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Author Topic: Quasi-Universalism in Catholicism?  (Read 2296 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 07, 2011, 07:01:00 PM »

I was reading through a list of patristic quotes about the Church just now, and came across the following one:

"For all who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop. And those, too, will belong to God who have returned, repentant, to the unity of the Church so as to live in accordance with Jesus Christ. Make no mistake, brethren. No one who follows another into schism inherits the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). No one who follows heretical doctrine is on the side of the passion." - St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians, 3

Now, I'm not as interested in the schismatic/heretical part in particular, so much as a wider question about salvation that the quote brought to mind. In Orthodoxy you will sometimes hear/see people say something like: "We can hope that all will be saved, we can pray that all will be saved, but we cannot say that we know that all will be saved". Is there any similar current of thought in Catholicism? Do Catholics ever express hope that all--or nearly all--will be saved somehow?
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lubeltri
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 08:14:16 PM »

There is a famous book on this subject called Dare We Hope? by that 20th-century giant of theology Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/183-7843128-0036024?a=0898702070

Another theological giant of the 20th century, Avery Cardinal Dulles, wrote an excellent article on the subject called "The Population of Hell" in First Things a few years ago. Alas, it is only accessible by subscription, but here is a website with selections from it.

http://payingattentiontothesky.com/2009/09/28/the-population-of-hell-avery-cardinal-dulles/
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2011, 08:39:10 PM »

Thanks, I ordered the book (along with a couple others on Catholicism so I could get free shipping), and am printing out the second link as I type this. Smiley
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2011, 09:17:42 PM »

One question I have as I read through the second link, regarding this:

"Origen, the most prominent representative of this view, is generally reported as teaching that at the end of time, the damned, now repentant and purified, will take part in the universal restoration of all things (apokatastasis). Three centuries after Origen’s death his views on this and several other topics were condemned by a local council of Constantinople convened by the Emperor Justinian in a.d. 563. Even in his lifetime, however, Origen claimed that his adversaries had misunderstood or misrepresented him. A number of distinguished scholars down through the centuries have defended his orthodoxy on the fate of the damned."

What exactly do you think is meant here? I'm assuming that he didn't mean 563... did he perhaps mean 553, but with the idea being that the condemnation of Origen wasn't part of the Ecumenical Council proper, and therefore is not necessarily binding?
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lubeltri
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2011, 08:36:58 PM »

Hmm, I'd have to consult the article again. It's been a while. I have a subscription and can email you the entire piece if you PM me.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2011, 09:49:24 PM »

Hmm, I don't think I ever PM'd you, but did you look at the article and have any thoughts? Not that it's important, I'm just revisiting some old threads and noticed that the discussion here didn't go especially far...
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2011, 10:17:33 PM »

Grace and Peace,

Historically, the West has been more true to a more 'literal' view of the Scriptures than to the philosophies of the Hellenists. That seems to have shifted in that last 50 years or so.
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St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2011, 10:51:51 PM »

I don't think that any Church, both East or West has ever officially stated that you must believe that the vast majority of people (Or any person fort that matter) is in Hell.  True, a number of saints and Fathers were of the opinion that most of Mankind is damned, but those are still only their private speculations and nothing dogmatically.  If later saints have reiterated the belief in near universal damnation, its very likely that they were just preaching what they learned in seminary (From studying the fathers, no doubt) and were not part of some private revelation given to them on the subject.

I tend to hold the hope that the greater part of Mankind does eventually make it to Heaven after they die.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 10:52:24 PM by Robb » Logged

Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 10:37:44 PM »

If anything, quasi-universalist notions have entered the post-conciliar Roman church through the new funeral rite.

The Tridentine requiem Mass and rites heavily emphasize prayer for the deceased and penitence for the living.  The sequence Dies Irae explicitly outlines orthodox Catholic doctrine on the particular and final judgments.  The use of black vestments and unbleached candles speak of the unknown nature of death.  the Requiem is not only a commendation of the dead, but the celebration of the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice with a special emphasis on the prayer for deceased souls. 

The Novus Ordo funeral rites have almost completely removed references to prayer for the dead and a call for repentance.  Now, many priests wear white vestments, the Dies has been banned, and the readings focus more on the Paschal Mystery and the Resurrection of Christ rather than the fate of the deceased before God's judgment.  While the Resurrection and the Paschal Mystery are orthodox aspects of apostolic funerary rites, an excessive focus on the Resurrection has led many priests to "canonize" the dead in eulogy-sermons.  Traditional Catholic priests still tend to preach about theosis and the necessity of continual repentance for sins. 

Many bishops and pastors have tried to prevent traditional Catholics from requesting the Tridentine requiem rites.  Summorum Pontificum explicitly allows the celebration of the public requiem rites.  Nevertheless many clerics will try to convince families to have the new rite said.  Many clerics are also absolutely against the chanting of the Dies Irae before or after the new funeral rite.   
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 10:40:00 PM by jordanz » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 01:31:10 AM »

If anything the new funeral rites of the Roman Catholic Church are specifically designed to mirror the Eastern Christian/Orthodox type of Requiems, as opposed to those of the Tridentine rite (Which were developed in the Middle Ages and tended to focus more on the grim aspects of death and sin).  For the first millennium all Christians, both East and West used death and the funeral liturgy as an attempt to express the Pascal mystery of death in the life of the deceased and the call to reflect on that in the lives of the living mourners.  During the Medevil era in the west, possibly due to the morbidity that entered into society during and after the Black Death, the Funeral rites underwent extensive changes and reflect the fascination with death and fear of sin which so mark the Western Church during those times.

The Catholic Fathers of the Vatican Council II clearly wanted the RCC to return to a more Pascal concept of the mystery of death (As have been wonderfully preserved in the Eastern liturgies) And give that to the Western Church.  This is why the New Mass of Christian Burial was designed and the old time Requiem masses were either discouraged our outrightly forbidden.  They just don't fit into the revised way of thinking about death that the Vatican wishes all modern Catholics to reflect on.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 01:32:32 AM by Robb » Logged

Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2011, 02:10:16 AM »

True, a number of saints and Fathers were of the opinion that most of Mankind is damned, but those are still only their private speculations and nothing dogmatically.

Where did you come to this understanding? Most of the early Eastern Fathers had very different views, being more inclined to believe that all might eventually be redeemed.
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2011, 02:25:37 AM »

If anything the new funeral rites of the Roman Catholic Church are specifically designed to mirror the Eastern Christian/Orthodox type of Requiems, as opposed to those of the Tridentine rite (Which were developed in the Middle Ages and tended to focus more on the grim aspects of death and sin).  For the first millennium all Christians, both East and West used death and the funeral liturgy as an attempt to express the Pascal mystery of death in the life of the deceased and the call to reflect on that in the lives of the living mourners. 

As noted, any apostolic funerary rite involves the celebration of the paschal mystery, prayer for the deceased, and a call for repentance.  It is often though that the medieval-Tridentine requiem overemphasizes intercession for the dead and penitence, while the reformed funeral rite overemphasizes the paschal mystery.  The requiem preface from the 1962 Missal amply demonstrates the balanced use of paschal imagery that is  intrinsic to the old rite. 

-----------------

Missale Romanum 1962 Requiem Preface

Vere dignum [...] In quo nobis spes beatae resurrectionis effulsit ut quos contristat certa moriendi conditio eosdem consoletur futurae immmortalitatis promisso.  Tuis enim fidelibus Domine vita mutatur non tollitur et dissoluta terrestris huius incolatus domo aeterna in caelis habitatio comparatur.  Et ideo [...] sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus [...]

"It is truly right" [...] "In Him the hope of blessed resurrection has shown forth for us.  The certain spectre of dying overshadows the same ones whom are comforted by the prospect of immortal life.  Lord, life is changed and not taken away from your faithful.  When the earthly home once dwelt in passes away, an eternal dwelling is established in heaven.  Therefore" [...] "singing ceaselessly: Holy, Holy, Holy" [...]  (my translation)

------------------
The Requiem Preface is one of the hardest prefaces to translate, if not the hardest.  It is stunningly beautiful and quite profound.

My main issues with the reformed Roman funeral rite is the indult for white vestments and palls and the tendency to celebrate the funeral as a canonization-eulogy of the deceased.  The rubrics of the reformed rite still stipulate violet or black for funerals, even though few priests in the United States follow the rubrics in this regard.  The use of white vestments, as well as the ability to choose non-penitential propers, dilutes the orthodox doctrine that all Masses, and especially funerary Masses, are for the benefit of all the living and all the dead.  I have attended many Roman funerals that resemble Protestant memorial services, complete with eulogies.  The Mass is so much more than a mere memorial service, and should not be abused in such a way.  The balance between paschal mystery and intercession still evident in the medieval requiem has been swept away by a rite notable for an undue emphasis on the paschal mystery of death.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 02:38:07 AM by jordanz » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2011, 01:59:02 PM »

For an example of post-Vatican II Catholic reflection on Hell, see John Sach's essay Current Eschatology.  My impression is that the most popular view current among Catholic theologians and priests is the hope that the large majority of humanity, though perhaps not everyone, will be saved.  See Pope Benedict's encyclical Spe salvi (esp. sections 41-48). 
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2011, 02:03:55 PM »

Thank you for the links, Father.
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