Wednesday, January 9, 2008


No one talks about hell anymore. Reflections on Hell can actually be strengthening for the soul, in my experience anyway. In Preparation for Death, St. Alphonsus Liguori's vivid descriptions of the torments of hell make any trial of this world seem small and endurable. Pondering on eternity, and saying the words "forever and ever and ever," like St. Teresa of Avila, has straightened out many a life. To quote from an article:
The social message of Jesus was tied into the Final Judgment that everyone eventually has to face. Jesus contrasted the fate of the blessed with that of the damned in His Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the Beggar (Lk. 16:19-31; NAB). Jesus spoke of the evildoer as being in the netherworld, separated from the just by an impassable chasm, and tormented in flames.

Note that Jesus' imagery of damnation fits well not only with the Apocalypse of Enoch but also with the message of John the Baptist: "The one who is coming after me...will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Mt. 3:11-12; NAB).

Jesus added to the frightening picture of the punishment that awaited evildoers with various warnings He addressed to His listeners. Consider the following reference to a "fiery furnace": "Just as weeds are collected and burned (up) with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth" (Mt. 13:40-42; NAB).

Similarly, Jesus promised that when He returned in all His glory, He would send the accursed "goats" into "the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt. 25:41; NAB).

Who then will be saved? Michael Liccione discusses the question. Share


Anonymous said...

I am in favor of capitol punishment and Hell, because for many of us they are the deciding factor between wrong and right.

elena maria vidal said...

Hearing about Hell has probably kept many people out of Hell.

Anonymous said...

Thank you VERY much to the link. Since Sunday I had been in a state of confusion due to the homily I heard. It was compounded by my copy of First Things this past Monday and a on-line homily of another priest discussing the conversion of the wise men (pagans).

I left Sunday's Mass wondering what message my Jewish husband would have taken from it if he had attended with us. I felt it would be probably —things are just find where I am at ... if I follow the my faith. But, what about it one's faith preaches it is okay to permit abortion and support gay marriages etc.? So the statement for the link site, causes more questions. Is that all they need to do to be "saved"?:

"Jews can be saved if they look forward in hope to the Messiah and try to ascertain whether God’s promise has been fulfilled ..."

I also walked away wondering why we are called to "evangelize". Which I was relieved to read this statement below ... that is relieved somewhat that others are also confused:

" ... A lot of people, including not a few Catholics, still do not see how to reconcile the imperative of evangelization with the real possibility of non-Christians being saved ..."

After reading the other priest's homily which addressed "occult" practices, I couldn't help but think about Oprah's 2008 instructional plans to teach The Course in Miracles, which supposedly was channeled messages from Jesus, who claims there are no sins.

FT's article and somewhat the author of the link, talk about "seekers", but many people I have come across believe they have "found" their "truth". Why else share, The Course in Miracles, if you are still seeking?

Again, thanks for posting the link.

Elena maria I had the same thoughts as a young teen ...

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, pml! Nothing like a bad homily for sowing confusion and precipitating inner darkness. I always think of people like St Francis Xavier and the North American Jesuit martyrs who saw their apostolic labors and sufferings and prayers as being necessary for the salvation of thousands of pagan souls. St. Francis Xavier could have had a comfortable job teaching at the Sorbonne and let the pagans all make it to salvation on their own. But no, he chose to risk his life and ruin his health by traveling to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel. Where is such zeal now?

Anonymous said...

Elena, the priest that gave the homily is a very good priest and I think that perhaps he just didn't reflect on how his words would come across to some ... especially, the less educated, such as myself. I cannot be harsh on him. The observation & issue raised on the website you linked -

" ... A lot of people, including not a few Catholics, still do not see how to reconcile the imperative of evangelization with the real possibility of non-Christians being saved ..."

—should probably have been addressed during his homily. If it was, I might not have left so confused and filled with questions. Further, I cannot say that Cardinal Dulles' article cleared up all of my questions either—especially, since my copy of FT had the section of the article cut-off! So I don't know how he concludes with his thoughts. I appreciated the bit of history he provided.

Fortunately for me, I do see and have encounter several priests with zeal and I pray they receive the needed graces to continue; but also for those priests, for whatever reason cannot muster it, that they receive it.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, pml, we do so need to pray for our priests. Mercifully, there are so many with sound theological training on-line.