Funerals become the occasion for sappy, sentimental and, quite frankly, heretical (universalist) proclamations that state we can be confident Ted is with the Lord. Y'know Ted— the womanizer, twice divorced, never darkened the pew of a parish church since his confirmation... Ted. Ted, who every Friday mockingly prayed for the winning lottery numbers. Ted, the conniving office manager who lied about another employee in order to get a promotion. Ted, the online porn junky. Ted, who said going to confession was a waste of time. Yup, that Ted. We can all be happy that, no matter what Ted did in this life, it doesn't matter a hill of beans. Father Universalist has proclaimed Ted among the blessed.
Ted, having been raised to the altar, inspires the following question in the typical low information Catholic: If everyone is going to be saved, then why bother to go to church? Good question. (A question asked at Fr. Longenecker's blog.)
The Gospels remind us that God's justice and mercy is different than man's. Two thieves were crucified beside Jesus on Good Friday.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”—St. Luke 23:39-43
One of the men, Dismas, was repentant and asked to be remembered by Jesus. The other thief—let's call him Ted (Gestas)—is known as the impenitent thief. People who die impenitent should expect to find themselves in a state that is the logical outcome of their sinful lifestyle. Well intentioned priests who attempt to console people by dumbing down the Faith are merely making a mockery of God's justice, the Sacrament of Penance and, very dangerously, forming in people a sense of presumption that hails 'yes', we can do anything in this life and get away with it because, no matter what, Jesus will forgive us our sins. Of course Jesus will forgive us our sins! But, we have to ask God for forgiveness of our sins:
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.