Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011 AD, Requiescat In Pace

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Christopher Hitchens passed away here in Houston last night at the age of 62.

Known for his punditry on all things political, he was a dedicated atheist and opponent of the Church.  His calm and verbose delivery always made me listen to what he had to say.

Christopher Hitchens was a pundit I respected.  What he had to say about our faith was wrong most of the time (if not all of the time), but on subjects not related to faith, he was very accurate and enjoyable to listen.

For more on Christopher Hitchens by London’s Daily Telegraph click here.

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  1. Well, Christopher Hitchens now knows that there IS a God and His name is Jesus Christ – a bit too late. That’s what is so sad. Of coruse there will be those who will say, “Maybe he did a death bed confession – you can’t judge.” True, I can’t. But the number of people he misled with his atheism is not insignificant. So no, I can’t say, “Requiescat in pace” precisely because I don’t know that he did make a death bed confession to repent of his life-long atheism. That being said, no, I don’t hope he’s in hell (let’s not get ridiculous).

  2. I agree with almost everything you said Paul. Though my best guess would be that he believed after death before judgement and is now in Purgatory. But that is for God, not for us to determine.

  3. I think Dante would’ve put him in limbo.

    It’s really amazing how respected he is. Nobody was more critical of the Church yet you were certain he wasn’t motivated by malice or political bias. He didn’t take cheap shots.

  4. ‘[H]he believed after death before judgement and is now in Purgatory.”

    Come again?

    If you reject God in this life, do not acknowledge your bad acts to be sins and, so, can’t ask for mercy, how is it that you get a second pass at it in Purgatory? (I’m not trying to be difficult. I really don’t get the line of reasoning you’ve applied.)

    Taken out to its logical conclusion, virtually everyone would be saved for, having died, they would be fully cognizant of God’s greatness and the meaning of “eternity.” Who would choose Satan then?

  5. RR – Similar question: Why Limbo?

    Again, we aren’t talking about one who hadn’t hear the Good News or was, to the best of my knowledge, cut off from the Truth by forces beyond his control (mental illness, etc.). That sounds like a rejection of God and, so, if unrepented in this life, the kind of act that damns the soul.

  6. Then only one in an angel’s position is doomed?

    Satan and the angels who chose him over God are doomed. They rejected God even though they saw Him. We can’t experience Him with our senses and, so, lack the certainty of the angels.

    If we retain free will after our death, surely we would choose God. Who, after all, seeing even a glimpse of heaven and hell would choose hell? If it is correct that we can make a post-mortem choice to be with God, there really isn’t much point in struggling with belief in this life. We can just acknowledge that believing without seeing is hard and we’ll wait until we are certain to believe.

    What would be the point of sacrifice and fidelity to the Church’s teachings in this life if we get to wait until we have direct, personal knowledge of Him to choose to be with Him?

  7. Well, I am sorry that he died from cancer, never a good way to go as I know from the experience of dear relatives. When I consider the talent that Hitchens had as a writer, and how he used it, and the bitterness and bile that suffused much of what he wrote, this scene from the movie Papillon comes to mind:

  8. Tito,

    I hope you have the Divine Mercy thing correct – and I wonder if, even now, someone were to do a Divine Mercy chaplet for him if it would help? God doesn’t live constrained within our concept of time…so, perhaps someone should do it for Mr. Hitchens?

  9. If we retain free will after our death, surely we would choose God. Who, after all, seeing even a glimpse of heaven and hell would choose hell? If it is correct that we can make a post-mortem choice to be with God, there really isn’t much point in struggling with belief in this life.

    Well, as with your example of Satan and his angels, clearly some being see God as He is and still rebel against him.

    Further, it seems to me that if one has become accustomed, in this life, to rejecting God or at least holding Him at arm’s length, and to preferring one’s own will to any other, one would be a lot less likely to fully and unconditionally embrace God in such a “last chance” situation. Whenever we sin, we increase our attachment to sin, and our preference of our own will over God’s will. So it seems to me that even if we assumed that there is such a “last chance” opportunity for souls, when faced with God, that one would be far worse off if one had eschewed belief all through life than if one had subjected oneself to God all through life.

  10. I read the last article of Mr Hitchen at 2012 Vanity Fair issue entitled “Trial of the Will”. I thought he might be debating between spiritual will and his personal belief. before he passed on. I wonder when he started believing as atheist. He came from an anglican family in England. In fact, his brother has encourage him to come back to anglican faith just after Mr. Hitchen was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. All we have to do is to pray for his soul.

  11. As for the angels that rebelled, they have perfect knowledge, so once they made a choice, they never changed their minds.

    So those that rebelled, did so with complete knowledge of Heaven, so they are truly demons in all sense of the word.

    As for the Divine Mercy and visions of St. Faustina, I may have mis-heard or misunderstood what was told to me, but the person that explained God’s Divine Mercy is that right before judgement we are given the opportunity(ies) to believe in God and ask for forgiveness.

    Again, if I am misunderstanding this concept I plead mea culpa.

  12. As for anyone having a second chance immediately afte death, Hebrews 9:27-28 states:

    And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.


    This would appear to obviate any second chances once we pass from this life. As for me, I will be happy to making as far as Purgatory and I certainly hope someone prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for me once I die! It certainly can’t hurt!

  13. Lord have mercy!

    I’m thinking (dangerous or farcical) Mr. Hitchens needs to apologize to Blessed Mother Teresa when he sees her.

    Pray for the living and the dead.

  14. It’s interesting that the right is more respectful of this leftist than the left who never forgave him for his unapologetic support for the Iraq war.

  15. Of course I have no idea of the state of the soul in question, but….

    Don’t you need to believe in hell to choose it? Would it be the default position to fall to Satan rather than land in God’s hands if you don’t have any genuine concept of either?

    Did Bl. Mother Teresa just step forward to intercede for Mr. Hitchens at a critical moment in time, when Satan gets his last best chance to grab a soul?

    A Divine Mercy chaplet definitely can’t hurt. Jesus, help.

  16. Suz,

    While I am no theologian, my understanding is that a soul has to choose hell – knowingly and firmly – in order to go there. I guess, in this case, the deciding factor would be the level of ignorance on the part of Mr. Hitchens…did he really just not know (and never honestly think over) the concept of God? Or did he just resolutely refuse to believe because it would have forced him off some of his views? We won’t know, of course, until we get to the life of the world to come…but as has been noted, a Divine Mercy chaplet certainly can’t hurt.

  17. I want to set aside the question of whether any particular person made a last minute conversion. Our faith includes the possibility that, up until the moment of death, Man can choose God. It doesn’t sound right though that one has to choose hell to spend eternity there. It also doesn’t sound right to say that one can die in rebellion, spend time in purgatory, then enjoy an eternity with God.

    If our purpose is to learn to love and serve God in this life so that we can spend eternity basking in His presence in the next, it seems to me that one can only choose or reject God when Free Will is ours, i.e. whenwe are alive.

    Angels are different because they share a higher spiritual state. “To those to whom more is given, more is expected.” Since the angels received a nearly complete knowledge of God at their creation, they are expected to entirely love and serve God from the outset. Their rejection of God carries a greater censure precisely because they have no excuse.

    As I understand the Church’s teaching, one who dies in a state of ignorance – say, for example, a boy in Afghanistan who has not heard the Good News but dies in a state of Grace – may go straight to heaven. Since less knowledge was given to him, less is expected of him. This is very different from, foe example, the Stephen Hawkins the scientist. He was given a first rate mind that clearly sees deeper into the work of God in the universe than most and was raised as a Christian. Absent a recantation of the prideful choices of unbelief and leading others to reject God, he must be doomed.

    As I understand it, praying for the dead isn’t an attempt to alter God’s judgment, we beg for God, through His various means, to intercede while the subject of our prayers are alive. Since we cannot know what happens in those last moments, we are praying that they convert in the last.

    Surely someone here can set me straight if I have it wrong. I am not so well versed as to be confident in my answer and want to be set right.

  18. None of us know whether he repented or not on his deathbed, lets hope he did.

    But lets put this to rest this notion of having any sort of choice after death. Going to the source…. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

    CCC 1022
    Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately,- or immediate and everlasting damnation.

    Also here:

    CCC 1864
    “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”. There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberity refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

    Much more from the Catechism, I encourage any of you unsure about this to look up judgement and death and see what the Church says on these topics.

    So let’s pray he had a conversion of heart on his death bed. Even a little peep of remorse and repentence before his last breath would save him. Otherwise, once you die you get no second chances.

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