What’s At Stake? Not Much, It Would Seem, In Many Modern Parishes

In the West we are living through times where the Church seems largely irrelevant to most people. And we, the leaders and members of the Church have largely made it that. We have reduced the Gospel to a cheerful call that all are welcome and recast our parishes as cruise liners rather than lifeboats or battleships.

Largely gone are the urgent words of Jesus that we should repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel. Jesus warned of endless hellfire, of wailing and grinding of teeth and every sorrow if we did not accept his invitation or departed from him. “If you do not come to believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24) Most can hardly imagine Jesus speaking like this, and yet it is an exact quote, as are countless other quotes and parables such as “depart from Me, I know you not.” The true impact of so many of the parables is lost on many, and yet they warn that there are sheep and goats, those on the right, those on the left. There are wheat and tares, wise virgins and foolish ones, those who accept the invitation to the wedding feast and those who don’t.

And yet, few today have any practical belief in the dogma of Hell and have largely dismissed it as a remote possibility for themselves or anyone they know. As the Church, this is our doing, starting with those who preach and teach but it does not exclude individuals among the faithful who have been more than willing to surround themselves with teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear (see 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Without understanding the real possibility that our sinful and disordered appetites and wills may well reject God’s offer of salvation not much else makes sense or impels effort on our part to enter the dramatic battle necessary for salvation. If all is well, who needs Sacraments, prayer, or to adhere to the truth of God’s Words? Who needs to cling to a Catholic family or parish that provides them with all that is most essential to save their souls and the souls of their family members? Who needs saving? Who needs sacraments like confession or the Holy Eucharist? Who needs to be taught the faith? Who needs to muster for a battle when there is no real threat?  What’s so wrong with living together outside of marriage. If there is a God, he won’t care about such things. All that matters is if you’re nice and tolerant.

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