recent post regarding the roles and responsibilities of the laity, I thought I would share with you some correspondence on a related topic that I have had with Anne Rice, author of the The Vampire Chronicles and the Christ the Lord series. I had written her to share one of Webster’s posts and was flabbergasted when she wrote me back a few hours later. Sheee-eesh! Be careful what you wish for.
Usually I'm the last to know news like this but I had discovered via Bloomberg News that in 1998 Anne returned to the Catholic Church. Whaat?! The Vampire Writer? Surprised, I learned of a new novel she had written entitled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. It is about Christ’s early years from the time when the Holy Family returned to Nazareth from exile in Alexandria, where they had fled in accordance with the instructions an angel had given to Joseph in a dream. She also writes of her return to the Church in detail in an autobiography, Called Out of Darkness.
You haven't read these books yet? I know, I know, you are swamped with books right now. So am I! But if you haven't read them, put them on your list. And make sure to add the sequel, The Wedding at Cana. And where am I going to find the time to read her new series about angels, which debuted recently with Angel Time? I have no idea. But I am going to find the time. Anyway, I had written her as follows,
We are kindred spirits despite our obvious and wild differences. Much like the twelve apostles, huh? What a motley crew: Zealot resistance fighters (Simon) to fishermen (Peter, Andrew . . . ), to tax collectors (Matthew, despised by all). Wow!
I'm not gonna take up a lot of your time. I wanted to share my partner’s latest post with you. What a story . . . It's the kind that my friend Blaise Pascal would probably smile at. He's probably smiling now (I hope).
Be well and thanks for all that you are doing for Our Lord. Have fun at your book signing in Riverside. Sadly, my family and I will just miss it. We are coming to Southern California for the Holidays for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary and Christmas and New Years. Any other signings in So Cal during that time?
Warmest regards and the love of Our Lord be with you Always,
Ahem, pretty presumptuous, I know, but what the heck? I was sure she wasn't going to answer anyway. A few hours later I received this reply,
Thanks for your letter. When you have time, tell me: do you believe that the majority of humans created go to Hell for all eternity? I am finding out that many Christians do believe this. I was not taught this growing up Catholic, and I find it very difficult to believe. I am curious however as to what others believe. Thanks for your note.
Take care, Anne.
I received this note back on December 5, 2009, around lunch time. I had been riding shotgun with Webster at YIM Catholic for all of six days when it arrived in my e-mail. Gulp! The Anne Rice, noted author of the Vampire Chronicles and the Christ the Lord series has written back to little ol' me? Golly! Then I re-read it and thought, whaat?! Is this some kind of a test? I sent her back a rushed reply as follows:
I certainly hope not! Otherwise, I am done for. No, our God and Father is not limited by our human rules, norms, or best guesses. The Pareto Effect does not apply to God. I have faith that Our Lord loves all of us so much that He does everything to help guide us to Him. And that is one of the beautiful, just spectacular Graces that Our Lord gives us through His Church. Thanks be to God!
I went to Reconciliation this morning to confess my sins and to speak with my pastor about this blog. His counsel prompted me to edit this piece I had posted about the Saints yesterday. While I was doing penance and pondering what I had been counseled on, I knew that I must edit my post as such:
"But don't worry and please don't forget the mission of Our King’s Church: to save souls, at any cost. Most of us haven't been called into the Church’s equivalent of the Officer Corps (Holy Orders). But we can still serve with distinction, whether we are butchers, bakers, or candle-stick makers. Again, one of the heroes of the Church (St. Francis of Assisi) serves as an example to me. ‘Preach the Gospel always,’ he said. ‘Use words if necessary.’ Also, there is no age requirement (17–28 to enlist) either and no minimum or maximum (6–8 years) contract length. Heck you can even get "out" and rejoin! Just ask Anne Rice."
I hope I answered your question and I thank you for writing me back.
Your friend in Christ,
I sent another quick note asking her for permission to post her reply, to which she responded,
It's fine with me if you share your response. I never really write confidential emails. My queries can be shared, of course. Thanks for the feedback. I'm pondering. I started another Discussion on Amazon in the Christianity forum on what people believe about Hell. I'm interested in the beliefs of all Christians on this.
This left me pondering too. Before I was a Catholic, I would have answered her question the way that makes sense to a modern day Pharisee, you know, that most won’t make it to heaven. But you can be sure that I just knew that I would make it. Sigh. But as a Catholic, my frame of reference had changed drastically. Let the scriptures show that,
This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)
He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
I could go on and on with verses from the Bible relating this fact, both Old Testament and New. Want some more examples?
“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)
“And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:23)
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:1-2)
So I ponder with Anne the astounding and yet true fact that Jesus came to save us all. Every single last one of us, past, present, and future. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The healthy, the sick, the able and the lame. You, me, and everyone here in my house and yours, in my town and yours, in my country, and in every other country as far away as Timbuktu and all points in between. He died for me, and for you. For the whole world. The just, and the unjust. For the forgiveness of all our sins, past, present and future.
And our free will comes into play in how we approach this fact. Because there is the capacity in heaven for every single soul to be saved. Isn't that obvious? Space isn't the problem. The only thing preventing this from occurring is freedom of choice and our temerity in sharing this good news. This freedom God has given us is an inalienable right. We can opt out or we can opt in. But the fact is that we have been given this great freedom to do with as we see fit, from the Original Sin of our first parents.
It is our Christian duty to proclaim the Good News. The Catholic Church actively pursues the saving of souls from the moment of conception until natural death. That isn't popular with many folks. Remember the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16) who all received the same wages whether they started working at 5 a.m. or 7 p.m.? That is how the Catholic Church sees it. Deathbed baptisms, confessions, etc? No problem. Because saving souls for Christ is job one and the true mission of the Church, among the laity and religious alike. Did you know that Holy Orders are not required to perform a baptism?
Thanks again for your question, Anne, and may we all keep job one in mind. And for our YIM Catholic readers, I turn Anne’s question over to you. How do you answer it? RSVP. Anne and I thank you in advance for your replies.