It seems that in recent years the idea of Hell has become relative and mythical to most of us. I know many individual Catholics as well as other Christian people and whole religious denominations that discard the idea of Hell totally. They declare there is no such “state” or “place”. Many of us describe Hell as the absence of God, and while this is true, the of that loss doesn’t seem to register. I think that this description of Hell sugarcoats the reality of it.
Revelation 21:8 - But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Matthew 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The absence of God means the absence of anything good, beautiful, meaningful, or pleasurable. The absence of God means the absence of Love itself. If you take away all these things of virtue, look what you are left with – an eternity of emptiness, encompassing and consumed by and with a spirit that is corrupt in vice, an existence that we are not able to even begin to comprehend, just as we are unable to comprehend the joy of Heaven.
It seems that we take for granted the gift and sacrifice that paid for our opportunity to gain Heaven and exist in Paradise. We also seem to disregard the warnings of Hell. Jesus spoke of Hell quite often in Scripture. He did this so that we would conform our lives her on Earth, so that our souls and spirits would seek Him and an eternal life with him in Heaven. He led us to a life to be lived here on Earth that would lead to our Heavenly existence and make us worthy of it. Few of us indeed will go directly to Heaven upon our deaths, we will still die way to imperfect for Paradise, our souls will still be too unclean to enter those pearly gates.
Thanks goodness for Purgatory!
Maccabees 12:46: “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”
Most of us will journey through the existence of Purgatory before our entry into Heaven. That is totally and magnificently okay. Purgatory is a place for the purification of our souls. You see, nothing unclean or imperfect gets to enter into Heaven. God does forgive us of all of our sins if we ask, and seek reconciliation, but there are still consequences for our disobedience. You see, sin not only damages our relationship with God, but it damages our very beings, our souls, our spirits.
God has given us so many ways to repair our relationship with him, and to heal our broken spirits right here while on Earth. Unfortunately , most of us neglect or ignore these gifts. A few of these gifts are prayer, adoration, the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession), and Mass. The Church has even mandated some of them in an attempt to lovingly lead us and direct us toward salvation. Yet, they are still disregarded by many.
Heaven is NOT automatic. Many of us are ignorant on this subject. We assume that loved ones have gone to Heaven, despite the lives they have led. Heaven and salvation are taken for granted, they are not appreciated for the true gifts, available for all, that they are. The thing is though, these gifts much be accepted or rejected.
The gift of salvation is not merely granted because we proclaim we love Christ and accept him as our personal savior, we must live a life that proclaims this to all. Our lives are not to be led with a superficial faith and loyalty to God. Posting that you love God on social media and then going out and to live a life of vice, selfishness, and lack of charity will not cut it. Jesus quite frequently talks of hypocrites, who have hearts that are not clean, and that act for self-serving, Earthly purposes and not selfless divine ones. If the gift of salvation were automatic then there would have been no need for Jesus to suffer and die, and then to rise. There would have been not price to be paid. The cross and resurrection would have been unnecessary, and our free will non-existent. God wants us to love him not because of what he can give us and offer us, but because he is who he is. Do we not want or expect any less from others? Because we have free will, we must accept the gift of salvation, and not superficially.
It really is not so easy. The Devil rules this world of ours and tries his hardest to divide us from God, and deceives us about the gifts he has offered us that will lead us to him and to salvation. The Devil lures us with things that seem noble, worthy, righteous and desirable, and indeed they are in an Earthly sense and way, but they are not worthy of divine nature. Satan is very masterful, he is very skilled and masterful with Scripture and is a genius at twisting it for his own purposes. So many of us fall for his tricks and are led away from Godliness.
We must arm ourselves with knowledge and prayer. We must understand the four last things, and what death will bring to us, and what happens afterward.
Although a soothing and comforting thought, we do not all go straight to Heaven, nor does Heaven gain us as Angels. We will not become Angels when we leave this World. Angels are pure spirit, and we are not. We were not made to be pure spirit, we will once again have our bodies and live eternally body and soul, and the Angels will minister to us, as they serve and minister to us now in this Earthly existence.
Hebrews 1:14 –“ Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
We will hopefully enter our eternal reward and be granted our sainthood. Instruction of these Truths and correcting misunderstandings and pure ignorance is a Spiritual Work of Mercy. We must strive to direct as many as possible along the right path so that they reach the one true destination for our souls.
Colossians 3:12-17, "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father,"
As we travel through this life, we seek and will find one destination to spend our eternity, let’s make sure that it is the correct one. Heaven is NOT automatic.