Some Sobering Thoughts
At times I can’t avoid thinking, in the spur of the moment or, better said, as the thought jumps to my mind, “if I were to go to hell, at least I would have the consolation to know that my blog posts have helped other people to avoid my destiny”.
There is no consolation in hell. No idea of “helping”. No shred of charity.
On this earth, even evil people have good feelings for others, are capable of love, and at times can die for an ideal. But when the same people go to hell, whatever “good” they had goes away from them in the same way as when one enters Paradise all evil has been purged from him. In hell there will, certainly, be degrees of evil. But there will be no degree of good.
If, therefore, I were to send myself to hell (and as I write this, a shudder goes down my spine: Ingemisco, tamquam reus. Culpa rubet vultus meus. Supplicanti parce, Deus!) there would be, down there, no consolation whatever. I would hate myself, and I would hate those who are saved as well as those who are damned. I would not have a shred of compassion or sympathy for anyone. I would hate God for sending me there. I would hate myself for having in fact, sent myself there. I would hate the punishment I know I deserve. I would hate the saints for the mercy they have, for their part, collaborated in obtaining if, of course, not strictly “deserved”.
I would, simply, hate.
This also answers the second thought I have at times: if God were to send me to hell, I hope I would at least accept his decision in obedience and for love of God, knowing that I have deserved it.
No I wouldn’t. I would rebel to it. I would hate it, and I would hate God for it. I would hate God as I know He is right and I am wrong. I would hate God because I know He is right and I am wrong.
The third thought that sometimes pops in my mind is “If I were to go to hell, the compassion for me of those I have loved, and are in heaven, would still be assured”.
Those who are in heaven do not have compassion for those who are in hell. They do not suffer for their suffering. No sadness at their destiny clouds their spotless, supernatural, perfect joy. They know that everything is according to God’s will, and therefore everything is perfectly arranged. They are perfectly – as far as their nature allows – aligned with God’s will. What God wants, they want. What God has decreed, is perfectly merciful and perfectly just. More so, the souls in heaven are given insights of the torture of hell so that the Mercy of the Lord who saved them may be more thoroughly appreciated, and the Justice of the Lord may be seen in all his power. They see God’s triumph in its fullness.
Therefore, those who love me on this earth will, if the very worst were to happen (shuddering again…) be aware of my shame, but not suffer for that. Not in the least. Actually, it may be said the sight of my sufferance will be an element of their perfect joy. What a sobering thought; and what a shudder, again, down my spine. Preces meæ non sunt dignæ: Sed tu bonus fac benigne, Ne perenni cremer igne.
Whenever I reflect on these two aspects, I cannot but conclude how finely tuned God’s system is.
We are denied any and every consideration concerning hell beginning with the words “at least…”.
Hell is the total failure, the utter disgrace; a failure and a disgrace out of which no consolation whatever arises, a suffering that will never have a positive side to it. Yes, God may concede to the souls in hell, out of sheer Mercy, to have their suffering lessened, and in this lessening of suffering the damned soul may find a comparative relief, that he might, perhaps, call happiness in the only way he can now conceive it. But the lessening of an evil does not transform it in its contrary. In hell there is no love, there is no joy, and there is no consolation. It’s as brutal as that.
Compared to this, nothing else counts.
We must pray, stay near to the Sacraments, pray every day for those we love, pray that the Lord’s Mercy may spare us. We must have a sensible, solid Hope, but never stop being scared Obamaless at the though of where complacency may easily lead us.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Kasperite madness is the beginning of hell.
Whenever I have the aforementioned thoughts, I can’t avoid thinking:
Flammis acribus addictis:
Voca me cum benedictis.
And so I wish of you too, my dear readers, that we all may be called where there is only spotless joy, supernatural happiness beyond comprehension.
It’s not easy to be a Catholic, and we do not have the easy, complacent assurance of most Proddies and, alas, so many cafeteria Catholics.
But how more salutary is our fear.
Posted on May 5, 2014, in Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
Very well written. I think a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach in regards to salvation is a million times better than the ‘its not hurting anyone’ nonsense that many so called Catholics delude themselves with.
This posting reads very much like St. Alphonsus Liguori.
An excellent post. However, “In hell there will, certainly, be degrees of evil. But there will be no degree of good.” That seems self-nullifying. Isn’t evil the absence of good? Doesn’t having degrees of something imply the presence of something else, in variation? Is it possible to have “degrees of evil” without a “degree of good”?
I can’t see how you can avoid it.
Is Stalin not worse than the chap who died without believing?
It is good to reflect on these things as often as possible. I agree with everything you said, only I do not understand where Luke 16:19-31 fits in with this rationale. Recall the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers to do penance and escape this eternal damnation and torture of Hell. Scripture reveals that there is some sort of “compassion/worry/desire to help another” in Hell, no?
I always understood the episode as a special exception made for Lazarus so that we all, besides his children, may profit from his lesson. But as the evil unavoidably implies the absence of good, hell must imply the absence of love. This is, as I understand it, the way hell was always looked at.
Just looking on the internet very shortly, I have found this EWTN article called, appropriately, “Hell is where there is no love”. The author puts it very simply: “To be in hell is to be locked into one’s ego forever, to be blind to all that is beautiful and good and true, to be incapable of reaching out to another to say, I love you”. And in fact, if one in love were able to love, it is difficult to see how he could avoid starting by loving God: the most evident, obvious, strong, immediate source of love there is. And if the damned cannot see and react to God’s love for them, how could they react to the infinitely smaller love of their beloved ones for them?
Wikipedia also cites St. Augustine in this way:
“Saint Augustine of Hippo said that the suffering of hell is compounded because God continues to love the sinner who is not able to return the love”.
Again, it makes sense to me. Hell is, again, where there is no love.
Excelent, Sir. What a great blog!
Hugs from Argentina!
Thank you, Sir!
I really like this somber article, M. It fits perfectly an experience that I have had lately through the grace of God. I would say now, fear even purgatory. Expect it but do your penance constantly now, while alive. I would say imagine that souls in hell are permanently tortured in their ‘minds’. Imagine the worst, and it’s worse than that. I recently visited a loved one who was harassed and tortured by a psychosis. She came as near as I have ever seen to the descriptions I have read of suffering souls (in purgatory)- in born appearance and state of mind/suffering. I now fear purgatory. I also praise God in His Mercy that by a singular grace I was able to realise that this was an act of Mercy, this suffering, so that she can atone while still on earth (not for long as she has cancer in various forms). I also wish to share Gods amazing grace- she converted to Catholic Easter Sunday Morning (a week before she started to get this ill). He knows All and Plans All, as you said, M.
As wonderful, thoughtful, and reasoned as it is somber and sobering.