Friday, November 01, 2013

"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go..." - OL of Fatima

Theological/academic arguments notwithstanding.

If anyone is confused about what the Church teaches regarding Hell, consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Then pray for the forgiveness of your sins, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of souls.
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618
Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":621 - CCC

O my Jesus
forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell,
lead all souls to heaven,
especially those most in need
of thy mercy.

I wouldn't wish hell on my worst enemy. 


  1. Related:

  2. I fear this so much. And all that about "servile fear" in the above quote, seeing God my enemy, someone who wants nothing more than to blast me for offending him.

    I know hell is real - how can it not be? But the impression one gets from tradition that just about everyone goes there is enough to bring one to despair.

    And then there is the constant repetition of lines like "even the just man is scarcely saved" and all the stuff about "few who find it [the way]" ... it's hard enough trying to avoid tying myself in knots with servile fear for myself, but that's not even to mention all of the people I love very much who DON'T make the effort to live according to the Gospel, who seem to be blissfully in their sins, so many not even aware of what sin is or why it's dangerous.

    I pray for them, and I pray for ALL souls, but it's so, so, hard to trust that God really will provide them with the grace they need, and that people really will repent.

    A guy that was friends with my parents died this weekend. I don't know that he was religious, I know his life was pretty screwed up. All I can do for him is pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet.

    And I just hope, hope, hope that some - many - do indeed "slip through the crack in the door" of God's Mercy in the very end.

    I just find it so schizophrenic to say "trust in God's Mercy" but then to say how severely strict the Judgment is (a la John of the Cross in the above link) and how so very very few make it.

    If the Judgment is so strict, how do any of us have a prayer? How can we even begin to hope for the people who have died who don't seem to have died as good Catholics?

  3. Facebook has few redeeming qualities, other than it allows me to stay in touch with my siblings and a few friends in a much more casual way that email just doesn't allow.

    From time to time it also offers a startling look at what people believe and how they think. It must have been during the election when one of the conservative candidates made remarks about his belief in hell. I am generally used to my liberal friends' posts, but I was astonished at their reaction to the candidate's remarks, which was their complete disbelief in hell, satan, or any kind of evil that wasn't "man-made." The mockery went on and on.

    The door is indeed narrow, but perhaps there won't be that much competition for squeezing through the entrance.

  4. But do we just give up and stop hoping when such people die, or pray and really hope that God got them in the end somehow?

    1. We pray and hope before and after they die--and we spend our lives trying to convert them. This doesn't mean you have to stand on the street corner with a bible in your hand, but be a good example, try to reach out to those closest to you, and go after a wider circle if you have it in you. Don't despair--never despair.

  5. "I wouldn't wish hell on my worst enemy." Not even the demons. St. Francis even prayed for the demons--even though he knew it wouldn't do any good.

    One Catholic mystic I recall had a strange experience where he was being tempted in a dream by a demon posing as a sexually-charged young woman. Out of compassion he tried to talk to the demon about love but the demon just ignored him and kept on pawing him. The mystic wouldn't give up, and so finally the demon gave up and looked him in the face. With a cold and almost sad expression the demon just shook "her" head as if to say, it's too late for that. How sad--an eternity without love.

  6. I pray for the dead - I can't know the state of their soul. Even for those whose conduct was far from virtuous, much less exemplary, I pray for them because I have a childlike confidence that our Lord could have anticipated my prayers and had mercy upon them. I pray every night for a dear friend who died in his sleep, far away from the Church.

    1. When Father Groeschel was still active I had the honor of seeing him several times and on one such occasion he told a story about a widow who went in to a church where St. John Vianney was hearing confessions. Amid hundreds of people, he called out her name in a loud voice. She was taken aback since they had never met. Anyway, she came to St. John and she was crying as she approached him. Fr. Groeschel went on to finish by telling us that St. John comforted the widow after she told him she was in fear for her dead husband's souls as he had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge and died as an unbeliever.

      St. John is said to have told her to fear no more but to rejoice since as her husband was nearing the waters, he cried out to the Virgin Mary and asked her to pray for him. Our Lady hearing his plea, went before the throne of Almighty God, interceded for the poor man, and the Lord, looking with pity upon the poor man, rescued him from final damnation and all because He heard our Lady's prayer and because he can deny her nothing.

      After the story, Fr. Groeschel reminded us all to never give up hope when we are concerned about out loved ones who are away from the faith, who no longer believe in God. He said that we should not despair either but to cling to Jesus in all things.

      That is the hope that sustains my prayers for my loved ones and for friends who do not believe or who abandoned their Catholic long as we shall live, let us never stop praying, never lose hope.

      Like St. Paul says, let us:
      Rejoice in hope
      endure our affliction
      persevere in prayer!

      Happy Feast of all Saints everyone!

  7. I see absolutely ZERO good that can come out of believing my loved ones have gone to hell. Zero. I much prefer to pray for them and to have hope in the mercy of God. And I also believe it is easy to think our sins are less than those we try to evangelize, but often quite the opposite may be true. The family member who died far away from the sacraments may have a far easier time at the pearly gates than we do. Only God knows what goes on in people's hearts.

    After all, last time I checked, not a single one of us--not one, no matter how much we follow the "rules"--earns salvation. That is a free gift from God, and He gives that gift to whom He pleases. His framework for giving that gift may have little to do with ours, especially given that at the very best, we see through a glass, darkly.

  8. I've been trying harder as of late to not tell people "go to Hell!" when I lose my temper and get uber-frustrated. It's quite possibly the very worst thing a person can tell another person.

    Hi Terry.

  9. Hi Larry. My Italian friend's parents used to say, va fa Napoli - run together vafanap. Literally it means go to Naples - although it means the same thing.

  10. You can always try "Go to Helsinki!" ;)

  11. Thanks everyone, especially Yaya for that awesome story!

  12. Mercury,

    I try to remember Saint Claude de la Colombière's Act of Confidence in God:


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.