Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sister Faustina's Vision of Hell

 "I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. 

But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." (Diary 741)

"Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw:

The First Torture that constitutes hell is:
The loss of God.

The Second is:
Perpetual remorse of conscience.

The Third is
That one's condition will never change.

The Fourth is:
The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger.

The Fifth Torture is:
Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.

The Sixth Torture is:
The constant company of Satan.

The Seventh Torture is:
Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.

Indescribable Sufferings
There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

I would have died
There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

No One Can Say There is No Hell
Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin." (Diary 741)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"I AM THE WAY" (John 14:6)

Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C
It is a very uncertain world we are living in. We do not know what is right and what is wrong. We stand at the crossroads of life not knowing which way to take. This uncertainty is very unnerving for the modern man whose one concern is to make life more secure. In the midst of this uncertainty Jesus declares "I am the Way." 
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (John. 14:1-6)
At the Last Supper, Jesus prepares His disciples for the time of trial to come. He would not remain with them much longer. They had left all that they had to follow Him. Now they are troubled. As Jesus comforts them, He directs them to the face of the Father. In this discourse on the Father, Jesus spoke about the One whom He knew the best - the One whom He came from and was going t - His origin and destination. But Jesus also reveals that the purpose of His going is that we could be with Him for ever. The longing of the heart of Jesus is that we are with Him in the one true comfort of the Father's arms.

The disciple Thomas eagerly asks Jesus to explain the way for them to reach this place. And Jesus pointed out, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life." (John 14:16) By this self-offering, Jesus calls us to make our life here on this earth a pilgrimage so that we may reach where He is. In this declaration is also a precious revelation meant to mould our style of living. In this self revelation, Jesus declares His identity and His relevance in our life. We need to make an honest soul searching. What does Jesus mean to me? Does He have a role in my daily living?

"For What Will It Profit A Man, If He Gains The Whole World And Forfeits His Life?" (Matthew 16:26)

When Jesus becomes our way, He leads us to the Heavenly Father. His longing is for us to be with Him through eternity. Our life on earth is a pilgrimage. We are on the way - the way that leads to the Father. The sense of our existence consists in moving all the time towards the Father. What we achieve in this world find its meaning only in so far as they propel us to the Father.

Jesus reveals to us that our life has a supernatural dimension. We cannot reduce it to something mundane and passing. We cannot afford to get lost in the current of the world. It is not enough that I accumulate more of what this earth can offer. If my striving on this earth is only to make my life here more and more comfortable, I have lost my way! 

Whatever I do I must always be conscious of not losing sight of my goal. My goal is my Father's house. Once we reach our destination we will find true happiness. It is then that every longing, every effort and pursuit of my life here will find its fulfillment. As with Jesus, the Father's House is where I come from and where I must go to. Whatever I decide, wherever I go, whomever I talk to, every moment, every event and every deed and desire of my life should be such that I am on this path that leads to the Father. Anything that side tracks me can have no place in my life. Keeping to this way should be my goal at every moment.  

"For Here We Have No Lasting City, But We Seek The City Which Is To Come." (Hebrews 13:14)
This supernatural vision completely rules out every sort of materialistic and consumerist option of life. We are pilgrims on this earth; we can build no permanent security or dwelling here. We most definitely need to work to improve the quality of life on this earth. We must fulfill our responsibilities in the situations we are placed. But this is not enough and cannot be an end in itself. For the real quality of our life would depend on how oriented I am to God. My actions and decisions would stand the test of time and would bear real fruit when they are built on the sure foundation of pursuing God's way.

Saint Augustine said, "Our hearts were made for you, O Lord. And they will never find rest until they rest in you." There is restlessness in the heart of every one of us. But often we misinterpret this restlessness. We imagine this restlessness will be dealt with if we fill our lives with more comforts and worldly securities. We seek greater security, grander lifestyle, surer success, a perfect family, a higher education, the latest car, health and fitness, popularity and fame. We are all the time concentrating on filling our hearts with the things of this world. But nothing of this world can ever even begin to fill us. For we are made of a different matter - supernatural matter! We are created by our God and we need to be on the way He has set for us. We might ask "What is this way?" We are echoing the concern of the Apostle Thomas. And Jesus provides the answer, "I am the way." (John 14:6)

An entrepreneur came here for retreat. His business had failed and he was in a huge debt. He was so disturbed he could not sleep the nights and was losing his health. His entire life seemed to be falling apart. But during the retreat, he received great peace of mind. His heart was filled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. His sleep was restored to him. At the end of the retreat he came with a very valid question, "I have the peace of the Lord filling my heart. I feel happy now. But the fact is I am going back to the same situations - the debt, a very uncertain future in business and problems in the family. Surely I will lose my peace when I am faced with this reality again. How am I to tackle all these problems? I cannot find a way." I pointed him to the assurance of the Word, saying, "The way is coming with you. Jesus is the way. And Jesus is always there by your side. Commit your life to Him and He will tell you what to do, where to go and whom to meet."

"Lord, To Whom Shall We Go? You Have The Words Of Eternal Life" (John 6:68)
It is in the constant companionship with Jesus that we find our way. It follows that two things are needed here. Firstly I need to commit my life to Jesus, to know that my life belongs to the Lord and it is for Him that I must live. This commitment would then require of me to be always united with Him in prayer. For then I shall hear His voice guiding me and understand His will in my life.

This basic commitment is necessary for any person who wants to be led by God. The psalmist sings, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters." (Psalm 23:1,2) When I accept Jesus as my shepherd, I place my hand in His for Him to direct my path. And He leads me to where my heart shall be filled and my life shall be secure.

The psalms present for us again a beautiful assurance, "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose." (Psalm 25:12) To fear the Lord is not the slavish fear where I tremble at the thought of His wrath and punishment. This is not what is asked of us. He is our Father, a loving father. And I am His favoured child. The Biblical understanding of the fear of God is fear that is borne out of love. My joy and eagerness is to bring Him pleasure. I am committed to doing His will at every moment. I love my God so much that I cannot bear to offend Him. There is a possibility that I might cause hurt to this tenderly loving God. The very thought of this brings deep pain and great concern in my mind. This fear of causing Him pain and the determination to do His will protect me from every temptation. I do not want anything in my life that is against His pleasure. This is the fear of God borne out of deep abiding love. And that fear of God impels me to a total commitment of my life to my God.

When we are so committed to Him, the psalmist assures us, God will guide us. "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose." (Psalm 25:12) This must be an everyday experience - God instructing us in every minute aspect of our life. When we are sure that we want only God's way in our lives, He will reveal it for us. The Lord confirms His faithful guidance in our lives, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.' " (Isaiah 30:21)

"Call To Me And I Will Answer You, And Will Tell You Great And Hidden Things" (Jeremiah 33:3)

When we have this faith commitment, the determination is all for God's will and nothing else. Then we will wait on God in prayer in the confidence that He will speak to me. Jesus had declared, "My food is to do the will of my Father." (John 4:34) This shows the thirst Jesus had to live the commitment of love to the Father. It is such a thirst that must be burning within us. After having committed His life totally to the Father, the Gospel describes that Jesus waited the whole night in prayer before choosing the apostles. (Luke 6:12-14) We see this attitude of Jesus in every occasion it is to the Father that He turns in long hours of prayer.

When His popularity was increasing and the people sought to make Him King, it is said Jesus withdrew to the mountains to spend time in prayer. (John. 6:15) When after preaching in the synagogue and healing all who were sick, the people and his disciples were pressing him to stay on. But the evangelist records that "in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed." (Mark 1:35) He would not give in to the people's demands but could understand and pursue the Father's will. He tells Peter, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons." (Mark 1:38-39) When He was misunderstood, even when he reached out to do good, Jesus turned to the Father. As He received His consolation and comfort from God and not from men, he could continue to do good. At the most difficult hour before His passion and death, Jesus persisted in prayer to receive the comfort and strength that only heaven could provide. Before every decision and every significant moment Jesus waited in prayer. Every occasion, be it of joy or pain he sought to understand its significance in prayer.

Life is difficult. But Jesus has gone ahead of us to show the way and to be the way for us. With Him my life acquires a very clear direction and a sure goal.

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