“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
I keep on thinking during this Lent that I want to draw closer to Christ crucified. I want to detach myself from petty and peripheral things, as one writer said, and draw closer to Jesus crucified. Saint Francis de Sales tells us that even some small devotion to Jesus’ passion is filled with special graces, so I want to draw closer to the Lord who died and gave his life for me (Galatians 2:20). Even just to sit or kneel and simply look at the crucifix with love and gratitude “does a good work in our souls.”
I once came across some very powerful notes of Father F.W. Faber (an acclaimed “master in mystical theology” according to Catholic Encyclopedia) from the second to last homily he ever preached (which was during Lent). He first preached about the importance of penance and then he mentioned three grand helps in the spiritual battle for our souls.
Here is the note (by Faber):
1. Continual remembrance of our sins.
2. Continual remembrance of His [Jesus’] Passion.
3. Continual remembrance of an undoubting faith in Hell.”
With respect to the third point, Father Faber states:
“The devil’s worst and most fatal preparation for the coming of Antichrist is the weakening of men s belief in eternal punishment. Were they the last words I might ever say to you, nothing should I wish to say to you with more emphasis than this, that next to the thought of the Precious Blood there is no thought in all your faith more precious or more needful for you than the thought of Eternal Punishment.“ (Fourth Sunday in Lent, 1863; this was the last occasion but one on which Father Faber preached; from: Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, p.23)
These profound thoughts of a very great spiritual writer deserve a moment’s meditation.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
P.S. I certainly believe that some of the grave problems the Church is presently experiencing are related to a loss in the belief in eternal punishment. A priest who really does not believe anyone goes to hell is certain to tend towards the relaxation of morality and doctrine.
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