THAT’S THE HELL OF IT: Improbable thoughts about an illusive topic
Perhaps it is due to what I drink in the water, but I have had an inordinate number of short, intense bursts of insights into Hell. Rather than psychoanalyze them ad nausea, I just offer them here. All of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations are usually the result of what I have read in Scripture, but now days might be the result of watching a YouTube or two, or the Murtaugh Murders or Peter Zeihan’s brilliant analyses of geopolitical events happening in our time. (www. zeihan.com) I recommend his blog commentaries.
The thing about Hell, as I look at it, is that it can’t be much worse than what we are going through in our times as you read this. Each day, the headlines announce wars, earthquakes, the hypocrisy and bastardization of authentic religion by ever-fragmenting groups of self-styled believers, the dissolution of objective truth about God and the marvels of what it means to be human to that of a weak oatmeal gruel, and morality is like cotton candy, no nutrition but taste good.
- Perhaps we are in Hell and don’t know it. Maybe we are also in Heaven, but don’t know it. Remember, these thoughts are just my ideas. I am in search of hypotheses that are consistent with what I know about my Catholic Faith, my life experiences unique to me alone, and the sum total of what I have learned about the obsession of what it means to be fully human as my nature intended. What is going on now in the world can’t be what nature intended because we humans go against so much of the nobility of the human spirit. Granted, there are noble gestures in times of crises, but it looks like humanity is sliding down a slippery slope of thinking that God does not exist, but that the very question of a god is not relevant to the purpose of life itself.
- Humans are the products of intelligent design. In the transition from animality to rationality, there was no book to give them directions other than trial and error. That we even asked the question about what is good or evil for us means we are different from butterflies and bees. Animal nature has its purpose. Human nature has its purpose. Our nature as adopted sons and daughters is different from our secular or worldly life. All of this progresses, inexorably, without us being able to stop it, trying to discern the meaning of what is like to be human using the tools that I alone possess.
- I am not sure, but perhaps Hell or Heaven is the finality of what we have discovered about the meaning of life while we live. For me, there are four lessons: The Genesis Principle: What does it mean to be fully human? It is the Christ Principle: What does it mean to love with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength, and your neighbor as yourself? It is the Principle of Truth: Jesus is the key to unlocking the door of faith to free us to be what nature intended. The Holy Spirit is the advocate that presents THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE as we each can accept it based on what we have collected in our lifetimes. We take this to Heaven, or to Hell, depending on what we choose to be our center. My energy is not strong enough to sustain my center (Philippians 2:5) from trying to move off point. Each day, I must resolve to do God’s will as I encounter it and do Cistercian practices and interiorize the charisms (humility, obedience, hospitality, and love for others to name a few). The last lesson is the one which I must learn as a result of my Baptism. THE PRINCIPLE OF ADOPTION: What does it mean for me to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father? I answer this with what I have learned from the previous three lessons. Jesus is my Magister Noster (Teacher) supplying both the questions I need and also the correct and truthful answers through the Holy Spirit.
- Constant in my daily prayers is to do restitution for my sins. This is part of what it means for me to be a penitential person, not just during Lent, but as a mindset. Sin has consequences, however slight it might sound. It is the callous way I treated people when I look back on my conversations with people, the pride I had, and the lack of genuine love as Christ had. It is called conversio morae by Cistercians and others but means I recognize that my past needs reconversion. If I do penance for my past offenses, forgiven though they are, then my past will not be hostage to my present. I can abandon my life, with all its imperfections and lack of love to sit next to the heart of Christ in Lectio Divina. I try to listen with the ear of my heart (St. Benedict) and feel the heartbeat of Christ so that my heart can slowly be in sync with His Sacred Heart.