Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Political and Eternal Things

Father John J. Lombardi 

It's November--time for political elections and preparation for eternal ones…Regarding the latter, some Catholics may ask: Am I ready to head out of this world? Is there a better world elsewhere?... What if I'm not perfect at death, but don't exactly deserve endless separation from God? Is there really such a thing as Hell? What is Heaven like?

November is a time we traditionally think about our eternal election. We've just celebrated All Saints and All Souls Days, which remind us we are joined with angels and saints in "mystical, inter-penetrating realities" Take time, now, to discern the reality of …

The Four Last Things…


God made Adam and Eve perfectly in the Garden of Eden. They would have lived forever without suffering or death (Eden means "delight"); instead, by choosing sin and rebellion, death entered the world. We now see death is prevalent in our world, and it is sometimes punishing (whether by cancer or earthquakes); God did not intend things this way. In wrestling with the reality of death today, people may see it in one of these "three -m" ways: as meaningless, in a despairing fatalism; as multiple, thru reincarnation (eastern/new age view); or in a meaningful way by a transforming, Christ-centered passage to new life…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (hereafter, "CT"): "In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact 'the wages of sin.'…Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ…In death God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St Paul's: 'My desire is to depart and be with Christ' (Phil 1:23). He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ" (paragraph #'s 1006, 1021, and 1011)… Meditation: +Am I ready for death? How can I more fully prepare? How am I avoiding the reality of death?


There's a saying, "No report card means no responsibility." If we humans weren't going to die, perhaps we wouldn't think about our eternal destiny, or our past actions and current character. Knowing we will be judged changes everything (hopefully).

The General Judgment means Jesus Christ will return to judge all the living and dead at the end of the world. The Particular Judgment means that, at the instant of any person's death, one is judged and goes to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory (called the "Final Purification" -a place of purifying mercy)…CT: " Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in (His) preaching. Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude about our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love" (# 678). +Am I ready to be judged for all my thoughts, words, deeds in life? Will I take advantage of God's Mercy thru confession?


Hell is a "place" and "state" of eternal separation from God. Being divorced from God--forever--makes everything thing else inconsequential. Jesus warned us of things that can separate us from Him forever (Gal. 5: 17-21; Mt. 25). While we trust in His infinite mercy we should also take His prescriptions seriously… CT: "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from Him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and blessed is called 'Hell'…

Jesus often speaks of 'Gehenna,' of the 'unquenchable fire reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe…The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of Hell and its eternity…The affirmation of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny" ( #1033-1036).

Have you repented of all your sins? Are you living your life responsibly as a Catholic and Christian? Pray for all people to accept and love Jesus Christ as the One, Unique Savior.


Heaven is a trans-temporal place and blissful state of supernatural union with God. This current world is real, yes; but Heaven is the fullness of reality. There is no such thing as "Heaven on earth" (a contradiction in terms); rather, Heaven transcends and surpasses anything earthly, finite or human. It is life in the Most Blessed Trinity… "Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they 'see him as he is,' face to face…This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity-this communion of life and love with Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called 'heaven.' Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness" (#1023-1024)… +How can Heaven's allure help me through this world, and help me detach from this world and possessions more?.

Regarding the After Life, avoid these common errors:

  • Everyone is going to Heaven…
  • Jesus is not coming back…
  • Life on earth is suffering enough, God wouldn't give us anything like Hell or Purgatory, and wouldn't judge anyone…

Let us respond to these heresies (which means, from the Greek, choice, and here, wrong and hurtful choices), with the orthodoxy of our Faith, the "Splendor of Truth". Dare to believe-and respond!


Now, for more mundane matters...

Following are reflections on politics and religion…

Q: Should I mix politics and religion?
A: Yes, of course. The Bible, Sacred Tradition and Vatican II call Catholic laypersons to influence the entire spectrum of life with their religious convictions. If more Catholics did-authentically and responsibly, we would be living in a better country.

Q: What if there isn't anyone worth voting for, and things are always the same, should I vote?
A: Yes. Try living in China where the Catholic Church is underground, or live in Haiti under martial law, or in Saudi Arabia where Catholics can't practice their faith or vote. Exercise your right to vote-don't get apathetic.

Q: (From the National Catholic Register: Oct. 31 issue) "If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?
A. If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue.

For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a "disqualifying issue." A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is nonnegotiable… A candidate for office who supports abortion rights or any other moral evil has disqualified himself as a person that you can vote for."

Vote for Life!

Briefly Noted

Advice on Supernatural Phenomenon by St John of the Cross: " In giving us his Son, His only Word…He spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word-and he has no more to say… He has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty" (CCC: #65).

Bible Readings This Wk: Mal 1:14-2:2,8-10; I Th 2:7, 9-13; Mt. 23: 1-12…True Teachers Try Truth: do not change it (Mal.), do not ignore His Word or truth (I Th.); but fully embrace God's liberation thru sincere conversion of heart.

Quote: from Maxemilion Kolbe, who was martyred in a Polish concentration camp: "To suffer, work and die like a knight not with a normal death but, for example, with a bullet in the head, sealing our love for the Immaculate (Mary), like a real knight spilling our blood to the last drop, to hasten the conquest of the whole world for her. I cannot conceive of anything more sublime."

Headline of the Week: "Cardinal Meisner Warns that Church Bureaucracy Can Dull Faith" (Zenit News service).

The Vatican and the Bishops: We are thankful the Vatican is amending the US Bishops so-called "zero tolerance" policy regarding priests and sexual abuse. This is wise. Many called for more protection of the rights of priests, while at the same time requiring stringent policies to protect the young…Archbishop Harry Flynn said months ago the media is doing us a favor in exposing these recent events. The New York Times has consistently exposed many stories of sexual abuse of priests upon young men-not adolescents. Commentators from liberalists like Andrew Sullivan and Jason Barry, to conservatives like Cal Thomas and Deal Hudson, have all raised the question and problem of homosexuality-("the elephant in the sacristy," as a Weekly Standard article put it) . This issue needs attention (not repression), and compassionate deliberation (not demagoguery) to help heal and move the Church forward. Meanwhile, all of us priests are most thankful for your help and faithful devotion: pray for priests!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi