This is the last week of the liturgical year, before Advent begins and we joyfully anticipate the birth of Christ the King.
This week is one of finality, during which we are especially called to reflect on the four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven and Hell. It is through meditating upon these Last Things that our hearts become fixed upon life’s essential purpose: to submit our souls to Christ for salvation.
It is an interesting and troublesome paradox, though it shouldn’t be so. We are eager to seek security in the hope of eternal life with Christ, but we fear meeting the day on which we will take our last breath. St. Cyprian of Carthage asked, “Why do we pray and ask that the kingdom of heaven may come, if the captivity of earth delights us?
We must be careful to avoid becoming so attached to worldly pleasures that we prefer them before God, even the great blessings of truly good things like marriage. We should remind ourselves that the Lord gifted us immortal souls and that death is not the end.
Upon death, our soul goes before our Creator for immediate judgment, from which there are only 3 outcomes.
1. Those who have loved God perfectly are brought immediately to Heaven.
2. Those who have loved God imperfectly are brought to Heaven after purification in Purgatory.
3. Those who have rejected God through unrepented mortal sin are condemned to Hell.
The judgment we face will be self-determined, apart from the Grace of God. Just as God grants us the freedom to love Him or reject Him, He takes our choices seriously and gives us the payment due with perfect justice. We can only hope in His mercy as we prepare ourselves for this imminent judgment by setting our hearts on God completely and repenting in the Sacrament of Confession when we fail, until our very last day on this earth.
If we are so fortunate to die a state of Grace and if we have paid our debts in purification, our souls will find a final and perfect satisfaction in what we have hungered for – eternal life with Christ the King. In Heaven, souls are finally unburdened from the torment of sin to enjoy perfect happiness with God, who created us for Heaven and who desires every soul choose eternity with Him.
We must remember that although God created us for Him, He does force us to follow Him. He reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a man to get into Heaven. And as for those that don’t…
…they choose Hell, eternal separation from Christ because it was not their desire to submit themselves wholly to Him and they have died in mortal sin. Although most people desire eternal company with God in Heaven, many want what they desire Heaven and God to be, not what the Kingdom of God actually is. God calls for an absolute (meaning no excuses) love of His Truth, but so many choose alternative “truths” which seem appealing or seem to make more sense in our feeble minds.
If we oppose Christ and if we choose to reject His teachings, we choose Hell. We choose eternal torment in ultimate consequence of our sin. There is no possibility of return to Christ and there is no end to the pain. God will not damn us to Hell; it is where we will send ourselves, weighed down with guilt and self-hatred, in fulfillment of the will of Satan.
And so we must pray…
Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.