"…Supposing a man of unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be happy there…We are apt to deceive ourselves, and to consider heaven a place like this earth…For heaven, it is plain from Scripture, is not a place where many different and discordant pursuits can be carried on at once, as is the case in this world. Here every man can do his own pleasure, but there he must do God’s pleasure. It would be presumption to attempt to determine the employments of that eternal life which good men are to pass in God’s presence, or to deny that that state which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived, may comprise an infinite variety of pursuits and occupations. Still so far we are distinctly told, that that future life will be spent in God’s presence, in a sense which does not apply to our present life; so that it may be best described as an endless and uninterrupted worship of the Eternal Father, Son, and Spirit…Heaven then is not like this world…We see, then, that holiness, or inward separation from the world, is necessary to our admission into heaven, because heaven is not heaven, is not a place of happiness except to the holy. There are bodily indispositions which affect the taste, so that the sweetest flavours become ungrateful to the palate; and indispositions which impair the sight, tinging the fair face of nature with some sickly hue. In like manner, there is a moral malady which disorders the inward sight and taste; and no man labouring under it is in a condition to enjoy what Scripture calls "the fulness of joy in God’s presence, and pleasures at His right hand for evermore.
Nay, I will venture to say more than this;—it is fearful, but it is right to say it;—that if we wished to imagine a punishment for an unholy, reprobate soul, we perhaps could not fancy a greater than to summon it to heaven. Heaven would be hell to an irreligious man. We know how unhappy we are apt to feel at present, when alone in the midst of strangers, or of men of different tastes and habits from ourselves. How miserable, for example, would it be to have to live in a foreign land, among a people whose faces we never saw before, and whose language we could not learn. And this is but a faint illustration of the loneliness of a man of earthly dispositions and tastes, thrust into the society of saints and angels. How forlorn would he wander through the courts of heaven! He would find no one like himself; he would see in every direction the marks of God’s holiness, and these would make him shudder. He would feel himself always in His presence. He could no longer turn his thoughts another way, as he does now, when conscience reproaches him. He would know that the Eternal Eye was ever upon him; and that Eye of holiness, which is joy and life to holy creatures, would seem to him an Eye of wrath and punishment. God cannot change His nature. Holy He must ever be. But while He is holy, no unholy soul can be happy in heaven. Fire does not inflame iron, but it inflames straw. It would cease to be fire if it did not. And so heaven itself would be fire to those, who would fain escape across the great gulf from the torments of hell. The finger of Lazarus would but increase their thirst. The very “heaven that is over their head” will be “brass” to them…"
- Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1845 (1801 – 1890)
Father Daley said that the above was one of his favorite presentations on heaven and hell. “Newman has this idea, which is very fascinating, that heaven and hell are in the same place, that we all come to be in the presence of God, but for the person who has lived in faith, coming into the presence of God is tremendously fulfilling and happy. And for the one who lived for self, power, and material things, it’s hell.”
As Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote, heaven and hell may be the same place. For those who love only themselves, heaven (being in the presence of God and others) is hell. For those who love God in others, heaven is already known. We cannot choose the time in which we live, but we must choose between heaven and hell in this life.
—David Carlson, Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World
This suggests that Hell is not the absence of God. The presence of God is Heaven. Now if you go unholy to the presence of the Holy One, that will be Hell and it will be necessary and it will be one’s own fault.
What are your thoughts?