Sunday, October 2, 2011

Do You Worry About Your Soul?

Noting some recent exchanges, not mention imams from ostensibly Catholic universities telling us that "the spirit of God dwells in all of us," I've been considering how little people seem to be concerned about their own salvation. It's taken pretty much as a given, regardless of their religious affiliation or beliefs. The only people less concerned about their final destination than your average believer are folks who don't believe in an afterlife at all. And forget about being worried about someone else's salvation.

Typically, I see folks quote something like this as to why they aren't worried. It's from today's Second Reading:

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 4:6-7

This is the same St. Paul who, in the same letter just a couple of chapters earlier, told his readers to work out their salvation with "fear and trembling." It seems pretty clear then that St. Paul isn't saying that fear has no place in the salvation equation.

Just thinking about the saints of the past, some of the holiest people who have ever lived have been stricken with crushing doubts about how they would die and their place in eternity. This got some mainstream coverage back when Mother Teresa's letter were published a few years ago. You hear stories about St. Alphonsus, St. Therese, St. Teresa, and others who passed through an incredible amount of torment over this issue.

Are we somehow better than them that we should have no such concerns? Do we do our neighbors a favor by not praying for their conversion? Is it charity to congratulate others on their errors or lack of faith? Or to simply assume they are ok and go on about our business without comment?

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