Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

 Jim Paredes wrote an article in Philippine Star: Is there a God? An afterlife? A hell? Why are we here?  From this article, we can see that Jim Paredes conception of God is an immanence, a Modernist heresy; his afterlife is Buddhist; he does not believe in Hell but in the restoration of all things as in Origen’s apocatastasis; and his meaning of life is too vague compared to the definite statements of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Principle and Foundation of his Spiritual Exercises.

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

Is reincarnation in the Bible?

A friend showed me the following link on the biblical proof of reincarnation.  So I have to explain to him that the Bible never teaches that:

1.  Interpretation of Scriptures.  Many can and did interpret the Scriptures to their own destruction. The best interpreter would be the Catholic Church who compiled both the Old and Testaments. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “1013 Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed,586 we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once.”587 (Heb 9:27) There is no “reincarnation” after death.”

2.  Sin of Man Born Blind.  Regarding the man born blind, Jesus did not confirm reincarnation. What he actually said is this: Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.'” This simply means that God, in his infinite wisdom, allows a person to be born blind, so that God will use this infirmity for His greater glory (Jesus shows His power as Son of God by curing a man born blind). Jesus’ silence on reincarnation is obvious because reincarnation is never taught in the Old Testament.

3.  John the Baptist as Elijah.  Regarding John the Baptist, you have to understand the literary device called allusion: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples/examples-of-allusion.html. If somebody calls you ‘Einstein’ it simply means that you are a genius and not that Einstein reincarnated in you. Similarly, when Jesus calls John the Baptist as Elijah, Christ is making an allusion to Elijah who is the last and greatest prophet of Israel in the Old Testament, in the same way as John the Baptist is the last and greatest prophet of Israel in the New Testament. As Christ said: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John” (Lk 7:28). John is the prophet that prepared the coming of Christ. No other prophet has this privilege. As Christ said: “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.17Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” The apostles saw and heard Christ. And so did John.

4.  Resurrection of the Dead.  The resurrection of the dead referred to by St. Paul is at the End Times during the Last Judgment when Christ will judge the living and the dead. There is no reincarnation.

5.  Christian Family.  They who left brother, sister, and parents for the sake of Christ will have more of these a hundredfold. This does not imply reincarnation as the author thought. This simply means that the Christian family will be widened beyond the blood relations. That is why you have the La Salle brothers, Dominican sisters, and Jesuit fathers. They who enter the religious orders becomes a brother, sister, and father to the whole Christian community, and that is why we address them with such titles: Bro. Vince, Sr. Josephine, Fr. Villarin.

6.  Pre-existence of Christ.  Christ is God. He is the Word of God who made all things. That is why he pre-exists. This does not mean he reincarnates. He only incarnates once: God became man.

7.  Purgatory and the Last Penny.  The other passages that he cites concerning the person who will be jailed until he pays the last penny does not talk about reincarnation, but about Purgatory: after we die, if we don’t have unconfessed mortal sins, and we we still have other sins unconfessed or confessed without doing the corresponding penance (e.g. return what you steal), then we shall suffer the fires of Purgatory, where we shall be purified like gold in fire before we can be allowed to enter heaven. As Scripture says: in heaven, the city of God, “nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rv 21:27)

Purgatory in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

March 11, 2012 at 12:05 am

Regarding Purgatory, this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

On salvation and the good works of non-Catholics

Question from ivan misoto December 6, 2011 at 12:52 

So, you said that we should be wary of false prophets, and that we shall know them by their fruits. Isn’t it that there are also people in other religions that show really good deeds to their fellowmen? Some of them even possess humility that nowadays are hard to see in people. They are not as famous as Mother Theresa or Saint Joan of Arc, but, I believe that you too have friends like them or have met people like them. Some of them also are very diligent in their church services and responsibilities. My point is: how can man be really saved, considering that we keep on committing sins before God? Will religion be a way to salvation or just our “faith”? Similarly, what if we do persevere in doing missionary works for the glory of “God,” but then, it is not the same God as the God of other faiths? Will those works, no matter how selfless, still count on the day of judgement, if that “saintly” person did not really serve the true God who is spoken of and being taught in the Bible? Do we really need to find the true Church of Christ before we can serve God and go on with our missionary works?

Response by Quirino M. Sugon Jr December 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Ivan,

I shall answer your 2011/12/06 comment.

1. Yes, there are people in other religions who show good deeds to their fellowmen, but there is difference in merit. If a stranger gives a woman a bouquet of roses, the woman can simply smile and say thank you. But if it is her beloved boyfriend who gives her an ordinary flower freshly plucked from the field, and telling her, “I love you,” the woman would be ecstatic in joy. Similarly God gives more merit to those good deeds done by His beloved adopted sons–and infinitely more that of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The good deeds of non-Catholics may save themselves. But the good deeds of Catholics can save not only themselves but also those of others, especially the souls in Purgatory. This is what the line “I believe in the Communion of the Saints” means in the Apostle’s Creed.

2. The first path to salvation is through the Sacrament of Baptism. As Christ said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15). Peter also said to the crowd: “Repent and be baptized,* every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.u 39For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”v 40He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”w 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. (Acts 2:37-41)

3. Through Baptism we become adopted sons of God, so that we can call Christ as our Brother and God as our Father, and God will say as He did to His Son: “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. (c.f. Mt 3:17)” Sonship can never be revoked, but you can squander God’s graces as what the prodigal son did. Yet God always awaits for the coming home of his son. For Catholics, this coming home to God after a life of sin is done through the Sacrament of Confession. Catholics must tell all their sins to the priest whom Christ gave the power to absolve sins: “Receive the holy Spirit. 23* n Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22). This power to forgive sins was given to the apostles and to their successors, the bishops. The bishops in turn delegated this power to the priests.

4. Basing from 2 and 3, the Catholic religion is a real path to salvation and not just an emotional feeling or an intellectual opinion. The Catholic religion is a practical religion because it saves man from sin.

5. God has bound salvation to the Sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by his Sacrament. For those who were not baptized in the Catholic religion, God will judge them according to their conscience. So even if the pagans have not heard of the Gospel, they will still be judged by their obedience to the natural law engraved in their hearts. Indeed, what you are asking is what the Japanese also asked St. Francis Xavier. The Japanese are worried that their ancestors have not heard of the Gospel and will not be saved. Here is an excerpt of the letter of St. Francis Xavier to the Society of Jesus in 1552:

“Before their baptism the converts of Yamaguchi were greatly troubled and pained by a hateful and annoying scruple—that God did not appear to them merciful and good, because He had never made Himself known to the Japanese before our arrival, especially if it were true that those who had not worshipped God as we preached were doomed to suffer everlasting punishment in hell. It seemed to them that He had forgotten and as it were neglected the salvation of all their ancestors, in permitting them to be deprived of the knowledge of saving truths, and thus to rush headlong on eternal death. It was this painful thought which, more than anything else, kept them back from the religion of the true God. But by the divine mercy all their error and scruple was taken away. We began by proving to them that the divine law is the most ancient of all. Before receiving their institutions from the Chinese, the Japanese knew by the teaching of nature that it was wicked to kill, to steal, to swear falsely, and to commit the other sins enumerated in the Ten Commandments, a proof of this being the remorse of conscience to which any one guilty of one of these crimes was certain to be a prey.

“We showed them that reason itself teaches us to avoid evil and to do good, and that this is so deeply implanted in the hearts of men, that all have the knowledge of the divine law from nature, and from God the Author of nature, before they receive any external instruction on the subject. If any doubts were entertained on the matter, an experiment might be made in the person of a man without any instruction, living in absolute solitude, and in entire ignorance of the laws of his country. Such a man, ignorant of and a stranger to all human teaching, if he were asked whether it were or were not criminal to kill, to steal, or to commit the other actions forbidden by the law of God, and whether it were right to abstain from such actions, then, I say, this man, so fundamentally without all human education, would most certainly reply in such a manner as to show that he was by no means without knowledge of the divine law. Whence then must he be supposed to have received this knowledge, but from God Himself, the Author of nature? And if this knowledge is seen among barbarians, what must be the case with civilized and polished nations? This being so, it necessarily follow that before any laws were made by men the divine law existed innate in the hearts of all men. The converts were so satisfied with this reasoning, as to see no further difficulty; so that this net having been broken, they received from us with a glad heart the sweet yoke of our Lord….”

6. Nevertheless, it still remains the task of Christians to proclaim the Good News, in fulfillment of Christ’s command: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 h Go, therefore,* and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,20i teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20)

Ateneo Latin Mass Society (ALMS): Proceedings of the First General Assembly

Dear ALMS members and friends,

We had the General Assembly last Friday, 22 January 2010 at 5:30-7:00 p.m. The venue was Faura 116. These are the members present:

1. Miguel Franco Dimayacyac– Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) ARSA
2. Enrico A. Villacorta– AdMU Student
3. Jesson G. Allerite–Universit y of the Philippines (UP) Student
4. Maricel Obieta–AdMU ASF
5. Joanna Ruiz– AdMU Loyola Schools
6. Bobing Venida–AdMU Economics
7. Mikki Hornilla– AdMU Student
8. Emmanuel Hernandez–AdMU Student
9. R. R. Raneses–AdMU Political Science
10. Niccolo Vitug–AdMU English
11. Moy Timbayan–AdMU Student
12. Quirino Sugon Jr.–AdMU Physics

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, S.J. talked about his life and his experiences in the Traditional Latin Mass. I took notes of his edifying talk. I shall transcribe my notes and try to recall everything that he said. I shall send you the polished form next week.

Fr. Tim asked us if we want we adopt Novus Ordo Lectionary or stick with the lectionary of the Extraordinary Form. (He also asked whether we wish all Latin hymns or mix them with English hymns.) The group decided that we stick with that of the extraordinary form. The readings will be in Latin. Latin-English missals will be provided for the unchanging parts of the mass. The Introit, Propers, and Readings will be provided in Latin and English on adjacent columns, as done in Parish of Our Lord of Divine Mercy (PLDM) in Sikatuna, Quezon City. (The question on hymns will be answered by the Choir coordinator.)

The proposed date for our first mass will be on Feb 3 (Wed) at 6:00 p.m. It will be a low mass. This is pedagogically sound, since we are still learning the ropes. I shall reserve the Manila Observatory Chapel for us. We can invite friends, but we cannot yet announce it in Ateneo Blueboard. Our first announced mass should be a sung mass with vested servers.

The members were asked to which committee they wish to be part of.

For the Choir, we have Niccolo Vitug as our music director. He is a faculty in the Ateneo English Department. He once played the organ for Missa Cantata. He was also the music director in a Catholic church in California. With Niccolo are R. R. Raneses, Moy Timbayan, Maricel Orieta, Jesson Allerite, and Miguel Dimayacyac. Maricel and Jesson are members of the PLDM choir. Miguel has stacks of Gregorian chant song sheets, his grandmother’ s collection.

For the Sacristan, no one wants to become sacristan. So I volunteered myself to learn the rubrics. But I wish another faculty shall commit himself to do this, so that I could have more time for writing and coordinating.

For Finance, no faculty volunteered, so I shall handle this in the meantime. With me are two students: Enrico Villacorta and Moy Timbayan.

For Publications, the Coordinator is Emmanuel Hernandez, a student. He usually goes to mass with Fr. Tim Ofrasio, S.J. every morning, so he is familiar with the 1962 Missal Lectionary. With him is Joanna Ruiz and Mikki Hornilla. Joanna can help us with the photocopying. Mikki has a camera. The camera is important. The first Traditional Latin Mass in Ateneo de Manila will be a news in the TLM blogosphere. R. R. Raneses said that he will give us his Ateneo Latin Mass Society blog, http://ateneo- latin-mass- society.blogspot .com, as our official blog. But we do not yet have someone to manage it. So I’ll start the ball rolling. I shall ask Mr. Raneses to make me a contributor to his blog.

We have made a good start. Please remember the Ateneo Latin Mass Society (ALMS) in your prayers. Almsgiving would also be good. Since we are begging for recognition as an organization, we must also give alms to those who need it most, for the measure with which we measure will in return be measured out to us (c.f. Lk 6:38). And who are the ultimate beggars but the Poor Souls in Purgatory? Please give alms to the Poor Souls by having a mass said for them or remembering them in your prayers, especially the souls of the Jesuit priests who once worked in Ateneo. They repay a hundredfold.

In Christ,

Dr. Quirino M. Sugon Jr.
Coordinator
Ateneo Latin Mass Society

Council of Trent on Purgatory: Canons and Decrees

Canon XXX. Session VI.  The Council of Trent January 13, 1547

If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged, either in this world or in Purgaotry, before the gates of Heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.

Decree Concering Purgatory.  the council of Trent.  Sexxion XXV.  December 4, 1563

Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy ghost, has, folloiwng the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils and very recently in this ecumentical council, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and chiefly by the Acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar, the Holy Council commands the bishops that they strive diligently to the end that the sound doctrine of Purgatory, transmitted by the Fathers and sacred councils, be believed and maintained by the faithful of Christ, and be everywhere taught and preached.

Canons concerning the Sacrament of Penance.  the Council of Trent.  Session XIV.  November 25, 1551.

Canon 12.  If anyone says that god always pardons the whole penalty together with the guilt and that the satisfaction of penitents is nothing else than the faith by which they perceive that Christ has satisfied for them, let him be anathema.

Canon 13.  If anyone says that satisfaction for sins, as to their temporal punishment, is in no way made to God through the merits of Christ by the punishments inflicted by Him and patiently borne, or by those imposed by the priest, or even those voluntarily undertaken, as by fasts, prayers, almsgiving or other works of piety, and that therefore the best penance is merely a new life, let him be anathema.

Canon 14.  If anyone says that the satisfactions by which penitents atone for their sins through Christ are not a worship of God but traditions of men, which obscure the doctrine of grace and the true worship of god and the beneficence itself of the death of Christ, let him be anathema.

Canon 15.  If anyone says that the keys have been given to the Church only to loose and not also to bind, and that therefore priests, when imposing penalties on those who confess act contrary to the purpose of the keys and to the institution of Christ and that it is a fiction that there remains often a temporal punishment to be discharged after the eternal punishment has by virtue of the keyes been removed, let him be anathema.

Chapter IX–On the Works of satisfaction.  Session XIV.  the Council of Trent.  November 25, 1551.

It [the Council] teaches furthermore that the liberality of the divine munificence is so great that we are able through Jesus christ to make satisfaction to God the Father, not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sins, or by those imposed by the judgment of the priest accordinag to the measure of our offense, but also, and this is the greatest proof of love, by the temporal afflictions imposed by God and borne patiently by us.

Source:  Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S.J., Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints (Tan, Rockford, Ilinois, 1986), pp. vi-viii.

Book Review: “Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints”

Last New Year’s Eve, I was browsing some books at home in Bacolod and I stumbled on a black book with a white cross like the mantle of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John: “Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S.J.  The imprimatur was issued in 1893, so this must be a very old book, though the edition that I have was published by TAN in 1986.

The pocket book is divided into two parts.  Part I is the Mystery of God’s Justice.  Part II is the Mystery of God’s Mercy.  The first part have 41 chapters; the second, 65.  But do not let the number of chapters discourage you: each chapter do not exceed 5 pages.  And the prints are large like that of Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys.  So this 430-page treatise on purgatory is an easy read.

The book opens with fire: “Let him be anathema.”  In pages vi to vii, Fr. Shouppe immediately lists down the pertinent Canons of the Council of Trent (1547-1551) regarding Purgatory.  For those of us who still plan to set aside the doctrine of Purgatory, the threat of anathema (let him be handed over to Satan) is enough to make us think thrice.  (Vatican II, in contrast, was a pastoral council and no anathemas were hurled.)

But despite the anathemas, the book’s writing style is simple, because it was meant to instruct the simple–the children and the child-like.  Thus, we should not expect the rigor of proof like that of St. Thomas’s “Summa Theologiae”.  Rather, we should read it as if we are reading St. Louis de Montfort’s masterpiece: “The Secret of the Rosary.”

The first sentences of each chapter of the book are usually the main point.  The next paragraphs are doctrines, teachings, and stories illustrating such point.  The dogmatic doctrines of the church regarding Purgatory must be believed by all Catholics.  The teachings of doctors and theologians we may disagree, but it would be ” imprudent, and even rash, to reject them, and it is in the spirit of the church to follow the opinions commonly held by the doctors.”  The revelations of saints we may also disbelieve, but since they are authenticated, “we cannot freely reject them  without offending against reason; because sound reason demands that all men should give assent to truth when it is sufficiently demonstrated.”  These distinctions Fr. Schouppe explained in his Preface.

Today, we have forgotten about sin and the effects of sin on the soul, which must be paid to the last penny either in this age or in the age to come.  We have forgotten about our dead relatives who languished long in Purgatory with no one to pray for them.  We have forgotten how our little works here on earth, such as as simply abstaining from water between meals, can assuage the suffering of our departed brethren.  We have forgotten about the power of the rosary, the scapular, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We have forgotten that we too shall die.  And the cure for our forgetfulness? Fr. Schouppe’s “Purgatory.”

This book is a masterpiece.