Sin & Hell - 2020-12-05
In an age dominated by Moral Relativism and Free Examination of Conscience, it is common for us to avoid the topics of Sin and Hell, or even to deny them, adopting instead the heresy of Universalism - i.e. that everyone's soul will share in the Beatific Vision which is Heaven. However, this is not the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church, nor is it remotely scriptural.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
- Gospel According to St. Matthew 7:13-14
For those in communion with the Church, in other denominations, or even other creeds, it may be said that this comes from a place of charity, if attempting to comfort others who are still very much enslaved to their sins, or from an earnest desire to love God, which they currently cannot fully realize due to being enslaved to their sins. This is not, of course, an excuse for the error incurred, but rather something we should keep in mind. Although perhaps the greatest effect this has is on those who are irreligious, or who were religious but then scandalized by this truth.
There are many irreligious who have a false conception of what Sin truly is - I myself having been one of them - and as such are scandalized by the implications of this false conception. The error being that Sin is simply that which God blames us for. For although "Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him", this is not because God has chosen arbitrary rules which He wants us to follow - in other words, as a tyrant. God does not impose rules on us for Himself, but rather for our own good. This is because Sin, although it comes about by doing bad things, it is truly something real that has an actual effect on our Immortal Souls. That is to say, "[Sin] wounds man's nature and injures human solidarity." As such, Sin is not something that God incurs upon us, but something real and objective that we incur upon ourselves with the Freedom which God, in His infinite Love & Mercy bestowed upon us, His creatures.
Once we understand this true concept of what Sin is, we begin to better understand the true meaning of other Dogmas & Doctrines of the Church which, without this understanding, are difficult to believe of an All Loving God, as is ours. The first of which being the concept of Original Sin.
Knowing therefore that Sin is not God blaming us for our deeds, but rather a very real effect that is incurred on our very souls when we act against our Nature (in the philosophical sense of the term), the concept of Original Sin begins to clarify. Original Sin is not God blaming us for the Sin of Adam. Rather, the Church teaches:
"Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called 'concupiscence.'"
- Catechism of the Catholic Church § 405
That is, Original Sin is a real and actual effect upon all Men's souls, just like personal sins. It is not that God wants us to be afflicted by Original Sin, it's that we are. It's not that God blames us for Adam's Sin, but rather that his sin (the Original Sin), being that first sin to separate Man from God, had a real spiritual effect on all of his descendants, of which we are all a part. In fact, contrary to God blaming us, He wishes to save us from not only the Original Sin of Adam, but from all our sins. We incurred upon ourselves the evils of Sin, and God in His Infinite Mercy & Love chose freely to give us a path to Salvation by means of Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord. Through Him, and only through Him are we able to free ourselves of the evils of Sin - both original and personal.
This brings us to the final point for this article, being Salvation & Damnation. Because of Original Sin, from the very moment of our conception - which is to say the moment we come into being - our destination is Hell. There is no sugar-coated way of expressing this. It is not that God wants us to go to Hell, but rather He wishes for all Men to be saved. It is precisely for this reason that He gave us the means to be saved through Jesus Christ, these being the Sacraments of Baptism, Confession, and the Eucharist. As such, we see that it is not God who puts us in this state of Sin and disorder. Rather, He is the one who, despite our disobedience and offenses against Him, provides each and every one of us, freely, with the means to be free of Sin. He wants our Salvation! But He does not force us to be saved.
When speaking about Salvation & Damnation, we're truly speaking of Heaven & Hell. And something that is important to note is that the defining characteristic of Heaven is that it is to be in full eternal communion with God; while the defining characteristic of Hell is that it is a complete and eternal separation from God. God is not going to force us to be with Him for all eternity if we do not want it. So if we choose freely to reject God and the Salvation He offers, He is not going to force it upon us. As such, truly, Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross is a universal sacrifice for all Men, but not all Men choose to accept and assume the consequences of His Sacrifice.
This is all I will go over for today, but there is at least one question that could remain after all this, which is what happens to those who, not through their own volition, but simply by circumstance or scandal, never received the Sacraments necessary for Salvation? I will not go over this now, since I've already touched on a lot of things and this article is getting rather long, although I may write about it in the future. However, in the meantime, you can simply read what the Catholic Church Herself has to say on the matter by reading paragraphs 846-848 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1035
Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1440
Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1872