“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance- for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:5-7
Introduction to the Devout Life, by Saint Francis DeSales, is a book I have spent much time in and gained much inspiration from. Below are my thoughts, written in my personal spiritual journal, Journey Through The Stillness, after having read the section ‘On Hell’ in Introduction to the Devout Life.
July 26, 2013 – ‘On Hell’ (Introduction to the Devout Life) My Thoughts: The words Eternal Damnation aren’t just words. They are the horribly frightening proclamation sentencing a soul to death, death to Life, forever. The words Eternal Life are easily spoken; they seem to roll off the tongue with a lilt. They are not just words either. Once proclaimed, they hold, for a saved soul, the keys to The Kingdom of God, the keys to open the door between death and Life, forever. Too little time is spent by most pondering these seemingly simple, yet indispensably provocative words. We hear and read them quite often, with great familiarity and ease. We either hear them so often we become complacent, or even numb as to their real consequences, or we don’t hear them often enough, that we forget them and their consequences. Jesus saves! Yes, but one must cooperate with salvation, with His Saving Grace. One must be transformed, which doesn’t sound easy or fun to most of us. It sounds like work, and let’s face it, we would all like the easy way out, or should I say, the easy way in, in to Heaven. Self-examination, self-discovery and control, can be all together intimidating. It is certainly easier to hide behind the apron strings of ignorance than to face even our own self-judgment, let alone allow others to witness or judge us. Therein lies the rub. Most of us are willing to impede our own progression to holiness out of fear, fear of others and ourselves. What will they think? How will I look to them? We are willing to postpone judgment until the very end; it is easier. The rub is that the final judgment is before our Creator and it is final; no pleadings, no I am sorrys, no do-overs. The damnation is not for a moment, an hour, or even a few days. It is forever. It is eternal in the worst use of the word. Yet, many are willing to enjoy the ride now, thinking the final destination is far over the horizon. Most don’t spend time envisioning themselves damned, in fire, in hell, with no escape, ever. On the flip side, most don’t spend time envisioning themselves deliriously happy, languishing in our joy, in Heaven, forever. Mostly they just live in the here and now. Why worry about tomorrow; it may never come. Exactly.
Self-examination and transformation take courage, strength. It takes both failing and unfailing determination; for it is in failing we come to know our true selves. It is in conquering our failings we become our true selves. It is our true selves, as children of God, saved by His one true Son, Jesus Christ, that we are able to throw off the chains of eternal damnation and thus inherit His Kingdom to share in Life Eternal with God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit, forever.
My Prayer: “Only You, O Lord, can save me. Only You can protect me from the snares of the evil one. Only with You, through You, and in You will I conquer sin and rise from death to Life. Help me, O Lord, to be free of the chains that bind me to my sins. Help me, O Lord, every moment of my worldly existence to choose You, to forsake the world, to seek only Eternal Life. Hear my pleas and strengthen me for the battle, O Lord. May all glory, honor, and praise be forever Yours. Amen.”