Charlie's Blog: August 2015



So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

St. Paul the apostle and evangelist to the Gentiles looms large today in the world of Protestantism. The first is the example of his life which provides a template for many of the conversion stories we hear of a sinner who got saved and turned from his wickedness. I remember one memorable ex-Hell's Angel who left the outlaw biker world and accepted Jesus as his savior and went around telling everyone how he got saved. The second is the large volume of writings St. Paul left behind in the New Testament which has became fertile ground for the numerous misinterpretations of various Protestant ministers, sects, and denominations. The worst of those misinterpretations is the doctrine known as "once saved, always saved" or OSAS. This is the belief that a person who converts to the Christian faith will never lose his or her salvation even if that person continues to live a life of dissolution and wickedness. This particular doctrine is popular among Baptists and evangelicals except there is one big problem with OSAS. It isn't in the Bible. OSAS is a heresy and a dangerous heresy.

OSAS or the doctrine of eternal security finds its genesis in the teachings of John Calvin. Martin Luther believed it was possible to lose your salvation, but John Calvin rejected this. This became the fifth point of Calvinism known as the perseverance of the saints. Calvin taught that a person elected to salvation by God's predestination would demonstrate faith in that election and would persevere in that faith until the end of his days. Here are the words of John Calvin:
Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgement, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases. If it is asked how the difference arises – why some steadily persevere, and others prove deficient in steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former, so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be monuments of instability. 
Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.5.3
I used to be a Calvinist in my twenties, so I am now one of those monuments of instability that Calvin mentions because I rejected Calvinism to become an atheist. Now, I am a Roman Catholic which makes me even more damned in the eyes of Calvinists. I have to laugh a bit at this. I remember when my Calvinist friend killed himself that there was some question about whether he went to heaven or hell when he died. These were seminarians, professors, and ministers asking this most basic question. So, finally, the one minister that buried my friend said that he was in heaven based on the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. If your good works can't get you there, your bad works won't keep you from getting there. Logically, he was correct. If salvation is by faith alone, you shouldn't be able to lose that salvation no matter what you do including mass murder and suicide. But salvation is not by faith alone. The logic was correct, but the premise was flawed.

For me, I believed in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, but I was perplexed by my friend's suicide because I had the correct understanding of Calvin's doctrine which our confident minster did not. Calvin never taught OSAS. He taught the perseverance of the saints which is that those who truly believe will persevere in that faith until the very end. As a Catholic, I still subscribe to this. If you have faith, you will produce good works and remain in the faith until your death. The error Calvin made was in the doctrine of election. Those who had faith would never fall away because it was never possible. Those who did fall away never had faith. As a Catholic, I reject this.

I knew my friend. He had faith. He believed more ardently and strongly than I did. Yet, he killed himself. I cannot presume upon his fate because it is a sin. But his suicide put me in an abyss of confusion and despair because here was a person who had faith but did not persevere as Calvin taught. That event devastated me to the point that I concluded that religion was a poison and became an atheist. But I was wrong. Heresy is the poison.

OSAS is the poison of today. It is simply the sin of presumption. When Jesus commanded His followers to judge not lest they be judged, He was talking about presumption. We must never presume that anyone is in Hell. This includes Judas Iscariot and Hitler. The only fates we know about are those of the saints who through their lives, miracles, and the witness of the Church have made it to Heaven. They stand as beacons of hope that we can also make it by God's grace. But as for everyone else, we don't know, and we should not presume to know. In this life, presumption comes in the form of this eternal security heresy. The presumptuous hypocrite signed on the line that is dotted. Now, God has to deliver the goods. Nevermind that the hypocrite exhibits no sign of change and can't even be bothered to pray or go to church. Jesus has paid the price, so they can ride their La-Z-Boy recliners through the pearly gates.

Now, there are many Protestants who reject OSAS because even they can't stomach the presumption anymore. They all know of people like my cousin who has been "saved" four times usually while in jail or some drug treatment program. But this salvation fails to stick usually when its party time again. But this puts them in a perplexing situation about that faith alone stuff. Luther concluded that a person could lose their faith. Calvin concluded that they never had faith. Protestants and evangelicals fall on both sides with some going the Lutheran route teaching that faith and salvation can be lost with others taking the Calvinist route doubting that faith was ever there in the first place. Lastly, you have those antinomians who believe logically and correctly that if salvation is by faith alone then you can live anyway you like and still make it to Heaven. All of these people are in error.

The correct answer to this dilemma of OSAS is found in the quotation from St. Paul at the beginning of this essay. You have to work out your salvation with "fear and trembling." Some idiotic heretical Protestant type will try and play word games with what St. Paul says here, but there it is. Salvation is by faith, but it is not by faith alone. A person's conversion to faith is simply the beginning. They must follow through until the very end producing the fruits of repentance that Jesus commanded and expects from all of us. St. Paul never presumed that he was going to make it. Here is what he had to say about perseverance,

But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. 

This verse alone shows two things. The first is that Paul had faith. The second is that it was possible for him to lose that faith and salvation. You will not find the La-Z-Boy chair in any of St. Paul's letters. You will find many assurances of God's faithfulness in forgiving us and perfecting us. God will never let us down. Those verses are the ones that the hypocrites use to justify their belief in OSAS. But they neglect their part to work towards their salvation.

The Gospels are replete with commands to produce the fruit of repentance. Jesus curses the fig tree for not being fruitful. There is the parable of the stewards commanded to produce a return on the talents given to them with the unprofitable steward being cast out. The same story is repeated in the parable of the wise and the unwise virgins with the unwise virgins being locked out of the feast because they had not prepared. There is the wedding guest who came to the celebration in his rags and was tossed out. The Gospels clearly dispel the OSAS heresy, but this is why the vast majority of Protestant churches don't preach sermons from the Gospels. They always go to Paul because they can more easily twist his writings than they can the clear teachings of the Gospels.

The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by faith and works. It is not faith versus works. It is both. As St. Josemaria Escriva put it, "Conversion is the matter of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime." When someone converts to the faith, they have opened the door to God's grace to work in them. When they close that door through mortal sin, they are cut off from God's grace. God's grace is what produces the fruit in a believer's life. No one can enter heaven without being conformed to Christ. Basically, you have to become a saint to enter heaven. This is why St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24, " Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." You don't win the race by merely putting your name on the entry blank. You don't win the race by simply standing on the starting line or running part of the way or quitting or even finishing. You win the race by winning.

At this point, the person who believes will despair. How can I possibly win this race? I am a sinner. I am weak. I can't make it. These are all true. In our own power, we have no hope. We cannot save ourselves. The idea that we could save ourselves comes from that other heretic named Pelagius. If we are to become saints, God will have to make the change. St. Paul says in Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God can do what you cannot do.

The thing that worries people is that they mistrust themselves. They have no confidence in their own strength. This is a good thing. This is that fear and trembling that Paul mentions. This is humility. But this fear should not drive us to despair as it did with Luther. It should drive us to Christ and the sacraments. The fact is that God has given everyone free will, and this free will is not forfeited when one converts to Christianity. As St. Augustine put it, "God who created you without you, will not save you without you." At any moment, you can step off the train and get back on the road to hell. The choice is always yours, and you make this choice each and every moment of your life.

My advice to everyone is to take the freedom that God gives you and offer it back to Him. Original sin took away our freedom, and Christ gave us our freedom back. Here is St. Paul again,
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The entire chapter of Romans 6 is worth your reading and study because it lays it out clearly. We are free in our choice to be slaves to sin or to be slaves to Christ. But this choice only becomes permanent at the end of our lives. At every step, we can choose to return to the slavery of sin. This is what mortal sin is about. St. John writes,
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 
1 JOHN 5:16-17 NASB
This is the difference between mortal sin and venial sin. Think of these as felonies and misdemeanors. Someone who goes five miles over the speed limit is not nearly as evil as someone who commits murder or treason. Likewise, mortal sin is so severe that it results in spiritual death. When committed, the person becomes virtually desensitized to the evil they have done. Think of the episode of King David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then committed murder to cover his crime. He was confronted by the prophet Nathan who declared, "Thou art the man!" David recovered his senses in that act of charity, and he repented. But it cost him something. Forgiveness is never cheap.

Mortal sin and venial sin show that we can lose our salvation. Let's put it more simply. At any point in your life, you can choose to stop loving God. Mortal sin is the choice to stop loving God. A man who forgets to take out the garbage may disappoint his wife, but he hasn't stopped loving her. But if that man has an affair with his secretary, he clearly does not love his wife. Likewise, with God, we may stumble, but we still love God. But if we murder people or slander them or commit other serious acts, we have stopped loving God. God will not make you love Him. But He will never stop loving you.

OSAS is the belief that God will make you love Him either now or in the afterlife. God is not going to do this. God loves you, and He wants you to love Him back. Love God with all your being and spend the rest of your life perfecting that love. But if you hate God, you can never enter into that blessed state of loving Him forever. It isn't rocket science.

The believers in OSAS can be rather disgusting in their presumption. They treat the gospel and conversion not as the opportunity to change but merely as fire insurance and a security blanket. They are like the example I gave of that adulterous husband who thinks he can have his doting wife and his hot secretary and everything will be fine. Yet, here are the words of our Lord,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. 
Who are the ones who practice lawlessness? That's easy. Those would be the ones who preach OSAS and faith alone. They are the ones who say "Lord, Lord" but live like the devil. But if you love God, you will obey His commandments. You will do anything not to offend Him who loves you so much that He died for you. I feel sorry for those people who believe in OSAS to their peril, and I pray that they will be delivered from their delusion and ignorance. I also pray that I never hear those words said to me, "Depart from me." May God forgive us all for the offenses we have done against Him. May He help us to love Him in purity of heart and deeds. May we persevere in the love and faith that He has put into our hearts.


Apocalypse Now

"How did you go bankrupt?" 
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.
The Sun Also Rises

For the last few days, I have been watching the world financial markets experience a massive downturn and listening to financial talking heads on CNBC try to explain what they don't know. As I write this, the Dow is down 11% for the year. It has given up all its gains for this year, and I expect it to go lower over the next month. So, what's really happening?

There are all sorts of explanations about how China is to blame, but this is a misdirection. The real blame is the US economy where consumers (middle and working class people) are simply out of money and have maxed out on debt. The Fed and the 1% have been on a steady train of economic rape of the lower classes ever since the collapse of 2007 as they have transferred wealth out of the pockets of the hoi polloi into the trading accounts of Wall Street speculators. The result is a colossal run up in the market while the US economy has been in the toilet.

This is the slow motion deflation of the US asset bubble. The pin prick came from the Federal Reserve jawboning the markets with an expected rate hike in September. Will they actually hike rates? The conventional wisdom is that the Fed will leave interest rates at zero and may pursue a fourth round of quantitative easing. This is because they are following a Keynesian playbook, and this is what Keynes would tell you to do.

What will happen? In the short term, I don't know. I wish the Fed would do a rate hike. I want the bubble to end. I've been in cash since the beginning of the year. I would urge all retail investors to get the hell out of this market. If the Fed does what is expected by not hiking rates, the bubble may continue. I don't know. I just know that the Federal Reserve decided to print its way out of the 2007 financial crisis and has postponed the collapse to a later day making it more severe.

The financial pundits talk about China and commodities, but the simple answer is this. Their supply has exceeded US demand. This is because US demand is broke. The Chinese devalued the yuan to try and spur exports, but it won't make any difference. Their stocks are down because our consumption is down. The US stock market does not reflect reality. The foreign markets do.

Are we headed for a massive collapse? Yes. I just can't time it. We are between now and inevitable. And am I rooting for this collapse? Absolutely. This is because the make believe economy of these speculators is killing the real economy of working people like myself. My life has been frozen for the last seven years because I refuse to become a debt slave like the rest of the middle and working class. I have been punished for saving. I have been delayed and hampered in my efforts to escape this madness and create my own economy. My patience has worn thin over the years, but if this collapse comes and spreads, I can put myself in a position to never endure this again for the rest of my life. But if my patience has become foolishness, I am ready to give up and throw in the towel. I will admit that the meek really don't inherit the earth, but the earth belongs to a blingy female with a credit card.


The Way of the Mule

Mules have a strong sense of self preservation. This is one good reason why mules physically last longer than horses do. If they are overheated, overworked, or overused for any reason, mules will either slow down to a safe pace or stop completely. Mules are not stubborn. Neither are donkeys. Yes, if you want them to work too hard for their own well being, especially in hot weather, they will be "stubborn." We have never heard of a messenger running a mule to death the way legends say they ran their horses! The facts that mules are inclined not to panic, that they think about what is happening to them, and they take care of their own physical well being prevents many accidents that might happen if they were horses.

I love animals. I don't love them the way a pet hoarder loves dogs and cats. I love them because each animal represents certain traits that I admire. We are familiar with how people have the hearts of lions or can be as prickly as a porcupine or as stubborn as a mule. I think God makes animals this way to teach us something. Animals are nature's lessons in virtue.

I think people resemble animals in their traits. I remember telling my brother that he reminded me of the wolverine. The wolverine is an animal possessed of insatiable hunger, ferociousness, and fearlessness. A wolverine will take on animals many times bigger than himself like bears and take their food from them. What makes the wolverine like this is not his size but his hunger. My brother resembles the wolverine because he never let his apparent limitations keep him from doing awesome things.

For me, the animal I most closely identified with was the rattlesnake. The rattlesnake is a nasty creature that can harm you, but it at least warns you before it bites you. You can kill a rattlesnake with your bare hands, but you will also be killing yourself in the process or live scarred and wounded from the encounter. My identity with this animal was inspired in part by the Gadsden flag which Tea Partiers and libertarians fly often these days and also my atheism. The rattlesnake is a weak animal but a mean animal. Most people and animals give this creature a wide berth. That was definitely me for many years. I became a very mean person, but I restrained myself to only striking at those who deserved it. This strategy is what I called the Way of the Snake.

I wasn't born mean, but I can say that I had the good beaten out of me. I became mean as a consequence of the things that happened to me. The only trace of morality left in me was the rattle at the end of my tail. You always got a warning before I bit you. If you heeded the warning, everything would be fine. If you disregarded it, I was going to get you even if I destroyed myself in the process. I didn't care. I was going to make you pay. My venom glands filled to bursting, and I desperately wanted to hurt someone. But no one took me up on it.

The Way of the Snake was turning my soul black. Consumed by anger and a desire for revenge, I knew that I was transforming from a rattlesnake to a black mamba. The black mamba is not like a rattlesnake. It gives no warning. It bites and bites again. It is aggressive and will chase you. Its blackened mouth is like its blackened soul.

I can only say that it was God's grace that kept me from that fate. The hatred of your enemies will consume and eat your soul. I still struggle with the the residue of that hatred and anger. My antidote has been to offer prayers, rosaries, and divine mercy chaplets on behalf of all those who have ever wronged me. When you hate others, the hatred consumes you and destroys you. When you love others, you find your humanity once more.

Upon converting to Catholicism, I renounced the Way of the Snake. This is because the Way of the Snake is the way of the original serpent--the Devil. The Devil gets at your soul through your hatred. I struggle, but I seek to find the way to love those I have hated. I forgive because I wish to be forgiven.

Forsaking the snake, I have looked for another animal that best captures my thinking and ways now, and I have settled on the mule. The mule is not a glamorous animal but the sterile offspring of a horse and a donkey. This makes him a rare animal combining the best traits of the horse and the donkey. The mule is an animal made for work. Mules eat less than horses, subsist on lower grades of feed, and require less care than horses. They have fortitude and are robust to adversity and harsh conditions.

The mule is no fool though. If you mistreat the mule, he will show you the stubbornness that is famous to mules. Treat the mule right, and he will treat you right. The mule knows self-preservation and will not allow itself to be beaten or worked to death like a horse. If you go too far with a mule, the animal will give you a swift kick to the head and knock your teeth out. But if you work with a mule, he will give you few problems and more years of service than a horse.

I follow the Way of the Mule now. Basically, I just work and give few problems. But if you mistreat me or try to make me do what I choose not to do, I am going to dig in my heels and refuse. And if you strike me, I am going to bust your teeth down the back of your throat. This is not revenge but resistance. There is a difference. Revenge is when you want destruction for the other person. Resistance is when you don't want destruction for yourself or the ones you love.

The mule has another virtue. It is a protector. This surprises people, but a mule will protect its owner and livestock against predators. Mules will kick a coyote or wolf to death if it tries to take a calf from a herd.

The mule will never win a beauty contest, but I love this animal. I identify with it. The mule is blue collar and bad ass. I would take a mule over a horse anyday. The mule is my animal spirit.


The Silent Majority

And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.

The most entertaining show of the summer television season is whatever show Donald Trump is currently on. This guy has taken over the media with his campaign for president, and he is riding a tidal wave of popularity. The media is apoplectic about this guy and why he is doing so well. They first tried to dismiss him. Now, they are trying to explain and understand his popularity and failing. They also hope he will implode before the actual voting though they are going to enjoy the ratings he generates in the interim. They don't get this guy, but I get this guy. I understand his popularity and why he is doing so well. And for those who dread a Trump presidency, be afraid. This guy can win and win big in 2016.

Trump appeals to Nixon's famous "silent majority." These are the quiet Americans who weren't protesting in the sixties and seventies, but they did vote. Nixon got the majority part right, but these people have never been silent. In fact, they tend to vote for the loudest mouth in any campaign. In this instance, that mouth belongs to Donald Trump.

If you want to understand Trump, you have to understand this silent majority. Trump understands them. He even used Nixon's term to refer to them. He gets what these people are about. The media does not. So, who are these silent majority types?

The silent majority are the white blue collar people who do the dirty jobs in America every single day. In Nixon's day, they were overwhelmingly men, but the silent majority includes women now. In recent elections, they were referred to as "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads." The one constant is that they are working class people. They might be farmers, truck drivers, factory workers, or unemployed wishing they had a job. But these folks don't wear suits and ties to their workplaces. This is why the media don't get them.

It is a truism in business that you don't get rich selling to the rich. There aren't that many rich people. If you want to make a fortune, don't make Lamborghinis. Make Ford F-150 pickup trucks. If you want to get rich, sell to the poor. In politics, you don't win elections by catering to the rich either. The rich people's money may pay for campaigns, but the candidates still need the votes of the masses to get into the White House. Most candidates are divided between what the money wants, what the media wants, and what the masses want. They need all three to win, so they have to pull off a trick where they appeal to all three in a weird calculus that turns out the wishy washy almost cookie cutter candidates we see today that say one thing in a campaign and do the other when elected.

Donald Trump has exploded the calculus with the simple arithmetic of being rich. This leaves him having to cater purely to the masses and the media. Trump is media savvy knowing that ratings are what matters. So, he generates ratings with controversy.


It doesn't matter if it is All in the Family, The Morton Downey Jr. Show, or YouTube. Controversy yields eyeballs and ratings. Trump knows this which is why he is always edgy. Of course, this approach lacks dignity befitting a president, but this has never been a problem with the silent majority. This is because they aren't silent. I have lived with them and worked with them. Trust me, they are loudmouths. When they see another loudmouth on the tube, they recognize their own and give their support.

The media largely ignores the silent majority because they see these people as imbeciles. The more fitting term would be the "ignored majority." This is why any candidate who demonizes the media automatically gets support from the silent majority. The silent majority feels the sting every time the microphone is given to some protester with a sign or the head of some liberal organization with ten members.

What does the silent majority believe and what do they want? They are basically conservative but in the most primitive way. A true conservative is someone who can read, and the silent majority aren't into reading. They don't have much grasp of the issues except that their lives suck. They are proudly patriotic but in the same way they might root for a football team. They just want their team to win, and they always blame the coach which is the President.

This patriotism expresses itself in a belief in a strong military and a desire for war. This is logical when you consider that the silent majority are the people you find in the cheap seats at a hockey game. America is never greater than it is when it is kicking some other country's ass.

On the domestic front, the silent majority believes the problem with America are those blacks on welfare that don't work and those Mexican immigrants that do work taking away all the good jobs that the white folks don't want because they involve backbreaking manual labor. Foreigners overseas are also hated because American companies like to move their factories and production over there to take advantage of the slave labor. Somewhere in this mix of racism and xenophobia, the silent majority fails to see the moneyed interests and corporations behind all of this preferring to blame the black or brown persons they see instead of the rich white guys that they don't see.

There's not much more to the silent majority than these issues. The genius of Donald Trump is that he taps into this effortlessly by wearing a red hat that says "Make America Great Again." He smack talks Mexican immigrants and praises law enforcement which taps into the unspoken racism of the silent majority. He waves the flag and talks about rebuilding the military as if the USA doesn't already possess the largest military arsenal in the world. Trump may sound like a complete idiot, but he knows how to press the buttons of the silent majority. He cleverly talks past the media to these people. The media needs these people for ratings.

Trump isn't the first guy to tap into the silent majority thing. Nixon and Reagan did it. H. Ross Perot did it in the nineties before imploding. Jesse Ventura did it to a certain extent in Minnesota. Basically, if you wave the flag and talk tough, you will win the vote of the silent majority. I would like to say there is some humble virtue in this silent majority, but there isn't. If they were church going people who believed in God and country, I could like them. But they are the ones you find at a monster truck show.

A better candidate than Trump for the silent majority would be Bernie Sanders. Like Trump, Sanders is a maverick, and he has a better grasp of why the lives of the silent majority are in the toilet. But Sanders is a Democrat and a socialist. These things put Bernie Sanders beyond the favor of the proletariat he claims to represent. Marxism is great at diagnosing the problems, but it provides a cure worse than the disease.

The problem in this country is elementary. The people who run things are evil, and the people who can change things are stupid. Those stupid people are the silent majority. As for Donald Trump, I don't think he is stupid. This leaves the question of good and evil. The man is no saint, but he seems less slimy than Hillary, Jeb, and the rest. Being rich affords him the luxury of running out of conviction than necessity. But let's be clear about one thing. The biggest thing Trump believes in is not God nor a set of principles but in himself. This desire for ego gratification makes him as bad or worse than all those other politicians. Trump might make it to the White House, but he will almost certainly turn it into the Trump White House replete with all the bad taste he is famous for in all his properties. The man claims to love America, but he loves himself more. I suspect he will be the pride before our fall.


Travails of the Vegan Evangelist

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.

I love Anthony Bourdain. His show is the best thing on CNN now. The man is utterly entertaining in everything he does. He is the Evel Knievel of the culinary world. This man has eaten some of the tastiest food from virtually every corner of the world. He has also eaten some of its worst crap. This would include cobra, a seal's eyeball, and putrefied shark. The cool thing about being vegan is that it spares you from eating this crap. But Anthony Bourdain proves that he will try anything once.

I can understand Bourdain's disdain for a plant based diet. It cuts you off from a wide range experiences that life offers like cheeseburgers, cheesecake, foie gras, and explosive diarrhea. Of course, chastity and fidelity do the same thing as it cuts you off from homosexuality, S&M, bestiality, and gonorrhea. Life is full of trade offs, and I am glad that guys like Anthony Bourdain boldly venture where I refuse to go.

Veganism is not popular in the same way that chastity is not popular. People want their pleasures. If the pain that accompanies those pleasures are no deterrent, nothing I say about the virtues of plant based eating are going to make a difference. This is why I am less than enthusiastic when someone approaches me about becoming vegan. I just tell them that they don't have the discipline and self-control to stick to it, so they should just keep eating crap until it kills them.

I am not frustrated about the unpopularity of the vegan gospel because you have to care in order to be frustrated. I think people suffer from what I call the "will to convert." This is a variation on Nietzsche's will to power concept. Basically, people want others to agree with them and jump on board because it gives them a feeling of control and vindication. This is how conversion can often lead to coercion. But I reject this desire to control, so I am mostly indifferent to what people put in their mouths or what religion they practice.

My travail in being a vegan evangelist doesn't come when people don't listen to the vegan gospel but when they ask to hear it. For some reason, vegans have earned this popular image as zealots for a cause which is why Anthony Bourdain can compare them to Hezbollah. But the fact is that meatheads are more obnoxious about you being vegan than you are. No matter how silent you may be about being vegan, some meathead will air their opinion to you the moment they discover you don't eat meat.

The reason meatheads are so obnoxious is because they know they are wrong. You can't eat crap and not realize that it is crap. It makes you feel bad, gain weight, and all the rest. Then, you have some vegan that shows a better way, and it produces cognitive dissonance. So, they go through the usual routine of citing junk science, ad hoc reasoning, and ad hominem attacks to convince you that you are wrong even though you used to be a meathead and now feel awesome as a vegan. The mere existence of a healthy vegan is enough to upset the meathead myth. Reality has this effect.

I think it is possible for people to change, but I think it is highly unlikely that they will. So, I tell them this. You're not going to become vegan. You're going to listen to that information that confirms your meathead beliefs even if that information is false. And you are going to tell me the 50 pounds I lost was just "water weight."

Telling people that they are going to fail at something makes them mad, but they still do exactly what I say they are going to do. One guy recently asked me about veganism, and I just told him to watch Forks Over Knives knowing that he wouldn't even finish the documentary. And, of course, he didn't. My dim view of human nature is constantly affirmed.

I am also tired of pointing to some famous vegan that lost weight on a plant based diet only to have them relapse back to meatheadism. The biggest example of this would be former president Bill Clinton that reversed his heart disease on a vegan diet but who went on a paleotard diet at the urging of Hillary. That was pretty stupid and a good reason as any to not vote for her.

I've reached the stage where I just want to eat my plants, and everyone else can eat their dead animal flesh. This has been hard as I hear people complain about their type 2 diabetes, the relative that had a heart attack or stroke, or the guy I know who inflamed his gout on an Atkins style diet. All of this is preventable and reversible on a vegan diet. So, I say something, and no one listens. People would rather die than give up meat. I can accept this. The next time I hear about a guy complaning about the poor circulation in his feet, I'm going to save my breath even if they put the hacksaw to his foot. If someone told me that I didn't have to lose a limb to diabetes, I would listen even if I thought the guy was a nut. This is because I want to keep my feet. But I am the only person I know that actually listens to people.

People love meat. That is the bottom line. LOVE IT. They will do anything to have it. Their nightmare is a world without meat. If you banned meat in prison mess halls, they would cry out over "human rights violations" and win. Prison rape is more tolerable to these people than a menu free of hamburgers, pork chops, and gravy. I am a fool if I think I could ever make these people vegan when even the vegans like Bill Clinton can't stay vegan. I am out of the vegan evangelism business.


St. Leonard on the Fewness of the Saved

And a certain man said to Him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But He said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. But when the master of the house shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, you shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord, open to us. And he answering, shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are.
LUKE 13:23-25

I am publishing this sermon from St. Leonard because I find two important things in it. The first is the spur to persevere in faith and penance. The second is to not be dismayed when so few repent and so many fall away from the faith. It is my personal belief that most people go to Hell, and they go there by their own choosing. God is merciful, but most people are indifferent to this mercy. They will die in their sins, and they will be without excuse. It is my prayer that all who read this message from St. Leonard would heed his warnings and flee to God's mercy.--C.

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved

by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Saint Leonard of Port Maurice was a most holy Franciscan friar who lived at the monastery of Saint Bonaventure in Rome. He was one of the greatest missioners in the history of the Church. He used to preach to thousands in the open square of every city and town where the churches could not hold his listeners. So brilliant and holy was his eloquence that once when he gave a two weeks' mission in Rome, the Pope and College of Cardinals came to hear him. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were his crusades. He was in no small way responsible for the definition of the Immaculate Conception made a little more than a hundred years after his death. He also gave us the Divine Praises, which are said at the end of Benediction. But Saint Leonard's most famous work was his devotion to the Stations of the Cross. He died a most holy death in his seventy-fifth year, after twenty-four years of uninterrupted preaching.

One of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice's most famous sermons was "The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved." It was the one he relied on for the conversion of great sinners. This sermon, like his other writings, was submitted to canonical examination during the process of canonization. In it he reviews the various states of life of Christians and concludes with the little number of those who are saved, in relation to the totality of men.

The reader who meditates on this remarkable text will grasp the soundness of its argumentation, which has earned it the approbation of the Church. Here is the great missionary's vibrant and moving sermon.


Thanks be to God, the number of the Redeemer's disciples is not so small that the wickedness of the Scribes and Pharisees is able to triumph over them. Although they strove to calumniate innocence and to deceive the crowd with their treacherous sophistries by discrediting the doctrine and character of Our Lord, finding spots even in the sun, many still recognized Him as the true Messiah, and, unafraid of either chastisements or threats, openly joined His cause. Did all those who followed Christ follow Him even unto glory? Oh, this is where I revere the profound mystery and silently adore the abysses of the divine decrees, rather than rashly deciding on such a great point! The subject I will be treating today is a very grave one; it has caused even the pillars of the Church to tremble, filled the greatest Saints with terror and populated the deserts with anchorites. The point of this instruction is to decide whether the number of Christians who are saved is greater or less than the number of Christians who are damned; it will, I hope, produce in you a salutary fear of the judgments of God.

Brothers, because of the love I have for you, I wish I were able to reassure you with the prospect of eternal happiness by saying to each of you: You are certain to go to paradise; the greater number of Christians is saved, so you also will be saved. But how can I give you this sweet assurance if you revolt against God's decrees as though you were your own worst enemies? I observe in God a sincere desire to save you, but I find in you a decided inclination to be damned. So what will I be doing today if I speak clearly? I will be displeasing to you. But if I do not speak, I will be displeasing to God.

Therefore, I will divide this subject into two points. In the first one, to fill you with dread, I will let the theologians and Fathers of the Church decide on the matter and declare that the greater number of Christian adults are damned; and, in silent adoration of that terrible mystery, I will keep my own sentiments to myself. In the second point I will attempt to defend the goodness of God versus the godless, by proving to you that those who are damned are damned by their own malice, because they wanted to be damned. So then, here are two very important truths. If the first truth frightens you, do not hold it against me, as though I wanted to make the road of heaven narrower for you, for I want to be neutral in this matter; rather, hold it against the theologians and Fathers of the Church who will engrave this truth in your heart by the force of reason. If you are disillusioned by the second truth, give thanks to God over it, for He wants only one thing: that you give your hearts totally to Him. Finally, if you oblige me to tell you clearly what I think, I will do so for your consolation.

The Teaching of the Fathers of the Church

It is not vain curiosity but salutary precaution to proclaim from the height of the pulpit certain truths which serve wonderfully to contain the indolence of libertines, who are always talking about the mercy of God and about how easy it is to convert, who live plunged in all sorts of sins and are soundly sleeping on the road to hell. To disillusion them and waken them from their torpor, today let us examine this great question: Is the number of Christians who are saved greater than the number of Christians who are damned?

Pious souls, you may leave; this sermon is not for you. Its sole purpose is to contain the pride of libertines who cast the holy fear of God out of their heart and join forces with the devil who, according to the sentiment of Eusebius, damns souls by reassuring them. To resolve this doubt, let us put the Fathers of the Church, both Greek and Latin, on one side; on the other, the most learned theologians and erudite historians; and let us put the Bible in the middle for all to see. Now listen not to what I will say to you – for I have already told you that I do not want to speak for myself or decide on the matter – but listen to what these great minds have to tell you, they who are beacons in the Church of God to give light to others so that they will not miss the road to heaven. In this manner, guided by the triple light of faith, authority and reason, we will be able to resolve this grave matter with certainty.

St. Robert Bellarmine
Note well that there is no question here of the human race taken as a whole, nor of all Catholics taken without distinction, but only of Catholic adults, who have free choice and are thus capable of cooperating in the great matter of their salvation. First let us consult the theologians recognized as examining things most carefully and as not exaggerating in their teaching: let us listen to two learned cardinals, Cajetan and Bellarmine. They teach that the greater number of Christian adults are damned, and if I had the time to point out the reasons upon which they base themselves, you would be convinced of it yourselves. But I will limit myself here to quoting Suarez. After consulting all the theologians and making a diligent study of the matter, he wrote, "The most common sentiment which is held is that, among Christians, there are more damned souls than predestined souls."

Add the authority of the Greek and Latin Fathers to that of the theologians, and you will find that almost all of them say the same thing. This is the sentiment of Saint Theodore, Saint Basil, Saint Ephrem, and Saint John Chrysostom. What is more, according to Baronius it was a common opinion among the Greek Fathers that this truth was expressly revealed to Saint Simeon Stylites and that after this revelation, it was to secure his salvation that he decided to live standing on top of a pillar for forty years, exposed to the weather, a model of penance and holiness for everyone. Now let us consult the Latin Fathers. You will hear Saint Gregory saying clearly, "Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom." Saint Anselm declares, "There are few who are saved." Saint Augustine states even more clearly, "Therefore, few are saved in comparison to those who are damned." The most terrifying, however, is Saint Jerome. At the end of his life, in the presence of his disciples, he spoke these dreadful words: "Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence."

The Words of Holy Scripture

But why seek out the opinions of the Fathers and theologians, when Holy Scripture settles the question so clearly? Look in to the Old and New Testaments, and you will find a multitude of figures, symbols and words that clearly point out this truth: very few are saved. In the time of Noah, the entire human race was submerged by the Deluge, and only eight people were saved in the Ark. Saint Peter says, "This ark was the figure of the Church," while Saint Augustine adds, "And these eight people who were saved signify that very few Christians are saved, because there are very few who sincerely renounce the world, and those who renounce it only in words do not belong to the mystery represented by that ark." The Bible also tells us that only two Hebrews out of two million entered the Promised Land after going out of Egypt, and that only four escaped the fire of Sodom and the other burning cities that perished with it. All of this means that the number of the damned who will be cast into fire like straw is far greater than that of the saved, whom the heavenly Father will one day gather into His barns like precious wheat.

I would not finish if I had to point out all the figures by which Holy Scripture confirms this truth; let us content ourselves with listening to the living oracle of Incarnate Wisdom. What did Our Lord answer the curious man in the Gospel who asked Him, "Lord, is it only a few to be saved?" Did He keep silence? Did He answer haltingly? Did He conceal His thought for fear of frightening the crowd? No. Questioned by only one, He addresses all of those present. He says to them: "You ask Me if there are only few who are saved?" Here is My answer: "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Who is speaking here? It is the Son of God, Eternal Truth, who on another occasion says even more clearly, "Many are called, but few are chosen." He does not say that all are called and that out of all men, few are chosen, but that many are called; which means, as Saint Gregory explains, that out of all men, many are called to the True Faith, but out of them few are saved. Brothers, these are the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Are they clear? They are true. Tell me now if it is possible for you to have faith in your heart and not tremble.

Salvation in the Various States of Life

But oh, I see that by speaking in this manner of all in general, I am missing my point. So let us apply this truth to various states, and you will understand that you must either throw away reason, experience and the common sense of the faithful, or confess that the greater number of Catholics is damned. Is there any state in the world more favorable to innocence in which salvation seems easier and of which people have a higher idea than that of priests, the lieutenants of God? At first glance, who would not think that most of them are not only good but even perfect; yet I am horror-struck when I hear Saint Jerome declaring that although the world is full of priests, barely one in a hundred is living in a manner in conformity with state; when I hear a servant of God attesting that he has learned by revelation that the number of priests who fall into hell each day is so great that it seemed impossible to him that there be any left on earth; when I hear Saint Chrysostom exclaiming with tears in his eyes, "I do not believe that many priests are saved; I believe the contrary, that the number of those who are damned is greater."

St. Jerome
Look higher still, and see the prelates of the Holy Church, pastors who have the charge of souls. Is the number of those who are saved among them greater than the number of those who are damned? Listen to Cantimpre; he will relate an event to you, and you may draw the conclusions. There was a synod being held in Paris, and a great number of prelates and pastors who had the charge of souls were in attendance; the king and princes also came to add luster to that assembly by their presence. A famous preacher was invited to preach. While he was preparing his sermon, a horrible demon appeared to him and said, "Lay your books aside. If you want to give a sermon that will be useful to these princes and prelates, content yourself with telling them on our part, 'We the princes of darkness thank you, princes, prelates, and pastors of souls, that due to your negligence, the greater number of the faithful are damned; also, we are saving a reward for you for this favor, when you shall be with us in Hell.'"

Woe to you who command others! If so many are damned by your fault, what will happen to you? If few out of those who are first in the Church of God are saved, what will happen to you? Take all states, both sexes, every condition: husbands, wives, widows, young women, young men, soldiers, merchants, craftsmen, rich and poor, noble and plebian. What are we to say about all these people who are living so badly? The following narrative from Saint Vincent Ferrer will show you what you may think about it. He relates that an archdeacon in Lyons gave up his charge and retreated into a desert place to do penance, and that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After his death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, "Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell."

St. Vincent Ferrer
Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, "When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned."

O abyss of the judgments of God! Out of thirty thousand, only five were saved! And out of sixty thousand, only three went to heaven! You sinners who are listening to me, in what category will you be numbered?... What do you say?... What do you think?...

I see almost all of you lowering your heads, filled with astonishment and horror. But let us lay our stupor aside, and instead of flattering ourselves, let us try to draw some profit from our fear. Is it not true that there are two roads which lead to heaven: innocence and repentance? Now, if I show you that very few take either one of these two roads, as rational people you will conclude that very few are saved. And to mention proofs: in what age, employment or condition will you find that the number of the wicked is not a hundred times greater than that of the good, and about which one might say, "The good are so rare and the wicked are so great in number"? We could say of our times what Salvianus said of his: it is easier to find a countless multitude of sinners immersed in all sorts of iniquities than a few innocent men. How many servants are totally honest and faithful in their duties? How many merchants are fair and equitable in their commerce; how many craftsmen exact and truthful; how many salesmen disinterested and sincere? How many men of law do not forsake equity? How many soldiers do not tread upon innocence; how many masters do not unjustly withhold the salary of those who serve them, or do not seek to dominate their inferiors? Everywhere, the good are rare and the wicked great in number. Who does not know that today there is so much libertinage among mature men, liberty among young girls, vanity among women, licentiousness in the nobility, corruption in the middle class, dissolution in the people, impudence among the poor, that one could say what David said of his times: "All alike have gone astray... there is not even one who does good, not even one."

King David
Go into street and square, into palace and house, into city and countryside, into tribunal and court of law, and even into the temple of God. Where will you find virtue? "Alas!" cries Salvianus, "except for a very little number who flee evil, what is the assembly of Christians if not a sink of vice?" All that we can find everywhere is selfishness, ambition, gluttony, and luxury. Is not the greater portion of men defiled by the vice of impurity, and is not Saint John right in saying, "The whole world – if something so foul may be called – "is seated in wickedness?" I am not the one who is telling you; reason obliges you to believe that out of those who are living so badly, very few are saved.

But you will say: Can penance not profitably repair the loss of innocence? That is true, I admit. But I also know that penance is so difficult in practice, we have lost the habit so completely, and it is so badly abused by sinners, that this alone should suffice to convince you that very few are saved by that path. Oh, how steep, narrow, thorny, horrible to behold and hard to climb it is! Everywhere we look, we see traces of blood and things that recall sad memories. Many weaken at the very sight of it. Many retreat at the very start. Many fall from weariness in the middle, and many give up wretchedly at the end. And how few are they who persevere in it till death! Saint Ambrose says it is easier to find men who have kept their innocence than to find any who have done fitting penance.

Saint Ambrose
If you consider the sacrament of penance, there are so many distorted confessions, so many studied excuses, so many deceitful repentances, so many false promises, so many ineffective resolutions, so many invalid absolutions! Would you regard as valid the confession of someone who accuses himself of sins of impurity and still holds to the occasion of them? Or someone who accuses himself of obvious injustices with no intention of making any reparation whatsoever for them? Or someone who falls again into the same iniquities right after going to confession? Oh, horrible abuses of such a great sacrament! One confesses to avoid excommunication, another to make a reputation as a penitent. One rids himself of his sins to calm his remorse, another conceals them out of shame. One accuses them imperfectly out of malice, another discloses them out of habit. One does not have the true end of the sacrament in mind, another is lacking the necessary sorrow, and still another firm purpose. Poor confessors, what efforts you make to bring the greater number of penitents to these resolutions and acts, without which confession is a sacrilege, absolution a condemnation and penance an illusion?

Where are they now, those who believe that the number of the saved among Christians is greater than that of the damned and who, to authorize their opinion, reason thus: the greater portion of Catholic adults die in their beds armed with the sacraments of the Church, therefore most adult Catholics are saved? Oh, what fine reasoning! You must say exactly the opposite. Most Catholic adults confess badly at death, therefore most of them are damned. I say "all the more certain," because a dying person who has not confessed well when he was in good health will have an even harder time doing so when he is in bed with a heavy heart, an unsteady head, a muddled mind; when he is opposed in many ways by still-living objects, by still-fresh occasions, by adopted habits, and above all by devils who are seeking every means to cast him into hell. Now, if you add to all these false penitents all the other sinners who die unexpectedly in sin, due to the doctors' ignorance or by their relatives' fault, who die from poisoning or from being buried in earthquakes, or from a stroke, or from a fall, or on the battlefield, in a fight, caught in a trap, struck by lightning, burned or drowned, are you not obliged to conclude that most Christian adults are damned? That is the reasoning of Saint Chrysostom. This Saint says that most Christians are walking on the road to hell throughout their life. Why, then, are you so surprised that the greater number goes to hell? To come to a door, you must take the road that leads there. What have you to answer such a powerful reason?

The answer, you will tell me, is that the mercy of God is great. Yes, for those who fear Him, says the Prophet; but great is His justice for the one who does not fear Him, and it condemns all obstinate sinners.

So you will say to me: Well then, who is Paradise for, if not for Christians? It is for Christians, of course, but for those who do not dishonor their character and who live as Christians. Moreover, if to the number of Christian adults who die in the grace of God, you add the countless host of children who die after baptism and before reaching the age of reason, you will not be surprised that Saint John the Apostle, speaking of those who are saved, says, "I saw a great multitude which no man could number."

And this is what deceives those who pretend that the number of the saved among Catholics is greater than that of the damned... If to that number, you add the adults who have kept the robe of innocence, or who after having defiled it, have washed it in the tears of penance, it is certain that the greater number is saved; and that explains the words of Saint John, "I saw a great multitude," and these other words of Our Lord, "Many will come from the east and from the west, and will feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven," and the other figures usually cited in favor of that opinion. But if you are talking about Christian adults, experience, reason, authority, propriety and Scripture all agree in proving that the greater number is damned. Do not believe that because of this, paradise is empty; on the contrary, it is a very populous kingdom. And if the damned are "as numerous as the sand in the sea," the saved are "as numerous at the stars of heaven," that is, both the one and the other are countless, although in very different proportions.

St. John Chrysostom
One day Saint John Chrysostom, preaching in the cathedral in Constantinople and considering these proportions, could not help but shudder in horror and ask, "Out of this great number of people, how many do you think will be saved?" And, not waiting for an answer, he added, "Among so many thousands of people, we would not find a hundred who are saved, and I even doubt for the one hundred." What a dreadful thing! The great Saint believed that out of so many people, barely one hundred would be saved; and even then, he was not sure of that number. What will happen to you who are listening to me? Great God, I cannot think of it without shuddering! Brothers, the problem of salvation is a very difficult thing; for according to the maxims of the theologians, when an end demands great efforts, few only attain it.

St. Thomas Aquinas
That is why Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, after weighing all the reasons pro and con in his immense erudition, finally concludes that the greater number of Catholic adults are damned. He says, "Because eternal beatitude surpasses the natural state, especially since it has been deprived of original grace, it is the little number that are saved."

So then, remove the blindfold from your eyes that is blinding you with self-love, that is keeping you from believing such an obvious truth by giving you very false ideas concerning the justice of God, "Just Father, the world has not known Thee," said Our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say "Almighty Father, most good and merciful Father." He says "just Father," so we may understand that out of all the attributes of God, none is less known than His justice, because men refuse to believe what they are afraid to undergo. Therefore, remove the blindfold that is covering your eyes and say tearfully: Alas! The greater number of Catholics, the greater number of those who live here, perhaps even those who are in this assembly, will be damned! What subject could be more deserving of your tears?

King Xerxes, standing on a hill looking at his army of one hundred thousand soldiers in battle array, and considering that out of all of them there would be not one man alive in a hundred years, was unable to hold back his tears. Have we not more reason to weep upon thinking that out of so many Catholics, the greater number will be damned? Should this thought not make our eyes pour forth rivers of tears, or at least produce in our heart the sentiment of compassion felt by an Augustinian Brother, Ven. Marcellus of St. Dominic? One day as he was meditating on the eternal pains, the Lord showed him how many souls were going to hell at that moment and had him see a very broad road on which twenty-two thousand reprobates were running toward the abyss, colliding into one another. The servant of God was stupefied at the sight and exclaimed, "Oh, what a number! What a number! And still more are coming. O Jesus! O Jesus! What madness!" Let me repeat with Jeremiah, "Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."

Poor souls! How can you run so hastily toward hell? For mercy's sake, stop and listen to me for a moment! Either you understand what it means to be saved and to be damned for all eternity, or you do not. If you understand and in spite of that, you do not decide to change your life today, make a good confession and trample upon the world, in a word, make your every effort to be counted among the littler number of those who are saved, I say that you do not have the faith. You are more excusable if you do not understand it, for then one must say that you are out of your mind. To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable.

The Goodness of God

Perhaps you do not yet believe the terrible truths I have just taught you. But it is the most highly-considered theologians, the most illustrious Fathers who have spoken to you through me. So then, how can you resist reasons supported by so many examples and words of Scripture? If you still hesitate in spite of that, and if your mind is inclined to the opposite opinion, does that very consideration not suffice to make you tremble? Oh, it shows that you do not care very much for your salvation! In this important matter, a sensible man is struck more strongly by the slightest doubt of the risk he runs than by the evidence of total ruin in other affairs in which the soul is not involved. One of our brothers, Blessed Giles, was in the habit of saying that if only one man were going to be damned, he would do all he could to make sure he was not that man.

So what must we do, we who know that the greater number is going to be damned, and not only out of all Catholics? What must we do? Take the resolution to belong to the little number of those who are saved. You say: If Christ wanted to damn me, then why did He create me? Silence, rash tongue! God did not create anyone to damn him; but whoever is damned, is damned because he wants to be. Therefore, I will now strive to defend the goodness of my God and acquit it of all blame: that will be the subject of the second point.

Before going on, let us gather on one side all the books and all the heresies of Luther and Calvin, and on the other side the books and heresies of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, and let us burn them. Some destroy grace, others freedom, and all are filled with errors; so let us cast them into the fire. All the damned bear upon their brow the oracle of the Prophet Osee, "Thy damnation comes from thee," so that they may understand that whoever is damned, is damned by his own malice and because he wants to be damned.

First let us take these two undeniable truths as a basis: "God wants all men to be saved," "All are in need of the grace of God." Now, if I show you that God wants to save all men, and that for this purpose He gives all of them His grace and all the other necessary means of obtaining that sublime end, you will be obliged to agree that whoever is damned must impute it to his own malice, and that if the greater number of Christians are damned, it is because they want to be. "Thy damnation comes from thee; thy help is only in Me."

God Desires All Men to be Saved

In a hundred places in Holy Scripture, God tells us that it is truly His desire to save all men. "Is it My will that a sinner should die, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?... I live, saith the Lord God. I desire not the death of the sinner. Be converted and live." When someone wants something very much, it is said that he is dying with desire; it is a hyperbole. But God has wanted and still wants our salvation so much that He died of desire, and He suffered death to give us life. This will to save all men is therefore not an affected, superficial and apparent will in God; it is a real, effective, and beneficial will; for He provides us with all the means most proper for us to be saved. He does not give them to us so they will not obtain it; He gives them to us with a sincere will, with the intention that they may obtain their effect. And if they do not obtain it, He shows Himself afflicted and offended over it. He commands even the damned to use them in order to be saved; He exhorts them to it; He obliges them to it; and if they do not do it, they sin. Therefore, they may do it and thus be saved.

Far more, because God sees that we could not even make use of His grace without His help, He gives us other aids; and if they sometimes remain ineffective, it is our fault; for with these same aids, one may abuse them and be damned with them, and another may do right and be saved; he might even be saved with less powerful aids. Yes, it can happen that we abuse a greater grace and are damned, whereas another cooperates with a lesser grace and is saved.

St Augustine
Saint Augustine exclaims, "If, therefore, someone turns aside from justice, he is carried by his free will, led by his concupiscence, deceived by his own persuasion." But for those who do not understand theology, here is what I have to say to them: God is so good that when He sees a sinner running to his ruin, He runs after him, calls him, entreats and accompanies him even to the gates of hell; what will He not do to convert him? He sends him good inspirations and holy thoughts, and if he does not profit from them, He becomes angry and indignant, He pursues him. Will He strike him? No. He beats at the air and forgives him. But the sinner is not converted yet. God sends him a mortal illness. It is certainly all over for him. No, brothers, God heals him; the sinner becomes obstinate in evil, and God in His mercy looks for another way; He gives him another year, and when that year is over, He grants him yet another.

But if the sinner still wants to cast himself into hell in spite of all that, what does God do? Does He abandon him? No. He takes him by the hand; and while he has one foot in hell and the other outside, He still preaches to him, He implored him not to abuse His graces. Now I ask you, if that man is damned, is it not true that he is damned against the Will of God and because he wants to be damned? Come and ask me now: If God wanted to damn me, then why did He create me?

Ungrateful sinner, learn today that if you are damned, it is not God who is to blame, but you and your self-will. To persuade yourself of this, go down even to the depths of the abyss, and there I will bring you one of those wretched damned souls burning in hell, so that he may explain this truth to you. Here is one now: "Tell me, who are you?" "I am a poor idolater, born in an unknown land; I never heard of heaven or hell, nor of what I am suffering now." "Poor wretch! Go away, you are not the one I am looking for." Another one is coming; there he is. "Who are you?" "I am a schismatic from the ends of Tartary; I always lived in an uncivilized state, barely knowing that there is a God." "You are not the one I want; return to hell." Here is another. "And who are you?" "I am a poor heretic from the North. I was born under the Pole and never saw either the light of the sun or the light of faith." "It is not you that I am looking for either, return to Hell." Brothers, my heart is broken upon seeing these wretches who never even knew the True Faith among the damned. Even so, know that the sentence of condemnation was pronounced against them and they were told, "Thy damnation comes from thee." They were damned because they wanted to be. They received so many aids from God to be saved! We do not know what they were, but they know them well, and now they cry out, "O Lord, Thou art just... and Thy judgments are equitable."

Brothers, you must know that the most ancient belief is the Law of God, and that we all bear it written in our hearts; that it can be learned without any teacher, and that it suffices to have the light of reason in order to know all the precepts of that Law. That is why even the barbarians hid when they committed sin, because they knew they were doing wrong; and they are damned for not having observed the natural law written in their heart: for had they observed it, God would have made a miracle rather than let them be damned; He would have sent them someone to teach them and would have given them other aids, of which they made themselves unworthy by not living in conformity with the inspirations of their own conscience, which never failed to warn them of the good they should do and the evil they should avoid. So it is their conscience that accused them at the Tribunal of God, and it tells them constantly in hell, "Thy damnation comes from thee." They do not know what to answer and are obliged to confess that they are deserving of their fate. Now if these infidels have no excuse, will there be any for a Catholic who had so many sacraments, so many sermons, so many aids at his disposal? How will he dare to say, "If God was going to damn me, then why did He create me?" How will he dare to speak in this manner, when God gives him so many aids to be saved? So let us finish confounding him.

You who are suffering in the abyss, answer me! Are there any Catholics among you? "There certainly are!" How many? Let one of them come here! "That is impossible, they are too far down, and to have them come up would turn all of hell upside down; it would be easier to stop one of them as he is falling in." So then, I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin, in hatred, in the mire of the vice of impurity, and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop, and turn around; it is Jesus who calls you and who, with His wounds, as with so many eloquent voices, cries to you, "My son, if you are damned, you have only yourself to blame: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.' Lift up your eyes and see all the graces with which I have enriched you to insure your eternal salvation. I could have had you born in a forest in Barbary; that is what I did to many others, but I had you born in the Catholic Faith; I had you raised by such a good father, such an excellent mother, with the purest instructions and teachings. If you are damned in spite of that, whose fault will it be? Your own, My son, your own: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.'

"I could have cast you into hell after the first mortal sin you committed, without waiting for the second: I did it to so many others, but I was patient with you, I waited for you for many long years. I am still waiting for you today in penance. If you are damned in spite of all that, whose fault is it? Your own, My son, your own: "Thy damnation comes from thee." You know how many have died before your very eyes and were damned: that was a warning for you. You know how many others I set back on the right path to give you the good example. Do you remember what that excellent confessor told you? I am the one who had him say it. Did he not enjoin you to change your life, to make a good confession? I am the One who inspired him. Remember that sermon that touched your heart? I am the One who led you there. And what has happened between you and Me in the secret of your heart, ...that you can never forget.

"Those interior inspirations, that clear knowledge, that constant remorse of conscience, would you dare to deny them? All of these were so many aids of My grace, because I wanted to save you. I refused to give them to many others, and I gave them to you because I loved you tenderly. My son, My son, if I spoke to them as tenderly as I am speaking to you today, how many others souls return to the right path! And you... you turn your back on Me. Listen to what I am going to tell you, for these are My last words: You have cost Me My blood; if you want to be damned in spite of the blood I shed for you, do not blame Me, you have only yourself to accuse; and throughout all eternity, do not forget that if you are damned in spite of Me, you are damned because you want to be damned: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.' "

O my good Jesus, the very stones would split on hearing such sweet words, such tender expressions. Is there anyone here who wants to be damned, with so many graces and aids? If there is one, let him listen to me, and then let him resist if he can.

Baronius relates that after Julian the Apostate's infamous apostasy, he conceived such great hatred against Holy Baptism that day and night, he sought a way in which he might erase his own. To that purpose he had a bath of goat's blood prepared and placed himself in it, wanting this impure blood of a victim consecrated to Venus to erase the sacred character of Baptism from his soul. Such behavior seems abominable to you, but if Julian's plan had been able to succeed, it is certain that he would be suffering much less in hell.

Sinners, the advice I want to give you will no doubt seem strange to you; but if you understand it well, it is, on the contrary, inspired by tender compassion toward you. I implore you on my knees, by the blood of Christ and by the Heart of Mary, change your life, come back to the road that leads to heaven, and do all you can to belong to the little number of those who are saved. If, instead of this, you want to continue walking on the road that leads to hell, at least find a way to erase your baptism. Woe to you if you take the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the sacred character of the Christian engraved upon your soul into hell! Your chastisement will be all the greater. So do what I advise you to do: if you do not want to convert, go this very day and ask your pastor to erase your name from the baptismal register, so that there may not remain any remembrance of your ever having been a Christian; implore your Guardian Angel to erase from his book of graces the inspirations and aids he has given you on orders from God, for woe to you if he recalls them! Tell Our Lord to take back His faith, His baptism, His sacraments.

You are horror-struck at such a thought? Well then, cast yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ and say to Him, with tearful eyes and contrite heart: "Lord, I confess that up till now I have not lived as a Christian. I am not worthy to be numbered among Your elect. I recognize that I deserve to be damned; but Your mercy is great and, full of confidence in Your grace, I say to You that I want to save my soul, even if I have to sacrifice my fortune, my honor, my very life, as long as I am saved. If I have been unfaithful up to now, I repent, I deplore, I detest my infidelity, I ask You humbly to forgive me for it. Forgive me, good Jesus, and strengthen me also, that I may be saved. I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul."

And You, O Jesus! What do You say? O Good Shepherd, see the stray sheep who returns to You; embrace this repentant sinner, bless his sighs and tears, or rather bless these people who are so well disposed and who want nothing but their salvation. Brothers, at the feet of Our Lord, let us protest that we want to save our soul, cost what it may. Let us all say to Him with tearful eyes, "Good Jesus, I want to save my soul," O blessed tears, O blessed sighs!


Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well. As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.

Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved, but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.

What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, "Strive by good works to make your election sure." When Saint Thomas Aquinas's sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, "You will be saved if you want to be." I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition. Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen