Does God at the particular judgement judge a person and then send the person to heaven (purgatory) or hell or do people freely choose to go to hell after viewing their earthly life through the eyes of God. I have heard it preached both ways. Said another way, can a person be forced into hell by God even though they do not want to go there. The catechism in paragraphs 1033 through 1037 talks about this subject, but I don’t fully understand what is being said there relative to my question.
Perhaps a story will illuminate:
A man who lived a life of sin and never darkened the doorway of his parish died. He awoke in the afterlife in front of the pearly gates and saw large numbers of people walking in a certain direction. He approached the gates and asked what was going on. An angel said to him, “Come on in, we’re on our way to sign hymns of praise and adoration.” The man asked, “And then what?” The angel responded, “Then we will all offer prayers and supplication for everyone on earth.” The man responded, “I hated all that stuff on earth why would I be able to enter heaven?” The angel answered, “If you hated that stuff on earth, you’ll surely hate it for eternity. This place is heaven for us, hell for you.”
When we say that people “choose” hell, what we’re saying is that they’re choosing a way of life that is incompatible with being in the presence of God. Such individuals cannot tolerate the holiness and goodness of heaven, they would refuse to enter.
Its similar to certain criminals that cannot stand “going straight.” Its not that they desire prison, but they can’t stand living an honest life and would rather risk prison. In essence they choose to exclude themselves from the free community.