Monday, December 10, 2012

Hell, is anyone there?

A healthy fear of hell is good.  It is a sign of good faith. 

The discussion-mushion about hell these days is good too.

Not everyone is saved, that is pretty much the non-mushy side of the discussion, and it's the right one.

No one knows exactly who is in hell - but it's probably pretty crowded.  A few excellent points from Monsignor Pope helps us to understand:
But permit just a few summary bullet points:
  1. The biblical teaching, that there is a Hell, and that many go there is in no way ambiguous. When asked directly whether many would be saved Jesus answers soberly, and I would suppose with great sadness, that “many” were on the wide road that led to perdition, and that the road that led to salvation, was narrow, and difficult and that “few” found it.
  2. Jesus the main source – No one loves us more than Jesus Christ, and no one has worked more to save us than Jesus Christ. Yet no one spoke of Hell more than Jesus Christ, or warned of judgment with greater sobriety.
  3. Words mean things – However one may wish to interpret the biblical data, “many” does not mean few, and “few” does not mean many.
  4. Hell is, in a sense, necessary if human freedom is to have any meaning. All while Hell has mysterious aspects, understanding its existence must be rooted in the fact that God respects the freedom he has given us, even if he may regret the choices we make. But we are summoned to love, and love requires freedom, and freedom requires that our choices be about real things.
  5. That hell is an eternal reality is also mysterious, but is caught up in the mystery of the eternity itself. It would seem that as we move from this temporal world toward eternity, our decisions become forever fixed and final.
  6. Devastating – It does not require an advanced degree in sociology to understand that, to remove the unambiguous biblical teaching on the very real and possible outcome of Hell, is to remove strong motivation to seek a Savior and salvation. It is therefore no surprise that as the teaching on Hell has been largely set aside by the modern world, that recourse to the sacraments, prayer, Church attendance and any number of spiritual remedies have suffered significant declines during the same period.
  7. More can be read, if you wish, in the articles I have written elsewhere, referenced above. - Monsignor Pope
And I might add, don't be afraid to teach your kids that either - Our Lady wasn't.
After showing the children the vision of Hell, Our Lady said: "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." - OL of Fatima
Which is why this prayer Our Lady taught is so necessary as a work of charity, mercy, and justice:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, help those especially in need of thy mercy. - OL of Fatima

Who could refuse our Blessed Mother's urgent request to pray that prayer at the end of each decade of the rosary, or whenever?

Our Lady of Lipa.




  1. I had to laugh when I read this because it reminded me of my Cursillo weekend lo those many years ago. I was a young mom at the time and a single gal and I really hit it off. She didn't believe in hell and we spent many hours sitting in the stairwell one night and when we went to bed she was a believer. Gosh, I must be hell to live with!

  2. Still, the visions given to other saints - showing 5 in 33,000 who escape damnation (that's more than 99.9% damned) are debilitatingly frightening. Oh, and in those visions, only religious go to heaven.

    Though I pray for them, I have very little hope for those I know who have died and who were not Christians or not very religious people.

    And though I pray for my friends - weakly, as my prayers a lethargic and in no way fervent, I think most of them will probably go to hell. I think I will probably go to hell sometimes, given the sheer odds and the fact that I don't want to go into religious life or live like a puritan.

  3. But hell is not a place. Hell is a state of being.

    Christ descended into a "state of being" dontcha know.

  4. Paul - I think the emphasis is that hell and heaven are not places where we can go from this world - they have no actual location in this universe. And in reality, until the last judgment, our souls exist apart from any physical reality, until they are reunited with our bodies when God creates a new heaven and a new earth.

  5. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Mercy, quite a topic for a first visit--

    Great header quote.

    On hell, yes, Virginia, yes. 'Tis there. But...
    @ Mercury, it isn't about the "sheer odds" (Thank God!) but about faith and that narrow road you've (hopefully) chosen. And it's never too late to reverse course. I may be naive, but I believe Our Lady will be there to assist us at death if we complete the Five First Saturdays.

  6. Only then, eh? So (attempted) daily Rosary is not enough. I have to work every Friday night and all day every Saturday. There is no way or me to guarantee five first Saturdays off of work.

    I'm not so much worried about me as much as the fact that almost everyone I know is not Catholic or even Christian, or is living in the state or one serious sin or another, as far as I can tell. Most rosaries I pray are for the conversion of friends, but the sheer odds say most of them will be damned, even if a few manage to get saved.

    Again, why do Catholics at its all up to god and then say its all up to our efforts? Because the corollary of what I said above is that IF my friends are damned, it's my fault for not praying more.

    1. Our Lady has other means - not to worry.

    2. First Saturdays are impossible for me at the present time, but I might be able to wing first Fridays if I can find an early Mass around here.

  7. Anonymous7:33 AM


    I have not read Msgr. Pope's full post, and so I can't comment on it specifically. However, I do find within myself great anxiety when I read material that seems to be similar in approach to what he wrote. But what kind of anxiety, is an important question I think. It seems to me it's an anxiety that often turns me back towards myself, not in a way that inspires repantance really either - except perhaps out of dread - and then I find myself turning away from God in a sense, hoping less in His mercy and love, and away from others - again, unless I turn towards them again - trying to be charitable or do good things - though out of dread, to avoid Hell, namely.

    A holy fear of Hell is good and necessary, I think. But I do not think the approach that leads one continuely back to Hell, in and of itself, is often very effective, at least for me.

    I think what St. Faustina recorded, on one occasion, Jesus having said to her, is both rich in spiritual wisdom and also a more profound psychological insight than an emphasis on Hell:

    Jesus: "My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love. You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy" (St. Faustina's Diary,—88).

    It seems to me the logic of it goes like this: the more I focus on Hell in an isolated way, the more I seem to become a person who is perhaps "hellish" - turning away from God's mercy, turning away from others, having fear and anxiety, discouragement and the rest.

    If I have sinned, and have reason to fear Hell as a possibility for me, then it seems I should go to the Lord for pardon, but with confidence, putting more 'stock' in His desire to save than His desire to punish or send anyone to Hell.

    I think this is in line with the Church, at least in terms of what is expressed in the Catechism here:

    1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: ‘Lord, let me never be parted from you.’ If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved’ (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26).

    1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved.’

    I would not get sidetracked by speculation about percentages of how many are saved. The Church has never declared than anyone is in Hell, but instead encourages us to hope.


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