Maybe I’m some sort of spiritual sociopath, but I do not fear going to hell. Not at all. Nada. Zip.
I see so many threads about people who seem to live in constant fear of going to hell if they do this or that, or whether they have committed a mortal sin by thinking this or that and should they abstain from Communion or what if they die before they make it to confession, I feel terribly for them.
You know why? Because I feel like I am at perfect peace with God. Just as with my own parents, I don’t do things to offend them, but it is because I want to do what is right and good by them – not because I’m afraid they’ll punish me. When I was little I did get an occasional spanking, but that’s not why I avoided doing wrong. I avoided doing wrong because I wanted to be good, and when I was little, “good” was defined by what my parents said was good.
Oh, it’s true I’ve had my day where I delighted in wrong. But those days are past.
I even have a rough time saying the act of contrition, “because I dread the loss of heaven and the fear of hell” or whatever, and then “but MOST of all because You are all good and deserving of all my love.” Seems to me it’s almost backwards. Why not make the most important point first? It’s like dread and fear are the first things we should be thinking about.
Honestly, if I understand my Church teachings right, and I’m certainly not a theologian, one cannot just “accidentally” mortally sin anyway. It has to be calculated and intentional.
What did Jesus say when he appeared to a room full of scared people? “Fear not.” What did angels say when the appeared to people? “fear not”
So why fear?
So am I perfect? no.
Do I do wrong things, or things I later regret? Yes, occasionally.
Do I claim to totally agree with 100% of Church teachings? No, not if all I’ve been told the Church teaches are actually what she teaches.
But does that bother me? Yes and no. I try to learn, and sometimes what doesn’t make sense now makes sense later, but some things just don’t seem right – can’t come up with a good example right at the moment but if I hear one I’ll call it, and I’m not ashamed to question things.
Do I mortally sin? I don’t know. I don’t try to or want to, so maybe I don’t – at least not for a few decades since I was on my “wild” binge away from the church.
Do I look forward to heaven? Absolutely. In fact, even in difficult times (and I am having one of them now – nothing like some people’s but for me it’s a bit of a challenge) I feel so much peace – unconditional peace – in my heart, I can’t even imagine what it must be like in heaven. :heaven:
But do I fear going to hell? No. I do my best, and if that isn’t good enough and God sends me to hell, then at least I can take comfort in knowing that He sent His own Son there, too – at least for a while.
If this is blasphemous, I’m sorry, but it isn’t meant to be. I just feel so bad for people who live in constant spiritual fear and turmoil – and frankly the way I was brought up in Catholicism I used to lie awake in bed, fearing whether the devil was tempting me or whether I would go to hell – so I perfectly understand how so many people can be that way, fearing hell so much that they can’t live in peace on this earth. Not anymore, though. Honestly, it seemed that the God some of my grade school teachers tried to show me was an ogre, just waiting for us dear little children to mess up so He could punish us forever. I just don’t believe that anymore.
I think Jesus came to bring us true, unconditional, everlasting peace – not to increase our fear of hell or to make us paranoid of stepping on a crack at any given moment and losing our salvation. And I’d like to think I know how to receive that gift. And it is a gift, not something I’ve earned – but have always tried to be open to. I feel like I have received peace and joy and some of the other fruit of the spirit, even if through no merit (though much seeking) of my own.