Continuing in our theme of the traditional mediation of the Four Last Things, this week we will consider the reality of Judgement. To begin, we must distinguish between the two forms of judgement that pertain to our eternal life.
First, we will each experience our own Particular Judgement. This means that we will stand before Our Lord and give an account of our lives immediately following our death. God willing, we will die in a State of Grace, and although our particular judgement might be humiliating, we will have the assurance of salvation through a holy death.
The second form of judgement is the General Judgement. At the General Judgement, Our Lord in His Second Coming will judge the entirety of the human race. There will be no secrets and not a single person will be able to hide from the clarity of Heaven’s judgement on the iniquity of the human race.
My goal here is not to expound in great detail on the specific nature of each judgement. Instead, I hope to give sufficient motivation for an adequate reflection on our own lives as we travel with the Holy Family en route to Bethlehem. At the Creche wherein Our Infant Lord will lay His head, we will encounter the Lord who breathed our soul. We need not wait until the end of our lives or the end of time to contemplate judgement. If we are serious about Salvation, then the present coming of Jesus Christ should spark us to seek right judgement of conscience.
Our society overtly rejects the idea of judgement. The thought of “passing judgement” on another person is perhaps the only thing our world still sees as sinful. We can engage in virtually any behaviour, no matter how depraved, but it is the notion of being judged for that behaviour that is untenable in the eyes of most. I am sure we have all witnessed this, whether it be in conversation with our coworkers or family members. Seemingly reasonable people may assent to a truth you share in common throughout private conversation, but when these truths are set in contrast to a popular sentiment, it is almost always the truth that takes the back seat.
The vast majority of people alive on earth today are not living in a State of Grace. Even if we consider Catholics alone, we must take into account the percentage who attend the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis. There are studies and research that give seemingly accurate numbers as to how low is the percentage of baptized Catholics who repent frequently. But we do not need a Pew Research study to use our common sense. Think how often Confession is offered at your average parish, and how many people you know frequent this sacrament consistently. Whatever the amount may be, the number of Catholics living in a State of Grace is astonishingly low. The vast majority of men, including Catholic men, often consult pornographic material. Most people engage in harmful gossip at one time or another, and mortally sinful practices like contraception are the norm.
Nevertheless, we cannot spend our time concerned in a disordered way about the graceless lives of those we know and love. Instead, if we find ourselves fortunate enough to have responded to God’s grace by way of external or internal conversion, we should contemplate the power of God’s Grace that allowed us to see ourselves for who we truly are.
We are made in the Image and Likeness of God, which means when we see God, we see ourselves. Now, I do not mean this in some milquetoast liberal or modernist manner in which everyone on earth is an elected carrier of some amorphous “divine spark.” What I mean to convey is that our true self is found in Him Who is more true to us then we are to ourselves. When we see God, we see ourselves. When we see ourselves, we see that we are nothing like what God created us to be. An honest interior examination of our souls will show innumerable sins. They may be venial, they may be of the flesh, they may be of the mind, and they may be mortal. Whatever they are, they are an aberration and must be atoned for.
Now, we are all aware of the how the story ends. We know that Jesus Christ paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we had a debt that we couldn’t pay. Thus, we need not despair as if Salvation were a pipe-dream. Christ died for all. He died knowing everything you needed dying for. He saw your pornography usage, your unethical business dealings, your pride and resentment. He saw you before you saw yourself, and in the most extreme act of charity He longs for you to see Him, lying in the arms of the Blessed Mother, asleep with the countenance of an angel.
As we edge closer and closer to the Birth of Our Saviour, let us judge ourselves for who we truly are. All of us can find solace in the fact that Jesus Christ was born in a stable, a cave carved out for beasts of burden. It is hard to imagine a place more filthy than a den of animal husbandry. But, it is also hard to imagine a soul that more desperately needs a cleansing than our own. Do we honestly think that Mary simply laid down on the filthy floor and gave birth to Our King in squalor? Of course not! Saint Joseph, the Guarding of the Virgin surely cleaned the stable and made a home for the Queen who was from all time meant to bring for the King. We too can make a way for the coming of Christ in the filthy cavern of our broken hearts.
Make haste and flee towards the Confessional. Push aside the debris, shovel aside the dirt and grime, making room for fresh straw. Allow yourself to be remade by the Craftsman who knit you together in your mother’s womb. In doing so, you too can become an adequate home for the Lord to come into the world. Perhaps, when the world comes to see you this Christmas, they will see in you the Image of God; a purified man who shines forth the Glory of the King of Kings.
Kennedy Hall is a contributing editor for OnePeterFive. He is the author Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity and Lockdown with the Devil, a novel about 2020 published by Our Lady of Victory Press. He is also a writer at Catholic Family News and LifeSiteNews. He is married with five children and lives in Ontario, Canada. You can find his work at kennedyhall.ca.