Tuesday, 4 November 2014

God of Infinite Mercy

'God of infinite mercy,
We entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins.
Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned. Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification.

May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.

We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life. May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy. May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.
Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.

This prayer of Pope Francis for All Souls Day is full of beautiful sentiments but there are sentiments and there is Catholic doctrine. Problematic, for example, is the general depiction of God as 'infinitely merciful' with no conditions at all. We are taught that God's mercies are infinite, but these mercies must be sought. God is infinitely merciful to those who ask for His mercy. Every time we run to Christ with our sins, if we are sorry and want to change, Christ will take us back. God's judgments of the dead are secret, we cannot know them, but likewise it is problematic to pray that God will be merciful to those who die unrepentant in mortal sin. We can pray for everyone, because we do not know people's hearts right to the moment when they die. God knows that. We do not.

So, while I am happy to pray for everyone and anyone, most especially the Faithful departed, I cannot as a Catholic pray for the wicked unrepentant. That would be contrary to Catholic teaching on God's mercy. I cannot know God's judgement of a person, but likewise I cannot pray that God will rape the unwilling into Heaven if, for example, these souls die in a State that is fixed for eternity against God and His Holy Name. God is not just a 'God of infinite mercy' but also a God of infinite justice. His Justice and His Mercy do not cancel each other out. I also find it rather worrying that any theology of Purgatory has been removed from this prayer.

'May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.' This sounds very Catholic, because nobody wants any of God's children to damn their souls, but it becomes less Catholic when the Pope prays for 'those who...did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.'  Aside from the unborn, who we can happily entrust to God's infinite mercy while they are being massacred by abortionists in their mother's wombs, who above the age of reason does not have 'opportunity to repent'?

I suppose if I was in mortal sin on holiday and the plane exploded with me on it, 'before I had time to repent' I'd be wishing for God's mercy after my death. Unfortunately, it is possible that for my immortal soul, my will, fixed for all eternity, was set against Christ and I might very well go to Hell for all eternity and I couldn't blame Jesus Christ, but only myself for not taking the opportunity to repent. Of course, if I had time to say an Act of Contrition on the way down to the sea, it may end more happily, but my Salvation really would depend on my response, at the last, to the 'infinite mercies' of God.

I hope this doesn't sound too pedantic or cruel. In many ways it is a very lovely prayer, but our theology of death and the last things is incredibly important. How we die, in what state, is incredibly important and we can pray for all human beings who have died, because we do not know the State of their souls in the eyes of God. We cannot, however, pray that those who damn themselves through impenitence will be saved. We can pray for just about anyone. We cannot ask God to over-ride the free choices made by His creatures should His creatures choose eternal separation from Him where 'repentance is no more'. That may sound horrid, but actually God does respect our freedom, even if He does not respect all of our decisions. I hope that readers will not believe that I am impugning things to His Holiness which are not there. A Pope who believed in a universal Salvation would be a Pope who may very well lead countless souls to Hell for why would they repent, if they had no fear of the Lord at all?

'May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy.'

'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' ~ Proverbs 9-10.

'And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.' Luke 1:50

'Nobody comes to the Father, except through me.' Gospel of St John, 14:6


Genty said...

Oh, dear. I'm getting this wrong, praying for God to send St. Michael with his sword to vanquish the raping, pillaging, murdering, Christian-hating satanic army in the Middle East. Still, I'll be able to apologise to them in Heaven. No guarantee, of course, that I'll be able to join them.

Cassandra said...

I do find it difficult to understand bloggers like yourself who appear to think themselves as more Catholic than the Pope. I think he knows more about theology than you do.

I can see a spirit of pride in your comments about our Pope. You put him down and nitpick his words. Please show him some respect. He is head of our church, chosen by the Holy Spirit as the successor of Peter. It is disgraceful to speak of him in this way. As a Catholic, I find such comments deeply offensive.

Sister Lucia's words:
The Cardinals asked her if she wanted to conclude with anything in particular, a message for the world today.
She responded: "He who is not with the Pope is not with God; and he who wants to be with God has to be with the Pope."

Just because you don't like this particular Pope seems to give you permission to be rude and disrespectful of him. Wanting a Pope who reflects only your wants and desires is the sin of pride. It is the cafeteria style of Catholicism that leads to schism.

The Bones said...

I accept the comment.

Please, however, if you are sincere, engage with the argument, rather than a personal attack.

I have drawn attention to the Pope's words, not his character.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Cassandra. If one is not more Catholic than the Pope, one is a material heretic.

O, and the Holy Ghost did not pick him; Cardinals did and they had the liberty to either accept or reject the assistance of the Holy Ghost during the conclave.

The question is not if M.J. is in union with his Bishop and Pope (although he is) the question is whether or not the Poe is in union with all of Tradition -he is not.

He has the duty to pass on what he received, not to actualise his personal agenda for it is every bit as much M.J.s Church as it is his.

The See of Peter will always remain free from formal error (Vatican 1 infallible teaching) but here is no guarantee we will not have a man who is both Our Pope and Our Cross.

Anonymous said...

The Pope's words and actions are not good and true just because he is pope; if they depart from the Deposit of Faith and the Natural Moral Law, they are false and evil. The Catholic Faith given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ does not change according to what a man, apparently on the seat of Peter wants. The Faith is unchanging and unchangeable. The pope who fails in his duty to guard and defend the Deposit of Faith, but rather, continually attacks it and leads people into falsehood and sin, is responsible for monumental evil. Public evil that endangers souls requires to be denounced publicly.

Annie said...


"He who is not with the Pope is not with God." That's what Sister Lucia says.

One problem - Sister Lucia is not God. She may have been a holy woman, but she's a human being. Her words are not infallible. If Pope Francis is in error then that needs to be pointed out. The idea of treating the Holy Father as if he were God Himself really needs to stop.

For the sake of our souls, it's smarter to stick with the words of Jesus Christ, who *is* God: "He who is not with me is against me." That goes for you; that goes for me; that goes for Pope Francis.

c matt said...

1. If the Pope says something wrong, it does not become "not wrong" just because he is the Pope.

2. The Holy Spirit did not choose the Pope. A bunch of Cardinals did. Some of whom now regret the choice.

3. Even if the Holy Spirit had chosen the Pope, you do not know WHY He would have chosen this particular guy. The Lord chastises those whom He loves.

4. Sadly, it is possible to be more Catholic than the Pope, when the Pope veers off doctrine. The Pope is human, not God.

Anonymous said...

Cassandra: "...chosen by the Holy Spirit..."

It's become a bit of a mission for me to correct this assumption wherever I see it. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is available to the members of a conclave, but there is no guarantee that they will avail themselves of it - otherwise, their free will would be compromised. Therefore, it is not possible to assert with any certainty that a given Pope was "chosen by the Holy Spirit."

Theresa said...

I for one had the same reaction to The Bishop of Romes prayer for souls.......I'm a lot older than you and what you have just written is what I was taught pre VII. This is an excellent Blog site ....keep up your stellar Catholisism !

Genty said...

It's a common mistake to assume that a pope is personally chosen by the Holy Spirit. The electoral college of cardinals prays for the Holy Spirit's guidance but doesn't necessarily follow it, as history shows.
Cassandra, do you believe that everyone goes to Heaven even if they do not repent? You see, I am just wondering about Christ's own words which seem to me to be quite clear on this. Luke 13.3

Judy said...

The Holy Spirit does NOT elect the pope. He is elected by men, fallen like the rest of us. They have free will and can choose whether or not to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Damask Rose said...

"He who is not with the Pope is not with God." That's what Sister Lucia says.

In all honesty, Cassandra, I suspect that Sister Lucia had in mind a pope such as Popes Piux X, X11 and Leo.

'More Catholic than the Pope'. Well, yes. You have to follow the Pope in all that is right in faith and morals. Anything that your soul or conscience tells you that is really a deviation should set alarm bells ringing.

Damask Rose said...

I'm getting fed up with all this talk of mercy to be honest.

Anonymous said...

"Did not have the opportunity to repent” is an enigmatic phrase and is presumably an English translation of words spoken by the Holy Father in Italian or Spanish so there may be nuances we don’t get. But it could be taken to imply the lack of a formal reconciliation with the Church rather than a stubborn refusal to accept the means of grace clearly offered; and in that regard we should remember the old Latin tag “Deus non alligatur sacramentis” – God is not bound by the sacraments. And of course, there is a long tradition that people in various ways and situations apparently outside the visible Church can merit salvation. Maybe we should cut Francis some slack here!

Pelerin said...

For those of us still feeling 'tossed on the waves' I recommend reading the latest post out today on Fr Gordon MacRae's blog 'These Stone Walls.'

Radical Catholic said...

A wise bishop once said:

"Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the supreme pontiff are the very ones who do the most to undermine the authority of the Holy See. They destroy instead of strengthen its foundations."

That justified criticism of a pope can very well be motivated by genuine love for the office of the Vicar of Christ seems to be entirely lost on a great many people. That wonderful phrase by Blessed Cardinal Newman, i.e. "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant," needs to be expanded to include those suffering from papolatry. Pope Sergius III, anyone?

Anonymous said...

"He is head of our church, chosen by the Holy Spirit as the successor of Peter.!

Here we go again. Cassandra, ..."the chosen by the Holy spirit" thing is not Catholic dogma.

And leave off Mr. Bones..if you truly read his blog you would know the kind of Catholic he is...it is quite evident the respect he has for the office of the Papacy...besides he has never insulted the Pope as far as I know...instead Pope Francis insults orthodox traditional Catholics in continuation...and punishes them too...read dear Cassandra and then perhaps you will follow your namesake..

Last thought - I have noticed that the Catholics that are disturbed by the present Pontiff usually all love the papacy... that is precisely why they are so disturbed... why then should they shut up about it if they have rational reasons to be so based on DOCUMENTED evidence of Pope Francis' very open, questionable unorthodox behaviour , from the very start of his papacy?


Anonymous said...

Fr MacRae was wrongfully convicted of sexual abuse of a false accuser and is still in jail after 20 years of a possible 67 year sentence.

Martina Katholik said...

"That in the very bosom of the Church, there are people who undermine the teaching of Our Lord became an obvious fact and one for the whole world to see thanks to the internet and the work of some Catholic journalists who were not indifferent to what was happening to the Catholic faith which they consider to be the treasure of Christ. I was pleased to see that some Catholic journalists and internet bloggers behaved as good soldiers of Christ and drew attention to this clerical agenda of undermining the perennial teaching of Our Lord."


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