“No filth. No lies. No abuse. Zero. None in this house. Zero. State of Grace… One beautiful day after another is lived here, Father. For a very long time. No mortal sin. I will never go back. Or tolerate the slightest Mortal Sin abuse. Zero.”
Well. Even though I am a priest-monk I rarely get emails like this one, which I received last week. But I wish I got them every day! There are a few people out there who understand just how destructive sin is (and eternally so), and how absolutely necessary it is to flee from evil, to hate sin, to reject all that is not of God and to wholeheartedly embrace all that is of God.
We really need to understand clearly the gravity of sin and its consequences, and to employ every available measure to eradicate it from our lives. There is only one thing we ought to hate: sin. I suppose if you want you can hate the devil, too, but I would suggest not wasting any energy or attention on him. He doesn’t mind if you hate him; the feeling is mutual, anyway, and if you direct your hatred toward him you are at the same time directing your attention toward him, and he can work with that. The devil accepts negative attention as well as positive, so we should hate only sin, for sin is what will send us to Hell if we don’t repent. The devil cannot damn us, only accuse and harass us and throw all kinds of filth at us—but it is sin that is our great enemy.
I have had sufficient experience of the ways of the devil to know how utterly vile, hateful, maliciously and cunningly cruel he is. There is no depth of blasphemy or obscenity to which he will not stoop, that he will not seek to hurl at us or inject into us. Let us not deceive ourselves: when we sin we are aligning ourselves with the whole of Hell and all its foul and poisonous citizens, and we are preparing our own place there. We tend to sin because we don’t hate it; we don’t recognize it for what it is; we rationalize it away and make excuses, and so we never get free of it.
Recently a friend sent me the testimony of a South American woman, a young medical professional, who had a startling near-death experience. It is a sobering account. It began with what we often hear about in such experiences—the traveling toward a peaceful Light, meeting one’s deceased relatives, etc—but it did not end in some vague sense of well-being. Rather, she experienced the just judgment of the Lord. She had “died” in a state of mortal sin and tried to flee the demons who came for her, but her flight only led her into the corridors of the abyss. The Lord, however, in his great mercy let her come back to earth so she could testify to what she had seen (I’ll write more about what I learned from all this in the future). What I want to recount here is her experience of the consequences of sin and how utterly hateful the demons are to those who end up in their power.
Here is a pertinent excerpt from her testimony (the full version is long and covers much more than this part of her experience): “I [had] distanced myself from the Church and I began to speak badly, with cusswords, etc. [There are many other much more grievous sins she details in her testimony.] I no longer had any fear of sin, and I began to ruin my relationship with God. I began to say to everyone that the demons do not exist, that they are the inventions of the priests, that they are the manipulations on the part of the Church, and finally I arrived to the point of saying to my colleagues at the University that God does not exist, that we were products of evolution, etc., succeeding in influencing many people.
“Let us return now to the operating room [in which she “died”]: when I saw myself in that situation, what terrible fright! I finally saw that the demons existed, and how, and they came to seek precisely me! They came to present to me the bill, one could say, since I had accepted their offers of sin. And these offers are not free! One pays! My sins had their consequences…
“In that moment, then, I began to see come out of the wall of the operating room, so many persons, apparently common, normal, but with a look full of hate, diabolic, frightening, who made my soul tremble: I immediately perceived that we were dealing with demons. I had in myself a special awareness: I understood in fact that to each one of these I owed something, that sin is not gratuitous, and that the principal lie of the devil is to say that he does not exist: this is his best strategy in order to work as he pleases with us. I realized that yes, he exists, and that he came to surround me, to seek me. Just imagine the fright, the terror!
“My scientific and intellectual mind now did not help me at all. I went around in the room, I was trying to get back into my body, but this flesh of mine did not receive me, and the scare was terrible! I ended up fleeing as fast as I could, I passed through, I do not know how, the wall of the operating room, hoping to be able to hide myself in the aisles of the hospital, but when I passed the wall… Down! I made a jump into emptiness… I headed toward several tunnels which went down toward the bottom. At the beginning there was still a little light, like beehives in which there were so many people: young ones, old ones, men, women, who were crying, and with frightening screams they were grinding their teeth… And I, ever more terrified, continued to descend, seeking to get out of there, while the light was going away, diminishing… I carried on roaming in those tunnels in a frightening darkness, until I arrived to an obscurity that cannot be compared to anything else… Down there, that same darkness generates pain, horror, shame, and stinks terribly. It is a living darkness, yes, it is alive: there the mind is dead or inert.
“At the end of my descent, running along all these tunnels, I arrived to a level place. I was frantic, with a will of iron to get out of there: the same will that I had to ascend in life, but now it did not help me at all, because there I was and there I remained. At a certain point I saw the ground open up, like a great mouth, enormous. It was alive! Alive! I felt my body empty, empty in a startling way, and under me an incredible frightening abyss, horrible; that which chilled me the most was that, from there down, you did not feel even a little love of God, not even a little drop of hope. That chasm had something that sucked me into it. I cried out like a mad woman, terrorized, feeling the horror of not being able to avoid that descent, because I realized that I was irretrievably sliding inside… I knew that, if I might enter, I would not at all have remained there, but I would have continued to descend, without ever being able to come back up. It was this, the spiritual death for my soul.
“The spiritual death of the soul: I was irretrievably lost forever… all the horrifying unclean beings that dwell there immediately attacked me. Those horrible beings were like larva, like bloodsuckers that were trying to block off the light. Imagine the horror in seeing myself covered by such creatures… I was crying out, I was crying out like a mad woman! Those things were burning. Brothers, they are living darkness, it is a hate that burns, which devours us, which makes us naked. There are not words to describe that horror…”
OK, you get the message. One thing I found enlightening, and which corresponds to what we know of the demons and may experience from them in this life, is her description of Hell and the demons on this point: she didn’t speak of fire in Hell, but of the hatred of the demons that was so intense it burned like fire! People don’t realize that when they sin, they are serving someone who hates them with an unimaginably bitter and malicious hatred, and that they will endure that torment for all eternity if they do not repent. She also mentioned how our sin puts us “in debt” to the demons. We owe them something for whatever pleasure or advantage that we gained in this life from committing sin instead of obeying God’s righteous and saving commandments. The demons will come to collect their due, and there will be no place for us to run and hide. You see from the testimony that she tried to run, but the only place to go was down and deeper into Hell.
Such revelations are not a “scare tactic” to force us into submission to God’s will. They are simply a lifting of the veil between this world and the next, a forewarning of what we can expect if we persist in deliberately and heedlessly offending the all-holy God, who loves us and desires to make us happy forever—but He won’t be able to if we stubbornly choose sin over righteousness. I trust that you who read this are not habitually in a state of mortal sin, but I also assume that you probably know someone who is. Pray and sacrifice for those who are heading for eternal ruin. Give unceasing thanks to God for your own deliverance; this thanksgiving will only increase when you realize just what He has saved you from.
Finally, as the email I received indicates: maintain zero tolerance of sin in your life, in your home. Hate and flee from sin as from the most pestilent of plagues. As Our Lady of Fatima said to Blessed Jacinta shortly before the child-saint died after much suffering and sacrifice for sinners: “The sins of the world are very great … If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.” Now is the time to change our lives and help others to do so. The age to come is the time to reap what we have sown in this life. The Light at the end of our journey does not signify universal salvation but rather our being brought before ultimate Truth and Love. Only if we have lived in truth and love in this life will we be welcomed into everlasting happiness in the next.