St Francis 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."


  • Wow!! I really need the start reading the bible!

    Thanks for the passages!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 PM  

  • Coming back to church, I have noticed that the newly ordained priests are much more conservative than in the past. Is it because the church is going back to more traditional times?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:06 AM  

  • I Have a question that my sister wanted me to ask of you Fr. Greg and maybe others would be interested to hear also...
    Recently at her church (which is in New Mexico) she has noticed that one of the priests at her church is saying things in his homily that she feels are not what the "Church" believes. Apparently he doesn't believe that Christ is really returning, that he is already here in our hearts and really doesn't need to return. Also at communion when giving out the body of Christ he doesn't say those words. My sister got very concerned over this and even felt that what he was preaching was more new age religion and not true Catholism. When she discussed this with him he told her maybe she should just not go to his masses. But When she discussed her concerns with the Pastor of her church he was adamant that she again approach him with her concerns. She is beginning to feel like she is in the middle of these 2 priests at her church, and is feeling a little uncomfortable. She certainly doesn't want to cause upheaval but she also doesn't feel that the 1 priest is preaching what the church truly believes. I also noticed while at her church that their tabernacle isn't on or near the altar and is back in a whole separate room. So the Anon comment about the newly ordained priests being more conservative is refreshing and hopefully that is the case. But what advice can be given to my sister about her concerns with what her priest is preaching? She is trying to follow what the Pastor tells her to do but she sometimes feels uncomfortable. We remembered the passage in the bible where Christ says if you have an issue with your brother you are to approach him about it. If that doesn't help then go get another believer and the 2 approach him. Maybe that is what the Pastor is trying to do here with wanting my sister to continuely be addressing this issue with him. She is worried that some priests are becoming too liberal even to the point of sounding like a completely different religion and beliefs. What do parishoners do when we question what a priest preaches? Do priests get some kind of checking up on them from time to time on their beliefs being in sinc with the church?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

  • Anon #3...thanks for your question. Can you send me an email, so that I can respond privately. I think that would be more appropriate. My email address is under my 'profile'. Thanks, and I will try to respond to your question this week.

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 12:21 PM  

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