The Last Things 2: Judgment

When we die we will be immediately judged by Jesus.  If we are in the state of grace, we go to heaven, perhaps spending some time in purgatory first.  If we have unrepented mortal sin on our soul, we have already made our choice to flee from God’s love and will spend eternity in Hell. How sad.  How very, very sad. The only one who rejoices at the loss of souls is Satan, who is “laughing with delight”, if I may borrow a phrase from Don McLean’s epic song “American Pie” (1972).  The possibility of hell is a harrowing thought and could cause you to worry.

When you are worried or lose your peace, simply repeat “Jesus I trust in you” as many times as it takes to regain your peace. Jesus wants to save you, but the Devil wants to condemn you.  Another prayer that brings us peace of mind is “Sacred heart of Jesus, grant me peace.”

The Judgement at the moment of death is called the “particular judgment”, but then there is another judgment at the end of time.  That’s the Universal Judgment.  Why a “second judgment”?  Because the good or evil we do on earth does not end with us but has a ripple effect down to the end of time.  In my case, I am confident that my ancestors will be richly rewarded because I know my practice of praying the daily rosary can be traced back to my father’s mother’s mother, as well as my mother’s parents, and maybe beyond that.  So the good example you give in life rubs off on others and can have positive effects for centuries.  It’s like the idea of “compound interest”, but down to the end of time.  But it works both ways too.  Our bad example can have effects for generations.  It’s all settled at the end of time.

At the moment of judgment, I don’t think any of us will be begging for justice.  Rather, we will be begging for mercy.  I remember the movie “Amadeus” (1984) about the brilliant composer Wolfgang Mozart, and the envy of his contemporary Antonio Salieri who recognized Mozart’s genius. In the movie, there is a particularly stunning section in Mozart’s Requiem Mass interpreting a stanza from the Dies Irae sequence:

Confutátis maledídictis – Flammis ácribus áddíctis: – Voca me cum benedíctis

After the accursed have been silenced, – Given up to the bitter flames – Call me with the blest.

The first two lines in that stanza are terrifying, and the full force of the orchestra with French horns, timpani drums, and one hundred voices in the chorus in the background emphasizes the drama stated in those lines, when all of a sudden everything quiets down and a wee little voice is heard above all the cacophony humbling pleading “call me with the blest.”

Yes, we will be begging for mercy at the moment of Judgment. And mercy can be ours, just as if was for the Good Thief on the First Good Friday when he asked Jesus to “remember me”.  But do recall what Jesus said: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my father in heaven.”

So what will the Judgment be like?  Will Jesus read out a huge “data dump” of all of our words, thoughts, deeds, omissions in front of every other soul standing line, including our mother?  I hope not.  But I can only speculate.  I imagine Jesus will ask us to stand in front of a mirror and ask us who we see.  If we say, “John Doe”, that won’t work.  We’ll need to say, “I see the image of Jesus, it’s not perfect yet, but I see the image of Jesus.”  In other words, I see someone who acts like Jesus, talks like Jesus, forgives like Jesus, serves like Jesus, prays like Jesus, and so forth.

And that is what our life is all about: to seek Christ, find Christ, love Christ, and imitate Christ.

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.