The Third Rail
the Kingdom of Heaven
are many … “hard sayings” … in Holy Scripture.
That is to say, there are many passages, parables, and other
vital teachings of Christ and Holy Mother Church that,
if we heard them from the pulpit in Church — and
we don’t — we would rather not hear.
We will get into some, and we promise you that your modern,
perverse, and effete social sensitivities — together
with your State-mandated and carefully crafted (that
is to say, “educationally endorsed” and brutally
indoctrinated social correctitude — will be deeply
offended, even scandalized, and you will be outraged
that the Church and her God so much as uttered them — even made
Following John XXIII’s infamous “aggiornamento”, or “bringing
up to date” what had never been outdated —
the Catholic Church, following Vatican II, largely expunged
concepts, doctrines, and even dogma deemed “offensive” to the
non-Catholic World, from Catholic teaching — and while
these core beliefs are clearly and repeatedly indited
in Holy Scripture, Patristics, and the Sacred Deposit
of Faith, you will never hear reference to them:
not at Mass, not in any homily, not in CCD or Religious Education,
not in Catholic seminaries, and certainly not from the new Vatican
appended with a “II”.
Vatican II muzzled God — and instead of His untainted Word,
gave us a “revisionist”, sanitized, and vastly-abridged rendition
of the Bible more aligned with the prevailing values of “the
World” which ever hated Christ and those who followed Him
the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you.”
(Saint John 15.18). This is not to say that such “hard” and
displeasing verses no longer exist in the Catholic Bible,
only that they are never appealed to or so much
as mentioned in any contemporary Catholic religious discourse,
either at the pulpit or the seminary.
Order of Battle
the Book of Job we are reminded that
life of man upon earth is a warfare”
(Job 7.1) Holy Mother Church understood this from the beginning,
and testimony to this enmity between the World and God is inscribed
the in the blood of the
Martyrs. Holy Mother Church ever reminded us of this perpetual
Order of Battle and the array of our enemies: The World,
the Flesh, and the Devil.
is not taught anymore either.
When it was taught, it is notable that the
“World” came first (ideologies, social remedies,
cultures, inculturation, multi-culturalism, science, theories,
politics, parties, public policies, gender theories, hyper-egalitarianism,
sexual fluidity …). It was the logically necessary antagonist
to which the Church first succumbed. Once the “Windows of
the Church were thrown open” (John XXIII) to the World,
the miasma of the World flowed in while the
Faithful and the Religious flowed out.
After “the World” subverted the Church, the second onslaught
quickly followed: “The Flesh” — “Free Love” … the mantra
of the “groovy” 60’s and 70’s which ushered in abortion, STDs,
drugs, derangement, “tune in, turn, on, and drop out”, hippies
and “acid” — leaving ravaged bodies and minds as so many tatters
of a concept once deemed a “Person” made in the image of God.
How “devishly” clever it was, as though following some diabolically
Hegelian dialectic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) — which brings
us to the third point and our third nemesis: “the Devil”
— who, of course, has never left, and who fanned the flames
of the accumulating madness that ensued — and now may even be
wearing pontificals in Rome.
(his abode — to which no one goes after Vatican II), he does
not exist anymore either. As it has been often stated, his greatest
achievement is his convincing us that he does not exist (of
course with the help of the academic “periti” and non-Catholics
who advised and directed the apparently stultified Council fathers).
If satan does not exist, eo ipso, Hell is a fiction,
too. Fictions are, in fact, routinely homilized at Mass (“Jesus
loves you just the way you are.”) — but not these
fictions. Why speak of what does not exist and which, therefore,
has no influence upon you, let alone an eschatological bearing.
How to Recognize
600 Volt Homilies at once:
do not assure us of our salvation
do not canonize us before we are dead. The question of our
trajectory and to what eternal habitation still remains
The devil exists and lusts after your soul
and will do anything and everything to see you rot in Hell
Hell exists and people go there
Mortal Sin is real and many people are guilty
of it. It is the death of the soul to God. If you die in
the state of Mortal Sin, you will go to Hell.
Holy Confession is the ordinary and necessary
Sacrament for the remission of your sins.
homily would begin with, let us say, Saint Paul’s address to
fear and trembling work out your salvation”
1 — to mention nothing of the numerous admonitions
from our Blessed Lord that do not merely “suggest”, but clearly
warn us in no uncertain terms of eschatological realities
like Hell that we may find both appalling and unacceptable —
while being undeniably true.
Why do I call such
Homilies and Biblical verses “Third Rail”?
touch upon them and you are, as a pastor or priest, dead.
Speak of them and you will receive a call from your bishop to
“tone down the rhetoric” and subsequently restore the cash flow.
It is almost as deadly for the Catholic laity who, understanding
them to be part of the canon of Sacred Scripture (which they,
the few, have actually read) understand them as realities, and
in turn are understood by their peers as (to use the term of
Francis) “rigid”, backward, traditional, pre-Vatican II Catholics
more attuned to the truth than Pachamama and “the environment.
Rail verses” in Holy Scripture, in short, are verses to be
avoided at all costs: they are fatal to the one touching
upon them much as the third rail in an American subway system
exceeds 600 volts and, if you simply touch upon it, will
instantly electrocute you. Such verses, of course, precede
Third-Rail Homilies — to be avoided for the same reasons.
of the Four Last Things
and Hell (… but not Heaven).
wish to hear of the first three. Your pastor knows this. To
preach about or to dwell upon such verses is likely to cause
“discomfort” — indignation and perhaps even “outrage” within
— and consequently diminish — the congregation. They
will go elsewhere, and find another parish and another
priest who will assure them of their salvation (despite what
Christ says), their invincible goodness, and their being
“The lights of the world” and “The salt of the earth”. Such
parishes and priests, of course, abound.
that Heaven may be closed to some, if not many,
is mocked as “pre-Vatican II nonsense” — in spite of Christ’s
telling us so:
those who enter by it are
… [and] the gate is narrow and the way is
hard that leads to life, and
those who find it are
(Saint Matthew 7.13-14)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is
wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
but one of many, many, third-rail verses found
in all four Gospels and most of the Epistles (Letters).
we console ourselves, “a good, merciful, and forgiving God would
not allow such things to happen!”
To which we reply:
Why, then, did He say them?
not seek God, but a heaven with a god to our liking and
made in our image. This is another way of saying “We
ourselves will be our own gods for we are more
merciful, more loving, more forgiving, more
just, than the God we find in Sacred Scripture. We will not
bend our knee before that God, but our own god:
ourselves! We will find or make priests and churches
that “affirm us”, comfort us, and tell us that our illusions
are realities or that reality is just an illusion.
This is further to say that we will continue to maintain the
illusions and fabrications that comfort us, but cannot possibly
save us — rather than defer to “hard sayings” which are
enunciated to the end of saving us and bringing us to genuine
Other factors enter into this obstinate refusal to accept
the “hard sayings”, and we point to them with the deepest sorrow:
these “hard sayings” do not simply involve us — they
involve those we have loved — who have died.
Some of them, perhaps most of them did not accept these “hard
sayings” either. Some of them led extraordinarily sinful lives,
heedless of God and man. Some were little more than evil. Many
simply did not believe, or would not relinquish what they perceived
to be their freedom to do as they wish, or simply scorned religion
altogether. But we loved them — and love always invests us in
the being of another. Hence our pain.
All or None
a choice was placed before them, as it is placed before us now:
to accept the “hard sayings” as earnestly as we accept the more
comforting ones. We cannot choose which teachings of Christ
we will accept any more than we can choose what we wish to be
real or true. We must accept all of them or none of them.
God does not tamper with our freedom, nor interfere with our
choices. We are free to accept or reject, but in either case
our choice is total. We cannot accept or reject the part without
accepting or rejecting the whole, for the parts are integral
constituents of the whole.
Much more to the point, the terms are not of our own making
— they have been divinely instituted. Salvation is not
a referendum any more than Heaven is a democracy. The means
of attaining it have been clearly defined by Christ — as well
as the means of losing it. The choice is yours alone.
“Lest they also
come into this place of torments”
to the discussion of those we love and who have died, here we
encounter the most painful legacy imaginable: our realization
that the road they chose was the one that was “broad and easy”
… To imagine them in torment everlasting is beyond our ability
to comprehend without verging on despair.
“How wicked of you”, you tell me, “to compound the grief
of those in bereavement! Have they not suffered enough by the
loss of one loved?”
No. It is not wicked. It is painful beyond words. It is sorrowful
beyond description. None of us may presume salvation, for
to do so is to presume upon God’s mercy, itself a mortal sin!
Indeed, I identify more with the departed than the surviving.
I have no assurance of salvation, for I refuse to presume on
God’s mercy and may yet myself be accounted among the lost —
even as Saint Paul himself feared. (1 Corinthians 9.26)
Should I fear less?
There are indeed those who go to Hell — and likely many
(or Christ is a liar). We must allow this realization to
motivate us with all the more urgency to bring those
still with us to Christ, lest they, too, choose “the road that
is broad and easy” and add to our sorrow even greater sorrow
This was the whole point of the Parable of Lazarus and the
Rich Man: the rich man in Hell implores Abraham
him [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brethren,
that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of
(Saint Luke 16. 27-28)
we do less?
call our children out of a burning house — we will suffer
burns ourselves and incredible pain to save them — but when
they verge on a Lake of Fire that is the Second Death
1 from which there is no return ... we say, we do,
nothing. We do not call them back. We do
not rush in horror to bring them back! Why?
How is this possible?
for our own convictions; for the measure of our own
come to it: the painful recognition that our love for them
is not greater than our fear of the frowning face of “the
World” ... that no longer has any room for God ... or His
is not so!
attention to the third rail! Ignore it at your peril.
equally to priest and pew alike.
If you would smugly choose your “comfort zone” as a Catholic,
you would do well to consider ... well, its location as well
as its “duration”.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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1 Apocalypse 19-20
Totally Faithful to the
Deposit of Faith
entrusted to the Holy See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum
Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power, and
yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.”
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