I have a question about the concept of Hell

I have a question about hell. I remember in high school (I went to a Catholic High School) learning about sin, mortal and venial. Things like masturbation, premarital sex, missing mass, all being mortal sins. If you do just one of these things, you can end up going to Hell. I have a problem with the concept of Hell. I can think of plenty of people that I don’t like. I can’t think of anybody that I want to see rot in Hell for all eternity, and God is far more forgiving, merciful, and loving than I will ever be. If this is the case, why does it seem so hard to get into heaven?

Good question. It is hard to understand Hell in light of an all-merciful God, so I’ll try to help you get a good perspective.

Let’s look at it from a different angle. Mortal sins are the killing of sanctifying grace in our souls, done intentionally, knowingly, and willingly. A person who commits a mortal sin KNOWS that he is intentionally offending God. By this action, the person separates himself from God.

Hell is not a place that God necessarily casts us into if we displease Him. It is a place that **we **cast ourselves into, through our actions, because we have said “No” to God. God has given us free will and does not force us to be with Him in Heaven forever, so if we choose to reject Him through our actions, He will not stop us from casting ourselves into the eternal flames.

Hell is our choice when we sin mortally.

A person who loves God will feel great remorse whenever they sin, and will strive to live in virtue and avoid sin, and when they fall they will confess their sins immediately so as to be freed from that sin. These people God takes to Heaven, because they truly want to be with Him.

Yes, it is hard, but no, it is not. All that it requires is an act of the will to choose God. That is a challenge, but with God’s grace, it is certainly possible for all of us to attain everlasting life.

You are not the only one who finds the concept of hell and a loving God difficult to reconcile. But this is God’s world, we just live in it. What I mean by that is, we don’t make the rules, God does, and we come to know these rules through the Church He established on Earth. You will hear explanations which point to our being blessed with free will, our fallen nature, and that God actually sends no one to hell. Any one of us who might end up in hell chooses it for ourselves by rejecting God - rejecting Love. Struggling with this myself, I look at it this way: being the author of human nature (God is the Creator, we are the creatures), God knew that we would need the threat of the negative (hell) as well as the hope of the positive (heaven) to encourage us to use of our free will in making the right (loving, obedient) choices. The good news is, God is Mercy (as well as Love and Justice) and ever ready to forgive whenever we repent and turn away from sin and back to God. Missing one Mass need not send anyone to hell, unless they remain stubborn in refusing to ask forgiveness.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the devil. God is infinitely more powerful, but still permits us to be tempted. It all ties in with free will and our fallen nature again. I would rather not focus on evil (the devil), but instead focus only on the good (God), but I also know if I forget about the devil, I do so at my own peril. Apparently, he wants company where he is.

I too have a similar thought about hell. I believe without doubt Hell exists. Scriptures describe it and warn of it including Our Lord. A thought that I’ve always had comes from my being a father myself. I can’t fathom ever sentencing one of my children to eternal damnation. It must grieve the Father greatly to ever have done this.

My love for my children is minute compared to God’s love. My love for my children is seemingly eternal. I’ve often wondered if perhaps there is an eventual out for some since God’s love is without end. Mitigating circumstance plays a part in my speculations. Not choosing to whom we were born and ultimately not having control over our external influences especially during formative years as children.
This could be considered very unfair. What role did Judas play in our redemption??
Was he a predestined sacrifice or might he have been eventually forgiven?
I’ve often wondered.

If Judas is in hell, he wound up there because of his free decisions against the good, so he would not be “predestined” in the sense that God actively orchestrated his betrayal.

One last thing: Without denying the existence of hell or the devil, take heart! There is reason to be hopeful. God wants no one to be in hell, and gives us every opportunity not to be there.

1 Timothy 2:4 “God desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Jesus Himself stated that it is much easier to end up in Hell than in Heaven, stating that “The road to destruction is wide, and those who follow it are many”. When a person goes to Hell, he/she has decided to worship him/herself instead of God. We always have to be on guard against our own selfish desires, the temptations of the devil, and the temptations of a corrupted world.

The most common temptations are from our own flesh and mind - the reason why the most common sins among adolecents and adults are sexual in nature is because our flesh never stops tempting us.

Temptations from the world appeal to our safety - these ones are actually the strongest temptations and the hardest ones to fight off because we are led to believe that our own well-being (whether physically, mentally, or socially) will be damaged if we do not fall into sin (this is why temptations of the world often lead to deceitful practices, such as lying and stealing - even atrocities such as mothers seeking abortion are often due to temptations of the world).

Temptations from the devil himself are actually quite rare - but they are very dangerous temptations and very strong. A person who has given in to temptations of the devil can actually lose his/her conscience due to believing that good is evil and evil is good. This is how abortionists and serial killers can be so completely emotionless - they’ve lost their consiences by falling into temptations from the devil himself - who often promises power and/or wealth beyond one’s dreams (Satan’s most common temptation to man is akin to when he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and promised Jesus power over all of them if Jesus would just bow down to Satan - his temptation in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve was to have godlike power over creation).

But falling into any of these sins is mortal primarily because one has said to God - “I don’t trust your way. My way is better, and so I’m going to do things MY WAY!” In other words, the gyst of any sin, especially mortal sin, is lack of trust in God’s ways.

When hell is referred to in the bible as gehenna, it is an apt analogy, since going to hell is to experience the “garbage” of one’s life and the repercussions of this “garbage” upon others as seen thru the Eyes of Pure Love with God being that Pure Love, also one will come to realize that he/she built the hell that they are in and that they put themself in hell, not God .

Someone mentioned, "1 Timothy 2:4 “God desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ", also in 1 Timothy 2, it is written, “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.”, which ties in with what Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished”, which translates as PAID IN FULL.

We can believe that Jesus was/is the “ransom for all” which is the essence of the “Good News” or we can believe that what Jesus did was in vain, I, personally, believe that what Jesus did was not in vain.

Jesus did say, “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to Myself”, not loaded with details but very simple and to the point that God’s Plan of Salvation is catholic.

Jesus, Himself, went to hell, “My God, My God, why have Thou forsaken Me?”, there was a lot more going on at the cross than just the physicality, it was in knowing that He would win the “keys” to the netherworld by His acceptance of the cross that led Jesus to say to Simon Peter, “Simon, thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build My Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against It”.

As Jesus said in so many words, He both dreaded the cross and looked forward to the cross and nothing was going to keep Him from the cross.

Everyone, without exception, goes to Hell by their own free choice. Committing a mortal sin and dying unrepentant means you have chosen to reject God and willingly spend eternity in Hell.
The Church teaching is absolutely clear that nobody is predestined to go to Hell.

CCC 1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

CCC 1037 God predestines no one to go to Hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”.

I have a question about hell. I remember in high school (I went to a Catholic High School) learning about sin, mortal and venial. Things like masturbation, premarital sex, missing mass, all being mortal sins. If you do just one of these things, you can end up going to Hell. I have a problem with the concept of Hell. I can think of plenty of people that I don’t like. I can’t think of anybody that I want to see rot in Hell for all eternity, and God is far more forgiving, merciful, and loving than I will ever be. If this is the case, why does it seem so hard to get into heaven?

Because they freely CHOOSE to go there and God respects their free will.

If God forced them into Heaven, it would not be “Heaven” any more.

WHY would anyone “choose” to go to Hell?

The same reasons WHY they would commit mortal sin . . . . “MY will be done . . . .NOT . . . . Thy will be done!”

Hell is there whither people like it or not. Some religions remove the doctrine of hell. Atheists deny it all together. Nothing will ever remove the reality of hell. The only way to avoid hell is to strive into heaven(the narrow road). Most unforuntially go to hell(Matthew 7:13-14) because of the desires of the world. I personally say it is better to strive after jesus and go to heaven. There is a verse in the bible that shows that heaven is the fullness of joy.

That is really a scary thought, that most people will go to Hell.

OK. Here is my case in point. Suppose you have a person who is overall a good person, lives a clean life, helps others, and the worst thing that person has ever done is have premarital sex or missed mass a few times, but overall a good person. If that person dies, do you honestly think that person deserves to rot in hell for all eternity? I would say maybe a stint in purgatory at worst.

The key is “full knowledge and deliberate consent.” These are all things that we are to take seriously and not to allow into our lives deliberately. If we knowingly choose any of these things over God, knowing that God does not want us to do them, and if we persist in that false choice and harden ourselves even at the point of death, then yes, we will go to hell.

In my opinion we can hope that no one will do this.

But the Church’s teaching is for us, not God. God is indeed infinitely merciful. Our job is not to speculate about what limits there might be on His mercy, but to do what the Church teaches us to do, knowing that certain actions, when freely chosen, are incompatible with the love of God and neighbor and so should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s a hypothetical example: Supposes someone yields to a temptation of lust and dies at that moment. They encounter God and their reaction is, “Oh God, please forgive me.” That would show that they had not chosen mortal sin with full knowledge and deliberate consent. A person in a state of mortal sin would say something like, “Damn you, God, for letting me die just as I was having so much fun!”

That’s my understanding anyway. It is, of course, not Church teaching, but I think it’s compatible with Church teaching.

Edwin

I know that your question is directed to other Catholics on the forum, but I just can not help responding because the idea of eternal damnation for something as trivial as the use of contraceptives seems so silly to me.

According to Hindu (and Buddhist) beliefs there is no such place as eternal Hell for anyone however sinful he is. Hell is a temporary place where you suffer after death in proportion to your grievous sins in life and then you come back to earth to try better in the next life. Eventually you become pure enough after multiple lifetimes, so that you no longer need to reincarnate and then you can spend eternity in heaven.

God knew that some would never repent this side of death and that is why God came up with His Plan for ALL even before creation.

Many people’s “conception” of God reminds me of the old saying: “God created us in His Image and we have been trying to return the favor ever since”.

Well, if we have true free will, there would be no ‘wrong choice’. Hell seems to be a punishment for not making the correct choice.

Im generally referring to people who choose to live their lives without God in it, that does not mean they are evil people though, I know plenty of people like this, that give money to many charities, help others, are kind to all they meet, but they are just not religious people, Now if people go to hell, just for choosing to live a life like this, keep in mind, a place created for satan and the other fallen, then something seems very wrong with this IMO. Just because someone chooses a life without God in it, does not mean they go about sinning left and right.

Another issue regarding Hell that puzzles me, God clearly says a few times and in a few ways, that not many people will make it to heaven, so God knows this beforehand, and in a way, it seems Satan has prevailed, in that he managed to win over the majority of souls, but God also says Satan will be defeated. This makes no sense to me, If God knows beforehand that Satan will gain more souls than himself, how does this mean he is defeated? seems the other way around to me. It also shows that a majority of Gods creations have chosen to go against him and side with the enemy…think about what that says about God.

Finally, the bible states people will experience psychical pain in hell, gnashing of teeth, screaming, weeping, but in other parts of the bible, it is stated heaven and hell are purely spiritual places, and NO ONES psychical body (besides, God himself, Enoch, and I believe Ezekiel) can enter heaven/hell, so how can a person be in their psychical body in heaven or hell?

Well we do have one thing in common, heaven.

But Jesus offered us proof that he was God by bringing himself back to life. So I have to go with Jesus. Hindu dosen’t offer such proof but just states it’s beliefs.

May you be blessed with happiness.

Why is it difficult to enter heaven?
Because we are damaged by sin which left us weak in resisting temptation. It is much easier to sin than to be virtuous. Anger is our fist impulse not patience.

And when a person just does what is easy, then it becomes a way of life and all the harder to do good.

By setting ourselves into a pattern of sin, soon we begin to believe evil is good/ok and good is an evil because it opposes our comfort. This thinking is hard to change.

People start to think that they aren’t so bad because they know others who are worse. And God is very loving and so he will understand and not send me away. It just won’t happen to me. And therefore I’m not the kind of person anyone would put into an eternal dungeon for the piddly stuff I do. Our mind plays tricks on us.

Going uphill is so much harder than going down hill.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

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