Is burning in hell with loved ones better than heaven without them?


#1

My mother knowing that her deceased parents were never church goers – only good people – has frightened me and my sister by saying that she’d rather burn in hell with them than be in heaven without them. My sister and I then tried to explain to our mother that people in hell would not be “good” and that she should not “write off” her parents as outside of God’s mercy.

But my mother, who is agnostic, really has no understanding of there being any loving relationship between God our heavenly Father and us his adopted children. And as she can’t know during her lifetime where her parents are now spending eternity, she doesn’t understand that she ought to be praying that they chose God before they died and seek to do so herself.

My mother does like to read and I was hoping you could recommend a simple book that might help cathechize her on salvation.


#2

Try to take comfort in the fact that there is a grain of truth in what your mother is saying: She loves her parents so much that she cannot imagine true happiness without them; perhaps for her, they are an image of God the Father and Mary our heavenly Mother. The idea of an eternity without her parents is so intolerable that she would rather suffer eternally if it meant being with them. Your mother is, of course, seriously misunderstanding the nature of heaven and hell and of God and the communion of saints, but remember that love covers a multitude of sins
(1 Pet. 4:8). Just as you cautioned your mother, be careful yourself not to “write off” your mother as outside God’s mercy.

One of the problems with your mother’s understanding of heaven and hell is that we are only truly in communion with one another in heaven, not hell. Hell is, ultimately, the choice for self over God and over those made in God’s image. Those in hell will not be enjoying communion with one another because their choice for self means that they have no capacity to love one another because they cannot truly love one another apart from God. Far better then that if your mother wants to be in communion with her parents again that she hope they are in heaven and seek to join them there than that she claim to be willing to join them in hell.

Recommended reading:

Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven by Peter Kreeft
A Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano


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