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heaven/hell
Question from anon on 11/7/2011:

Father, I am having a true crisis of faith. I am 41, raised Catholic, but did not truly practice until I was 32. I studied the faith/scripture, taught ccd at our church, read the lives of the saints, and even entered the seminary, although I discerned that was not for me, but was a wonderful experience.

In summary there are 2 things which I can not reconcile in my mind, under any circumstance.

1. In scripture Jesus tells us that through the perserverence of prayer, asking in His name, and all who seek find, that he will answer our petitions. Yet so often the Lord tells us no, even to the best of intentions. Now, there is probably no more devoutly prayed for petition than the end to abortion. Millions upon millions of Rosaries, masses, fasting and pennances for many years now, yet God has deemed to allow this murder to go on. How does one reconcile that with His promises of hearing our petitions?

2. How is it just, that a good man, perhaps married 50 years, devout man, prayerful and charitable man, may fall 1 single time into masturbation, or 1 time into adultury, and, without confession, suffer the pains of the fires of Hell for all eternity. And yet a mass murdered, child molester and abortionist, if unrepentant, suffer the same fate. Are not these sins unequally grave, yet the punishment is the same?

How can this be?

Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 11/15/2011:

Well, I think first and foremost we have to acknowledge that God is a mystery beyond human understanding. Remember that parents say "no" to many of their childrens' requests, however legitimate the children think the request is. The parents are wiser and see the bigger picture, understanding things that the children perhaps can't even comprehend yet. It's not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. We ask for someone to be spared of cancer so he/she can live here on earth for a few more years. God understands that human death is only the end of the body, and the unimaginable joy and peace of Heaven is just a breath (or lack thereof) away. We get angry with God and ask why He didn't allow the person to live longer on earth, and God smile and knows that Heaven makes earth look insignificant.

Now, about the mass-murdering, child molesting abortionist, versus the nice guy with one flaw. You make the mistake of thinking God compares us to each other. As in last week's Gospel, we are created by God with talents and abilities, and at the end of our life, we will not be judged in comparison to anyone else other than ourselves and the potential God knows He gave us. Even on earth, the professional race car driver and the regular guy using his car to get groceries both have the potential to die in an auto accident. Why does the guy going 40 miles an hour get crashed into and die, while the guy who drives 250 miles an hour sometimes bumping against other cars come out of it unscathed? Because things happen that don't seem "fair" in human terms.

Finally, we do not know the mind of God when it comes to judgment. To pick one example: The good man dies without confession. Was it because he didn't think he needed it? Was he intentionally staying away? Did he try and no Priest was available? We don't know, but God does, and I have to hope the judgment of Heaven, Hell, or "Purgatory on the way to Heaven" gets decided based on that.

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