Sunday, April 1, 2018

Meditation On Hell

I write this mediation on hell on Easter Sunday. This would not normally be the time to think about hell. Easter Sunday is the most joyous day of the year. Today we celebrate Jesus Christ gaining victory over sin, death and hell. Because of the great sacrifice and resurrection by God Himself, we sinful human beings, deserving only of death, have now had the Gates of Heaven flung open to us. There is nothing we can do to merit this. It is a free gift given to us by a Loving God. All we need to do is admit our sinfulness and accept the Love of Jesus Christ and allow that Love to grow within us. We gave death to God, and He gives us Eternal Life. And it is Eternal Life filled with such complete happiness and joy that our mortal human minds cannot begin to comprehend it.

God dying for man? It is absurd to our human minds. In all of man's religions, human beings must constantly strive to please their god, and be happy for any crumbs that may fall their way. No pagan gods ever did anything to save those who worshipped them. On the contrary, the Christian God knows how incapable we are of ever doing anything on our own that would be remotely pleasing to Him. So He came to earth as one of us, lived in our miserable sinful world as one of the lowliest of the low, and then allowed us to crucify Him as a common criminal in payment for our sins. In human terms, God's Way makes no sense at all. But as we are told in Isaiah 55:8, God's ways are not our ways. God's Way is Love - ultimate, totally giving, unselfish love of which no human being of and by himself is capable.

As long as we are alive, God is calling out to us, offering His mercy and forgiveness. He is the father of the prodigal son, waiting and watching for us to come back home, and as soon as we make the slightest sign of turning to Him, He is right there welcoming us, showering us with His Love. In fact, those who are drowning in sin are the ones Our Lord calls to the most. Sin actually draws God in the same way that disease draws a physician. As Jesus said, He came to save sinners, not the righteous. Romans 5:20 tells us that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. The US Government enacted a law called No Child Left Behind. Our God has a policy of no human being left behind, no matter how sinful. Our Lord's Precious Blood covers all sin, no exceptions. No human being is dispensable in the Eyes of God.

This is why we say that God is Love. Everything He does is love. However, one major characteristic of love is that it never takes away the freedom of the beloved. Love never forces itself upon another. Love is always there, always ready to give at a moment's notice, but only if the other allows it. Love always allows for rejection. And so even though Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for our salvation, He still allows us to reject Him.

The result of rejecting Jesus Christ's love and sacrifice is hell. What is hell? To put it in simple terms, hell is separation from God. What exactly does separation from God mean? It means the total and complete absence of God. The reality of those four words" Complete Absence Of God", is more horrifying than our minds can comprehend. Without God, there is no love, no hope, no light. There is nothing good, no beauty, no joy or contentment of any kind. There is only evil.

The reason our human minds cannot comprehend God is because we cannot comprehend total goodness. We are sinful human beings living in a sinful, fallen world. Complete goodness, perfect love, perfect beauty - these are things that none of us have ever experienced. Likewise, we have never experienced total evil. Even in the most evil of circumstances, the most evil of people, God is still present. The Divine Presence does not allow for total, unmitigated evil in this world. He is never not present. His mercy and love are always available to us, no matter the state of sinfulness and evil.

Think of the Nazi death camps. This is what many would think of as hell. But even in the death camps, God was still there. We saw this in St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the ultimate example of goodness. But you can be sure there were others who showed kindness and caring. And even without that, those who were in the camps could still have hope that they would one day escape their misery, either through liberation or death itself. Even while in these camps, the prisoners could still look up and see the blue sky during the day, stars at night. They could hear birds sing, feel a soft breeze on their face. And people could still pray. God's mercy and love was present even in these death camps.

But this is not so in hell. There is no reprieve from the unremitting evil in hell. We are told that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since God the Holy Spirit is not in hell, you will not find any of these fruits in hell. Jesus Christ said He was the Light of the World. Since Jesus Christ is not in hell, you will find no light in hell. Jesus said God's Word is truth. Since God's Word - neither the Written nor Living Word of God - are in hell, there is no truth in hell. Jesus told us if we seek we will find, if we knock, it will be opened to us. But there will be absolutely no access to God in hell, no way to seek for him. We will be completely cut off. There is no wisdom in hell. There is no beauty in hell, There is nothing good in hell because God is not in hell. You can talk about fire and brimstone. Maybe that is true. But the real horror of hell is separation from God. There can be nothing worse.

Just to get this out of the way, we recently had the misleading report that Pope Francis said there is no hell.  That, of course, is ridiculous.  Pope Francis has spoken of the devil and hell many times.  The very fact that he has promoted confession shows his awareness of sin and evil, and how much in need we are of God's forgiveness.  Remember when Pope Francis excommunicated anyone belonging to the Mafia?  As he told them “There is still time not to end up in hell, which awaits you if you continue on this road.”  You can read this HERE.  So please, don't even go there.  Pope Francis most definitely believes in hell.  His entire ministry is about pulling people from hell and leading them to the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

So how do we make sure we are on the road to heaven and not the pathway to hell?  The first and most important virtue we need is humility.  Without true humility, you are just easy prey for the adversary.  Humility is nothing more than realizing our sinfulness and how much in need we are of God's mercy and forgiveness.  When you are truly aware of your own sinfulness, you will never judge others.  When you realize you are a sinner worthy only of condemnation, and then experience God's complete and unmerited forgiveness, it will produce a great love in you first for God who has forgiven you, and then for the rest of the world for whom God died.

As St. Augustine wrote, humility is the foundation of all virtues. It therefore follows that pride - the opposite of humility which caused the downfall of Satan - is the ultimate spiritual cancer. Pride is trusting in yourself, feeling that you know better and are better than other men, just as Christ showed us in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. If you never acknowledge your own sinfulness, or if you forget that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, you will start trusting in yourself and become filled with pride. When that happens, you have become easy prey for the evil one. You must always be aware of the fact that without God, Satan can take you down in a second. Humility will lead you to heaven. Pride will lead you to hell. There are no humble people in hell.  Those who go to hell are those who trusted in themselves.

It is not a pleasant thing to contemplate hell.  But we need to do this every once in a while to remind ourselves of how vulnerable we are.  We are all deserving of hell.  But we have also also been given a complete reprieve from our earned place in hell, that place of unremitting darkness, evil and suffering.  Jesus Christ offers a place with Him for all eternity and all the immense joy and beauty that comes with being in His Presence.  The choice is ours.  


  1. Hello CIB, Happy and Joyful Easter! Christ is Risen Indeed!!! On the topic of avoiding Hell, sorry if I am promoting myself, but every so often I pick up one of St Alphonsus Liguori’s Ascetic Works, and do reflections on my blog, Servimus Unum Deum. St Alphonsus has great advice in his first volume, “Preparation for Death”. My reflection on that work is here:

  2. Catholic in Brooklyn, do you currently agree with what Michael Voris has had to say about Hell?

    1. Can you give me a summary of what he says?

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following link/URL:

    3. I guess technically I agree with Voris in some respects. But he presents hell as punishment from God getting back at us for being such rotten sinners. In another video I watched, Voris said the souls in hell want to be with God, and at the same time, Voris said they don’t want to be with God. If anyone truly wants to be with God, he or she will be with God. The souls who go to hell are those who have rejected God. Hell is not so much a place of punishment but is given to human beings for the same reason it was given to the fallen angels - it is a place for those who have rejected God. Without the saving Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we were all doomed to hell because we all belonged to Satan. Christ redeemed us - He bought us back from Satan, the price being His Precious Blood. Now we go to hell only if that is what we choose. The sad part is that we may be rejecting God and choosing hell without being fully aware of it.

    4. Voris has insisted that very few are saved. You might want to check out the following link/URL:

    5. That is a beautiful article, CS. Thank you very much for sharing that. I amend my previous comment. They only people who go to hell are those who willingly and freely choose to reject God. You cannot go to hell *accidentally*. Thank you again

    6. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following link/URL:

    7. Interesting article. It is curious that while we are often given definitive proof that there are people in heaven, and thus we have canonized saints, the Holy Spirit has never revealed one individual who is in hell. Hell is a real place reserved for those who obstinately reject the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. But it is seneseless for anyone to speculate on who or how many are in hell. That information is strictly withheld from mortal human beings. The only thing we know for sure is that only those who have made a conscious decision to reject God will be there. And there is no way we can make that judgment about anyone because we can’t get inside of anyone’s head. And we also know that mercy of God is without end. There is no answer as to how many go to hell.


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