Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Dare We Hope?

I've been reading a book by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, one of Pope John Paul II's favorite theologians by the way, one whom JPII quotes in his own book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, entitled : Dare We Hope : That All Men Be Saved?.

In this book, Fr. Balthasar outlines the Catholic teaching on salvation which does not deny God's saving grace to any man. As Catholics, we are to view each person as capable of being redeemed and therefore saved, and we should continually pray for the salvation of each and every man. To stress this point Fr. Balthasar shows numerous instances where the Church as a whole prays for all men and asks God to save them. Such prayers can be found in the Tridentine Mass, the writings of St. Therese of Avila (a Doctor of the Church) and many other Catholic prayers (in addition to which a person can obtain indulgences upon their recitation).

One such example is the Fatima Ejaculation, often said when reciting the rosary:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy. Amen.

It is also interesting to note that the Catholic Church has never clarified the final resting state of Judas Iscariot, possibly the one person in this world who most Christians would consign to hell outright. Pope John Paul II in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope makes it quite clear that the Church has no way of knowing Judas' final state and therefore will never make a judgement one way or another. Therefore, if the Catholic Church has no knowledge, is it wrong to hope that Judas could have been saved nano-seconds before his death?

I think the answer is, not only should Catholics hope that this was the case, but also pray that this was the case. To pray for ones enemies is possibly one of the single greatest acts of charity we can ever endeavor to undertake. This allows us to better emulate Christ and in turn make us more open to His word and thereby act as better apologists, disciples and evangelists.

Daily Prayer for the Dying

O most merciful Jesus, lover of souls, I beseech Thee, by the agony of Thy Most Sacred Heart and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, wash clean in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and who are to die this day. Amen.

V. Heart of Jesus, who didst suffer death's agony.

R. Have mercy on the dying.

Indulgence of 300 days; plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, if this prayer is said with devotion thrice daily at three distinct times. (671).

Amazon.com : Dare We Hope?

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