When I was young, I received terrible catechesis from my Catholic grade school. I mocked most of the process and grew up to lose the faith just like the rest of us, but I did learn one thing: the reason that we went to the Sacrament of Penance was so that we could be free of any mortal sins on our souls.
They would take us to Confession once a month. If we missed Mass on Sunday we needed to confess it, and we couldn’t go to Communion again until we had. Later we learned to disregard this instruction, but I did hear it. So today I must ask every single priest I know and almost every single Catholic I’ve met, “Is this still true?”
The reason why I have to ask is that everyone seems to think that Heaven is for almost everyone now. You don’t need to worry about Confession or Communion. You don’t have to be Catholic, or even Protestant. You just have to be nice, generally. God has a plan and he’s merciful, and Hell would be ridiculously unfair.
So, if that’s the case, then what was all that about mortal sin? If Protestants and ‘nones’ don’t go to the sacraments, yet they are Heaven-bound, then why am I wasting my time being Catholic? If Mother Teresa and my parish priests all think you can enter Heaven being faithful to your denomination or philosophy, why can’t I just be an Evangelical? The Methodist minister who lives next door to me is very pro-abortion. If he’s going to Heaven, why do I have to go to Mass on Sundays? Our Sunday Mass is really an ugly nightmare. Can I switch?
No, um, that would be inappropriate, but for them it’s OK? Is the Catholic Church some kind of kiddie-pen?
Nobody ever has an answer to these questions. They just live with the inconsistency of it, but they don’t live with easily. It’s a fallacy and it’s collapsing the Church like the World Trade Center. Unity with Christ and his Church absolutely must mean what it always has: living a sacramental life, in a state of grace, without heresy. Heaven is an orderly place. It tolerates no hidden heretical time bombs to unravel its realities down the road.
So what then is a martyr? To Francis, a martyr is any ‘christian’ killed by a Muslim, perhaps anyone at all killed by a Muslim. But a martyr must be someone who is in Heaven. So if you are a baptized person and lead a terrible life, then get caught in a Church massacre, you’re now in Heaven? If you’re a Copt and ISIS combs through your village, rounds you up with twenty other men, puts you in an orange suit and shoots you, then are you in Heaven? If they gave you a chance to deny Christ and you refused, then I’d say that was quite different. But if you are a priest saying Mass in France and they ambush you, does that make you a martyr?
Many, many of the priests we see and read about are not faithful Catholics. They teach heresy from the altar. Divorce, gay sex, contraception, suicide, are condoned. If a priest like that is murdered on a train, does he go to Heaven? Not unless he is in a state of grace. Father Hamel may have been a very liberal priest. Did his killers ask him to deny Christ and he refused? Was he openly breaking the anti-Christian laws of the state as in ancient times? Was he like Stephen, stoned for proclaiming Christ in spite of the danger? Did he stand like St. Francis, before the Saracen and tell him he’s going to Hell when he knew it was a death sentence?
No. Father Hamel had little reason to think he was risking his life doing what he’d done every day for decades. He probably was not given the option to deny the Faith. He was just killed, not because he stood up for Christ in the face of death, but because he wasn’t Muslim. He could have been accustomed to making sacrilegious Communions and giving deadly counsel for a lifetime. We don’t know. If he had been given the choice between the Faith in Christ and his life, that would have been horrible too, but that’s what martyrs do.
If ISIS is able to nuke the entire United States, who will go to Heaven? Will it be:
- those who are generally nice
- those who are baptized
- baptized Catholics
- faithful Catholics
- people at Mass
- priests who are saying Mass
Answer: Some of them, but it would be a mistake to say they went to Heaven like martyrs.
If being murdered by Muslim terrorists during Mass got you automatically into Heaven, they might have made it a sacrament by now. Keep an eye out for the next Motu Proprio.