Hell

04/15/2013

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The only thing that burns in hell is the part of you that won’t let go of your life:
your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away, but they’re not punishing you, they’re freeing your soul. If you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. If you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth. ~ Meister Eckhart
 
 
Any true experience of the Holy gives one the experience of being secretly chosen, invited, and loved. Surely that is why bride and bridegroom, invitations, and wedding banquets are Jesus’ most common metaphors for eternal life.

The mystics of all religions talk of being seduced and ravished and of deep inner acceptance, total forgiveness, mutual nakedness, immense and endless gratitude, endless yearning, and always a desire and possibility of more. This is religion at its best and highest and truest. The mystics know themselves to be completely safe and completely accepted at ever deeper levels of trust, exposure, and embrace. It is a spiral that goes ever deeper and closer. This is so different from fear of hell or punishment which characterize so much common religion, and which keep us on the far edge of the only dance that there is.

---Richard Rohr
 
 
The Homily

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.
Amen.
 
 
"Know yourself" is good advice.  But to know ourselves doesn't mean to analyse ourselves.  Sometimes we want to know ourselves as if we were machines that could be taken apart and put back together at will.   At certain critical times in our lives it might be helpful to explore in some detail the events that led us to our crises, but we make a mistake when we think that we can ever completely understand ourselves and explain the full meaning of our lives to others.

Solitude, silence, and prayer are often the best ways to self-knowledge.  Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives but because they bring us in touch with our sacred center, where God dwells.  That sacred center may not be analysed.  It is the place of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.
---Henri Nouwen
 
 
It can happen that when we are at prayer someone comes to see us. Then we have to choose, either to interrupt our prayer or to sadden our visitor by refusing to communicate. But love is greater than prayer. Prayer is one virtue amongst others, whereas love contains them all. -- John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent 
 
 
Journeying god,
pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength not bolstered by might,
toward a god not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in other's shoes.

(Prayer song from Ghana, traditional, translator unknown)
 
 
“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”
-- Tielhard de Charin, "The Evolution of Chastity," in Toward the Future, 1936, XI, 86-87
 
 
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are changing.
God alone is changeless.
Patience attains the goal.
One who has God
Lacks nothing.

God alone fills our needs.
–Saint Teresa of Avila

The presence of God within me
is the only stable center
of my life.
With it
there is nothing
that can destroy me or
leave me bereft,
confound or defeat me.
It is only a matter
of reaching out.
Correction:
There is nothing to reach for at all.
God is already there.
Celebrate.

–Joan Chittister
 
 
A man started to break up the earth with a spade.  A fool came and shouted at him, “Why are you ruining the soil?”

“You idiot!” the man cried.  “Go away and don’t bother me!  Understand the difference between destruction and growth.”

How could this soil become a rose garden or wheat field before it’s broken up and ruined and made ugly?

How could it become orchards and harvests and leaves and fruit before it is utterly destroyed and worn down?

Before you pierce an abscess with a knife, how can it heal and how can you regain your health?

Until the doctor purifies your humors with his cures, how can your illness disappear and true healing arrive?

When a tailor cuts up a cloth, piece by piece, does anyone go up to her and strike her and say, “Why have you torn up this beautiful satin; What can I do with scraps of torn-up cloth?”

Each time that builders come to repair an old building, don’t they begin by destroying what was there before? Look at the carpenter or the blacksmith or the butcher, with them too, you’ll find that destruction precedes renewal.  If you do not subject wheat to the grinding millstone, how will bread ever come to decorate your table?