The Last Things

The Last Things

Last things? What are The Last Things? Excellent question, especially if you’re not familiar with them. The Last Things are those which we experience at the end of our earthly life. They are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. It is my intention to help us all gain a better understanding of what we have to look forward to as we come to that particular point in our lives. The thing is . . . we don’t know just when that will be. Also. what we must do to enter Heaven or fall into Hell.

Death is something that no one really wants to talk about or even think about. It’s scary and very unsettling for human beings. Actually death in and of itself is not scary at all. Death is merely the soul separating from the body. Now the events that lead to one’s death could be frightening and painful, but death is painless. It’s what happens after we pass from this life to the next that could get quite sublime or horrendously painful.

Let’s take the good news first, Heaven. Now Heaven is not going to be like we have tried to imagine with beautiful golf courses and tons of good food. No that’s not the way it is at all. Before we get too far into what Heaven is like, maybe we should focus on how we might reach those gates and enter in. Everything we need to know is in Scripture and the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. God also knows how forgetful and lazy we are and sends others (the Saints) to help us. For example, back in the fourteenth century, a woman by the name of Catherine, a Third Order Dominican, was allowed by God to enter into ecstasy and have conversations with Him. We know her now as Saint Catherine of Sienna. Catherine, at the time, did not know how to read or write and was in the company of secretaries to record every word that was given to her by our Heavenly Father. Catherine was not only raised to the Altar, but also named a Doctor of the Church. So, what she gave us in her Dialogue with God was not just some superfluous chatter.

We must understand how a soul might reach those gates and enter into Paradise. God sent his only-begotten Son in our human flesh to live among us, teach us and establish the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. He also had His Son suffer terribly and die a most horrible death to pay for our sins. He ransomed us. Our sins are infinite and they needed an infinite remedy. Jesus Christ crucified was the only answer. God told Catherine that Jesus Christ crucified was the bridge that we must climb to get over the waters running below, those raging waters of sin that will carry us away to Hell. Here are some excerpts of the Dialogue Catherine actually had with God:

“I send people troubles in this world so that they may know that their goal is not this life, and that these things are imperfect and passing. I am their goal, and I want them to want me, and in this spirit they should accept such things. Now there are some, I tell you, who when they feel the pressure of troubles are prompted to remove the cloud from their eyes by their very suffering and by what they see must be the consequence of their sin. In this slavish fear they begin to make their way out of the river. They vomit out the venom with which the scorpion has stung them under the guise of gold. They had embraced him without any reservation, and so he stung them. With this knowledge they begin to get up and turn toward the shore to gain access to the bridge.
But to walk merely in slavish fear is not enough. It is not enough for eternal life to sweep the house clean of deadly sin. One must fill it with virtue that is grounded in love, and not merely in fear. Then one must put both feet on the first stair of the bridge. And the two feet that carry the soul into the love of my Truth, of whom I have made a bridge for you, are affection and desire.”

There’s a couple of keywords -affection and desire. God wants us to have the greatest affection for Him and also to be our hearts desire. He is forever. Everything in this world is passing. The Heavenly Father also said the bridge has three steps that we must climb before we can enter into Heaven. We must understand that nothing enters Heaven that is not perfect. If someone could enter with even the minutest spot, then Heaven would not be heaven. All must be perfect. “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

It is also necessary to understand that we will go through two judgments. First, a Particular judgment when we first pass from this life, and second, a General judgment when Christ comes again. The General judgment is the final word when our bodies and souls will once again be reunited, glorified or damned. Our glorified bodies will spend eternity in Heaven contemplating the presence of God. Those that are damned will be thrust into Hell for eternal torments according to the sins they committed while on earth.

Let’s listen to the dialogue of God in regard to the General Judgment. He spoke thus:

“Know that on the final judgment day the Word my Son will come in my divine majesty to reprove the world with divine power. It will not be like when he was born in poverty, coming from the Virgin’s womb into the stable among the animals, and then dying between two thieves. At that time I had my power in him to allow him to suffer pains and tortures as a man—not that my divine nature was cut off from his human nature, but I let him suffer as a man to atone for your sins.
Not so will he come in this end time. Then he will come in power to reprove these people in person. There will not be a creature who will not tremble, and he will give them all what they deserve.
His glance will be such a torment to the damned that words could not describe it. But for the just it will be a cause for reverent fear and great rejoicing. Not that his face will change—for he is one with my divine nature and therefore unchangeable, and even in his human nature his face is unchangeable since it has taken on the glory of his resurrection. But it will seem so to the eyes of the damned. For they will see him with their terribly darkened vision. A healthy eye looks at the sun and sees light. But a sick eye sees nothing but darkness when it looks into such lightsomeness—and it is no fault of the light that seems so different to the two; the fault is in the sick eye. So the damned see my Son in darkness, confusion, and hatred, not through any fault of my divine Majesty with which he comes to judge the world, but through their own fault.”

So the final or General judgment will separate the goats from the sheep. “And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:” (Matthew 25:32); “So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.” (Matthew 13:49) We should therefore spend our days preparing for this day. It should not come as a surprise, if you are a true Catholic and are following the steps laid out for us in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Holy Roman Catholic Church provides all that we need to live a holy life and to give us the great hope of Heaven.
Now lets hear God’s word to Catherine about the beauty of Heaven and how we will be once our bodies and souls are reunited (so as not to rewrite the entire section on this topic, I will just take excerpts and make it as clear as possible):

“By the same principle, those just souls who end in loving charity and are bound by love can no longer grow in virtue once time has passed. But they can forever love with that same affection with which they came to me, and by that measure will it be measured out to them. They desire me forever, and forever they possess me, so their desire is not in vain. They are hungry and satisfied, satisfied yet hungry—but they are far from bored with satiety or pained in their hunger.”
“Just as the soul was made immortal and firm in me, so in this reunion the body will become immortal, its heaviness cast off and made fine and light. The glorified body could pass through a wall, and neither fire nor water could hurt it. But know that this is not due to it’s own power but to the soul’s—which is really my own power given her by grace through the unspeakable love with which I created her in my image and likeness.
The good of these souls is beyond what your mind’s eye can see or your ear hear or your tongue describe or your heart imagine.. . . .They lack no happiness, for the soul is filled, and in this fullness the body will share.”
“I have told you of the good the glorified body will have in the glorified humanity of my only-begotten Son, and this is the guarantee of your own resurrection….. You will all be made like him in joy and gladness; eye for eye, hand for hand, your whole bodies will be made like the body of the Word my Son.”

See, now, how important it is to live a life of virtue and charity. In loving God you love your neighbor, and in loving your neighbor you love God. That is the commandment that Jesus gave, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27) This is the greatest commandment and our place in Heaven depends on how well we follow it during our life here. Every time we say the Credo we proclaim that we believe in the “guarantee of our own resurrection.” (carnis resurrectiónem)

Let’s take a moment and learn what it is going to be like for those who do not love nor care anything of virtue. Their eternity will be quite different. And remember this is for eternity, there will be no overs.

“ ‘Arise you dead, and come to judgment!’ Their souls will return with bodies. The bodies of the just will be glorified. But the bodies of the damned will be forever tortured, and the sight of my Truth and all the blessed will be for them a great shame and reproach. Then will the worm of conscience gnaw away at the whole tree, both the marrow (that is the soul) and the bark (the body).”

Here are a few vivid accounts of Hell as recorded by Sister Josefa Menendez, Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1890-1923, and recorded for all to read in the book “The Way of Divine Love.” Sister was actually dragged down into Hell several times by Satan and his evil cohorts. In this way Jesus thought she would be better able to help those that were in danger of losing their souls to these demons. Let’s begin:

“One of these damned souls cried out: ‘This my torture . . . that I want to love and cannot; there is nothing left me but hatred and despair. If one of us could so much as make a single act of love . . . this would not be hell. . . . But we cannot, we live on hatred and malevolence . . .” (March 23, 1922)

“Today, I saw a vast number of people fall into the fiery pit . . . they seemed to be wordlings and a demon cried vociferously: ‘The world is ripe for me. . . I know that the best way to get hold of souls is to rouse their desire for enjoyment. . . Put me first . . . me before the rest. . . no humility for me! But let me enjoy myself .. . This sort of thing assures victory to me . . . and they tumble headlong into Hell’ “ (October 4, 1922)

“I saw hell as always before, the long dark corridors, the cavities, the flames. . . . I heard the same execrations and imprecations, for—and of this I have already written before—although no corporal forms are visible, the torments are felt as if they were present, and souls recognize each other. Some called out, ‘Hullo! you there? And are you like us? We were free to take those vows or not . . . but now! . . .’ and they cursed the vows.
Then I was pushed into one of those cavities and pressed as it were, between burning planks, and sharps nails and red-hot irons seemed to be piercing my flesh.”
“I felt as if they were endeavoring to pull out my tongue, but could not. This torture reduced me to such agony that my very eyes seemed to be starting out of their sockets. I think this was because of the fire which burns, burns . . . not a finger-nail escapes terrifying torments, and all the time one cannot move even a finger to gain some relief, nor change posture, for the body seems flattened out and doubled in two.
Sounds of confusion and blasphemy cease not for an instant. A sickening stench asphyxiates and corrupts everything, it is like the burning of putrefied flesh, mingled with tar and sulfur . . . a mixture to which nothing on earth can be compared. (September 4, 1922)

 

It would seem that anyone given such a vivid look into Hell would want to do everything possible to keep their souls and those of their loved ones from falling into that great fiery pit. It would do well for anyone who professes to be Catholic to actually practice the Faith as it was handed down from Christ and the Apostles. That means following closely the Dogmas, Doctrines and Traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It also means receiving the Sacraments and going to the Latin Mass. It means trying to grow in virtue and forsaking the worldly allurements, which are worse than ever. It’s probably safe to say that these things will be taken into consideration at the Particular judgment. There will be no place for excuses then, it will be too late. What did our Heavenly Father say to Catherine? . . .“I send people troubles in this world so that they may know that their goal is not this life, and that these things are imperfect and passing. I am their goal, and I want them to want Me, . . . ‘ God doesn’t want us to accumulate all kinds of stuff to distract us from Him. He wants us to seek Him and love Him, to be one with Him for all eternity, and to live simply in this life. It is my understanding that there are no tears in Heaven, which is probably a good thing because we would be drowning in them. It truly is a time for change. A time to turn back to God.

Purgatory is not mentioned as one of The Last Things, but it is real none-the-less. Being able to enter Purgatory is probably the best chance we have of finally making an entrance into Heaven. This is where the soul is purged of all stain in order to be made perfect. Jesus said, “Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.” (Matthew 5:26) As has been stated before, nothing imperfect can enter into Paradise. If we have loved ones who have passed on, the best thing we can do for them is to have Masses offered for the salvation of their souls (salvation comes after death, not before). According to my understanding, the Catholic Mass {Mass of Pius V} is the cure for their sins… anything less (Novus Ordo) would, at best be attempting to put a band-aide on a festering sore. The Blood of Christ poured out for them at the Mass will help to remove all the stains from their souls so that their suffering will end. And if you think a friend or relative was a saint on earth and went directly to Heaven, don’t count on it. Pray for them and have Masses said for their suffering souls. We don’t know them as God knows them. What we see is superficial.

Sister Josefa never went down into Purgatory herself, but she was visited by souls asking for her help or thanking her for all that she did for them. Saints, religious and laity have been visited by these suffering souls as well. (Purgatory, by Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J. ) Here is what some had to say to Sister Josefa. Please remember, Sister prayed and sacrificed for the souls of priests and nuns constantly. This is what Jesus asked of her.

“My purgatory will be a long one, for I did not accept God’s will for me, nor make the sacrifice of my life generously enough during my illness. Illness is a great grace of purification, it is true, but unless one is careful, it may cause one to stray away from religious spirit . . . to forget that one has made vows of Poverty,Chastity, and Obedience, and that one is consecrated to God as a victim. Our Lord is all love, certainly, but also justice.” (November 1921)
“. . . I have been a year and three months in purgatory, and were it not for your little acts I should have remained there long years. A woman of the world has less responsibility than a religious, for how great are the graces the latter receives, and what liabilities she incurs if she does not profit by them. . . . How little nuns suspect the way their faults are expiated here . . . a tongue horribly tortured expiates faults against silence . . . a dried-up throat, those against charity . . . and the constraints of this prison, the repugnance in obeying . . . I in my order, pleasures were few and comforts still fewer, but one can always manage to secure some . . . and the smallest immortifications have to be expiated here, To restrain one’s eyes, to refuse oneself the gratifications of a little curiosity may at times cost a big effort . . . and here . . . the eyes are tormented by the impossibility of seeing God.” (April 10, 1922)

These are only two examples of the poor souls in Purgatory. Their greatest torment is not seeing God, as this nun had told Sister Josefa. Purgatory is not just a lay-over like in our airports, where everyone is bored silly. It is called Purgatory because the soul is “purged” of all stain of sin. It could be likened to being scrubbed with a wire brush. The souls in Purgatory are the Church Suffering and they can no longer pray for themselves. The suffering souls must rely on our help. They suffer the torments with joy knowing they have the hope of going to Heaven. The souls damned have no such hope, ever. And by-the-way, when a soul enters Purgatory and there are no Masses or prayers offered on their behalf, they must fulfill their sentence until all stain is removed. Maybe, you’ve wondered about the time spent in Purgatory. Well, our time is not their time. Sister Marie Denise of the Order of the Visitation, who was very devoted to the poor souls, told her Superior after a very long time of suffering for a particular soul who asked for her assistance, “Ah! My dear Mother, the hours of Purgatory are not computed like those of earth; years of grief, weariness, poverty, or sickness in this world are nothing compared to one hour of the suffering of Purgatory.” (Purgatory, pg. 99) Every prayer, every charitable act, every Mass will help to shorten their stay. Offering Indulgences for them is also a great benefit, for example, actively praying the Stations of the Cross for their intention. The one praying for the indulgence must be in a state of grace and comply with all the requirements. These are usually stated at the beginning or end of the prayer(s) to be said. Indulgences can only be granted by a Pope.

So, we have a choice – Heaven or Hell? It should be an easy decision to make now that you know what could be in store for you or your loved ones. Heaven or stuff…stuff or Heaven. Helping another to gain Heaven will be a real help in making your chances of reaching these Golden Gates a reality. Ask the Blessed Virgin to help you to be more like Her. She is our model and advocate. She is always waiting to hear your call for help. Pray the Rosary every day, do little acts of charity, love God, love your neighbor. Read Scripture, all the answers are there. Attend the Latin Mass if at all possible and don’t be afraid to be Catholic.

 

Resources:

Catherine of Sienna THE DIALOGUE, The Classics of Western Spirituality

THE WAY OF DIVINE LOVE, by Josefa Menedez

PURGATORY, BY Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.

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