Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Vol. 24, no. 149
Eternal Damnation?--II


Bishop Richard Williamson

      Editor's Note: The following is His Excellency's Eleison Comment #306 from Saturday, May 25 in continuing his comments from last week with part two of this thread in which he points out that man cannot measure the degree or significance of an offense against God and if he truly realized the limitlessness of his Creator he would shudder in horror at any sin that would harm the sensitiivty of the Divine. It's a good thing God is patient with His creation but there are limits put on man by the Unlimited One and the more we focus on our end goal and the mystery of God's infinity, the better our chances of avoiding sin, avoiding eternal damnation for while our body and spirit might lean toward the world, our soul longs to rest in the bosom of the Beatific Vision. Bishop Williamson offers some advice to help us avoid the flames.

    It is idle to pretend that any of us human beings can fathom the mystery of one single soul's damnation, let alone that of the majority of human beings that live and die, but there are certain things that can be said which make it easier to accept that there is a mystery beyond our human possibility of knowing.

    The key to the mystery is surely the infinite greatness, or the limitlessness, of God. If He is infinite, then to offend Him is to commit an offence which is in a certain way limitless. But the only way for a finite human being to suffer infinitely is for the suffering to have no limit or end in time. Therefore there is a certain proportion between any grave offence committed against God, and an eternal punishment.

    As for the infinity or limitlessness of God, it is not too difficult for our reason to grasp it in the abstract. Effects exist all around us which require a cause. But a chain of causes can no more go on for ever than an endless series of links in a chain can hang without a ceiling-hook. So there must exist a First Cause, which we call God. But if this First Cause were composite, or put together out of parts, then whoever or whatever put it together would have to have been prior to the First Cause - impossible. Therefore God is in no way composite, He can only be simple and pure Existence. But existence is not by itself, as such, limited. Any limits on God's being would have to have been put on Him by a prior limiter, again impossible. Therefore the First Cause has no limits to His being, God is infinite existence.

    In the concrete however, it is not so easy to get our minds around the infinity of God. Our human minds are working all day long on, with and from limited or finite creatures. Only when we turn our hearts and minds to God are we thinking of the infinite. Hence the common difficulty of prayer, because we can only think of what is limitless goodness by thinking of some limited goodness around us and then thinking away the limits. For instance God is as beautiful as a sunset, only infinitely more so.

    It follows that the more we allow ourselves to be immersed in daily living, the less chance have our minds and hearts of grasping Who or what is the God behind all the limited beings that make up our daily living. Contrariwise, the more we turn our minds and hearts to the knowing and loving of the unlimited Goodness necessarily behind all the limited good things of our daily lives, the better the access we will have to the mystery of God's infinite goodness and to the corresponding mystery of the ingratitude of so many of His human creatures.

    Therefore to lessen - without remotely fathoming - the mystery of souls' eternal damnation, I need to follow St Dominic's example, and to pray. That does not mean fooling myself that God is right when He is in reality wrong. It means my getting to the truth, namely that He is right, and that I -- am wrong!

    St Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises greatly help to turn heart and mind to God. A Saint prayed along these lines: "O Love, Thou art not loved. Would that Thou wert loved. Give me only to love Thee as Thou needest to be loved, and then do with me what Thou wilt."

    Kyrie Eleison.

+ Most Rev. Richard N. Williamson

      We publish the above with the following included: A non-exclusive license to print out, forward by email, and/or post this article to the Internet is granted to users who wish to do so provided that no changes are made to the content so reproduced or distributed, to include the retention of this notice with any and all reproductions of content as authorized hereby. Aside from this limited, non-exclusive license, no portion of this article may be reproduced in any other form or by any other electronic or mechanical means without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review, or except in cases where rights to content reproduced herein are retained by its original author(s) or other rights holder(s), and further reproduction is subject to permission otherwise granted thereby. If you would like to receive His Excellency's pastoral weekly Eleison Comments, click here to Sign up

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013
    Vol. 24, no. 149