Saint John Vianney said it this way. “We must never lose sight of the fact that we are either saints or outcasts, that we must live for heaven or hell; there is no middle path in this. You either belong wholly to the world or wholly to God.”
So which path leads to Heaven and which leads to Hell? Why not follow the signs.
Tolerance or Truth
On the road to perdition no sign is more omnipresent than the one for tolerance. We are told we must be more “inclusive” and make certain no one feels “marginalized” lest we commit the ultimate sin of intolerance! Those who frequent this road preach charity at the expense of truth, as if one could stand without the other.
On the road to paradise you will find true charity. The difference is true charity is tolerant of truth alone; never error. Correction of error, not tolerance of it, is a duty imposed by true charity.
Saint Josemaría Escrivá reminds us that “Holy steadfastness is not intolerance.” Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is love, He is truth, and He cannot be split in two. Either you take one with the other or you reject both.
Agenda or Authority
On the road to perdition no sign is more oft quoted than this one: “Let your conscience be your guide.” This is the rallying cry of those heading to Hell.
Those who frequent this road reject the Divine authority of the one, true Church in favor of their own human authority. In it homosexuality, woman priests, artificial contraception, abortion and moral relativism are the gods that are worshiped.
Many in the pews are Catholic in name only; they are in every sense of the word protestants. The only difference being that they lack the courage of their own convictions and instead of fleeing the Church, they seek to destroy Her by imposing their heretical agenda upon others.
On the road to paradise you will find those who lovingly assent to revealed truths, even the tough ones. As Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman reminds us "We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe."
Christ promised us an eternal reward, not an easy road, when He said: “everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”
Pride or Humility
On the road to perdition no sign is more revealing than this one. “Who are those white haired, cranky, celibate men in Rome to tell me how to live my life? What do they know about .....”
A more damning choice could not be made than to choose the way of pride. Pride is the origin of all sin; in fact pride is the “original” sin. Hardening of the heart is the unavoidable long term effect of pride. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but it is crowded with hardened hearts. The Book of Proverbs contrasts the two saying, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
On the road to paradise you will find true humility. Humility is an unappreciated and unpopular virtue. Many perceive humility as a sign of weakness, not as a sign of strength. Yet, it is in our humility when we are nearest to God. It is then when He can form us; it is then when He can use us and it is then when we are most like His Son.
In the only words Jesus spoke of His heart, He said “I am meek and humble of heart.” We would do our souls well, if like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we would pray, speak and act in imitation of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Satan or God
On the road to perdition signs that lead to Hell are usually not labeled as clearly as this. Yet the consequence is the same.
When that which is dogma is denied and that which is heresy is embraced, we know Satan has entered the Sanctuary. When that which is truly sinful is said to be not a sin and that which is truly not a sin is said to be sinful, we know Satan is in our midst. When that which is reverent and pious is banned and replaced with that which is informal and ordinary, we know Satan is hard at work trying to prevail against the Church.When that which is traditional is viewed as outdated and is replaced with that which is the current fad, we know Satan is pleased with his efforts.
Despite all of this, we must not despair; the victory has already been won! Jesus’ death on the cross is the invincible act. Even Satan knows this to be true. His game plan is no longer to win, but to drag as many souls as possible into Hell with him.
We must resist the father of lies. We must continually seek our own conversion. We do this best through the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, and through prayer and sacrifice. This is essential. It is only after we seek our conversion that we can even begin to help others.
Despite the obvious signs, some will choose the easy path. Jesus said “for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How small the gate and narrow the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” Let us pray for the grace to be counted among these “few.”