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Does heaven hear the music of sinners?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 11, 2008

 Jeff's Commentary article on whether Shakespeare was a Catholic put me in a speculative frame of mind. We don't know for sure whether Shakespeare was Catholic-- although it's an interesting debate. But we do know that he wasn't a martyr. 

We do know with certainty, as a matter of faith, that Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher are in heaven. We don't know with any certainty where William Shakespeare is spending his eternity. What would it profit a man, if he became the greatest literary figure in history, but lost his immortal soul?

Shakespeare was undoubtedly a genius: an author who was inspired, in the conventional sense of that word (that is, not divinely inspired, like the Gospel writers). Mozart was inspired, too; some have even gone so far as to suggest that angels whispered the tunes in Mozart's ears. 

But were Shakespeare and Mozart saints? We know very little about Shakespeare's private life; the available details in Mozart's case are not encouraging. Of course we don't know the answer. We do know that's the big question. 

It is, I think, fair to assume that heaven is densely populated with souls who, during their earthly life, knew and loved the works of Shakespeare and Mozart and other great creative artists. Let's hope and pray that we join them. It's sobering to consider that the authors may not be in heaven to accept our congratulations and thanks. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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