The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Theology of King Crab

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Ecclesiastes 11:9

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen stated in one of his television programs that each person is really three people. The first is the person one portrays to the world. This is the person our friends and enemies, family and strangers see. The second person is the one the individual perceives of himself. Finally, the third person is who the individual really is; not as the world sees one; not as one sees oneself, but rather the reality of one's existence. It is this person that God studies with a great deal of interest. It is this person who stands before Our Lord in the moment after death when one experiences one's particular judgment.

God judges us for who we really are.

It is easy to fall into the belief that when one meets God face to face that there will be time to prepare and present a case before The Almighty in defense of one's actions. There exists a notion that God's justice can be reckoned with through persuasive argument. Many hope that when at last they meet Our Lord face to face they will finally have the opportunity to sit down and explain a few things with Him about their lives and sinful actions.

Yet the Catholic Church teaches that the particular judgment is really more of a sorting process than a trial. God looks at one's interior being and appropriately sends one to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. This is instantaneous with no time to bargain for a better deal. No continuance of the sentence exists. One second one is alive, the next one is dead, and a second more and one finds out one's destiny.

There is a popular television program, today, called "Deadliest Catch" which chronicles life aboard the fishing boats in the Bearing Sea that harvest Alaskan King Crab. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world as the men are subjected to unpredictable weather; wrestling with 900 pound crab pots; and rogue waves that could easily wash one into the icy waters where death by exposure happens in minutes.

As each crab pot gets pulled from the ocean floor, the crab are dumped onto a sorting table and a deckhand uses a measuring stick to determine if the crab is big enough to keep or has to be tossed out of the boat back into the ocean. In an instant, these giant crabs are judged good enough or rejected based on their condition alone. Even if the crab were able to speak there would be no time for them to make their case for life or death.

This is particular judgment.

So what does God look for when a soul, like the crab, gets dumped onto His sorting table? Is He looking for good deeds? Is He looking for the number of sins? Does He look for how wealthy one was or how much time one devoted to a career? Is He searching for how remorseful one was over sins? Just what is God's measuring stick that determines whether eternity is with Him or one gets tossed out of the boat and into Hell?

Perhaps the answer is not what God looks for, but who. As one comes before Him, God searches the being looking for His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. If the grace of Christ is found, it's a keeper. Otherwise, the soul is tossed out of the boat. This is where the allegory ends with the crab; for at the same time God seeks His Son, the soul sees the unfathomable beauty and perfection of the Creator for the first time juxtaposed to the reality of its own condition, and the soul confers judgment upon itself. Seen in the light of the beatific vision, the blemishes on the soul become so obvious, so illuminated by the light of love that is God, that the opportunity to go to Purgatory versus being presented before the Lord in such an unclean state not only makes sense but seems preferable. The state of those in Purgatory must be that just a glimpse of God in all of His glory is so beautiful that one gladly suffers whatever that cleansing process is in order to be presentable to Him.

This is why it matters while one walks the Earth that one becomes as much like Christ as possible. Not that one puts on a show for others with seemingly Christ-like deeds. Not that one deludes oneself with pride over piety. But that one conforms the very interior, the very core to perfect communion with Our Lord.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

Let all people pray that when they meet the Heavenly Father for the first time in Heaven, He will smile and exclaim,

"You look like me. You're a keeper."