Monday, August 1, 2016

Harrowing Experience

July 31, 2016

"Christ in Limbo"
~a Hieronymous Bosch Follower
c. 1450-1516

     "He who does not descend into hell while he is still alive runs a great risk of going there after he is dead." 
     ~St. Philip of Neri

     How does one descend into hell while he is still alive? How is it even physically possible to go there without being incinerated?  At a glance, this is a nonsensical and quite morbid idea. It's the kind of thing that has driven people away from organized religion in droves. It's vexatious to the churchgoer, but to the beloved of God it is what makes the Good News so incredibly good! He who does not descend into hell *in spirit* while he is still alive does not understand the urgency of salvation, or why the Lamb of God was slain. We, the purchased, should know what it cost to buy us back from hell. So what does it profit, this beautiful heresy of universal salvation? Money in the collection plate, warm bodies in the pews, feel-good sermons, well-heeled pastors. Also, a congregation that cannot digest solid food and will never reach maturity in Christ.

     Not until we are at a place of total despair, desolation, and defeat can we appreciate what it means to cry out to God for the rescue of our souls. Until we are in our hearts staring into the abyss of hell with the beckoning voices of demons in our ear, we won't comprehend the significance of total surrender. We won't understand just what it is we are surrendering. Utter humiliation, utter debasement, the pride of life consumed in the unquenchable fire of His holiness.  During this life, the soil of a Christian's heart is upturned and plowed over so to increase its fecundity. Good fruit will grow in good soil. 

     When was the last time you had a harrowing experience?

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