Dare We Hope That All


Dare We Hope That All May Be Saved?

I start with a confession--before I knew the Church taught against it, I was a universalist. Yes, heretic, splitter, hardened religious criminal. I joke, but I do realize that the Church speaks quite firmly against the heresy of universalism, and wishing to be a good son of the church, I accept that as part of my faith. But my heart strives against it. My heart is interested in God's mercy and not nearly so interested in His justice. As I see it, Earth is the realm for justice, and if given a choice in the after-life, I opt for mercy. All of this is said in the interest of full disclosure.

However, I do think that there is cause for hope in this issue. Yes, I know all the arguments you can summon against it, I've heard them all, and they are one of the things that do keep me in check. But as I said, my heart longs for a God defined more by mercy and love than by a taste for justice.

One of the bits of evidence I point to is admittedly weak. It comes from the stockpile of private revelation, and thus is not binding on any Catholic believer. However, I am certain that the majority of Catholics who pray the Rosary follow this particular private revelation. Many of us pray the Fatima Prayer at the end of each decade. Think for a moment about what is said there: "forgive us our sings" nothing extraordinary in the way of a prayer, fairly common. However, "lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." If we pray this prayer, and if we believe that this prayer came from the hand of our Lady, surely it must say something to us. There seems to me no way to understand this prayer rightly and not hope that all may be saved. If we believe the private revelation, why would our Lady tell us to pray for something that patently would not, could not, should not happen? The prayer makes no allowance for "all souls close to a state of grace", or "all repentant souls." Now, the words stare you in the face--it is without exception "all souls." What is the sense of this prayer if we are not hoping in theological hope for the salvation of all?

Not proof, I grant you. There is much that weighs against these words in the Gospels. The Fatima Prayer, as I point out, comes from the stock of private revelation which is binding on no one and cannot be said to be part of the doctrinal deposit of faith. Still, if we do believe in this apparition, it appears very clear to me that there must be hope that all may see God in Eternity. My heart, which cannot be restrained by the leashes of reason, desperately desires this to be true, because I honestly can't see a way to heaven for the majority of us recidivist sinners (my cloaking device expression for "ME"), without an infinitely merciful, loving God.

Now, universalism is a heresy. I think that the council of Trent even pronounced anathema on those who say that while Hell may exist, it lacks occupants (that is for more erudite minds than my own). And I suppose by that we can mean that the fallen angels cannot be redeemed (presumably these are not "souls"). I don't know. I follow the guidance of my church, but I willingly cling to the arguments offered by Hans Urs van Balthasar and Richard John Neuhaus. Human reason is faulty, divine reason mostly incomprehensible. In the gap between the two is perhaps where the hope resides.

Now I stand ready to be corrected. I accept all criticisms and critiques. But I will warn you, my obstinate heart is hard to convince, its longing after God is not an impartial witness. I apologize if by my words I have offended any, and most especially, I ask forgiveness if I have sinned against God or erred and led any astray by these statements. But here is the single place I know where heart has conquered head, and I let it lead in the hope that the heart grows stronger and the head takes its proper place in the regulation, not the domination, of life.

Shalom to all. May His peace be upon you all and upon your houses.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 30, 2002 7:29 AM.

Pro-Life Novena It's not too was the previous entry in this blog.

A Public Appeal In is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll