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Photo: Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec 8 2011, St. Stephen Church



Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallow's Eve, Irish Style

According to some accounts, the Irish had a tradition of marking All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween, as a day of remembering and thinking about the reality of hell and how to avoid it.  Whether or not this traditional act of piety was particularly attached to All Hallow's Eve, the fact remains that meditating on the Four Last Things is fully Catholic. And hell is one of those Things. 

The video sermon below is courtesy of the Video Sancto channel on Youtube. The sermon itself comes from Sensus Traditionis.

An important disclaimer to the media files from Sensus Traditionis:
These media files are Penanceware, which require that you do one of the following: (1) $1.00 via Paypal (http://www.sensustraditionis.org/inde...), (2) offer up a decade of the Rosary, or (3) perform some form of penance for the intentions of Fr. Ripperger (for each individual media file downloaded). The same rule applies if you copy and distribute to friends.



Fr. Martin von Cochem, O.S.F.C., author of The Four Last Things, gives the following thought to the reader on the odors of hell.
IN order that nothing may be wanting to the plagues of hell, wherewith the lost souls are tormented, God has in His anger decrees that this horrible prison should be saturated by an unspeakable stench, as a punishment for those who, when on earth, have taken excessive delight in the use of choice perfumes.
The prophecy of Isaiah will thus be fulfilled: "Instead of a sweet smell there shall be a stench" (Is. iii/ 24). Decaying animal matter emits so horrible an odor that no one likes to go near it. But if we imagine not one tainted carcass, but hundreds of thousands heaped together, the air for miles around would be so infected that it would cause the death of all in the vicinity.
Even this stench, however, when compared with the stench of hell deems as nothing, or rather as a pleasant odor. This vapor or odor of hell arises primarily from the place itself, which is by its nature a most horrible and foul region. No breath of pure air can ever be present in these closely-shut walls of this prison. Moreover, the whole of hell is a lake of burning brimstone and pitch, and every one knows how offensive are the fumes they give out.
"The unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Apoc. xxi. 8).
The prophet of the New Dispensation here speaks of a pool, full of stagnant, foul, stinking water, for which there is no outlet. He adds that this pool is filled with burning brimstone from which a dense smoke ascends, as he says elsewhere: "The smoke of their torments shall ascend up forever and ever."
The very bodies of the reprobate are so foul and disgusting that they emit a most offensive odor, worse than any stench in this world. According to St. Bonaventure, the body of a single reprobate would so taint the air on earth as to cause the death of all living beings coming near it.
If one single body emits so horrible a stench, what can the smell be that rises from many millions of these wretched beings?
It is related of the tyrant Maxentius that he was wont, as a punishment, to cause a living man to be bound to a corpse, face to face and limb to limb, until the unhappy victim fainted, or even died through contact with the dead and decomposing body. That is indeed a torture of which no one can think without shuddering. How much worse will it be in hell, where the bodies will lie close to one an other, without any hope of being separated.
Bad as this stench is, it is greatly increased by the presence of the devils, who naturally are far more offensive to the nostrils than the bodies of the lost. We read in the life of St. Martin that the evil one appeared to him upon one occasion, and the stench that filled the room was so overwhelming that the saint said to himself: "If one single devil has so disgusting an odor, what can the stench be in hell, where there are thousands of devils all together?"
How much suffering this abominable stench must cause to the damned ! how it must aggravate their distress and pain ! For it must be deadly beyond description, arising as it does from so many different sources---hell itself, the bodies of the damned, the devils, the worms and reptiles, the fire of pitch and brimstone, each and all of which stink in the nostrils of the lost. Judge by what has been said how intolerable the combined odors of all these things must be.
Alas for the unfortunate beings who are condemned to breathe such an atmosphere ! Alas for the poor sinners who have to dwell in it for endless ages ! They must sink under it, they be on the verge of death. O my God, I beseech Thee by Thy infinite clemency, spare me from so terrible a fate.

Its also popularly accepted that the Jack O' Lantern has its roots in Irish Catholicism. Herein is a version of the story of Stingy Jack.
As the story goes, several centuries ago amongst the myriad of towns and villages in Ireland, there lived a drunkard known as "Stingy Jack". Jack was known throughout the land as a deceiver, manipulator and otherwise dreg of society. On a fateful night, the devil overheard the tale of Jack's evil deeds and silver tongue. Unconvinced (and envious) of the rumors, the devil went to find out for himself whether or not Jack lived up to his vile reputation.
Typical of Jack, he was drunk and wandering through the countryside at night when he came upon a body on his cobblestone path. The body with an eerie grimace on its face turned out to be Satan. Jack realized somberly this was his end; Satan had finally come to collect his malevolent soul. Jack made a last request: he asked Satan to let him drink ale before he departed to Hades. Finding no reason not to acquiesce the request, Satan took Jack to the local pub and supplied him with many alcoholic beverages. Upon quenching his thirst, Jack asked Satan to pay the tab on the ale, to Satan's surprise. Jack convinced Satan to metamorphose into a silver coin with which to pay the bartender (impressed upon by Jack's unyielding nefarious tactics). Shrewdly, Jack stuck the now transmogrified Satan (coin) into his pocket, which also contained a crucifix. The crucifix's presence kept Satan from escaping his form. This coerced Satan to agree to Jack's demand: in exchange for Satan's freedom, he had to spare Jack's soul for ten years.
Ten years later to the date when Jack originally struck his deal, he found himself once again in Satan's presence. Jack happened upon Satan in the same setting as before and seemingly accepted it was his time to go to Hades for good. As Satan prepared to take him to Hades, Jack asked if he could have one apple to feed his starving belly. Foolishly Satan once again agreed to this request. As Satan climbed up the branches of a nearby apple tree, Jack surrounded its base with crucifixes. Satan, frustrated at the fact that he been entrapped again, demanded his release. As Jack did before, he made a demand: that his soul never be taken by Satan into Hades. Satan agreed and was set free.
Eventually the drinking and unstable lifestyle took its toll on Jack; he died the way he lived. As Jack's soul prepared to enter Heaven through the gates of St. Peter he was stopped. Jack was told by God that because of his sinful lifestyle of deceitfulness and drinking, he was not allowed into Heaven. The dreary Jack went before the Gates of Hades and begged for commission into underworld. Satan, fulfilling his obligation to Jack, could not take his soul. To warn others, he gave Jack an ember, marking him a denizen of the netherworld. From that day on until eternity's end, Jack is doomed to roam the world between the planes of good and evil, with only an ember inside a hollowed turnip ("turnip" actually referring to a large swede) to light his way.

Of course, the glaring issue with the story is that, when a person dies, the soul is judged and sent to one of three places: Heaven, hell or purgatory.

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