Catholic Christian religion. Not every error is called heresy, but only ones that pertain to Catholic dogma.

  10. Kevin says:

    Can you give an explanation of the meaning of St Faustina’s conversation with a despairing soul, then? I am sure her diary has the ‘nihil obstat’. You say that a special revelation is not given to each soul prior to death because it would negate Church teaching about the need to live a holy life. But, people turn their lives around and repent at different times… some live a holy life right from birth, others convert late in life, so it is reasonable to suggest that others will convert on their death bed. This does not negate Church teaching, since those who convert late may have to spend a long time in purgatory. In addition, it is very foolish to delay conversion since it is much harder to turn one’s life around after a life of sin. So the Church will always exhort the faithful to convert now rather than later.

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