WHAT IS HELL LIKE?
THE SUFFERINGS IN HELL.
APPROXIMATION AND VISIONS
What is Hell like? How does a soul suffer in Hell? What do the witnesses chosen by God write about Hell after having visited the state reserved to the eternally damned souls?
This is a topic unfortunately makes some people UNCOMFORTABLE (I can recall right now the complaint of some parents to some priests for teaching the existence of Hell to their children in Catechism classes!). However, it is a DOGMA OF OUR FAITH, with a strong foundation in the Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. That is why, at least, ONCE A YEAR WE SHOULD MEDITATE on this topic in our prayer, with the aim of shaping and RECTIFYING OUR LIFE, of praying for the CONVERSION OF SINNERS (our’s in the first place) and above all, LIVE OUR LIFE FOR LOVE OF GOD and FOR OTHERS.
AN APPROXIMATION OF THE SUFFERINGS IN HELL
St. John Chrysostom wrote: “It is true that the suffering of hell is unbearable: if one were to think of ten thousand hells, the suffering would still be nothing as compared to the pain caused by losing Heaven and by being rejected by Christ (Sermon on Matthew 7:15-21).”
- I brought this in my personal prayer where I tried to recall moments in my life when I experienced and suffered physical and moral pain…(yes, suffering is inevitable in life). For all those I once again thank Our Lord for being able to overcome them with Him, to bear them for Him, and move on with the help of His Grace and of the people around me.
- As regards physical pain, I remember having fallen from my mountain bike in a silly manner (momentary distractions in this sport I love are dangerous). Result: 5 broken ribs due to my (then) 80 kg mass suspended in the air then plummeting into a single spot of my right shoulder. I was on the pavement face down and I couldn’t breathe for seconds. Thank God I had the immediate impulse to stretch my right hand as if reaching for something and this movement somehow reduced the ribs back into their place and relieved the shortness of breath I was experiencing. Obviously I was brought to the hospital and confined for observation to watch out for pneumothorax and hemothorax which are the common post complications of multiple rib fracture.
- What does this have to do with hell? During my confinement, I still recall the intense, unbearable pain on my chest and side everytime I cough or worst, I sneeze, causing me to scream at the top of my lungs with such a deafening volume that the nurse decided to immediately give me a very strong IV analgesic which instantly alleviated the pain. I am thinking now: THAT INTENSE PHYSICAL AND LOCALIZED PAIN WAS EXCRUCIATING, BUT IT LASTED ONLY FOR JUST A FEW SECONDS! WHAT WOULD IT BE THEN IF PHYSICAL PAIN WERE NEVER TO END?
WORSE STILL WOULD BE MORAL SUFFERING. All of us had our own experiences of death and grief, of being separated from our loved ones, of sadness and anguish, of desolation and depression, of hatred and anger, of feeling unsatisfied and empty…-again, these are all part of human life!- and we all concur that those hurtful experiences, perhaps lasting for weeks, months or even years, were so distasteful -horrible!- that they had made us suffer in our innermost core and asked our Lord to deliver us from them. WHAT IF THOSE MORAL SUFFERINGS WERE TO LAST ETERNALLY?
THE POINT IS: IF PHYSICAL AND MORAL PAIN, DESPAIR, LONELINESS, HELPLESSNESS, HATRED, ANGER, ENVY, STRIFE, NOISE… ARE UNBEARABLE ENOUGH IN THIS LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE THEN IF THEY WERE TO LAST FOR ETERNITY? …. THIS IS WHAT HELL IS ALL ABOUT, at least according to my poor approximation.
TESTIMONIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN HELL DURING THE 20TH CENTURY
We thank Our Lord God, who out of His Mercy, had chosen witnesses throughout history to remind us of the reality of Hell and confirm its existence, not so much to instill in us a holy fear –which is beneficial for the soul- but foremostly to wake us up and bring us back to His love.
In a world engrossed in materialism and hedonism, oblivious, or worse, incredulous of the spiritual and the transcendent, the following TESTIMONIES of those whom God has chosen to see Hell, are more than ever necessary TO BRING US BACK TO OUR SENSES THAT THERE IS LIFE BEYOND THIS WORLD AND THAT HELL EXISTS.
- ST. MARIA FAUSTINA KOWALSKA, “The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Divine Mercy in My Soul”
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Polish nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, canonized April 30, 2000, was shown Hell in 1936. She wrote in her Diary:
- Most of the souls there are those who disbelieved the existence of 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)
- The 7 kinds of tortures in Hell
“Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw:
- The First Torture that constitutes hell is: THE LOSS OF GOD.
- The Second is: PERPETUAL REMORSE OF CONSCIENCE.
- The Third is: That ONE’S CONDITION WILL NEVER CHANGE.
- The Fourth is: The FIRE THAT WILL PENETRATE THE SOUL WITHOUT DESTROYING IT. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger.
- The Fifth Torture is: CONTINUAL DARKNESS AND A TERRIBLE SUFFOCATING SMELL, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
- The Sixth Torture is: The CONSTANT COMPANY OF SATAN.
- The Seventh Torture is: HORRIBLE DESPAIR, HATRED OF GOD, VILE WORDS, CURSES AND BLASPHEMIES.
These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.”
- The torments of the senses according to the manner by which the soul has sinned.
- “There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the TORMENTS OF THE SENSES. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.”
- The tortures are for eternity. St. Maria Faustina writes all these obeying God’s command.
- “LET THE SINNER KNOW THAT HE WILL BE TORTURED THROUGHOUT ALL ETERNITY, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I AM WRITING THIS AT THE COMMAND OF GOD, SO THAT NO SOUL MAY FIND AN EXCUSE BY SAYING THERE IS NO HELL, OR THAT NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN THERE, AND SO NO ONE CAN SAY WHAT IT IS LIKE…HOW TERRIBLY SOULS SUFFER THERE! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.” (Diary 741)
- SISTER JOSEFA MENENDEZ, “THE WAY OF DIVINE LOVE”
Sister Josefa Menendez, a young Spanish nun who died in 1923 at the age of 33 after a short religious life of great suffering, received messages dictated to to her by Our Lord Jesus Christ in the convent of the Society of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Les Feuillants, (Poitiers, France), between 1920 y 1923. In her book, The Way of Divine Love, she testified of being taken to Hell several times to witness and feel the suffering first-hand.
2.1. Souls in hell want to love but cannot. They live on hatred, despair and malevolence.
- Sister Josefa repeatedly described that the greatest torment of Hell is the soul’s inability to love. One of these damned souls cried out: “THIS IS MY TORTURE…THAT I WANT TO LOVE AND CANNOT; THERE IS NOTHING LEFT ME BUT HATRED AND DESPAIR. If one of us could so much as make a single act of love…But we cannot, WE LIVE ON HATRED AND MALEVOLENCE…” (March 23, 1922).
2.2. Fiery cavities, burning planks, red-hot irons piercing the flesh; blasphemies; incomparable sickening stench of putrefied flesh, tar, sulphur…
- “My soul fell into abysmal depths, the bottom of which cannot be seen, for it is immense…; Then I was pushed into one of those FIERY CAVITIES and pressed, as it were, between BURNING PLANKS, AND SHARP NAILS AND RED-HOT IRONS SEEMED TO BE PIERCING MY FLESH. I felt as if they were endeavoring to pull out my tongue, but could not. This torture reduced me TO SUCH AGONY THAT MY VERY EYES SEEMED TO BE STARTING OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS.”
- “I think this was because of the fire which burns, burns … not a finger nail escapes terrifying torments, and all the time one cannot move even a finger to gain some relief, not change posture, for the body seems flattened out and [yet] doubled in two. Sounds of confusion and BLASPHEMY cease not for an instant. A SICKENING STENCH asphyxiates and corrupts everything, it is like the burning of PUTREFIED FLESH, mingled with tar and sulphur … a mixture to which nothing on earth can be compared… although these tortures were terrific, they would be bearable if the soul were at peace. But it suffers indescribably… ALL I HAVE WRITTEN,” SHE CONCLUDED, “IS BUT A SHADOW OF WHAT THE SOUL SUFFERS, FOR NO WORDS CAN EXPRESS SUCH DIRE TORMENT.” (September 4, 1922).
2.3. The devil’s disguised way of getting hold of souls to bring them to hell are hedonism, egotism, pride, negligence in spiritual life, materialism, sensuality; all to which the condemned freely consented to during their life on earth.
- “Today, I saw a vast number of people fall into the fiery pit . . . they seemed to be worldlings and a demon cried vociferously: ‘The world is ripe for me . . . I KNOW THAT THE BEST WAY TO GET HOLD OF SOULS IS TO ROUSE THEIR DESIRE FOR ENJOYMENT . . . PUT ME FIRST . . . ME BEFORE THE REST . . . NO HUMILITY FOR ME! BUT LET ME ENJOY MYSELF . . . THIS SORT OF THING ASSURES VICTORY TO ME . . . AND THEY TUMBLE HEADLONG INTO HELL.’ ” (October 4, 1923)
- “Tonight I was transported to a place WHERE ALL WAS OBSCURE. . . Around me were seven or eight people; I could see them only by the reflections of the fire. They were seated and were talking together. One said: ‘WE’LL HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BE FOUND OUT, FOR WE MIGHT EASILY BE DISCOVERED.’”
- “Some yell because of the martyrdom of their hands. Perhaps they were thieves, for they say: ‘Where is our loot now?’ …Cursed hands… Others curse their tongues, their eyes…whatever was the occasion of sin… ‘NOW, O BODY, YOU ARE PAYING THE PRICE OF THE DELIGHTS YOU GRANTED YOURSELF!…AND YOU DID IT OF YOUR OWN FREE WILL…'” (April 2, 1922).
- “The devil replied: ‘INSINUATE YOURSELVES BY INDUCING CARELESSNESS IN them…BUT KEEP IN THE BACKGROUND, SO THAT YOU ARE NOT FOUND OUT…by degrees they will become callous, and you will be able to incline them to evil. TEMPT THESE OTHERS TO AMBITION, TO SELF-INTEREST, TO ACQUIRING WEALTH WITHOUT WORKING, WHETHER IT BE LAWFUL OR NOT. EXCITE SOME TO SENSUALITY AND LOVE OF PLEASURE. LET VICE BLIND THEM… As to the remainder…get in through the heart…you know the inclinations of their hearts… make them love…love passionately…work thoroughly…take no rest…have no pity. LET THEM CRAM THEMSELVES WITH FOOD! IT WILL MAKE IT ALL THE EASIER FOR US…Let them get on with their banqueting. LOVE OF PLEASURE IS THE DOOR THROUGH WHICH YOU WILL REACH THEM… ‘” (February 3, 1923).
- THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY SHOWS HELL TO THE YOUNG CHILDREN OF FATIMA.
On July 13th, 1917, Blessed Virgin Mary showed a vision of Hell to Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco and Lucia.
Lucia recounted that the Blessed Virgin Mary opened her hands, and
- “rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a SEA OF FIRE. PLUNGED IN THIS FIRE WERE DEMONS AND SOULS IN HUMAN FORM, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now RAISED INTO THE AIR BY THE FLAMES that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, AMID SHRIEKS AND GROANS OF PAIN AND DESPAIR, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me).”
- “The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.
- Terrified and as if to plead for help, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so sadly: “YOU HAVE SEEN HELL WHERE THE SOULS OF POOR SINNERS GO.
- Thus, when you say the rosary, say after each mystery: O MY JESUS, FORGIVE US OUR SINS, SAVE US FROM THE FIRES OF HELL AND LEAD ALL SOULS TO HEAVEN, ESPECIALLY THOSE MOST IN NEED OF THY MERCY.”
- In another revelation of Our Lady to Blessed Jacinta, Our Blessed Mother Mary said: “THE SINS WHICH LEAD THE MOST SOULS TO HELL ARE SINS OF THE FLESH.”
Dear friends; Let us never forget to ask God, through the intercession of Our Lady, for the conversion of sinners, ours’ in the first place.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit as well to instill in us the gift of holy Fear which will lead us to put God above all things in our life and to firmly avoid that which offends God .
That with God’s grace, we may never tire ourselves of beginning over again after every fall, asking His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and offering sacrifices in reparation of our sins and those of the entire humanity.
That we may live for God and not for ourselves and choose what leads us to Heaven and avoid what leads us to Hell.
Lord God, do not consider what we truly deserve, grant us your forgiveness, save us from final damnation and count us among those you have chosen. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Holy Mary, our Mother, Refuge of sinners, Help of Christians, pray for us!
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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PHOTO SOURCE: Luca Signorelli, The Hell in http://uploads8.wikiart.org/images/luca-signorelli/the-hell-1502.jpg
(The above quotes of the testimonies were taken from: “The Reality of Hell: Stories of Persons Who Visited Hell and Apparitions of the Damned…” http://www.tldm.org/News8/realityofhell.htm. I just outlined them to underline the main ideas and thus facilitate the read). God bless you and your loved ones!
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