The Great Mercy of Hell Proves Absolutely the Infinite Love of God
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
“Hell is ruled by time, not by true eternity.” – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica1
For many sophisticated people, Hades (or the Dark Place) is only a state of mind, perhaps just a mere cognitive construct, though it be a mere parody. But, if Heaven (in various ways) can be believed in by millions of folks, why not belief in its direct opposite? In any event, how can anyone seriously discuss the proposition that the place of Perdition is integrally emblematic of something such as mercy?
Secularism, of course, simply abhors this kind of unenlightened notion as being as nonsensical, as is religion itself, in the mind of a truly dedicated advocate of societal and cultural laicism, especially for its own sake. But, the spiritual and religious lethargy and pietistic illusions of this misconceived age must be both piously and forcefully shocked back into requisite reality. Enlightenment is the road to Hell.
New Age “religions” (being, at bottom, narcissistic cults) would commonly see the assumed incongruity between Hell and mercy, especially more so in ever seeing God’s love manifested infinitely by the actual existence of the Infernal Regions. But, if one posits that the Lord of All is absolutely perfect in being, by definition, the Almighty Being of Perfection itself, then the holy mercy of the Lord must, by definition, be absolutely equal to His sacred justice, to the Eternal Truth; otherwise, there could be, in fact, no God truly worthy of such a supreme designation expecting awe and worship from His human creatures.
For it has been well said, many times, that the real polar opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. The Christian God is not indifferent. Unlike, e. g., the nihilistic Hindu nirvana that preaches the total extinction of the individual soul on the supposed road to perfection, the both Jewish and Christian understanding of the Divinity and its related soteriology does not include the total (Hindu) annihilation of the human spirit at any point in time. And, this critical point is more, much more, significant than is usually realized or comprehended. How so?
In Christian, especially Roman Catholic, theology, the love of God for His creation means that even evil souls are not to be exterminated or eradicated, either deliberately or through indifference; there is a now eternally existing place for them because of the great abundance of the Lord’s blessed mercy, yes, a truly quite bountiful divine mercy at that.
A Supreme Divinity, however, having no such mercy would be theologically impossible in both Jewish and Christian thinking; this is, fundamentally, since such a supposed Absolute Being would thereby lack the requisite Godlike perfection of absolute love as well. These highly essential points will be further elucidated and logically extrapolated concerning a horrible place filled with condemned souls who have a tremendously spiteful ingratitude, thanklessness, toward their Almighty Creator.
And, yes, the many seeming paradoxes or conundrums involved will be here resolved both theologically and religiously, philosophically and intellectually.
God’s Love Overtly Manifested in Hell
In Catholic theology, therefore, the creation of Hell was not an act of hate; it was, however, an act of the fullest love for those of God’s human creatures who so decided to obey their own sinful wills, meaning instead of adhering to the always holy will of God. While the Lord hates evil and all evildoing, He cannot hate the creaturely reality of His own creation, since creation by God is always an act of love, not hate. The merciful reality of Hell, therefore, absolutely proves the infinite love of God for all human creatures, including those who willfully abused their free will and chose to commit unrepented mortal sins.
However, modern minds or, in addition, today’s postmodern minds do see only a complete paradox, a dilemma, or total contradiction between the asseveration of a good God and, on the other hand, a Being who could freely create and lovingly sanction the surely horrible existence of Hell. The primary reason, for this much unneeded confusion of thought, is the unfortunate existence of nominalism in thinking that celebrates many perverse degrees relativism, subjectivism, and, in the penultimate, nihilism before the final arrival of insanity, the last “refuge” of truly dedicated nominalists.
Thus, e. g., there are now growing numbers of delusional people who demand that they be actually seen as being dogs, cats, birds, etc. because – why? – they do imperiously say so. It is of the same mentality as those who posit that an all-loving Deity, according to their subjective reasoning, simply couldn’t ever really permit anyone or, perhaps, maybe only a very few (extremely bad) souls to go to the Fiery Region; this ignores the fact that, as (orthodox) Catholics are supposed to be taught, Hell is a necessary part of God’s holy plan for salvation, not something created as a kind of thoughtless whim or, worse still, just an empty gesture; damnation, thus, is not a meaningless function of mere existentialist symbolism.
Millions stubbornly refuse to see Hell as a place of divine justice (and love) and prefer, instead, a rather grandfatherly Santa Claus of a God who forgives all and love all unconditionally always and to the nth degree; this is, however, a certainly much worse fantasy than Santa Claus ever could be. They do prefer to cognitively divide God’s justice from the Lord’s mercy, as the nominalist’s divide faith from reason, which, in turn, points directly back to the integral heart of the false problem absurdly created by the nominalists themselves, not by the Supreme Being.
For God, by definition, is not schizophrenic; therefore, all those foolish people who do stridently deny and vociferously reject Aristotelean-Thomistic realism are, in fact, mentally schizophrenic, though, of course, they are inherently unable to either recognize or diagnose their truly unfortunate condition.
Instead of rejecting their contradictory, unreasonable, and illogical nominalism, they perceive a God divided against Himself; this usually produces forms or types of a weird Manicheanism under various euphemisms, more so, as one could guess, in blatant terms of secularism these days. How may this assertion, in effect, of a schizophrenic God be illustrated to easily prove its inherent falsity?
A theoretically “plainly merciless” Supreme Deity (though an impossibility) would both imperially and imperiously annihilate any and all souls that did not measure up to His standards of haughty acceptance to better “prove” that there is, in fact, a real limit, not an abundance, to His love. Thus, there would be a category of human souls, thought so tremendously unworthy of the supreme concerns of the Divinity, such that their instant and contemptuous evisceration unto a meaningless nothingness, a total oblivion, would be so infinitely pleasing to such a rather spiteful Godhead. This thought would be, however, a rather vicious and venomous conception of the nature of the metaphysical order that actually exists.
But, really now, any Supreme Being of such a coldhearted and malicious nature would be seen as not being worth worshipping but, rather, only worthy of being held in deserved contempt for so studiously reviling and denigrating His own creation through their despised and utter annihilation. One sees, now, clearly that Hell is not at all a contradictory place, but it is abundantly a genuine manifestation of the great love of God for His creation; this is because of the pronounced respect given to man’s free will, his own beingness, to choose between good and evil, for the astounding existence of the rational soul, possessing a human conscience, exalts in eternity mere mortal flesh and blood, the physical body.
Only a nihilistic Deity (filled with self-hate) would hate the beingness of the being, the ontology of the existence, of its own creation, though God is free to hate evil and love that which is good; for Creation, inclusive of the rational sensate beings qua creatures, is good; all of Creation, therefore, testifies to a loving Lord who honors being and its cognate beingness as an ontological extension of the total reality, which has emanated from the supernatural, metaphysical, reality created by the Creator-God Himself, the very Ultimate Being of all being whatsoever and wherever considered.
The forever overwhelming profundity of all this vital cognition as to the meta-epistemology operating, consequently, ought not to be ignored or dismissed as having no value for human beings, the creatures of Creation exercising their innate, though entirely always contingent, beingness.
The amazing situation of how an almighty Supreme Being, condescended excessively to allow for the actual existence of rational souls in mortal creatures, is too often not considered as to the absolutely profound metaphysical issues involved to the nth degree; and yet, this is all an understatement of an enormous magnitude concerning the always incredible realty that was literally created from nothing by the mere (loving) will of supernatural power alone, the ultimate Mystery of Being. What is morally, philosophically, and spiritually meant as to the tremendous implications and incredible ramifications?
Serious contemplation and deliberate cogitation of a very high order easily seems much, much more than just simply requisite, consequently, to how human gratitude, even multiplied a billion fold, would necessarily be entirely inadequate as a rational and needed response; this consideration concerns the meaning involved as to such an act of pure charity toward totally subsidiary, imperfect, and contingent creatures.
How can one gain, therefore, some better and proper perspective as to the truly fantastic metaphysical magnitude of what was done by Divine fiat? From outer space, people look no bigger than seemingly insignificant microbes circulating or merely existing upon the planet.
And yet, a loving, ever-caring God is ever mindful of all the beings within and beyond the entire universe simultaneously, including all the insane atheists who can absurdly look at the unadulterated night sky, in all its incredibly bountiful magnificence, and yet boldly say that there is no visible or empirical proof of God’s existence; the factually ignored contingency of all being, and its necessarily cognate beingness, so absolutely evades their too cramped, perverted, limited minds. So, Divine Providence is real.
Thus, even a bad soul gets the respect of never being dismissively erased from metaphysical reality, as if it were only so much just discardable, futile, meaningless trash, having then no real significance or true import whatsoever. Such is never the case, however, with the Supreme Lord Almighty, the true Divinity existing from everlasting to everlasting, meaning before and after (the merely earthly concept of) time.
Hell affirmatively acknowledges that the irretrievably damned souls still do possess value and are not (idiosyncratically or otherwise) regarded by an indifferent God as, thus, being inconsiderable creatures of utter worthlessness, of neglectable insignificance as so much trivial rubbish or just useless detritus.
Moreover, the vital importance of the Infernal Regions is due to its inhabitants and because, in fact, it too shares in being a definitive part of all of God’s blessed creation; thus, an informed Christian will suitably praise the existence of such a place as a genuine manifestation of the Lord’s love and deep devotion toward His creation. Both Good and Evil are truly observed parts of the good Lord’s plan of blessed salvation.
Nonetheless, the chief characteristic of the Underworld is that which is lacking, namely, the presence of the Supreme Being and, moreover, the ever eternal glory and paramountcy of Heaven. The endlessly deplorable and wretched place without hope, without God, is defined best by that which does not and cannot ever be there, including such things as endless joy, happiness, and bliss unto the nth degree.
Heaven, the ever highest realm of the holy Godhead Eternal, is the always appropriate place for the absolute, the total, demonstration of permanent supernatural love beyond all mere human imagination, afar demonstrably from just forever inadequate mortal, earthly, conjectures.
Christians, and especially Roman Catholics, therefore, ought to always highly praise the Holy Name for the existence of the Infernal Regions, since it is a love-filled proof of the Lord’s deliberate mindfulness and concern for human beings and, thus, their ever God-given dignity.2 Only a loving and caring God, furthermore, would allow for the Netherworld as a needed affirmation of Being, the creative assertion of a divine ontological understanding of true metaphysical reality, of supernatural order, to exist as an imperishable location for the ever damned souls.
After all, the actually worst part of being in the cursed Underworld is not the physical pain, suffering and torment fully guaranteed to exist there for the enemies of the Supreme Being; that’s, so to speak, just “the icing on the cake,” or, rather, much better to say it is just the mere tip of the Devil’s pitchfork. The condemned spirit will, forever, be completely denied the ultimate meeting with the Absolute Deity, which includes seeing the face of God Himself. The condemned are in their hate-filled prison of deepest ingratitude.
Contact with the highest pinnacle of the Alpha and Omega of all things visible and invisible (on earth) as to the fullest entirety of all of ontological and metaphysical reality can never ever occur, therefore, to any of those necessarily hated and hate-filled beings angrily held in the hopeless Fiery Pit for an eternity.
The degrading misery and tempestuous travail, supreme sadness and utter desolation, involved is the least painful aspect, meaning when the human soul is there completely bereft forever of what a good, blessed soul easily recognizes as the greatest meaning of salvation imaginable; there is not to be that damned soul’s presence in the grand and blessed, magnificent and exalted, company of the Holy Trinity, the saints, and the angels forever.
Being eternally cast out to the outermost darkness of metaphysical reality, through committing even a single unrepented mortal sin, is the very least form of such positively requisite punishment that is so justifiably inflicted without question. The ever greatest and most profound form of chastisement, of thoroughly severe rebuke, is the total inability to be at true peace with God, the foundation of all truth, justice, beauty, goodness, and righteousness to the nth degree.
On the other hand, this extremely post-Christian society and culture of the Western world with its vilely rampant secularism, undergirded increasingly by a contradictory neopaganism, has no thoughts of an afterlife filled with punishments for those, according to (orthodox) Catholicism, who have, in fact, merited damnation.
Atheists think there is nothing to worry about because their pragmatic materialism axiomatically blinds them to the truth; plain secularists live for themselves and their pleasures; the neo-heathens assume they have their own post-death futures set in various dreamy locations; thus, fewer and fewer people, especially in the West, are really concerned about such an archaic, folklorish destination, as it would be to them, the seemingly incomprehensible Netherworld.
The pain and suffering, with disease and loss, in this earthly realm, oddly offers to them no discernable hint, apparently, that any observable metaphysics could possibly be at work; while, perhaps, blinded atheists could be thought of as simply naïve as they do hurtle toward Perdition, the others cannot be so easily “pardoned” because both the secular world and the neopagan one do still have (and are prideful about) their own various, morally-warped concepts of sin, by whatever euphemisms.
And, any transgressions between or among them are not easily tolerated, for the most intolerant people to be found are any profoundly (or, even sometimes, slightly) offended secularists and neo-heathens. To twist a saying, Hell hath no fury, e. g., as a Liberal who’s been mugged. Gone, then, are thoughts of sweetness and light.
While the masses may seem fairly content in their worldly paradise, some keen observers of the human scene do yet know better; there is a restlessness and a longing, often unexpressed, but felt in the human heart long before it reaches the slower-responding brain that seeks to just rationalize everything somehow found to be inconvenient to the lustful defense of mortal hubris.
Today’s true counterculture seeks to find a solace, therefore, not truly encountered in the plaintive nostrums of the variegated cults, or the secularist centers of peculiar worship and devotion, or the so-called New Atheism offering absolutely nothing of substance, by definition, because disbelief says there’s nothing there out there. Q. E. D.
Whether the often disguised worship of self (by whatever euphemism or means) or the lust for seeking evil, both lead to dead ends on earth, though there is an entrance into the Infernal Regions for those who do not deeply repent and seek Jesus Christ. Spiritual voids and vacuums get filled, sooner or later, for as G. K. Chesterton so sagaciously remarked, those who cease believing in God almost never become real atheists, they then become susceptible of believing in anything; this includes any superstition, cult, or whatever belief that offers an opportunity to somehow or other believe in something rather than only nothing, as with the dead end atheism and its literally vacuous cognition.
This easily explains why the terrene fascinations of fornication, sodomy, pornography, adultery, drug addiction, etc. grow exponentially as religion ceases its hold upon people in being geometrically held to be less and less important, in proportion, within the scale of human values. Most so-called enlightened opinion praises any sexual perversion, inclusive of homosexuality, pederasty, bestiality, and even incest.
Fear of Hell is greatly disvalued, especially by those who supposedly claim to pridefully have advanced, sophisticated intellects far above the vulgar herd, most of the latter who yet share the subjective kind of moral vulgarity of the intellectuals, if not their wits.
All this is very exemplary of the increasing descent into evil, perceived in the post-Christian societal and cultural norms of the modern world; this is where most people now have regrets about the sins they did not or may not get a chance to commit. Few people, these days, wish to publicly admit that they are unsuccessful sinners; it is like “shamefully” admitting, e. g., to being a virgin before marriage. In their so perverted minds: How awful! Perish the thought! [ … though they do not care if their souls perish.]
Few, if any, expect to be logically “rewarded” after death by being deposited into the Burning Pit to suffer forever the consequences of willingly and deliberately choosing evil over good. They will never see the face of God, the true meaning of all that is, was or can be within and beyond the mere universe. The definitional purity and truth of the Absolute Supreme Being can never become in contact with that which is forever totally impure and untruthful as is any unrepented mortal sin, which is of the essence of the torment, pain, and suffering involved eternally.
Deprivation that is everlasting, no chance whatsoever of viewing the Holy Beatific Vision, exists as the absolute horror of horrors, as to its unfortunate occurrence, that thereby enormously torments the cursed spirit-body to an indescribable degree set forever beyond mere human imagination; it is the very definition of vilely despicable wretchedness, for it is what it is known to be: Hell.
But, Rev. M.P. Hill, S. J, in his The Catholic’s Ready Answer (1915), supplies the still classical and true understanding that, “There is, it is true, a rigorous side to God’s dealings with men, even during their mortal lives, that fills us with terror; but of the rigor we can, in some measure, divine the reasons. The pains and inflictions meted out both to individual men and to nations have often been the temporal punishment of crimes that have made the earth groan with the weight of the iniquities that have oppressed it; and the temporal punishment, in many cases, may have brought men to their senses and saved them from eternal punishment.”
Hill, in the book’s section on Hell, wisely adds: “The thought of hell necessarily awakens deep reflection: let not such reflection issue in an impeachment of the divine mercy. …“ In any event, he, also, there correctly writes “but one thing we know, that no one was ever lost who was not lost in spite of God’s merciful designs in his behalf.” The Lord’s abundant and pure mercy is, by definition, completely perfect; man’s typical questionable response, however, has usually been very far from flawless; the fault, so obviously, resides entirely in the latter, not ever in the former reality posited.
In Praise of the Infernal Regions
The true righteousness of Hell, moreover, is an enormous tribute to the foresight of the loving Lord in provisioning properly for those who have sought to willingly hate Him so extremely or intensely. And, when examined more closely, it is not really the mere existence of such a place that confounds many of Perdition’s critics, actually, it is its genuine righteousness that so offends substantially and hurts the most, and with the least qualification.
One may, thus, logically note that the sheer hellishness of such permanent suffering, torment, and absolute deprivation of the Beatific Vision proves the theological rightness of the glory of God forever, which thought ought to send (thoughtless) atheists into a tailspin.
To the damned, meaning to all those permanent reprobates cut off forever from the Mystical Body of Christ, it is not the horror nor the torments nor the misery that really offends the most; all that and more is just so ancillary and ought to be simply expected as merely being axiomatic; for as Chesterton would have concurred, it is, as has been above so correctly noted, the very rightness and righteousness of the Netherworld, meaning the total and everlasting absence of God, that truly affronts the most. Why may this be easily said?
No rational being who loves the Lord, no good Christian worthy of the name, would ever want so to be even one second or a fractional millionth of a microsecond out of the celestial, magnificent, and glorious presence of the Almighty Supreme Being Himself. That absence would be Hell, the containment center for all ungrateful souls.
It is positive proof, moreover, that what human beings, God’s creatures having immortal souls, do in their lifetimes is not at all morally insignificant. The human soul, whether going to Heaven or not, is held to be important and does not lack value, even in the blazing Inferno. That is obviously why Satan is busy all the time trying to send millions to want to go there, meaning as a vicious means of hating, despising, tormenting, and torturing God’s creation; it is a horrible means of deliberately and eternally offending God.
For as the Catholic Faith in truth teaches, this is against the ever bountiful blessedness of Heaven versus the unending wretchedness of the Fiery Underworld; it logically and perfectly reflects the Mystery of Good as opposed forever to the Mystery of Evil. If Lucifer finds any devilish “joy,” this is the closest he might possibly get to it in vilely tormenting the condemned spirits and their then extremely ugly bodies. Furthermore, in that (cruel) sense, the necessarily supernatural ontology of such a hellish place must be so very mighty impressive, if nothing else.3
Against forever the soulless contemporary world and its overt nihilistic beliefs, there should truly be, as Chesterton’s own paradoxical thinking would suggest, a veritable celebration by Roman Catholics of the reality of Hell as an inspiration for all Christians. Thus, “celebrating” the wondrous glories of Hell would clearly add a Chestertonian aura to this quite insightful cognition reflecting, as it certainly does, upon the ever eternal greatness of the Lord God Almighty.
All sincere Christians, therefore, should really be grateful and thank God for the loving existence of the Fiery Pit, a tribute to the Lord and His eternal and blessed glory; this is because the adamant upholding of the ever holy righteousness of metaphysical order is necessarily quite primary, not the subjective opinions of any mere human beings thought to be contrary.
There should be, moreover, a strange or certainly peculiar “bliss” among the damned. The only critic of this might be Hillaire Belloc who, in his To Dives, wrote that, “They order things so damnably in hell.” Amen.
For those reprobate sinners deserving of their personal perdition, mere mortal death is not indicative of an extinction of the self qua soul, rather, the incredible immorality of the soul is glorified by that fact concerning its continuance forever more. Supernatural existence and order guarantees this immortality, though, of course, in a hellish place not ever to be congenial to happiness, glee, joy, bliss, or any such positive things in any way whatsoever. In short, it’s really Hell.
Yet, this matter greatly needs proper elucidation in a world increasingly filled with varieties of hedonists, humanists, secularists, positivists, pragmatists, relativists, and nihilists. Unfortunately, the too harsh realities involved with everlasting damnation get rarely, if ever, preached from the typical pulpits; the vast majority of pastors do a grave disservice, thus, to their terribly deprived flocks by stressing a treacly, slimy goodness and light, a supposed easy sweetness for all, kind of relaxed path to an expected sort of axiomatic salvation by hoping, piously or otherwise, for it. This is surely unreal, a debased metaphysics, a desire for a broad or very wide way toward Heaven, which simply does not exist.
But, Christ overtly said, as an extremely clear warning, “Many are called, few are chosen,” which ought to be a proverbial word to the wise, if nothing else. Those who think so lightly about damnation had better learn to embrace the mighty baleful consequences of such an absurdly fallacious belief ever set (wrongly) contrary to the Gospels, teachings of the Patristic Fathers, Scholastics, Doctors of the Church, etc.
One can, therefore, appropriately say of damnation: Know about it, believe in it, and seek, most of all, to greatly avoid it at all costs. The pathway toward Heaven, as ought to be know, is always so narrow and difficult for a good and moral reason; this is since people, human souls, are being deliberately tested to see if they are truly worthy to achieve their salvation. Only the best of the best called will be able to get to a destination that bespeaks the opposite of Hell, though not in terms of simply being eternal.
Further examination of this intriguing topic may help to manifestly expatiate the things that do need to be said in support of such important considerations. St Cyprian, in his To Demetrianus the Proconsul of Africa, had there wisely noted, “Too late they will believe in eternal punishment who would not believe in eternal life.” Experiencing it will certainly be believing in the most immediate way.
All the various distractions of this sorry fallen world of fallen creatures are as nothing compared to the everlasting reward given to the minority, to the genuinely faithful souls, who are found very worthy of supernatural beatitude; and, this is, of course, why the Netherworld, the perpetually dark region of the cursed souls, rages so horrifically against it forever.
St. Augustine, in his Enchiridion, did not doubt, “The perpetual death of the damned …” having there no “mitigation or interruption of their torments.” In the Dialogues of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, one there easily reads that,” Everyone there, according to the quantity of his sin, has the measure of his pain.” The contempt for metaphysical order, for God’s goodness, seen in the desire to commit mortal sin, to shut off the divine light to one’s soul, creates the logical consequence that the damned freely chose to be in Hell by their thoughts, words, and/or deeds. Heaven, therefore, has been then forever lost to all the damned souls, to the ungrateful wretches, who must suffer all their justified torments eternally.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Compendium theologiae, had there so well noted that, “Therefore man’s extreme unhappiness will consist in the fact that his intellect is completely shut off from the divine light, and his affections are stubbornly turned against God’s goodness. And this is the chief suffering of the damned. It is known as the punishment of loss.” And, that loss is the metaphysical, the Particular Judgment, added eventually to the physical damnation at the General Judgment where body and soul are both condemned to an eternity of experiencing the greatly horrifying torments of that divine loss.
And yet, strangely enough, an unusual sort of point was noted by the Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 8: “If anyone says that the fear of Hell, whereby by grieving for our sins we flee unto the mercy of God or refrain from sinning, is a sin, or makes sinners worse; let him be anathema.” What may be inferred? For Hell is the plainest realization that the dark side of human dignity does have an eternally horrid place for its most damnable expression, as surely as is all of Hollywood a most willing playground for the Devil, for the knowing existential celebration of evil.
Thus, the perennial teaching of the Roman Catholic Church affirms the fundamental and definitive idea that there are ultimately only two categories of souls: the saved and the damned. In support of this very important point, there have been three General Councils of the Church, meaning Lyons I, 1245; Lyons II, 1274; and Florence, 1439; and, in reiterative addition, Pope Benedict XII’s bull Benedictus Deus (1336) that have all so invariably taught, de fide, that anyone who dies in a state of mortal sin goes immediately to suffer the earned eternal punishments of Hell and its awful indefeasibility.
This strongly enduring and settled belief has, verifiably and unquestionably, persisted in the Church to the present time. One may suitably add, moreover, that it is logically repeated, almost precisely, in the still current Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC §1022, 1035). Furthermore, one may note that there have been a number of local councils, found back in the Middle Ages, and without seemingly meaning to openly define the point, declare in passing that some people have, in fact, actually died in a state of mortal sin and been, thus, necessarily punished by their then merited eternal damnation. For as the Common Doctor, Aquinas, considers the matter in his Compendium theologiae, “But those who are found evil at that moment [of death] will be forever obstinate in evil.” Q. E. D.
For any sincere and dedicated Christians, especially for (traditionalist, orthodox) Roman Catholics, none of the above statements ought to seem strange or absurd, including the defense of the existence of Hell itself; however, admittedly, the nominalist thrust of rampant modernity and, more so, postmodernity stands directly to the contrary in existent thinking, which problem, needless to say, quite bedevils the world constantly. Existentialism, phenomenology, pragmatism, positivism, relativism, Gestalt, and nihilism all cloud men’s minds toward ever increasing degrees of absurdity, vanity, and/or morbidity.
In contrast, all sincere Christians ought to thank God for His supreme graciousness and kindness in making sure that Hell lovingly exists. How may this be better understood? Plato, millenniums ago, wrote that a murderer, if possessed by the needed knowledge in his rational soul, would expect and want to receive capital punishment for his crime; thus, the faithful can and should, analogously, praise the Lord God for the unendingly enormous and blessed mercy of the provided place of Perdition.
Gratitude to God in this matter, created as a genuine sign of His great love, is highly and unquestionably deserved, for mortal man’s ways and thoughts are not those of the Deity.
Those who willingly would not seek their much needed redemption on earth will, consequently, get their absolutely deserved punishment in Hell for eternity. It is, thus, so eminently fair, logical, and reasonable. Because, for instance, modernism in cognition tends to be so dominant these days, the rightness of metaphysical order and its justice gets ignored or, worse yet, simply disparaged outright; thus, the manifold benefits of the Eternal Damnation Destination, the Great Unquenchable Fire as it is often called, get wrongfully neglected by (indifferent) secularists and, yes, many of the religious/clerics as well. How might this be properly understood?
The important benefits notably include: everlasting knowledge, within the metaphysical order, of the certainty of the General Judgment and, later, the Particular Judgment upon a human soul; the fixity of the reality for giving a location wherein the damned soul knows that it will never be destroyed as a worthless discarded thing; a way indicated as to what needs to be totally avoided by strident moral resolve, prayers, fasting, charitable acts, and true piety.
And, furthermore, a definitive means exists for the total and righteous vindication, actual proof, of the true will of the Lord God Almighty; this is so regarding all those who have too grievously offended Him without truly seeking needed forgiveness, which comes with no phenomenological qualifications of fact.
In addition, as Aquinas had written, the righteous in Heaven are greatly comforted knowing that the evilly unrighteous in Gehenna are deservedly experiencing God’s both perfect justice and holy wrath. The worst of all places is, indeed, the ideally best location for all damned souls to be, without question.
Offenses against the Supreme Being are supremely evil because His perfect and infinite majesty, honor, and glory has been terribly and deliberately besmirched, an act of the unquestionably vilest ingratitude had occurred; it was, thus, horribly done, moreover, in a willful manner, as if one were to be slapping the face of God in utter contempt.
As Dr. Ludwig Ott concisely expresses it, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, “St. Augustine defends the endless duration of hell-punishment against the Origenists and against” those who advocate mercy. But, man’s subjective concept of mercy cannot, by definition, be ever greater than God’s objective and everlasting mercy. He instructively further adds: “On the ground of the teaching of Revelation it is to be inferred, that the will of the damned is immovably hardened in evil and is, therefore, inaccessible to any true repentance. The reason is that God refuses all further grace to the damned.” Thus, it simply has to be perceived as a quintessential fact.
Elsewhere, Ott properly so notes the Catholic epistemological understanding as to what is meant as to the metaphysical ontology involved: “Suffrages are of no profit to the damned in Hell as they do not belong to the Mystical Body of Christ.” And, this is certainly a most important point to remember. The damned, ever logically, are forever excluded from the exalted Beatific Vision; otherwise, for instance, God’s holy justice and mercy could not be both, by definition, always and everywhere so absolutely perfect and, axiomatically, unquestionable as such. Q. E. D.
Unrepented mortal sins, in accordance with metaphysical order, do merit the severest punishment of an often unimaginable extent beyond all description because of the enormous magnitude of the sins, as to their extreme importance; they have, in fact, directly offended and insulted the Lord God Almighty by also reviling and rejecting the love of the Lord by refusing to seek a much needed penitence with a very profound remorse. And, this understanding of truth is as certain as Jesus being the Christ and that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Holy Mediatrix of Grace.
Why is this, meaning the commission of mortal sin, so evilly and malevolently perverse? The damned soul always demonstrably prefers Hell, the vile realm of moral darkness, to Heaven, the joyous abode of the blessed. And, there are many interrelated implications and ramifications attendant thereto related to the positive and requisite condemnation of all human hubris and arrogance. Sin, especially the most grievous sort thereof, is a serious matter not without baleful, unfortunate, supernatural consequences.
For in the Compendium theologiae, one clearly reads that: “But we should understand that those who are condemned to final misery cannot have after death what they craved as the best. Libertines in Hell will have no opportunity to gratify their passions; the wrathful and the envious will have no victims to offend or obstruct; and so of all the vices in turn.”
The above is, of course, thoughtfully rendered as being morally and theologically opposed to mere modernist or postmodernist prejudices set adamantly against such thinking, as to the propriety and appropriateness of the requisite existence and suitable reasonableness of the Infernal Regions. Why? For seriously offending God, without any profound repentance, obviously ought to and does, in fact, have certain truly dire consequences of a most terrible, shocking, and, in fact, everlasting kind: Hell.4
Of course, admittedly, many people passionately question the whole idea of a loving God or even the existence of such a Divine Being when disasters (natural or manmade), acts of terrorism, the deaths of children, etc. occur. They reason from secondary or tertiary principles, not from first principles as to the rightness, reasonableness, and logic of metaphysical order; also, they make their terribly misinformed judgments based upon considerations of social order, political order, cultural order, etc., not from the point of view of metaphysical order, the first principle of all or any order to be correctly considered.
The atheistic existentialist Albert Camus, for instance, infamously judged God and found the deficient Deity to be wanting because he could not really tolerate the thought of seeing little children suffer or die. The “imperfections” of God (by definition, an impossibility if one posits a God) had provoked him because he could not see the real imperfections, the sins of people, that have existed since Adam and Eve were banished out of the Garden of Eden.
If he had properly reasoned by the first principle, he would have perceived correctly that the natural or physical order is obviously always imperfect; there are fallen creatures, including human beings, living in a decidedly fallen world; many very unpleasant and other consequences logically do then result from this extremely important truth of this ever rather harsh reality, including all human suffering and death, not just that of innocent children.
Sinning, being done on a grand scale covering hundreds of millions of people, is yet another logical result of being imperfect creatures existing in an imperfect world. God gets mightily offended by all this sinning, especially by all mortal sins, since He is always, in fact, the principal party who is offended, of course. Every act of sin, moreover, is defiantly directed against metaphysical order
There must be a suitable and appropriate place of eternal punishment and allied retribution considering, e. g., the hundreds of millions of abortions in the world, past, present and to come; ditto for acts of fornication, sodomy, artificial contraception, divorce, etc. For instance, the blood of those murdered babies cries out to high Heaven and low Hell for severe chastisement, especially when there is no truly profound repentance and genuine seeking of forgiveness from the Lord.
As Frank Sheed in Theology and Sanity, clearly states, “Given that man can, [italics in the original] freely, choose love of self and hatred of God, the rest follows. In all reverence we can say that God, respecting the will’s freedom, can do nothing about it. He does not thrust devils or men into hell: they go there, because that is their place.”
Sheed, interestingly, continues the noted thought in the same paragraph, moreover, by also citing Holy Scripture that Judas went, in fact, to the place where he (logically) had to go; it was not because of any supposed ignorance; for the irretrievably damned, by their inherent natures, do remain eternally defiant and decidedly oriented, by evil act(s) of free will, to then be forever recalcitrant, by knowingly rejecting the Lord because they would not sincerely repent. The Supreme Being, thus, is merciful but not stupid.
The permanence of Hell is a justifiable rebuke to extreme sinners and a comfort for those who have sought to honor God, in pursuing a humble righteousness unto their holy salvation, by being in future among the glorified saints in Heaven.5
Verily, the terribly burning realm of devilish Perdition is a mirror to Satan, reflecting both his supreme vileness and hopelessness on a grand scale unto eternity, 6 while Heaven is, so rightfully, the blessed abode of those who have arduously sought out a narrow path toward God, the Eternal Truth. It is the source of faith, hope, and charity and the wisdom found in the Trinitarian Dogma as well. The fever-pitch raging hate forever seething there, filled with beings having been once both freely and lovingly granted the divine gift of immortal souls, justifies the both true and holy goodness of the good God who created it.
For the glorious meaning of salvation is necessarily magnified many, many fold by the shocking and justified existence of such an extremely terrible place fit for those who have wantonly, deliberately, defied the Lord Almighty by so knowingly abusing their free will. No one ever gets there, of course, against their own will. The Lord’s abundant mercy is always the same and equal to His justice everywhere (including the Netherworld, of course) and at all times, which is why the unfortunately damned souls are mercifully and considerately retained in Hell and never callously or thoughtlessly obliterated.
Verily, God’s Holy Name ought, therefore, to be always gratefully praised for the everlasting great mercy of Hell. The Lord of Hosts is, thus, rightfully seen to be truly a God of enormous and righteous mercy, even by its very existence. In any event and contrary to experiential subjectivity, one can asseverate that as informed Christians ought to know, all things, visible and invisible, in the universe and beyond, including both Heaven and Hell, axiomatically exists Pro Gloria Magnum Dei.
Athanasius contra mundum!
1.) Strictly speaking, the point correctly noted, (as is expected) by Aquinas, is that Hell was created after the fall of Lucifer and about a third of the angels that had willingly followed him. There was simply no prior need for it. Creation is (merely) contingent being. God, therefore, is always infinitely much more important that any single part of or all of Creation put together and even multiplied a billion times because, after all, the Lord Almighty is the very Author of Creation.
2.) God’s great respect for the dignity of man, made, after all, in the image and likeness of God, means that those extremely reprobate human beings, who commit any unrepented mortal sins, get their then irretrievable and everlasting sinfulness acknowledged authoritatively. Nevertheless, as this short article explains, truly one ought to logically see that Hell is the mercy of God manifested eternally.
Beings having the image of the Lord Almighty and possessing an immortal soul cannot, therefore, be just vilely obliterated into mere nothingness as if they have no real value as creatures. Hell is, therefore, the logical repository for all those who do hate the Supreme Being because they freely chose to not repent; this is because, moreover, they earnestly wish to remain in permanent enmity toward their Creator to the nth degree. And, all this is properly related, of course, to sound, orthodox Roman Catholic theology.
3.) It ought to be easily seen now why, therefore, the truly blasphemous and anti-Christian notion of a “Universal Salvation” mightily offends the Lord God Almighty and His wisdom. This obviously heretical notion spits upon the Divinity by denying that Hell’s creation is an act of true love, not hate or contempt for God’s own creation, meaning Lucifer, the other fallen angels, and the damned souls of human beings who deserve to be there with all the cursed spirits.
Neither cruel nor vicious annihilation nor obliteration, eradication nor extermination, will ever so befall those suffering and tormented souls that the Lord is so forever mindful of unto eternity. In short, only an insane or crazed Deity would have made Hell as a place that would never be actually needed. It would be, therefore, so thoroughly and certainly irrational, illogical, absurd, and just too downright preposterous.
Thus, only theological idiots or heretics (same difference) could believe in the blatant idiocy of there being a supposed Universal Salvation. In short, Hell’s creation was not whimsical or frivolous. It is not an empty threat; the Netherworld is, in fact, literally filled with many, many ardent and knowledgeable believers in it through experience. St. Padre Pio (1887-1968) was once asked what he thought of people who did not believe in Hell. He wisely replied: “They will very well believe in Hell when they get there.”
Interestingly, the most radical, the most theologically nominalist, cults that claim to be Christian, in one way or another, have sought to either substantially minimize Hell into its just perceived as a meaningless symbolic sort of thing or, on the other hand, thoroughly eviscerate it by draining away all meaning as to its being an actual place of eternal punishment. Either way, the Fiery Furnace, for them, does not exist as a fundamentally perennial and definitely Holy Scripture-based fact of Christian belief. One does see this significantly confirmed, e. g., in the faith tenets of the Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and, of course, Mormons.
4.) Roman Catholic doxology, soteriology, and eschatology all cover various parts of what is intended to be conveyed in this article, as aligned with the orthodox sensus fidei or sensus fidelium. For as Aquinas clearly had stated, in his Summa Theologica, “The magnitude of the punishment matches the magnitude of the sin. Now a sin that is against God is infinite; the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin—it is more criminal to strike a head of state than a private citizen—and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against Him.” Q. E. D.
According to the Angelic Doctor, moreover, there are four distinct parts to Hell: Gehenna, Purgatory, the Limbo of the Children, and the Limbo of the Fathers. He, of course, carefully elaborates the parts and renders many expository details. As (orthodox) Catholicism considers such matters, neither faith nor reason are divided against themselves, nor can a loving good God be said to be incapable of creating Hell. So, while still on earth, people can repent and do and say acts of contrition for their sins.
Deus meus, ex toto corde pænitet me omnium meorum peccatorum,
eaque detestor, quia peccando,
non solum pœnas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum,
sed præsertim quia offendi te,
summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris.
Ideo firmiter propono,
adiuvante gratia tua,
de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.
5.) The Communist “eschatology” entirely mocks and inverts this by seeking its New Eden on earth, as the Communist Utopia, whereby the collectivist “saints” will be glorified; however, the path to Hell is paved with (SUPPOSEDLY) good intentions, as every and all efforts at attaining the perfectly terrene paradise do necessarily fail, prompting the true believers to always say, next time, it will then surely succeed; this, however, only makes Satan laugh in contempt. He has a certainly good reason to do so: over 100,000,000 lives, so far, have been devilishly sacrificed to Moloch (aka Communism) already, which well testifies to the Devil’s quite easy confidence, in this very bloody and malevolent matter.
Islam, in its bloodthirstiness, seeks to satanically compete with Communism, as its jihadi are supposed to be guaranteed upon death their sensuous, extremely erotic paradise with its 72 perpetual virgins lusting for each blood-stained soul-body to embrace, for its hellish ability to devilishly massacre infidels.
6.) Satan is forced to remain exactly where he is and, while he greatly enjoys the tormenting of God’s lesser creatures, he is simultaneously always mocked by their contemptuous presence, which offends him unto a towering and obnoxious degree of devilish rage; this unceasingly accursed and titanic wrath set beyond all human comprehension feeds, in turn, unendingly back into the ever unmitigated, ever unadulterated, hellishness of Hell, for it could not, by definition, be otherwise.
While there may be “many” saved souls, the chosen spiritual elite/saints, in Heaven, this number is relatively very small when correctly compared to the billions burning in the nasty Netherworld, for as Jesus Himself said, “Many are called but few are chosen.”
On the other hand, one can, e. g., read the liberal National Catholic Reporter that so heretically prints articles debunking the supposedly silly and dumbly reactionary, unenlightened, archaic “myth” of Hell: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/eco-catholic/debunking-myth-hell
St. Robert Bellarmine [Doctor of the Church], Hell and Its Torments
Catechism of the Council of Trent
Fr. Martin von Cochem, The Four Last Things
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange and Patrick Cummins, Life Everlasting and the Immensity of the Soul: A Theological Treatise on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell
St. Alphonsus Liguori, Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori
Bob Lord, Visions of the Saints (Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory)
Fr. Wade Menezes, The Four Last Things: A Catechetical Guide to Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell
Fr. F. X. Schouppe, SJ , The Dogma of Hell
Jerry L. Walls, Hell: The Logic Of Damnation
Fr. X and Robert C. Hilkert, The Hell Catholic