the reality of Hell.
It is a sad reflection of the Church in England and Wales that a Bishop discussing the Church's teaching on the eternal fate of those who die separated from God by free will, should be newsworthy. All Bishops, surely, should be mentioning the Four Last Things to the Faithful at least once a year. This shouldn't really be Catholic news, but incredibly, it is.
It is better for us to wake up to reality of Hell in this life, rather than to wake up to the reality of Hell in the life of the next. Certainly, the Church's Doctrine on Hell puts paid to those arguments against us by those who posit that we hold God to be a cuddly 'sky fairy' figure who nods approvingly of human conduct whatever we believe or do, or indeed, what we do not do. Having said that, even the Church's Doctrine on Purgatory should inspire us to examine our consciences this Lent and do penance, because I hear that even in Purgatory a minute feels like a thousand years and that that minute is not particularly pleasant. Ultimately, the Church's teaching on Hell reminds us that in order for us to be saved, we must choose between Good and Evil, between God's will and that of our own, between Christ and liberation in His Kingdom, or Satan and slavery in his. God bless Bishop Mark Davies for taking the opportunity in Lent to remind us to use the time we have in this life wisely, in order that we may prepare for eternity.
Grace upon grace upon grace is offered to us since God wills that no man or woman should be lost. Christ nourishes His Body, the Church with the Sacraments of Salvation and Grace and if we co-operate with Him, then we may hope for everlasting life. Still, that does not stop the forces of Hell from assailing the Church, even if they can never prevail against Her and with 'Equality' laws operating in a manner so Machiavellian and conspiratorially against the Bride of Christ, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Church is, already, in the West, living in times of latent persecution.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols's recent remarks to the effect that the Church in England is not facing a measure of persecution. Granted, the order has not been given to euthanise those who don't agree with the secularist forces within Government, but nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that a Catholic Archbishop can put such a shiny gloss of what is, actually, a deeply difficult time for the Catholic Church and all those who hold fast to the Teaching of the Apostles. It is true to say that the Church in England is not facing what a Christian pastor in Iran is facing, but persecution does not necessarily have to involve death by stoning, hanging or the sword. It can simply mean that the Church is not free to act in accordance with Her Conscience in certain areas, such as the Church's teaching on sexuality, marriage and the family.
After all, Catholic adoption agencies had to close down because of a law which received the backing of a Prime Minister who later went on to become Catholic. His Grace, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, responded to the question on persecution in the United Kingdom by saying, "I personally don't feel in the least bit persecuted. I don't think Christians should use that word," he said. I found this an odd thing for the Archbishop to say, given that His Grace also says, quite rightly, of the current direction taken by the UK Government, "...what might have started out as an acknowledgement of a variety of religious and philosophical positions has produced a seeming determination to tear the legal and therefore cultural life of the country away from its Christian roots."
This, ironically, is the reason for the latent persecution of Christians in the United Kingdom, in my personal view. His Grace describes the closure of the Church's adoption agencies as an "act of intolerance". Perhaps His Grace feels that the magnitude of the sufferings of the Church in other parts of the World is so great and bloody that it is insulting to them to describe the incremental movement of the Government's hand, as it reaches out and closes its grasp around the neck of the Bride of Christ, innocent and blissfully unaware as She is of what is to come, all in the name of 'Equality'.
For example, I cannot see Catholic schools being at liberty to teach that marriage is something that takes place between one man and one woman, exclusively, for too long, if the Same-Sex Marriage Bill is passed. If His Grace has been granted 'reassurances' from Government, then His Grace would do well to recall how quickly 'reassurances' can be retracted by something so simple as the switching of a party in opposition to a party in power and if Civil Partnerships were a foot in the door to Gay Marriage, then Gay Marriage is a foot in the door to the education of Catholic school children in the exotic world of homosexuality or even the silencing of the Catholic Church on matters of sex and sexuality by the law of the land. Even the Catholic blogosphere, in five years, could be even more 'underground' than it already is. Still, for some, hope surely springs eternal.
Unless His Grace is going to personally stand in Catholic classrooms to tell teachers that lessons on mutual masturbation, buggery and fisting are 'off-limits', then may I suggest that His Grace throws his considerable apostolic weight fully behind Lord Carey who is spearheading the Campaign for Marriage petition, however imperfect are its statements. It may not be perfect. It may not even be Catholic. But, at the moment, its the best thing we've had from any Churchman on how to combat the new Stonewall-backed bill which will, I assure you, quite literally shaft the Church from behind.
Personally, I prefer to the plain speaking Catholic honesty of Bishop Mark Davies, who shows a great deal of concern for the eternal welfare of the Catholics of his Diocese and, through the power of the media, those who dwell beyond it. I suppose that in one sense, Bishop Mark Davies is demonstrating a degree of concerned vision that I fear His Grace, the Archbishop of Westminster, appears to lack. After all, Bishop Mark Davies is only telling us to take some time out and reflect on 'what's down the road,' for 'after Death, comes Judgment'.
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