"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Monday, April 30, 2012

WHAT WILL HELL BE LIKE? St. Alphonsus Liguori

Where Is Hell Located?

The question as to the place where Hell is situated has been a matter
of conjecture among the Fathers of the Church and theologians. St.
John Chrysostom, for instance, was of the opinion that it is situated
outside the bounds of this universe. More commonly and with more
reason, other theologians think that Hell is situated within the
earth itself. Some have even gone so far as to declare that it is
near the furgace of the globe, basing their opinion, rather quaintly,
upon the existence of many volcanic mountains such as Vesuvius, the
Volcanic Isles, Mt. Etna and others.

Catholic Teaching

Aside from these debatable opinions, a group of heretics known as the
Ubiquitists maintained that Hell is not restricted to any determined
place, but is to be found everywhere, since God has not destined any
special place for the damned. This opinion, however, is evidently
false, and contrary to the common belief of the Catholic Church which
teaches us that God has established a definite place for the demons
and the reprobate, as is evident from several texts of Sacred
Scripture. St. Jerome deduces this specifically from a passage in the
book of Numbers (Num. 16:31-33). Here is described the fate of Dathan
and Abiron who were precipitated into Hell, falling into a chasm
which opened under their very feet. At the same time a great flame
burst from the earth and killed two hundred and fifty men who were
accomplices in their sin. Moreover, in many passages of Sacred
Scripture, the word "descend" is used in reference to Hell,
indicating that Hell is situated in the bowels of the earth.

Hell Is a Definite Place

This assertion is confirmed by a passage of St. Luke (16:22): "But
the rich man also died and was buried in hell." The sacred text
employs the word "buried," because burials are made within the earth.
Moreover, the rich man himself describes Hell as a "place of torment"
(Lk. 16:28), confirming the opinion that Hell is a determined and
definite place. In another place it is called a "lake"; "Thou hast
saved me from those descending into the lake" (Ps. 29:3); and
elsewhere, a pool: "And the devil who deceived them was cast into the
pool of fire and brimstone." (Apoc. 20:9). It is evident, therefore,
that Hell is a determined place, and most probably situated within
the earth. But as to where, precisely, it is situated, whether at the
very center of the earth or nearer to the surface, cannot be
determined from any revealed document. St. Thomas also declared that
the dimensions of Hell, which will be the dwelling place of the
damned after the resurrection, cannot be determined.

Pains of Hell

Let us now treat of the pains of Hell, and first of all, of that of
sense. St. Thomas proves that the fire of Hell is a corporeal and
material fire, though for the most part he does not write of the fire
which torments the souls separated from their bodies, but of that
which the damned are to endure after their corporeal resurrection.
Many heretics have maintained that the fire of Hell is not material,
but only metaphorical or imaginary fire. There are numerous texts in
Sacred Scripture, however, which demonstrate that the fire of Hell is
a true, material and corporeal fire. We read, for instance, in the
book of Deuteronomy: "A fire is kindled in my wrath, and shall burn
even to the lowest hell." (Deut. 32:22). And in the book of Job: "A
fire that is not kindled shall devour him" (Job 20:26), revealing
that this fire of Hell needs not to be nourished, but, once enkindled
by God, burns eternally. There are a number of passages in the book of
Isaias referring to this fire of Hell: "Which of you can dwell with
devouring fire? which of you shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
(33:14); "Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be
quenched, and they shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh." (66:24).
"He will give fire, and worms into their flesh, that they may burn,
and may feel forever." (Judith 16:21).

Fire of Hell

In the parable of the Gospel, the rich man buried in Hell cries out
to Lazarus, "I am tormented in this flame." (Lk. 16:24). He says, "in
this flame," to show that the fire of Hell is a fire of a particular
type, a fire prepared expressly to avenge the injuries which sin has
done to God by carnal pleasures. For, as the book of Ecclesiasticus
remarks, "the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and
worms." (Eccl. 7:19). Hence, St. Thomas argues that this fire will be
the instrument of the avenging justice of Almighty God.

Punishment by Cold

In this same fire, St. Thomas remarks, the bodies of the damned, in
addition to the intense heat, will endure bitter cold, passing from
one to the other, without knowing a moment of relief. Thus do
Scripture scholars explain the passage of the book of Job: "Let him
pass from the snow water to excessive heat, and his sin even to
hell." (Job 24:19). Hence, St. Jerome says, the damned in Hell endure
all their torments in this one fire.

Remorse of Conscience

In addition to their sufferings from the heat and the cold of the
fire of Hell, Sacred Scripture enumerates a number of other torments
which will afflict the damned. One of these is the "worm," to which
the Scriptures refer frequently. Some commentators have explained
this "worm" as a material thing, which will feed upon, without
consuming, the flesh of the damned. But most theologians explain it
metaphorically as the remorse of conscience which will afflict the
damned in the fire and darkness of Hell. Forever will they have
imprinted on their memories the results of their sins; forever will
they repeat the words ascribed to them in the book of Wisdom: "We
have erred from the way of truth, we wearied ourselves in the way of
iniquity and destruction and have walked through hard ways. What hath
pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches
brought us? . . . Such things as these the sinners said in hell."
(Wis. 5:6-14).

Teaching of St. Thomas

St. Thomas describes for us perfectly in what will consist the
happiness of the elect and the torment of the reprobate. Insofar as
his intellect is concerned, the Saint remarks, man will find complete
joy in the vision of God; but, insofar as his affections are
concerned, he will find complete satisfaction in the permanent union
of his will with the infinite goodness of God. On the other hand, the
torment of the damned will consist in being deprived of all divine
light in his intellect, and in finding his affections obstinately
turned away from the Divine Goodness. Elsewhere the saintly Doctor
teaches that, though the punishment of the fire will be more
terrifying, this separation from God is, however, a greater torment
that that of the fire.

God Makes Heaven

In short, it is God who will be our paradise, for He embraces all
goods in Himself, as He Himself once declared to Moses: "I will show
thee all good." (Ex. 33:19). Such was also the promise which He made
to Abraham because of his merits: "Fear not, Abram, I am thy
protector, and thy reward exceedingly great." (Gen. 15:1). And what
greater reward can He promise than Himself, who is the one good
embracing all other goods?

God Makes Hell

It is also God who will make Hell, for, as St. Bernard remarks, He
Himself will be the chastisement of the damned. For just as the elect
will be supremely happy because God is for him, and he is for God, so
also will the reprobate be unhappy, because God is no longer for him,
and he is no longer for God. Let us listen to the threat which God
made against those who refused to belong to Him during this life:
"Call his name, Not my people'; for you are not my people, and I will
not be yours." (Osee 1:9). It is in this, then, that the torment of
the damned will consist; it consists in the first sentence which
Jesus Christ will pronounce over His enemies; "Depart from me into
everlasting fire." This eternal separation will constitute Hell for
the damned.

Eternal Choice is Made During Life

For the present, sinners, blinded by the apparent goods of this
earth, choose to live far from God and to turn their backs upon Him.
And should God, who cannot dwell with sin, wish to enter into their
hearts by expelling sin from them, they are not ashamed to repel Him,
exclaiming: "Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways."
(Job 21:14). Depart from us, we do not wish to follow Your ways, but
our own, our passions, our pleasures. The great multitude of those,
says Sacred Scripture, "who sleep in the dust of the earth, shall
awake, some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see
it always?' (Dan. 12:2). Yes, these unfortunates now sleep in the
dust of their blindness; but, in the other life, unfortunately for
them, they will awaken and realize the immense good which they have
lost in voluntarily losing God.

Greatest Pain of Hell

The sword which shall pierce them with the greatest sorrow will be
the thought of having lost God, and of having lost Him through their
own fault. Unfortunates that they are! They now seek to lose sight of
God, but once fallen into Hell, they will no longer be able to cease
thinking of Him, and in this will their chastisement consist.

St. Augustine says that in Hell, the damned will be forced to think
of nothing but God, and that will cause them terrible torment. And
St. Bonaventure, expressing the same sentiments, says that no thought
will torment the damned more than the thought of God. The Lord will
grant to them such a vivid knowledge of their offended God, His
goodness so unworthily spurned, and consequently, of the chastisement
which their crimes have merited, that this knowledge will cause them a
suffering greater than that of all the other punishments of Hell.

We read in the book of Ezechiel: "Over the heads of the living
creatures was the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of
crystal terrible to behold, and stretch out over their heads above."
(1:22). Explaining these words, one author says that the damned will
have continually before their eyes a terrible crystal or mirror: with
the assistance of some fatal light, they will behold, on one hand, the
immense good which they have lost in voluntarily losing divine grace,
and, on the other, they will view the justly wrathful face of God;
and this torment will surpass by a million times all the other
punishments of Hell.

On this same subject, the author Cajetan makes the following
reflection upon the works of David: "The wicked shall be turned into
hell, all the nations that forget God." (Ps. 9:18). The Prophet, says
this author, does not here speak of a change of heart, or conversion,
but of the spirit of sinners. For just as sinners do not wish to
think of God during this life, that they might not be forced --
despite themselves and by a just chastisement -- to think
continuously of God in Hell. They would wish to shut out all
remembrance of God from their minds, but they will be forced to think
always of Him, thus recalling all the benefits which they have
received from Him, as well as the offenses which they have committed
against Him and by which they have been separated from Him for all

The Damned Do Not Forget

Let us now consider briefly the condition of the intellect of the
damned in Hell. St. Thomas says that the damned will be able to
remember all the subjects of natural knowledge which they acquired
here on earth, for this acquired knowledge will remain in their souls
after death. This is evident from Sacred Scripture as well, from the
response of Abraham to the rich man buried in Hell: "Son, remember
that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime." (Lk. 16:25).
This, then, is the conclusion of the Angelic Doctor: Just as in the
elect there will be nothing that is not a subject of happiness to
them, so also in the damned there will be nothing which will not be a
subject of torment to them. Hence, the damned will preserve in their
memories the things which they knew here on earth, not, it is true,
for their consolation, but solely to increase their torment.
Moreover, during this life the soul is frequently prevented from
considering thoughts which would be disagreeable to it, because of
corporeal sufferings and anxieties; but in Hell the soul will no
longer be subject to this influence of the body. Hence, in Hell the
soul will no longer be prevented from considering those things which
can be a cause of torture to it. Likewise, in Hell the soul of a man
will have constantly in its memory of all the divine appeals made to
it during life, as well as the number of sins which he committed,
each of which will procure for him a new Hell.

The Damned Know Nothing About Us

Moreover, says Estius, just as God will procure the satisfaction of
the blessed by making them know what concerns us, and especially that
which concerns them in a special manner, such as our prayers addressed
to them, on the other hand the damned will remain ignorant of all that
concerns us, because they are complete strangers to the Church.

Do the Damned Have Faith?

It might be asked whether those Christians who possessed faith in
this life, and who have not lost it by apostasy or heresy, will
preserve it in Hell. St. Thomas responds in the negative, for in
order to believe with a supernatural and theological faith, one must
hold with a pious affection of the will to God the revealer. This
pious affection, however, is a gift of God, of which He deprives them
as well as the demons. They do, however, believe by a sort of natural
faith, to which they are forced by the evidence of external signs,
though this faith is not supernatural. It is in this sense that St.
James has written that "The devils also believe and tremble" (James
2:19), signifying that their faith is forced and fearful.

Will the damned ever see or behold the glory of the Blessed? St.
Thomas answers that at the Last Judgment the reprobate will see the
blessed in their glory, without being able to distinguish in what it
consists, solely realizing that they are enjoying an inexplicable
glory. This sight will afflict them with great sorrow, either because
of a feeling of envy, or because of regret at having lost that which
they themselves could have acquired. And for their eternal
chastisement, this shadow of the beatific vision which they have
beheld will remain imprinted in their memory forever.

The Will is Set on Evil

Let us now discuss the condition of the will of the damned. St.
Thomas remarks that the will of the damned, insofar as it is a
natural faculty, cannot but be good, since it does not proceed from
themselves but from God, who is the Author of nature; the damned
have, however, vitiated it by their malice. But when we consider the
will of the damned in its use, it cannot but be evil, for it is
completely opposed to the will of God and obstinate in evil.

But whence does this obstinacy in evil proceed? Sylvius, in a very
clear explanation, says that the obstinacy of the damned results from
the nature itself of their state. For, since the damned now find
themselves at the terminus of their existence and deprived of all
divine assistance, God, by a just judgment, abandons them to the evil
which they have voluntarily chosen and in which they have wished to
end their life. It is natural for everything, once it has reached its
terminus, to rest in it, unless it be moved by some external power.
Now, the damned have terminated their lives with the depraved will in
which they have died, and God has resolved to leave them to the evil
which they have chosen. Just as the blessed can never possess an evil
will, because they are always united to God, in like manner the damned
can never turn their will to good, and consequently will always be
unhappy, because they are obstinately and irrevocably opposed to the
divine will.

Do the Damned Wish Evil to Others?

Because of this evil will of the damned, the question might be asked:
'Do the damned wish that all men be damned?' St. Thomas responds in
the affirmative, because of the hatred which the reprobate bear to
all men. But here a difficulty presents itself. As the number of the
damned increases, the punishment of each individual is aggravated:
how, then, can they desire an increase of torment for themselves? St.
Thomas says that such is their hatred and envy that they would prefer
to suffer more cruelly with many others than to suffer less alone.
And it matters little to them that among those whose loss they desire
are some whom they loved dearly during life. For the Holy Doctor
remarks that all affection which is not based upon love of God
vanishes easily; other wise, the order of justice and right would be
reversed in Hell.

Do the Damned Repent of Sin?

It might also be asked whether the damned repent of their sins. St.
Thomas answers that a man can repent of his faults in two ways:
directly or indirectly. He can repent directly insofar as he repents
by a sentiment of hatred for the sin committed; in this sense, the
damned cannot repent of his sin, for since he finds himself confirmed
in his perverse will, he loves the malice of his fault. But he can
repent indirectly, insofar as he detests his punishment, of which his
sin is the cause. Thus the damned will their sin, insofar as its
malice is concerned, but detest its punishment, which, nevertheless,
can never cease because their sin endures forever.

Hatred of God

Do the damned hate God? St. Thomas says that God, considered in
Himself, is the Supreme Good, and therefore cannot be an object of
hatred for any reasonable creature. But He can become such to the
damned in two ways: first, as the Author of their punishments, by
which He is bound to afflict them; second, because they are obstinate
in evil, while He is the infinite Good, they would hate God with their
whole heart, even though He punished them but little.

Do the Damned Desire to Be Destroyed

We ask, finally, whether the damned would prefer to be annihilated
and deprived of existence, than to submit to the punishments which
they endure. St. Thomas, considering the question in itself, answers
in the negative for, as he says, a state of non-being is never
desirable, for it implies a deprivation of all good. But if this
annihilation be considered as an end of all punishment, St. Thomas
says that, from this point of view, the state of non-existence
presents itself as a good. It is in this sense that Jesus Christ
spoke this sentence of Judas: "It were better for him, if that man
had not been born." (Mt. 26:24). St. John seems to say the same thing
when speaking of the damned in the Apocalypse: "In those days men
shall seek death and shall not find it: and they shall desire to die,
and death shall fly from them." (Rev. 9:6). This will of the damned,
however, is uncertain, for they wish to continue to exist, that they
might always hate God.

This Punishment Is Not Unjust

Nor can the eternity of the punishments of the damned ever be
qualified as unjust. For anyone who offends God by a mortal sin
merits an infinite punishment for an offense which is infinite.
Hence, however severe or long the punishment may be, it can never be
proportionate to the offense which has been committed. For the
majesty of God is infinite; hence, whoever sins mortally merits an
infinite punishment. It therefore appears just that mortal sin be
punished by an eternal punishment.

How Punishment Is Measured

It is useless to object that it does not seem just to inflict an
eternal punishment for a sin which endures but a moment. For St.
Augustine remarks that punishment is not measured by duration of a
fault, but by its gravity. Even at the tribunals of justice here on
earth, the penalty of death is imposed upon some crimes which are
committed in an instant.

The Angelic Doctor adds that it is but just that the punishment
should not cease as long as the fault does not cease. Now, a fault
which remains eternally can be remitted only by the grace of God,
which man cannot acquire after death. As we have seen above, the will
of the damned is obstinate in evil. Hence, he continues to love his
sin at the same time that he submits to its punishment. How, then,
can God deliver him from his chastisement, while he continues to love
his fault? How can God pardon his sin, while the damned is hardened in
his hatred for God, if at the same time the Lord offered him pardon
and friendship, the damned refused both the one and the other?

Nor can it be objected, as some heretics do, that it is contrary to
the goodness and mercy of God to behold one of His creatures suffer
eternally from such terrible punishments in Hell. For, as St. Thomas
remarks, God has given superabundant witness of His goodness and
mercy toward men. Beholding all men lost by the sin of Adam and their
own sins, what great goodness did He not manifest in descending from
Heaven to earth to become man, in the endurance of a poor, humble and
afflicted life, in pouring forth the very last drop of His Blood amid
such terrible torments upon an infamous gibbet? What greater proof of
His goodness could He have given to men than to leave to them His own
Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, that they might
there find nourishment for their souls, and that, through this means,
they might preserve and increase their spiritual forces until death,
after which, finding themselves more closely united to God, they
might enter into Heaven, there to enjoy eternally the life of the

The Patience of God

Ah! Most certainly, on the day of judgment, the Lord will make known
to the entire world how many mercies, how many lights, how much help
He has dispensed to each man during his life! And the numerous
ingrates, who, despite such favors, have merited such chastisements,
with what patience did He not pursue them, with what love has He not
begged them to repent? If, despite such favors, they still would not
renounce their passions and earthly pleasures, wished to live and die
separated from God, voluntarily abandoning themselves to their eternal
ruin, how can it be said that God has not manifested His mercy and
goodness towards them?

In lieu of declaring the punishments of Hell not to be eternal, some
heretics have invented another opinion, maintaining that the
punishments of Hell will be lessened after a time, or momentarily
interrupted. But this opinion is expressly contrary to the Sacred
Scriptures. Isaias, for instance speaking of the reprobate proclaims:
"Their worm will not die, and their fire will not be extinguished."
(Is. 66:24). And in the sentence pronounced against them at the Last
Judgment, Jesus Christ will say to them: "Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire."

Jesus' Parable of Dives and Lazarus

"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: The, 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." (Lk. 16:19-31)

Fatima Children's Vision of Hell

(NOTE: In 1917 Our Blessed Mother appeared six times at Fatima,
Portugal to Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, three
small children. During the course of these six world-famous
apparitions-now approved by the Church as worthy of our devotion and
propagation the Blessed Virgin Mary made several startling
statements and predictions, among them the outbreak of World War II
if people did not change their lives. During the July 13 apparition,
she allowed the children to see a vision of Hell. Following is
Lucia's description of what they saw.)

At this point, Lucia was heard to say aloud: "Yes, she wants people
to recite the Rosary. People must recite the Rosary." The Lady's face
then grew very grave and she said: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners
and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice: 'O my Jesus,
this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in
reparation for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of
Mary. -- At these words, she opened her hands on the three children
once again and the light streaming from them seemed to penetrate the
earth, and the children beheld a vision of Hell. Lucia cried out in
terror, calling upon Our Lady. "We could see a vast sea of fire," she
revealed many years later. "Plunged in the flames were demons and lost
souls, as if they were red-hot coals, transparent and black or
bronze-colored, in human form, which floated about in the
conflagration, borne by the flames which issued from them, with
clouds of smoke, falling on all sides as sparks fall in a great
conflagration without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans
of sorrow and despair that horrified us and caused us to tremble with
fear. The devils could be distinguished by horrible and loathsome
forms of animals, frightful and unknown, but transparent like black
coals that have turned red-hot." Full of fear, the children raised
their eyes beseechingly to the Lady, who said to them with
unspeakable sadness and tenderness: "You have seen Hell where the
souls of poor sinners go. In order to save them, God wishes to
establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do
what I ask, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."

Lucia later stated that although the vision lasted "but an instant,"
she felt they would have died of fear and terror if Our Lady had not
already promised to take them to Heaven.


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"Pray and work for souls"

“For many” or “for all”?

Benedict XVI’s statement on the procedure for consecrating wine during mass has ended an underground dispute that had been causing divisions among bishops


For once, Benedict XVI chose to speak in German so that his message could reach everyone, including Italians, loud and clear. The letter, signed on 14 April, to bishops from his native Germany addresses in an articulate manner the issue of post-conciliar procedures for consecrating wine during Eucharistic celebrations. In his firm statement, Benedict XVI reiterated once again the instructions already given by the Holy See at the beginning of Ratzinger’s papacy. So far, these have not been clearly received in Episcopates, including the Italian one, which are usually quick to get in line with pastoral and liturgical advice.

The central issue has been the exact wording used for the Eucharistic prayer which is said during the consecration of the wine, to turn it into the blood of Christ. Ever since the early centuries, the Roman Rite in Latin, which copies the story of the Eucharist contained in the original Greek version of the synoptic gospels, has used the words attributed to Christ himself to say that his blood had been shed “for many” (pro multis, which corresponds to the Greek pollon). In the modern language versions of the Latin Missal, prepared after the Second Vatican Council, pro multis was translated as “for all”.

This was until, in 2006, the then Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Francis Arinze, signed a letter to try to revoke this lexical slip, making it possible for all national Episcopal Conferences to give an updated translation of the words of consecration that would correspond to the Latin words pro multis, in the new editions of the Missals that were undergoing revision.

Since then, in many cases, the updating process requested by the Holy See has been taking place at a slow and irregular rate, as new versions of the Roman Missal are gradually being approved in the various modern languages. The quickest to finish was the Hungarian Church, whose corrected version of the words of consecration for the bread and wine, was implemented on Pentecost 2009. They were followed by some Latin American Churches (Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia), after the approval of their version of the Roman Missal in Castilian Spanish. In Argentina, the passage from por todos to por muchos took place on the first Sunday of Lent 2010. In Chile, the change had already been implemented on the first Sunday of Advent 2009. In Churches across the English speaking world, the Vatican’s approval of the English version of the Roman Missal finally came about a year ago, after a lot of blood sweat and tears and the new Missal which substitutes for all with for many only came into use on Advent 2011.

Italy’s story is a story in its own right. The pro multis question was voted on during the plenary assembly of the Episcopal Conference held in Assisi in November 2010. According to figures which also find their way onto the website edited by Vatican correspondent Sandro Magister, 171 out of 187 voters voted in favour of keeping for all. This reluctance to implement the requested change had also been expressed by regional Episcopal Conferences.

Different insights into the issue have also been expressed recently by the College of Cardinals. One of the age-old supporters of the re-wording of the national Missals, changed to the Latin pro multis is the Singhalese Cardinal Malcolm Ranijth Patabendige Don. The current Archbishop of Colombo firmly supported the idea of returning to thefor many formula right from the days when he was Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome.

According to the cardinal, the return to the for many formula instead of for all, also serves as a timely reminder of “the seriousness of the Christian vocation”, in a situation which according to him is marked by “exaggerated optimism about salvation which leads everyone to Paradise, without the need for the gift of faith and the effort of conversion.” In an interview with Italian Catholic newspaper 30 Giorni, in the spring of 2010, Jesuit cardinal Albert Vanhoye took a more articulate stance. According to this distinguished Biblicist, the translation of pro multis into for all, adopted by many churches following the Second Vatican Council, was based on an exegetical reasoning that was by no means insignificant. Starting with the fact that Jesus spoke in Aramaic not in Greek or Latin. In the interview, the rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Institute said that “In Italian molti (many) implicitly contradicts tutti (all). If one says that many students passed an exam, it means not all passed. In Hebrew, however, this dialectical connotation does not exist. The word rabim simply means a great many. It does not specify whether this great number corresponds to all.” According to Vanhoye “it is clear that Jesus was not referring to a determined, albeit numerous, group of individuals during the Last Supper. His address was universal. Jesus wants salvation for all.”

In actual fact, the instruction to return to more literal translations of the term pro multis used in the Latin edition of the Roman Missal - in accordance, on this point, with the majority of anaphoras used in the Eastern Churches – cannot be written off as a literalism or liturgical fixity. And it does not intend in itself to reduce the universal reach of Christ’s promises. Already the letter signed in 2006 by Cardinal Arinze categorically denied the insinuations of those who in recent years have actually raised doubts regarding the validity of masses celebrated using the for all formula. According to the Nigerian cardinal, the expression for many is to be preferred because “it is open to the inclusion of every single human being , whilst at the same time reflecting the fact that this salvation is not complete in an almost mechanic way, without one’s own will or participation.”

This is the core theological and pastoral point that drove Benedict XVI to intervene directly -addressing German bishops but others as well – to help them overcome any enduring reluctance to make the move from for all to for many.

In his letter, the Pope himself listed all the objections to the requested change (“Did Christ not die for everyone? Has the Church changed its teaching? Is it able to do so and can it do so? Does this reaction aim to destroy the Council's legacy?”), denying that any of these had any basis. Ratzinger is always keen above all to stress the unselfishness of the salvation brought to us by Jesus. Ever since he was a young theologian, Ratzinger has always distrusted theological formulas that interpret the history of salvation in a determinist way, like a compulsory mechanism that everyone is subject to, whether we like it or not. Even as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger showed his tireless joy for theological theories according to which mercy is given to humans a priori. This apriorism, which according to him disfigures the unselfishness and historicity of Christ’s redemption, takes away all the wonder of the Christian adventure and poses the risk of a religious and ethical imperialism toward us Christians. This is why, way before he became Pope, Ratzinger underlined the urgent need for the consecration formula to capture Christ’s authentic intention. As he wrote in an essay in 2001, “regardless of the formula [whether for all or for many] we must listen to the whole meaning of the message: that the Lord truly does love everyone and that he died for everyone. And one other thing: that he does not push aside our freedom using some kind of amusing magic, instead, he lets us to say “yes” through his great mercy.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prepare to be amazed! The 2nd miracle of St. Gianna Molla

by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/04/prepare-to-be-amazed-the-2nd-miracle-of-st-gianna-molla-2/

Today is the Dies Natalis of St. Gianna Beretta Molla (+28 April 1962 at 39 years of age).  That is to say that St. Gianna died and was born into heaven today (thus, “birthday… dies natalis”).

I have posted this before, but it seemed appropriate to repost it today. St. Gianna is one of the saints of our time whom I would very much like to see included in an updated version of the traditional Roman calendar.
This is about the 2nd miracle through the intercession of St. Gianna, which lead to her canonization.  A person who cause for canonization has been officially advanced is called a “Servant of God”.  If they are determined to have died while living a life of “heroic virtue” they are declared “Venerable”.  After that, if a miracle is authenticated by their intercession, they are beatified and called “Blessed”.  After another miracle they are canonized and called “Saint”.
The account of the 2nd miracle for the canonization of St. Gianna gives me shivers.  Sometimes we don’t get many details about what these miracles are all about.  We know quite a bit about this miracle.
This is adapted from my original post when I was speaking and thinking mostly in Italian, so it might sound odd here and there.

Thus, my post from many years ago continues: 
Since I have just recently finished over 100 hours of training at the Congregation for Causes of Saints concerning the history, theology and juridial dimensions of causes of beatification and canonization (investigating the life, heroic virtues, martyrdom, reputation of holiness, reputation of martyrdom, miracles, etc.), I figured I should put some of that training to use and occasionally produce some of it here with some comments that might be of use to others. After all, what training I get isn’t just for me: it has to be for the whole Church or it is worth only the cost of the parchment.
We had the chance to learn from and question the officials of the Congregation, the experts who collaborate with it, and the physicians and historians who are experts consultants. We had lectures from the Prefect, Secretary and Under-Secretary, the Promotor of the Faith (so-called “Devil’s Advocate” is a misnomer, really) and the Relator General. We had tours of the archives and attended the proceedings of the opening of a cause in the Roman phase. Abundant materials were provided and we were, naturally, allowed then to be thoroughly tested on them.
Going into the course I was not sure what to expect, but I brought a certain measure of sceptism about some things I had heard (mostly due to faulty and insufficient information, I see now). I heard stories of lives and of miracles which left me nearly with my jaw on the table as I listened and saw the documentation.
This was a privilege which for the rest of my priesthood will affect how I can help other people understand things about the life of grace in a way I could not before.
Ad ramos

Concerning the second of the two miracles worked by God through St. Gianna:
In mid November 1999 a Brazilian woman named Elisabete Comparini Arcolino discovered she was pregnant for the fourth time. An echogram on 30 Nov. showed that the developing child was within a small sac only .8 cm in length and 2.3 cm in diameter. The doctor said that it was doubtful that with such a beginning for the gestation that child would come to term. On 9 December a echo showed the embryo a 1.0 cm in length but also a huge increase in coagulation of blood (blood loss), measuring 5.2 x 3.5 cm. On 19 December they found the beating heart of the child, but also a deterioration of the placenta in the lower region of the uterus. A pessimistic prognosis was given. The doctor following the case, Dr. Nadia Bicego Vieitez de Almeida, who had handled Elisabete’s previous pregnancies, said that with the great loss of blood Elisebete would probably spontaneously abort or they would have to do the procedure sooner or later.
Contrary to expectations, the child’s heart kept beating and the pregnancy continued.
On 11 February 2000 Elisabete realized there was a serious problem and went to the hospital. The echo showed that the gestational sack’s membrane had broken at 16 weeks of gestation and, while the fetus was alive, there was now a total absence of amniotic fluid. The radiologist testified that there was no amniotic liquid to protect the child from exposure to the outside world and from the external pressure of the uterus itself. This meant that both the child and mother were in serious danger of infection, etc. Dr. Bicego recommended termination of the pregnancy. Elisabete was put on a regime of super hydration, 4 l. of phleboclysis (intravenous injection of an isotonic solution of dextrose or other substances) per day. On 15 Feb a new echo showed that there was no significant increase in the volume of amniotic fluid and the volume was insufficient to bring the pregnancy to term.
At this point, 15 Feb, the prognosis for the child was precisely zero. Two studies, one in Sao Paolo and one in San Francisco had looked at viability of pregnancies with a ruptured membrane at between 22-26 weeks, many more weeks after the case of Elisabete and her child. In the studies in every case examined every fetus was spontaneously aborted within 60 days of the rupture. In virtually all cases, a fetus of 16 weeks would abort with a few days.
Dr. Bicega and other doctors told Elisabete that they had to do an abortion to save her life, and gave her some time to make the decision. But Elisabete, as she testified, knew in her heart thatshe could not do that and that she must try to bring the child to term. When the doctor came for the decision, Elisabete’s husband Carlos Cesar requested that a priest come. He called the parish priest of San Sebastiano, Fr. Ovidio Jose Alves di Andrade. Dr. Bicega said she would return again in 15 minutes with the documents for their signature approving the abortion.
Present at the time Dr. Bicega came was a friend of Elisabete, named Isabel, who heard the exchange about the abortion. Isabel went to the hospital chapel to pray to Mary to help bring some clarity to the situation. There Isabel spent some time in prayer. When she was finshed and got up to leave, she saw pass by the door the diocesan Bishop Diogenes Silva Matthes who had come to the hospital to visit another person. Bp. Silva had been celebrant of the wedding of Elisabete and Carlos Cesar at San Sebastiano where they worked as catechists. Isabel told the bishop what was going on and he went to Elisabete’s room and there learned the whole story. The bishop said, “Betinha, we will pray and God will help us” and he asked Dr. Bicega to wait a while longer. Then the bishop left.
Shortly after the bishop left Fr. Ovidio arrived. He began to give Elisabete the sacrament of anointing. At that point the bishop returned. He had brought with him a biography of Bl. Gianna Beretta Molla. He said to Elisabete: “Do what Blessed Gianna did, and, if necessary, give your life for the child. I was praying at home and I said to the Blessed in prayer, ‘Now has arrived the opportunity for you to be canonized. Intercede before the Lord for the grace of a miracle and save the life of this little child.”
Elisabete had known about Bl. Gianna and how she died and how the first miracle for her cause was for a woman who had terrible complications from a caesarian section. After knowing about Bl. Gianna, Elisabete herself, in her third pregnancy and after two previous caesarian sections, had decided to give birth normally despite the problems that entailed. At that time the same Bishop Silva had given her a holy card of Bl. Gianna. Elisabete was terribly afraid but she asked Bl. Gianna for help and gave birth to a child weighing over 5kg.
Therefore, this time, reinforced by past experience and the help of Bl. Gianna and the same bishop, Elisabete told Dr. Bicega she would try to carry the child to term, so long at the child’s heart continued to beat. Various doctors at the hospital expressed their opinion that this was madness. However, Dr. Bicega later testified about that time: “But I, I don’t know if it was by intuition, through my own lack of courage, or if I was drawn by Elisabete’s faith which seemed to have no limit, decided to wait and see what happened.” Elisabete would later testify that for her: “Jesus’ greatest miracle was to change the doctor’s heart. She had been unmovable in her determination to perform abortions, but one day she said to me, ‘Your faith had made me think a great deal. Even I have faith now and so let’s wait for the death of the fetus”.
Elisabete left the hospital and went to the home of Carlos Cesar’s aunt, Janete Arcolino, who was a nurse. Dr. Bicego lent them the sonar machine so that they could monitor the heart beat of the child and told them to check her temperature and blood pressure every six hours. They continued the super hydration treatments and eventually began a cortisone treatment to prevent problems with the child’s lungs.
In the meantime, Fr. Ovidio testified later, the whole community was continuing to invoke Bl. Gianna, continuously asking for a miracle. The parish had been very pro-life and every month there was special blessing for women who were with child. Also involved in the prayers to Bl. Gianna was a community of Carmelite sisters who in turn had communicated the request to other convents in Brazil. For her part, Elisabete had a very hard time of things. Despite her faith in God and her past experience, there were times when she was terribly afraid she was going to die with her child.She felt herself sometimes quite abandoned by God and alone. She was worried about what would happen with her other three children if she died.
Dr. Bicega followed the pregnancy closely and noted that during the whole time there was no accumulation of amniotic fluid. If Elisabete gained any, as soon as she would move to get up to go to the bathroom, she would again lose it all.
When they had reached the 32nd week and when the baby weighed 1.80k, they decided for a caesarian section delivery, effected on 31 May 2000. The newborn daughter, Gianna, was in good shape with the exception of the left foot which was twisted, probably because of compression with the uterus.
The problems did not cease there. They found that Elisabete had a wound within a uterine muscle to which the placenta had adhered, thus remaining in place. She had a serious hemorrhage and her lungs collapsed and wound up in intensive care for three days. As part of her treatment Dr. Bicega wanted to interdict her cycle with a kind of false menopause, which would result also in Elisabete not being able to lactate, but Elisabete said she did want to do that.
The newborn was sent home on 17 June weighing 1.960kg. Later a surgical operation and therapy corrected the twisted foot. In July 2001 a pediatrician Dr. Maria Engracia Ribeiro examined the child completely and found her to be perfectly normal and healthy, intelligent and lively, with the strong personality. Another check on 17 January 2002 found no problems in any of the child’s development, with no immune or respiratory problems and was, for her age, in perfect health.
The case of the asserted miracle was studied by the “Consulta Medica” of the Congregation for Causes of Saints on 10 April 2003 who determined that despite the severe prognosis for the fetus and the mother as the result of the total loss of amniotic fluid at the 16th week, and despite medical treatment inadequate for such a grave situation, the positive outcome of the pregnancy and health of mother and child were unexplainable in medical terms. The decree super miraculo was promulgated by the Congregation in the presence of Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2003. Since Gianna Beretta Molla had been beatified on 24 April 1994, her canonization was celebrated on 16 May 2004.
I would put to you several points to consider, any of which might serve as a starting point for comments below:
  1. Saints are presented to us by Holy Mother Church for “the two I’s”: imitation and intercession.
  2. As all Christians are called to imitate Christ, we also must experience self-emptying and the Cross, abandonment to providence and self-donation. We must be willing to lose everything.
  3. We are not alone: the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are closely knit, interwoven in charity. We on earth must intercede for each other and believe and ask for the intercession of the saints.
  4. God makes use of the weak to demonstrate His might and love.
  5. If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.
  6. Our life of faith is noticed by non-believers and they are not unaffected.
  7. What a difference a bishop can make.
  8. How often do you invoke the help of the saints and holy angels?
  9. God’s ways are not our ways.
  10. No one is too small to be an occasion of grace for others.

New generation, old rite: the enduring appeal of Catholic tradition

Father Joseph Kramer, pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims, is pictured at his church in Rome April 27. The parish is the only one in Rome that exclusively celebrates the Tridentine Mass. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Of all the Catholic Church's modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council, none was more evident to ordinary members of the faithful than changes to the liturgy. Latin gave way to local languages, women ceased to wear veils in church, and Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and 19th-century hymns were replaced by devotional music in popular contemporary styles.

Most Catholics embraced these changes or at least accepted them without dissent. But a minority persisted in their devotion to the traditional Tridentine Mass, and eventually the church accommodated them.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI lifted practically all restrictions on celebration of what is now known as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. In the near future, the Vatican is expected to announce results of reconciliation talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which broke from Rome almost 25 years ago in protest against several elements of the legacy of Vatican II, including the liturgical reform.

According to Father Joseph Kramer, pastor of Rome's Church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims, the enduring appeal of traditional worship is in large part a matter of aesthetics.

Classical liturgical music has an "uplifting, energizing effect, it really moves people to prayer," he says. "Both Gregorian chant and polyphony highlight the texts of the liturgy. When you're listening to them, you meditate on the words and internalize their meaning."

The Australian-born Father Kramer is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, which Blessed John Paul II established specifically to serve Catholics devoted to the Tridentine Mass. In 2008, his baroque 17th-century church, which sits about a mile from St. Peter's Square, was dedicated exclusively to celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass.

A large segment of Father Kramer's flock is people born decades after the Tridentine Mass ceased to be the norm. He says they are frequently drawn by the older liturgy's emphasis on the sacrificial dimension, which makes it "more obvious that Christ is pouring out his blood for the forgiveness of sins."

The 59-year old priest says that Catholic clergy of his generation, reacting to the severe moralizing that prevailed before Vatican II, were "very reluctant to talk about the punishments for sin." But the "new generation," recoiling from the more libertine mores with which it grew up, "needs to talk about sin and how the problem of sin is resolved," he said.

Younger people also are "more sophisticated than they used to be, and they're looking for something at a higher level," Father Kramer says. "And I think that is connected with finding the great tradition and richness of the last 2,000 years."

The Tridentine Mass is a link to the church's vast treasures of art, architecture, literature and music. "These are all things that we need to rediscover," Father Kramer says. "No other institution has anything like it."

More specifically, he says, the liturgy offers an education in the faith itself.

"The Latin of the old Mass helps the priest and the laity understand a lot more about the theology of the church right back to the third century, because a lot of the terminology is in Latin," Father Kramer says. "These are terms that are coming from the ancient world and that in the intervening centuries have accrued other (meanings) and have been enriched as they've gone along."

Familiarity with the traditional liturgy can thus help the vast majority of Catholics who attend the ordinary form understand it better, Father Kramer says; and such exposure might also help priests who celebrate the newer liturgy to focus on its essential meaning.

"In the old Mass the idea was that the personality of the priest should disappear and that the Mass would have an objective value," he says. "The new Mass could learn something from that principle ... that it's not about the priest, it's about Christ the priest and the priest acting in his stead."

Yet the church's experience with the newer liturgy also holds lessons for celebration and appreciation of the older, Father Kramer says. Before Vatican II, private and public devotions, such as the rosary and the Stations of the Cross, often overshadowed and even replaced the Mass in the hearts of the faithful; but the liturgical reform reasserted the centrality of the Mass to Catholic worship.

Thanks to the influence of Vatican II, Father Kramer says, "we're not celebrating the old rite as it was celebrated in the 1950s, which tended to be a very mechanical, rather perfunctory way of saying Mass, a bit cold and legalistic" -- as well as frequently inaudible to the congregation. In his church, an amplification system ensures that the priest's words can be heard clearly, so that even those who do not read Latin can follow him using a parallel translated text.

Such improvements exemplify the "mutually enriching" relationship that Pope Benedict has written should exist between the two forms of the Mass, Father Kramer says. A rediscovery of tradition can also help resolve the church's internal tensions over interpretations of Vatican II, refuting what the pope has called the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture," he adds.

"The important thing is to have a benign attitude to the documents of the council and to be open to reading them in a traditional sense," the priest explains. "The church can't have a council that contradicts previous councils. That just can't happen in Catholicism. One mustn't come to the documents with a hostility but rather with a mind that wants to see them as they relate to the general tradition."

For most of the half-century since Vatican II, traditionalist Catholics have been "trying to find a niche in which they can survive," Father Kramer says. "But now I think it's time to follow the Holy Father in an attempt at integration within Catholicism."

"That's the challenge of the moment. To have a sense of Catholic identity, to know your religion, practice it well, but on the other hand, be an influence within the church at large and then within the world."

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Editor's Note: To see an interview with Father Kramer, go to http://youtu.be/ZLeomOG3bN8.