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It seems to many of my rather wealthy friends, that . . . when a baptized person sins—any sin—that sin is only concupiscence. . . . [and that if] we are called sons and daughters of God as a fact, and not as an honorary title, how can God send his very own children to hell to suffer unspeakable tortures for ever and ever and ever? . . . I am in a state of great upsettness about this. If we are not protected from the type of sin that sends one to hell forever, and ever, then does that not strongly imply that hell, and all its eternal torments, is full of millions upon millions of God’s very own children, children He loves just as much as Jesus Christ. . . . If we baptized are born again as true children of God, and as sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, how can we make ourselves believe that God would find it necessary to do such a thing?

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• What is Baptism?
• Seduction by the World
• Pride

We can believe it easy enough because it is true. Many baptized have been lost to hell, and many baptized will be lost in times to come.

What is Baptism?

Now, in order to understand this, we need to be clear about what baptism really means. For one thing, it’s not a magical act that once performed has independently irrevocable effects. It’s not just a sort of bath either—or, in the words of Saint Peter, “It is not a removal of dirt from the body” (1 Peter 3:21b). Nor is it a license to commit sin with impunity.

So, what is baptism?

Well, as Saint Peter explains, baptism is “an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with Angels, Authorities, and Powers subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:21b-22). That is, baptism signifies our yearning for holiness, a holiness that is made possible by Christ’s resurrection—which conquered our slavery to death and sin—and its promise is guaranteed by the absolute power of Christ over all things.

In baptism, then, we proclaim our intention to accept Christ’s great gift of chaste purity of heart. Thus, in our baptismal vows we promise to renounce Satan, to turn away from evil and sin, and to order our lives in chastity. And once we accept that gift we must reaffirm it with every heartbeat, beat after beat, right to the end.

The one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

—Matthew 24:13

But if we “undo” our baptismal vows and fail in our mission, well, then, just be warned: no sexual “partner,” no sports team, and no celebrities will be able to protect us, and no drugs, no tobacco, no alcohol, and no food will comfort us, when, at our judgment after death, the glaring light of divine truth illuminates the abhorrent unholiness of our behavior and we sink down, forever separated from God, into doom.

Seduction by the World

Sadly, many do not persevere to the end because they become seduced by the unholy world around them. Caught up in the self and deceived by spiritual blindness, they slowly accept the ways of a corrupt world as the status quo. And finally, when the Seven Deadly Sins have become just a way of life, their baptismal promises, hanging from them in tatters, will be no protection in a culture of insanity. Why?

If we persevere, we will reign with Him. But if we deny Him, He will deny us.

—2 Timothy 2:12

We deny Him by being unwilling to love—and the most undeniable testimony to our being unwilling to love is our unwillingness to guard ourselves against sin after our baptism. That is, those who cease to affirm their baptismal promises and turn away from them, turn away from Christ Himself. And when they deny Him, all that heavenly power that Saint Peter described will be turned against them, and they will have no choice but to throw themselves into hell to flee from it.

God doesn’t do it to us, we do it to ourselves.


Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.


—From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
Office of Readings, December 25


So why should so many of Christ’s own anointed stumble back into the power of darkness? The answer is simple: pride—the most subversive of all the sins.

Because of pride, bishops will forsake the good of their flocks to seek their own prestige. Because of pride, priests will forsake the power of the Eucharist to seek their own power over others. Because of pride, religious will forsake the identity of Christ crucified to seek the identity of a religious habit. Because of pride, lay persons will forsake the call to deny themselves and will seek to display their holiness before others through external acts that never cut deep into the heart.

Because of pride, Christ is betrayed, truth is persecuted, and darkness creeps back into the house from which it once was cast out.


Now we must surely know that even when the contest is for a wreath that lasts but a day, if anyone is found to be breaking the rules, he is flogged and driven off the racecourse. What do you suppose, then, will be the fate of those who break the rules in the contest of the Christian life? Of those who have not kept the seal of their baptism unbroken, Scripture says: The worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished. They will be a spectacle to all men.
   We should repent of our sins while we are still on earth. When a potter is making a vessel and it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he shapes it again; but once placed in the oven, it is beyond repair. Now the clay in the craftsman’s hands is an image of ourselves, and it teaches us that, while still in this world, we must wholeheartedly repent of sins committed in the body and make it possible for the Lord to save us while there is time. When we have left this world, we shall no longer be able to repent and confess our sins. We must do the will of the Father, keep our bodies pure, and observe the commandments of the Lord, for this is the way to obtain eternal life. The Lord says in the gospel: If you have not been observant in small matters, who will entrust you with anything important? For I tell you that the man who is faithful in the smallest things is faithful in the greatest things as well. In other words, in order to obtain eternal life, we must remain pure and keep the seal of our baptism undefiled.


—From a homily written in the second century
Office of Readings, Monday and Tuesday of Week 32 of Ordinary Time


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Though Demons Gloat: They Shall Not Prevail
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

Though we are attacked by liberal activists from without and by apostasy from within, the true Church—that is, the body of those who remain faithful to Church tradition—weeps, and she prays, because she knows the fate of those who oppose God.
     Our enemies might fear love, and they can push love away, but they can’t kill it. And so the battle against them cannot be fought with politics; it requires a pro­found personal struggle against the immorality of popular culture. The battle must be fought in the service of God with pure and chaste lifestyles lived from the depths of our hearts in every moment.

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