Do you fear you will go to hell?


#1

I know I do. I understand that I should have deeper faith in the Lord to save me, but I simply don’t feel worthy enough. This held me back from embracing Christ for a long while - I didn’t want to believe in anything so I wouldn’t have to worry about hell. But I couldn’t deny what I felt in my heart to be the truth. So I decided for a while to go about it in a “Pascal’s wager” way - I’d play the part of a Christian - going to church, praying, etc., but I was doing it just because hell scared me, not out of love for God. Secretly I still wished that there wasn’t a God.

Now I know I was wrong for acting this way, but I don’t know. It is still a deep fear on my part, and I just feel it hinders my faith rather than promote it, if that makes any sense. Anyone feel the same?


#2

Yes, but remember that is a trick of the Devil. He wants you to be discouraged.

None of us is worthy. We can see that. It is also good to have a healthy fear of hell. I often have that fear, just as you do.

But that kind of fear is just a starting point. It has to move to love. The way we have to move to a love and union with God is to remember that God wants us in heaven. That’s His goal for us. He will do whatever it takes to get us there (without forcing us) and he knows our sinfulness and how many times we fail.

So, we have to remind ourselves that we are on the path of holiness – we are making progress every day.

Hell is always there to fear but if we put our eyes on heaven – then our desire will bring us to God and hell will not be as fearful.

Communion, confession, devotions – those help us build up virtues. We’re still going to struggle and fall, but it’s all about getting up again and trying our best.

With confession and indulgences, we have everything we need to not fear Hell at all. He will make our sins as white as snow.


#3

Pray daily for Hope. Look on line or in a Catholic Prayer book for an Act of Hope. I would not recommend that one disregard the fear of hell, because that can be a starting place on ones journey to heaven. It was the wake up call for many of us. You will never reach perfection on your own, but if you strive for it, Jesus fill the gap.


#4

What are your ideals about God? Jesus?

What I mean is, how do you perceive God? How do you perceive Jesus? And why do you perceive God this way?

Often the way you perceive God will dictate your relationship with Him. So, if you think of God as wrathful and hellbent, then in all likelihood you will continue to filter God’s mercy through the lens of eternal damnation. However, if you begin to realize that God is gracious and abounding in mercy, which is what constitutes His love, then you will begin to have a healthier relationship in your faith.

There was a time, not too long ago, honestly, where I not only feared I was going to hell but had resigned myself to the fact that I was hellbound. It seemed impossible to ever be worthy of heaven - and this is precisely the point. We’ll never be worthy! (Frightening, isn’t it, to delve into the uncertain? But this is faith.)

Read through the First Epistle of John a couple of times and meditate on the things he says, but more importantly, contemplate what St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans:

Did the good, then, become death for me? Of course not! Sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin, worked death in me through the good, so that sin might become sinful beyond measure through the commandment. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if (I) do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin.


#5

If we really look at the issue of heaven and hell, none of us are worthy of heaven. There we will dwell in God and see him as he is. But because of his love for us, The Son, the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man and died for us to redeem us from out sins. This is no guarantee of heaven as most protestants believe. It does tell us of his love for us and his desire for us to be with him. Our response is to love him with our whole hearts, soul, mind, body and with all of our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we do this, we, with the help of his grace, we can avoid sin. The ten commandments are not the ten suggestions. Above all, frequent the sacraments, especially confession and Holy Eucharist. And then TRUST IN HIS DIVINE MERCY which is infinite.
Deacon Ed B


#6

Yes I fear hell profoundly. I have large portions of my time on earth where I ignored the truth of my Catholic teaching in favor of worldly pursuits. I am forgiven for those sins but I am frightened not only at the temporal debts still owed for those forgiven sins but the familiarity with those sins will someday when I am weak of willpower tempt me back to repeat them. I trust in God yet I know we have to also take personal responsibility to love him and obey him and not abuse his mercy.

For us Catholics who actually do believe in unconditional forgiveness of sins we have an ever lurking danger of abusing his mercy. It becomes too easy to abuse God’s love and mercy and form rationalizations. It becomes so easy to say “well just this one time I am going to cave in to since I can go to confession and God will forgive me”. This is a terrible sin and none of us would never betray a best friend through this kind of disloyalty or abuse; yet we betray the Divine God! We all become as Judas’ knowing the truth, knowing Jesus personally yet we betray His trust, lover and mercy.

Sometimes having the truth and knowing the standard we are called to us such a burden. At times I find myself wishing to have the excuse of “invincible ignorance”. Yet I know intellectually this is folly.

If one reads the lives of the saints virtually every saint FEARED God. I think it is healthy. But I agree its only a starting point and we must continuously balance God’s justice and God’s mercy and the ever present disharmony of scrupulosity. I think of this as a balancing act that keeps us on our toes and learning how to walk toward God. We fall often - but we are expected to and its in our nature to fall. But its also in our nature to persevere and get back up and keep walking toward God.

I think a good strategy is for every catholic to focus on working the great devotionals (Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Divine Mercy etc.) to have that assurance of final repentance and forgiveness at death. Once our minds are cleared from too much preoccupation with hell we can focus on really working toward genuine holiness and progressing ourselves higher up spiritually (there is apparently a hiearchy in heaven). This means defocusing one’s worry about our own salvation and trying to convert that into something positive like carrying others with us. That is what God really calls us to do - love each other. Besides giving up one’s life for a friend what better love does a man have than to bring a friend(s) to God eternally?!

Probably most of us just hope to crawl into heaven with the grace of God. But that is an almost selfish and self centered perspective. We really want to climb into heaven with God’s grace and bring others with us too. To those that much has been given much is expected and to those that want to save what little they have will lose it.

It seems our God has super high standards - thank God though that Jesus stands in front of God’s with His wounds to shield us from His Justice with a shield of Mercy. Otherwise none of us stands a chance. Protestants, with no sacrament of confession and Eucharist just don’t get it. Heaven and salvation are not things one accidentally attains just by professing “I believe”. Pray for them to wake up or say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for them (see my signature link) !

James


#7

Great posting, and pretty much spot-on.

O Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas. (St. Philip Neri)

If this great Saint had such a fear, this goes quadruple for me!


#8

This is what the Church would consider to be “imperfect” contrition: being sorry for sins because of a fear of the punishment for those sins. As opposed to “perfect” contrition which is sorrow for sins simply from a love of God. Guess what? If the Church has defined it this way… you’re not alone! There’s lots o’ folks in your boat!

Pray for perfect contrition… this too is a gift from God.


#9

In my old parish, in the adoration chapel, there was an image of the Divine Mercy right above the monstrance. The Divine Mercy, taken as a whole (the image, the chaplet and the meditations) really carried me light years toward understanding just how much God loves us. And let me personalize it. He loves me. Yes, me. Chief among sinners. He loved me so much that, even knowing that I would trample his law, flaunt my independence, and at one point go so far as to willfully deny him, he would still send his Son to suffer and die for my arrogance and clear the path back to him.

A healthy fear of God is good and right. He is our judge. But he is also our Savior and our Father. And he desires us to be with him far more than we do! So long as we cast ourselves upon his mercy and do not presume upon nor abuse his mercy as a license to sin, it is not I believe unreasonable to have a certain type of assurance that he will keep his promise to save us and someday bring us to where he is.


#10

Thanks Irish for your personal reflections. Do you perform the Divine Mercy devotions? The promises for mercy are profound for a sinner that recites the chaplet even a single time. Saying it at 3:00 PM, the hour of Christ’s death, Jesus promises that there is nothing one can ask through His Mercy that He will not grant. If not familiar with it check out the link in my signature link…

God Bless,
James


#11

I absolutely LOVE the Divine Mercy chaplet! I don’t say it enough, I confess. But I am absolutely reliant upon Christ’s mercy to sustain me, to keep me pure, to cleanse me when I fail, and to ultimately save me.

Jezu, Ufam Tobie! Jesus, I trust in You!

http://www.newjerusalem.com/Mercy25K.JPG

I think the meditations on the Divine Mercy also helped. We have only the very vaguest of notions of just how deep and pervading the Lord’s mercy truly is. If we were to somehow catch a glimpse of the extent of his mercy towards us, we should likely die from uncontained joy. That he should have mercy toward his creation is astounding. That he should have mercy toward me is nothing short of miraculous!

The words of a Charles Wesley hymn were re-worked some time ago, and one of the stanzas was particularly poignant:

Boldly we come before Thy throne
to claim Thy mercy, immense and free;
no greather love will e’er be known,
for O, my God, it found out me!

I encourage all to entrust themselves to Christ’s Divine Mercy, pouring forth from his tender Sacred Heart.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.