The Fewness of the Saved

The majority of people either do not believe in Hell or think the prospect of being damned is so unlikely it hardly deserves thought. Of the few members of society who actually do believe people go to Hell, there seems to be no sense that they risk being lost. The sentiment of the majority of people is only murderers, tyrants, and terrorists are deprived of eternal happiness; it is as if these are the only sins that offend God.

But many sins offend God. Jesus has said, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (MT 5:21-22). Jesus equates willful anger with sinful murder. He goes on to say “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (MT 5: 26). Delighting in impure thoughts is enough to commit adultery.

It is also a sin to neglect to worship God. Jesus has said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). The Lord’s servant, St. Peter, has said of Jesus, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). God even supplies a list of the kind of sins that, if left unforgiven, condemn souls to Hell: “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” (Rev 21:8).

You cannot throw a stone without hitting someone who loves masturbation or pornography or obscene language. And a great number of people harbor a hatred for someone. And even “good” people refuse to render worship to the one true God by neglecting mass or prayer or participating in some false religion. The sad fact is people love sinning, and to love sin is to hate God, and to hate God is to deserve Hell. No one should be surprised when Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (MT 7:13-14). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also affirms Hell. And, in addition to the affirmation of scripture, many saints taught that most souls go to Hell: “It is certain that few are saved,” St. Augustine. “Those who are saved are in the minority,” St. Thomas Aquinas.

However, God has said He dislikes punishment: “I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ez 33:11). But, given so many are lost, it is incumbent on everyone to labor for their salvation as much as they can. It only takes one confession to be restored to God’s good graces and become fit for eternal life. Those who are interested in their salvation should also strive to pray the rosary, wear the brown scapular, do the nine first Fridays to the sacred heart, do the first five Saturdays to the Immaculate heart, or honor the pure heart of Saint Joseph on the first Wednesday of the month.

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