I have read books by David Kessler who reports several consistent stories of people who were dying and had visions of loved ones greeting them at the time of death. Not once did he report a negative story. When asked about question of hell by a cnn reporter he said " all stories have been positive" as he referred to his own personal experience and other interviews of hospice workers. As hopeful as his reports sound it is not what I expect dying to be like. I expect to hear about a particular judgement before Christ as was shown on EWTN as a priest accounted his near death experience of being “sentenced” to hell by Jesus. But was given a second chance by the Holy Mother’s intercession. I don’t know how to make sense of these reports. Just wondering if anyone could shed some light on this. Thx.
A monk I know on his soon to be deathbed told me.
‘What if I bet on the wrong horse all this time?’
Since people can hallucinate when gravely ill, deathbed experiences cannot really be trusted. If an individual Catholic claimed some kind of special encounter that he wished to publish or promote, he’d have to get the approval of his bishop. That’s where the Church steps in, but not before. Whatever personal experiences we have is no concern of the Church unless we wish to promote any messages or proclaim our visions as from God to others. If what a person sees is contrary to Church teaching, it would be classified as “nothing spiritual happened”. Even in it doesn’t contradict Church teaching the bishop has his own criteria for promoting messages/visions in his diocese and has the final say in the matter. I hope that helps.
It is not true that they are all positive stories. There have been a large number of negative ones, people talking about darkness and emptiness, others talking about an unquenchable burning sensation.
If these things are in fact visions, then they are something the person needed to see. Sometimes the positive visions can lead someone back to God that has been away, but when telling others, they might get the wrong idea.
It is also possible that they are just hallucinations, but it is hard to say either way.
In the end, people don’t like hearing about the negative stories, because they just depress people, or cause despair. People prefer to hear the positive stories that are uplifting and happy, which is why they are more publicized.
If they had a “near” death experience it is just further proof of a Soul, for as people (the Human animal) are hard to kill, it is impossible for you to put their Soul back once it has fully gone.
We are all going to have a “spiritual experience” when we die. In fact when the physical body dies, spirit is all that is left. After all we are spirits encased in bodies. We are not our bodies and our spirits like it or not will exist for eternity. We often forget this but perhaps as the body nears death the fact that we are spirits starts to assert itself. And perhaps the initial consequences of how we lived our lives affects our demeanor or the initial sense we get of a purely spiritual existence unencumbered by the material world. That people may have near brushes with this inevitable experience and then recover should not really be a surprise because death and eternity are realities. Nearing death and then recovering at the last minute is most likely Divine Mercy at work giving us more time to repent and to forgive who we need to forgive. Because as we know the time of mercy is now while we are still alive physically. After the body dies, then it is the time of Justice.
They could be hallucinating, dreaming, remembering wrong, embellishing, lying, or some combination of the above. They could be in a temporary, intermediate state which they wrongly identify as Heaven or whatever. There are too many possibilities for it to prove or disprove anything conclusively.
St. Thomas says otherwise.
Even if we take what he says at face value about all the stories he has come across being positive, that does not indicate anything about the existence (or lack thereof) of hell. I cannot go around to everyone on my block and ask about where they grew up and then conclude that Asia does not exist simply because I did not meet anyone who grew up in Asia.
I would never let one guy making the TV news show circuit and selling books dissuade me from accepting Catholic teaching as true. If the two are in contradiction (which I do not necessarily even see a contradiction in this case), then it is far more likely that this one guy is wrong than that the deposit of faith (brought to us by Jesus and handed down in its entirety through the apostles and their successors) is wrong.
As with near-death experiences (NDE), deathbed visions cannot be proven to be any more than the breath-deprived head throwing off its last sparks.
As such, they cannot disprove anything.
If you were given a vision of going to hell and thus being shown that you didn’t live life well would you be anxious to share that with others? That being said there are still many stories of people having unpleasant NDE’s and visions.