St John's Q&A

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Hell is not spoken of anymore"

Confessions and Adoration, tonight (8/11), 7 pm, SAA Church - We will expose the Eucharist and I will be available in the Church booths for Confession this Friday, starting at 7 pm. All are welcome!
An anonymous blogger wrote last week: "This is not pertaining to the theme but I was wondering one thing. When I was growing up and going to CCD classes, Hell was a big component of it. If you didn't go to Mass, didn't listen to your parents etc. were all roads that led to Hell we were taught. Hell is not spoken of anymore. Have the standards changed as to what could lead you there or has it become more symbolic?"

Thanks for this important question! Here are some of the notes I use when I give my talk about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (Judgement). I will post the notes on Hell first over the next week or so, and then Heaven, then Purgatory. Hope it helps! Please keep in mind that if we live in the Grace of Christ, we have nothing to fear.

a. Does it exist?

- refers to Hell 28 times and eternal punishment about 90 times in the Gospels
- uses the terms Hades, Gehenna, Eternal Fire, Field of blood
- Mk 9:43-48, e.g.
- Mt 10:28-“fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell
- Mt 25:46- those who don’t care for the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters “will go away to eternal punishment

-“wailing and grinding of teeth
- the good-for-nothing servant (Mt 25:30)
- children of the kingdom (of darkness) – Mt 8:12
- the man not dressed for the wedding feast – Mt 22:13

St. Paul
- for those who “refuse to accept the gospel of our Lord Jesus…their punishment is to be lost eternally, excluded from the presence of the Lord”(2 Thess 1:9)

St. Peter
- “when angels sinned, God did not spare them: he sent them down into the underworld and consigned them to the dark abyss to be held there until the Judgement”(2 Pet 2:4)

Book of Revelation
- “all those who worship the (devil) …will be tortured…forever”(14:10)

– early Church Fathers described Hell as “eternal punishment”; affirmed by early Church councils and Pope Benedict XII (1336)

- St Teresa of Avila: "I was at prayer one day when suddenly, without knowing how, I found myself...plunged into Hell...I felt a fire within my soul the nature of which I am incapable of describing. My bodily sufferings were so intolerable...and these are nothing by comparison with the agony of my soul, an oppression, a suffocation and an affliction so deeply felt"

- Fatima* – vision of Hell by children: sea of fire; demons and souls with burning embers, black and transparent; terrifying looking animals; children cried out for all to hear

b. What is it like?
-we only know what’s been revealed to us

Scripture (described above)

Church- “hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned and in which they are deprived of the sight of God and are in dreadful torments for all eternity” (Baltimore Catechism)

pain of loss
- being separated by God, rejected by Christ (“I know you not”-Mt 25:12)
- shame, regret, despair

pain of sense (torments)
-“fire” (of Gehenna) – “the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out” (Mt 3:12)
- principal means of torments that will be different than earthly fire because it will affect both body and soul

- the pain of the sense will be as nothing compared to the pain of loss

- “We must not ask where hell is, but how we are to avoid it” (St. John Chrysostom)

- Hell is eternal separation from God (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

- “hell is not a punishment imposed by God…it is the natural consequence of an unrepentant sinner’s choice against God” (Pope John Paul II)

- basically, when the person dies, he sees the face of God and he realizes at that moment that he is not worthy to be with God for all eternity; he realizes that he chose hell during his life (GWS)

*Fatima prayer: "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."


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