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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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The Apostles’ Creed, the Righteous Dead & Hell

limbo

Bob brings up an interesting inquiry regarding the Apostles’ Creed.  He writes:

“During the celebration of the Mass and reciting the Creed we say, ‘He descended into hell.’ The classroom posters for the children say, ‘He descended unto the dead.’ Now I was taught that our Lord Jesus descended into hell to show Satan and his followers that he is the Light of the World and that he has the power over sin and death; but based on research, professors of theology are using the Greek word “Hades” meaning place of the dead and as I remember it was similar to purgatory. Please give your thoughts on this.”

Sorry to say, it sounds like Bob and others were taught wrong. The current translation of the Creed at Mass uses the word HELL. The poster has the previous liturgical translation of the Creed, UNTO THE DEAD. It changed with the newer and corrected translation of the Roman Missal. A translation that was popular in Anglican circles rendered it as UNTO THE QUICK. Hell is a more literal translation; unfortunately, it can also be misunderstood. It refers not to the hell of the damned but to the more generic abode of the dead, what the Church termed as THE LIMBO OF THE FATHERS. Such a place no longer exists. Sin had breached humanity from God; the gates of heaven were closed with the sin of Adam and Eve. None could enter true heaven until the coming of the Christ. The righteous dead (Jews and Gentiles) awaited their Savior. Jesus descends into hell or unto the dead or into the limbo of the fathers so that they might now be translated into heaven. The Eastern churches have an icon where Jesus flies from the flames carrying Adam and Eve out by the hair. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. There is no way to the Father except through him. He is the bridge or “pontifex.” His saving Cross makes possible our passage. We have been redeemed by the Lord. He pays the price for our entry. It is an affirmation that none are saved apart from Christ. As I said, the limbo of the fathers is not hell of the damned, not heaven of the saints and not purgatory. Those three realities still exist. However, at the final consummation and judgment, purgatory will also cease to be. The poor souls would have completed their passage to the heavenly shore.  Then there will be two realities, heaven (the victory of love) and hell (the frustration of hatred and the wrong kind of loving).