Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates
SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

On the Eternity of Hell

ON THE ETERNITY OF HELL

“And these shall go into everlasting punishment.”
Matthew 25:46

Were hell not eternal, it should not be hell. Torments which continue but a short time, are not a severe punishment. The man who is afflicted with an imposthume [an abscess] or cancer, submits to the knife or the cautery. The pain is very sharp; but, because it is soon over, the torture is not very great. But, should the incision or cauterization last for a week, or for an entire month, how frightful should be the agony! A slight pain in the eye, or in the teeth, when it lasts for a long time, becomes insupportable. Even a comedy, a musical entertainment, should it continue for an entire day, produces intolerable tediousness. And should it last for a month, or for a year, who could bear it? What then must hell be, where the damned are compelled, not to listen to the same comedy or the same music, nor to submit merely to pains in the eyes or in the teeth, or to the torture of the knife, or of the red-hot iron, but to suffer all pains and all torments? And for how long? For all eternity, “They shall be tortured forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

ElInfiernoHernandoDeLaCruzSigloXVIIThis eternity is of faith; it is not an opinion, but a truth attested by God in so many places in the Holy Scriptures. “Depart from me, you accursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). “And these shall go into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). “Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction” (cf 2 Thessalonians 1:9). “Everyone shall be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49). As salt prevents putrefication, so the fire of hell, while it tortures the damned, performs the office of salt by preserving their life. “Ignis ibi consumit,” says St. Bernard, “ut semper servet” (Medit., ciii).

Now, how great should be the folly of the man who, for the sake of a day's amusement, would voluntarily condemn himself to be shut up in a dungeon for twenty or thirty years! If he lasted but a hundred, or even but two or three years, it would be the extreme of folly in a Christian to condemn himself to fire for two or three years for the evil pleasure of a moment. But there is not a question of thirty, of a hundred, of a thousand, or of a hundred thousand years; but there is a question of eternity; there is question of suffering forever the same torments–torments which shall never end, and shall never be mitigated in the slightest degree. The saints, then, had reason, as long as they were on this earth, and in danger of being lost, to weep and tremble. Blessed Isaiah, even while he lived in the desert in fasting and penitential rigors, wept, and said, “Ah, unhappy me, who am not as yet free from the danger of losing my soul.”

Affections and Prayers

Ah, my God, if thou hadst sent me to hell, as I have often deserved, and hadst afterwards drawn me from it, how deeply should I feel my obligations to thee! What a holy life would I have commenced! And now that thou hast shown me mercy by preserving me from falling into that place of woe, what shall I do? Will I again offend thee and provoke thy wrath, that thou mayst send me to burn in that prison of rebels against thy majesty, where so many are buried in fire for fewer sins than I have committed? Ah, my Redeemer! I have hitherto done so; and in stead of availing myself of the time which thou gavest me to weep over my sins, I have spent it in provoking thee still more. I thank thy infinite goodness for having borne with me so long. If thy goodness were not infinite, how couldst thou have borne with me? I thank thee for having waited for me till now with so much patience. I thank thee in a most special manner for the light which thou now givest me, by which thou makest me see my folly, and the injury I have done thee in insulting thee so often by my sins. My Jesus, I detest them, and am sorry for them with my whole heart. Through the merits of thy passion, pardon me, and assist me with thy grace, that I may never more offend thee. I now have just reason to fear that, if I commit another mortal sin, thou wilt abandon me. My Lord, I entreat thee to place this just fear before my eyes whenever the devil shall tempt me to offend thee again. My God, I love thee; I do not wish ever more to lose thee; assist me by thy grace. O most holy Virgin, do thou also assist me. Obtain for me the grace always to have recourse to thee in my temptation, that I may never again lose my God. Mary, after Jesus, thou art my hope.

Editor’s Note: This meditation is from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Preparation for Death” (1758).

Art: “El Infierno” (Hell), padre Hernando de la Cruz (Father Hernando de la Cruz), siglo XVII (17th century), PD, Wikimedia Commons.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Jeanette

    A very sober and worthwhile reflection. Thanks.

    • LizEst

      Indeed! Thanks Jeanette…and God bless you!

  • Charles Saliba

    It still not clear enough that souls would be in a state of no recovery at all, considering the fact that eternal condemnation confirms that God is not after all omnipotent regarding evil, and evil itself is superior both to God’s love and mercy, and also to his wisdom and patience!

    What about Job 20:18 He shall be punished for all that he did, and yet shall not be consumed: according to the multitude of his devices so also shall he suffer.

    So according to the above, the wicked soul, shall be punished for all that it did,and according to the multitude of its devices it shall suffer, no more no less! never mind eternal suffering!

    Therefore there is definitely an endless process in order for God to recuperate all souls!

    To conclude, let’s reflect on John 6:39 Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day.

    We all know that God the Father, gave all the entire creation to his Son, since all by,in, and for his Son ” THE WORD”, the eternal Life itself, and Jesus declared that when he is lifted up, all things pass onto him!

    So what kind of eternal Life it would be if in a way or another, not for ALL the evil ones, in order to respect Jesus own statements: love your enemy Do good to them that hates you

    Now does it really make sense eternal condemnation?

    • LizEst

      It is clear. Please go back and re-read the quotes that St. Liguori, Doctor of the Church, elaborates on from Scripture itself. Besides being merciful, God is also just. In fact, His justice is mercy.

      We must not prooftext from the Bible to make a point. This does not respect the Word of God, which must be read in its entirety and taken as a whole. For if we pick and choose only what we like from God’s Word, we are not following Him, but are, rather, following ourselves. And, Lent is about conversion, not getting stuck in following our own egos.

      God bless you, Charles. May your Lent be fruitful.

      • Charles Saliba

        Besides being merciful, God is also just. In fact, His justice is mercy.

        I agree 100%

        Matthew 20:6 But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? 7They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard…….

        14: Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.

        15 Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good? 16 So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

    • Camila

      Charles,

      You are not the first person in history to raise this issue. In fact, Origen, in the 2nd century suggested the idea of final restoration. The second Council of Constantinople, in the 6th century, condemned Origenism.

      You can read more of it here:
      http//www.newadvent.orge/cathen/11306b.htm

      Cheers!

    • jcmeg56

      Dear Charles, the passage you cite in Job Is simply another way of saying the same thing the writer here is saying — that the suffering of hell is eternal, though the degree of the intensity of that suffering is measured by the wickedness of that soul’s conduct while on earth.

  • Jeanette

    Here follows a section from Sister Faustina’s Diary about her being enlightened that most of the souls in hell are those who disbelieved that there is a hell:

    “I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence…the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.” (Diary 741)

    • LizEst

      Wow, Jeanette! That is so powerful. I’m sure I had read it in the past but didn’t remember it. Thanks for sharing this with us and bringing it to our attention. God bless you! Happy Lord’s Day!

      • Jeanette

        Thanks Liz! Right after I read this post on the Eternity of Hell, I watched Dr. Ralph Martin on TV and he was talking about the existence of hell and quoted from the Diary of St. Faustina many times so I thought I would share this with all. Happy Lord’s Day to you too!

    • Charles Saliba

      Jesus to Faustina:

      Where a soul ……. from a human standpoint…. everything would already be LOST,

      it is not so with God.

      The miracle of Divine Mercy RESTORES that soul in full.

      Jesus to Faustina:

      And know this, too, My daughter: ALL creatures,

      whether they know it or not,
      and whether they want to or not,

      always FULFILL MY WILL.

      JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

      • LizEst

        Yes, God’s will manifests in two ways: as an active will and as a passive will. We are following his active will when we follow Him and do what He would have us do. His will manifests as a passive will when He permits things to happen for our greater good, for He has a way of bringing good even out of evil.

  • jcmeg56

    The darkened mind of the unregenerate soul does not appreciate the magnitude of the evil of sin, or conversely, the unspeakable mercy of God. Otherwise, it would throw itself down at the foot of the cross of Christ weeping tears of abject repentance, and there soar to heights of transcendant adoration at what The Lord has accomplished in the New Covenant of His blood.

  • LizEst

    This was an exceedingly long post so we have shortened it and ask you to please kindly review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here. After summarizing and shortening your post, feel free to resubmit. Thank you so much Charles Saliba. Here are the FAQ for you to review: http://spiritualdirection.com/frequently-asked-questions

  • Pingback: WEDNESDAY MORNING EDITION - BigPulpit.com()

  • LizEst

    Yes, He has worked for the redemption of all…but don’t be fooled. Not everyone will avail themselves of His redemptive work. Otherwise, why pray, why fight against evil, why be converted? Why not instead eat, drink and be merry? The person who thinks they are going to heaven without contrition, who presumes they are going to heaven without humility before God, without knowing that God is God and they are not, is gravely, and I mean gravely, mistaken. Now is the appointed time! Now is the time to turn to God!

    • Charles Saliba

      I agree in whatever you said,but that is not my point!

      A person was condemned to life imprisonment by a lie!
      When truth was established he was released!

      ALL souls are pouring down into hell because of a lie!

      The first fruits, regarding the flesh, which were subject to that lie were liberated by the sacrifice of the innocent flesh and blood of Jesus Christ! OUR FATHER IN THE TRUTH!
      We are still subject to that same lie, regarding our SOULS, so when the truth is established through Virgin Mary our mother as souls,IN THE TRUTH, ALL would be liberated, and Satan would be crushed once and for all.

      This in no way means that we DELIBERATELY sin!

      AND TILL THEN, Here where God’s justice through his wisdom of benignity works unfathomably since from the cross he said: Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing! WE ARE SUBJECT TO AN ILLUSION! LIE! BLAMELESS!

      JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

      • LizEst

        Charles – the very definition of sin means it is a willful and deliberate act or omission. This is what the Catechism says in its glossary: “Sin is a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the eternal law of God.”

        • Charles Saliba

          By all means!

          But a being has to be a being in the truth, in that moment in time he committed that sin!

          The fact that we must die, in order to LIVE in Christ, THE TRUTH!

          • LizEst

            Not sure what it is you are trying to say here, Charles. Perhaps you might rephrase it. Thanks.

            By the way, please refrain from typing your words using capital letters. The use of capital letters, in email and in posting on a site such as ours, indicates screaming or shouting. Please kindly review our Frequently Asked Questions here: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/frequently-asked-questions Thank you.

Skip to toolbar