What Happened to the Four Last Things?
by Christopher A. Ferrara
October 23, 2017
In his book-interview entitled Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II made the devastating admission that since the close of Vatican II and the beginning of the imaginary “renewal” of the Church, “preachers, catechists, teachers… have lost the courage to preach the threat of hell.” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp. 183, 187.) And yet the Message of Fatima is nothing if not a heavenly reminder of the threat of hell, from which the Mother of God came to deliver souls by establishing in the world the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart and by the consecration and conversion of Russia.
Indeed, during the same interview John Paul further admitted that the Four Last Things — death, judgment, Heaven and hell — have all but disappeared from preaching and catechesis in the post-conciliar Church. They appear to have been replaced by the Two Last Things: death and Heaven. Nowhere is this trend more apparent than in the various utterances of Pope Francis. Sandro Magister has written a piece providing a roadmap to the virtual elimination of judgment and hell in Francis’ preaching throughout recent months:
- On Wednesday, October 11, at the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that “such a judgment is not to be feared, because at the end of our history there is the merciful Jesus,” and therefore “everything will be saved. Everything.”
- At a general audience on Wednesday, August 23, alluding to Chapter 21 of the Book of the Apocalypse, Francis referred to the image of “an immense tent, where God will welcome all mankind so as to dwell with them definitively,” but “was careful not to cite the following words of Jesus: ‘The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son. But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’”
- On October 8, when commenting on the parable of the murderous vine dressers (Matthew 21:33-43), during the Angelus, Francis subjected the Gospel to “the same selective treatment” when he “left out what the owner of the vineyard does to those farmers who killed the servants and finally the son: ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death.’ Much less did he cite the concluding words of Jesus, referring to himself as the ‘cornerstone’: ‘He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him.’ Instead, Pope Francis insisted on defending God from the accusation of being vindictive, almost as if wanting to mitigate the excesses of ‘justice’ detected in the parable:… ‘Brothers and sisters, God does not avenge himself! God loves, he does not avenge himself, he waits for us to forgive us, to embrace us.’”
- During the Angelus of Sunday, October 15, Pope Francis preached on the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22: 1-14) but, as Magister notes, “carefully avoided citing the most unsettling parts. Both that in which ‘the king became indignant, sent his troops, had those murderers killed and their city burned’ [and] that in which, having seen ‘one man who was not wearing the wedding garment,’ the king ordered his servants: ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the darkness; there shall be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth.’”
- In a homily for the feast of Pentecost on June 4, Francis inveighed for the umpteenth time against “those who judge,” but in “citing the words of the risen Jesus to the apostles and implicitly to their successors in the Church (John 20:22-23), he intentionally cut them off halfway through: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven.” Omitting the following: ‘Those you do not forgive, they will not be forgiven.’”
Like Magister, I am not declaring that Pope Francis denies outright the existence of Hell. Rather, it would appear that he prefers to conceal its existence as much as possible from his listeners in keeping with the general disappearance of the Four Last Things from post-conciliar preaching, even though these very things, summed up with admirable concision in the Message of Fatima, are the very foundations of the Church’s divine imperative to deliver souls from the fate of eternal perdition. The good of souls is hardly served by hiding from them the existence of that place of eternal fire of which Our Lord spoke more often than of Heaven.
The loss of the Four Last Things in the Church’s preaching and catechesis is but another sign of the diabolical disorientation of which Sister Lucia often spoke in light of the Third Secret of Fatima. But it will be none other than Our Lady of Fatima who will dispel that disorientation as the Mediatrix of All Graces, once Her requests are granted, at long last, by the Pope and the bishops united with him, perhaps after their chastening by a planetary catastrophe as depicted in the visional aspect of the Third Secret published in 2000.
I will leave the last word on this score to John Paul II: “When I entered into the problems of the universal Church with the election to the papacy, I brought with me a similar conviction: that is, even in this universal dimension, the victory, if it comes, will be carried off by Mary. Christ will be victorious by means of Her, because He wishes that the victories of the Church in the contemporary world and in the future be united to Her.” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp. 242-243 [Italian edition].)