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Breaking a Priest's Heart
Sharing in the Heart of a Savior
My friends, there is nothing as painful as encountering a lost soul who wishes to remain lost. It happens often that in the midst of such an experience of loss we attempt to avoid the harsh reality by some silver-lining of hope. We speak about the seconds before a person’s death and how God can accomplish His saving work in such moments. All of that is true. Yet, while that hope remains, there is also the knowledge that the opposite occurs - as St. John Paul II and the Catechism put it: Mortal Sin is as radical a possibility as is love itself.
Everything I know about God teaches me that He uses all his power to save souls - yet I am also aware that this grace of our savior only exists as a potential for salvation, a type of sufficiency, that may not translate to efficacious grace. We can say it in all sorts of technical ways - but what I’m getting at is the sad reality that some will likely go to hell because at the end of the day they choose not to befriend Christ by carrying their crosses. Without admitting this - there is a side to Christ’s heart we will never encounter and experience in ourselves.
It is my view that there are some who would like to avoid this horrific feeling, this deep sadness by simply living in the modality of “daring to hope.” I dare not suggest that there isn’t hope. But I am also a person who does not subsist in mere wishful thinking in order to avoid negative and vicariously hopeless feelings. I want to enter the heart of Christ, who wept over Jerusalem - who died for souls, even though they would look on in indifference, or die cursing.
When the Church weeps over Jerusalem, the lost souls, it of itself is a witness to the very heart of Christ. It is not a place of despair for our own salvation, but we can say, given what we’ve observed, that there are signs in the lives of others that they have excluded themselves from the Kingdom of God. And in our hearts, we both grieve the loss of their soul, but also the offense against Christ. That in Him laying His life down for them, they were not willing to return the favor by suffering their own crosses. Without this reciprocal love, all we have is presumption - a sin against hope. Despair is a sin too, and it is rooted in the notion that God’s grace isn’t available. God’s grace is always available (in this life), but we have to respond - we have to become Christ. Once death occurs, and a soul enters hell, despair is not a sin on our part, for their soul - it’s simply the reality. And it’s radically possible that we might choose this for ourselves.
As a Church, let us weep for souls that are lost. This will set our minds in a healthy place, a place that takes salvation seriously, and doesn’t do a run-around the wounded Sacred Heart of Jesus. We may not have certainty about anyone in particular, but we do know, and do believe that there is good reason to assume souls are lost. This is worthy of weeping, this is a participation in Christ’s Body.