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message 1: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1889 comments Mod
1. Please feel free to share your thoughts that arise while reading the book, but that don't necessarily fit one of the questions. If you have a question or issue you'd like the group to discuss, you can either add your own question, or raise it here.


message 2: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Cronin Mention of guardian angels always gets my vote. I find myself just about to object to something and then the next sentence clarifies or answers my question. Excellent meditation material.


message 3: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments I had a slightly negative reaction to the angels, if you're talking about the choice of heaven section. Jesus is our primary companion and motivator; angels don't seem so real and present, though of course I believe in them.


message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments In ch. 1, I found telling his comment that we all tend most to value the virtue we find most natural and easy and don't even notice our familiar vices, e.g. if fasting comes easy (not to me!), we praise it and feel proud that we do it without noticing the grip jealousy or judgment of others has on us.


message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments I too like his description of true devotion as not just doing the right things but doing them swiftly and cheerfully. This isn't my usual concept of "devotion." I tend to think of it as requiring strong feelings. Since those don't come naturally to me, I sometimes feel like I can't get beyond a dry doing-the-right-thing. But perhaps I could be more deliberate about alacrity and cheerfulness!


message 6: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments I fail to understand what in the heart of God could possibly justify the existence of hell as unending punishment rather than simply annihilating the soul that doesn't want to spend eternity with God. Can anyone help?


message 7: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Cronin The idea of a guardian angel as a gift from birth has comforted me since age 5 when I first learned it. That they also comforted Jesus in His life on earth is especially dear.


message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments ch. 18 Is the choice really this stark, between the "devout life" and horrible self-indulgence and hatred? Aren't most of us most of the time somewhere in between, wasting time or even doing good things without doing them for the love of God?


message 9: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I fail to understand what in the heart of God could possibly justify the existence of hell as unending punishment rather than simply annihilating the soul that doesn't want to spend eternity with G..."

With regards to this question, I am usually helped by two ideas:

1. God will never annihilate anyone. What are we? God's idea about us. So we are immortal, because his idea of us cannot die.

2. Following C.S.Lewis, who said it first, and later John Paul II, who took it up, God never condemns anyone to hell. We choose whether we want us in the center, or whether we shall allow God to occupy the center. In the first case, we make our own hell. In the second, we are in heaven.

In C.S.Lewis's words:

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

When John Paul II spoke about this, he said that hell is not a place, but a state which we ourselves decide to be in. Of course, the media quickly bent his words and said that "the Pope has said that hell does not exist."


message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments It may be apocryphal, but I heard that St. John Paul II also said that he was obligated by the Church to assert that there is a hell but not to believe or declare that there's anyone in it.


message 11: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
And it is true: according to the doctrine of the Church, we must believe that there is a hell, but we cannot assert that any concrete person has been damned, not even Judas. There was a long discussion about him in the Middle Ages, and the conclusion was that not even in his case it could be asserted, in spite of the fact that Christ said: "it would be better if he hadn't been born."


message 12: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1889 comments Mod
I think I am taking a longer time working my way through. I am just starting part III. I am reading it in chunks and enjoying it very much. I find it best in small chunks that I can then contemplate.


message 13: by Ann-Marie (new)

Ann-Marie (amsjob) This is a book not to read but to practice. It reminds me of St Ignatius of Loyolas spiritual exercises. I´m now reading it straight through but it is a book to come back to often and and read in small pieces.


message 14: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
Ann-Marie wrote: "This is a book not to read but to practice. It reminds me of St Ignatius of Loyolas spiritual exercises."

I agree. I'm probably going slower than you are. I'm still in part I :-)


message 15: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments Manuel wrote: "And it is true: according to the doctrine of the Church, we must believe that there is a hell, but we cannot assert that any concrete person has been damned, not even Judas. There was a long discus..."

Manuel wrote: "Jill wrote: "I fail to understand what in the heart of God could possibly justify the existence of hell as unending punishment rather than simply annihilating the soul that doesn't want to spend et..."

Jill wrote: "It may be apocryphal, but I heard that St. John Paul II also said that he was obligated by the Church to assert that there is a hell but not to believe or declare that there's anyone in it."

Another problem with hell: How can anyone be happy in heaven knowing that someone they love is separated from God?


message 16: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Cronin "How can anyone be happy in heaven knowing that someone they love is separated from God?"

Luke 16: 20-31 is a powerful parable to read and reread and study commentaries about.


message 17: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments Besides the rich man and Lazarus not being intended as a map of the afterlife, I don't see how it helps with my question, except that we're all given plenty of chances to choose God. I guess I'd like to think there is one final chance after death.


message 18: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1889 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Manuel wrote: "And it is true: according to the doctrine of the Church, we must believe that there is a hell, but we cannot assert that any concrete person has been damned, not even Judas. There wa..."

My most blessed moments in this life have been when I was most aware of the presence of God. How could anyone having chosen a life attempting to live in the love of God not be happy when finally in the presence of God, seeing God face-to-face? Can I doubt the goodness and justice of God?

And do I think I have a complete understanding of what the Bible means when it talks about the fires of hell? I note that the Bible uses fire to talk both about the consuming love of God and the eternal punishment that would be the lot of any condemned to hell. Are these fires related in some way?

As to there being a final chance after death - wouldn't it be pretty to think so. The story of Lazarus and the rich man does seem to me to tell against that idea. Are you aware of any scripture that can be read to support the idea?


message 19: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
In "The great divorce" C.S.Lewis describes hell as a grey town. However, there are one or more final chances after death, and if the soul takes one, hell would have been purgatory after all... Yes, I know this is fiction.

In my previous Lewis quote of "The problem of pain" the same idea appears. God does not condemn to hell, the soul chooses it freely.

I have always thought that fire in hell is a way to call the soul's rage against God. Rage affects the soul as devouring fire. And the worst is, when you are in a state of rage, you actually don't want to leave it. Being in a state of rage is a very good simile to hell. Perhaps it is just the same...

And you know, fire is also used as a metaphor for love...


MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) I look to the parable of the owner and his hiring of workers at different times of the day, the last, just a few minutes before the end of the day. The early ones didn't appreciate the last ones "getting paid" when they hardly worked and the owner (our Lord)
made it clear he would "pay" whoever he wished.

There is great comfort to me to know that I am saved and was in the summer/fall of my years. However, I have 4 children who have gone way off the grid of what I taught them, and I can only hope they learn before it is too late. Am I going to not like it if they go to hell ... of course I am .. but I also know that they will and have gotten many chances to make the right choice.

And I have been reading this book for years. I read a little/lot, then I need time to let it sit in my soul and work it's way into my understanding.


message 21: by Ann-Marie (new)

Ann-Marie (amsjob) I have just finished it and I loved it. I loved that the author speaks directly to me and that it is a sort of practical guide how to live a devout life. I also found it surprisingly modern.


message 22: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments A little anger increases because we coddle it and look for evidence that it's justified.

He seems a little too hard on innocent pleasures, though he does have a nice metaphor for the need for recreation: unstringing the bow from time to time. Interesting comparison of dancing to mushrooms, clearly before they became a gourmet food.

Is "particular" friendship still seen as a danger in vowed religious life? And I don't agree that solitude is always preferable to being with others.


message 23: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments His attitude toward bodily pleasure (in part 3, ch. 39 on the marraige bed) seems too negative for our incarnational Catholic faith.

I am not much troubled by "vicissitudes," tend to take everything calmly, but the notion of "inquietude" in part 4 ch. 11 is a new concept for me. How do other translations render that?


message 24: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "...the notion of "inquietude" in part 4 ch. 11 is a new concept for me. How do other translations render that?"

The title of the chapter in Spanish is "De la Inquietud." I would translate this as "On anxiety" or "On restlessness." Your translator has obviously just Anglicised the Spanish word.


message 25: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1889 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "His attitude toward bodily pleasure (in part 3, ch. 39 on the marraige bed) seems too negative for our incarnational Catholic faith.

I am not much troubled by "vicissitudes," tend to take everythi..."


My translator translated it as "Anxiety of Mind."

"Inquietude" is an archaic English word as well, probably from the French courtesy of the Normans. Its meaning is restlessness or uneasiness.


message 26: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
Finished! A great book.


message 27: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1889 comments Mod
Manuel wrote: "Finished! A great book."

I completely agree. I am planning a re-read.


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