If the visions of the saints are in the least bit close to the truth, hell is very real and terrible. Nobody wants to go there
Hell is real, and for Catholics, its existence is a dogma. The Council of Florence established in 1439 that “the souls of those who die in present mortal sin, or even only in original sin, immediately descend into hell”.
Because it is a place only for those who have died, they can not have access to hell those of us who still live – at least in ordinary circumstances. Many saints and non-saints throughout the history of the Church have claimed to have had vivid mystical experiences of hell and have written about it. Following are three of these descriptions.
The Catechism clearly states that the role of private revelation “is not that of” improving “or” completing “the deposit of faith, but that of” helping to live it more fully in a given historical epoch “. The account of these visions must therefore be read to see if they can help inspire us to take the reality of the eternal kingdom of the damned more seriously.
Hell: “Dense Darkness” Santa Teresa d’Avila
The great saint of the sixteenth century Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun and theologian. He is one of the 35 doctors of the Church. His book “The Inner Castle” is considered one of the most important texts on spiritual life. In her autobiography, the saint describes a vision of hell that she believed God had granted her to help her get away from her sins:
“The entrance seemed to me like a very long and narrow alley, like a very low, dark and cramped oven; the ground, a mud full of filth and a pestilent smell in which a number of disgusting reptiles were moving. In the back wall there was a cavity like a cupboard built into the wall, where I felt enclosed in a very small space. But all this was a spectacle even pleasant compared to what I had to suffer here “[…].
“What I am about to say, however, seems to me that we can not even attempt to describe it or understand it: I felt in the soul a fire of such violence that I do not know how to refer it; the body was tormented by such intolerable pains that, although having suffered in this life of very serious […], everything is nothing compared to what I suffered there then, all the more to the thought that they would be torments without end and without respite ” […].
“I was in a pestilential place, with no hope of comfort, without the possibility of sitting down and spreading my limbs, closed as I was in that sort of hole in the wall. The same walls, horrible to behold, weighed down on me, giving me a feeling of suffocation. There was no light, but very dense darkness “[…].
“Later, however, I had a vision of frightening things, including the punishment of some vices. When I saw them, they seemed far more terrible […]. To hear about hell is nothing, as nothing is the fact that he has sometimes meditated on the different torments he gives (even if only a few times, because the path of fear is not made for my soul) and with which the demons torture the damned and others that I read in books; it is nothing, I repeat, in the face of this punishment, which is quite another thing. There is the same difference that passes between a portrait and reality; burning at our fire is very little compared to the torment of hellfire. I was frightened and still am while I am writing, even though it has been almost six years since I felt myself chilled by terror here, where I am “[…].
“This vision also gave me great pain to the thought of the many souls damned (especially those of Lutherans who were already members of the Church for baptism) and a strong impulse to succeed them, being, I believe, beyond doubt that, for free one of those terrible torments, I would be willing to face a thousand deaths very willingly “[…].
Hell: “Horrible caverns, chasms of torments” Santa Maria Faustina Kowalska
Santa Maria Faustina Kowalska, known as Santa Faustina, was a Polish nun who claimed to have had a series of visions that included Jesus, the Eucharist, the angels and various saints. It is from his visions, recorded in his Diary, that the Church has received the now popular devotion to the chaplet of Divine Mercy. In a passage from the end of October 1936, she describes a vision of hell:
“Today, under the guidance of an angel, I have been in the depths of Hell. It is a place of great torment throughout its frighteningly large extent. These are the various penalties I have seen: the first penalty, the one that constitutes hell, is the loss of God; the second, the continuous remorse of the conscience; the third, the awareness that that fate will never change;the fourth penalty is the fire that penetrates the soul, but does not annihilate it; it is a terrible pain: it is a purely spiritual fire, ignited by the wrath of God; the fifth penalty is the continuous darkness, a horrible stuffy stink, and though it is dark the demons and the damned souls see each other and see all the evil of others and their own; the sixth penalty is the continuous company of satan; the seventh punishment is the tremendous desperation, the hatred of God, the curses, the curses, the blasphemies “.
“These are pains that all the damned suffer together, but this is not the end of torment. There are particular torments for the various souls which are the torments of the senses. Every soul with that which has sin is tormented in a tremendous and indescribable way. There are horrible caves, chasms of torment, where every torment differs from the other. I would have died at the sight of those horrible tortures if the omnipotence of God had not sustained me. The sinner knows that with the sense with which he sins he will be tortured for all eternity. I write this by the order of God, so that no soul can be justified by saying that hell is not there, or that no one has ever been and nobody knows how it is. “
“I, Sister Faustina, by order of God have been in the abysses of hell, in order to tell it to souls and testify that hell is there.Now I can not talk about this. I have the order from God to leave it in writing. The demons have shown great hatred against me, but by order of God they have had to obey me. What I wrote is a faint shadow of the things I saw. One thing I noticed is that most of the souls that are there, are souls who did not believe that there was hell. When I returned to myself, I could not recover from the fright at the thought that souls suffer so tremendously, so I pray more fervently for the conversion of sinners, and I unceasingly invoke God’s mercy for them. My Jesus, I would prefer to agonize until the end of the world, among the worst sufferings, rather than offend you with the least sin “(Diary of Saint Faustina, 741).
Hell: “A great sea of fire”: Sister Lucia of Fatima
Sister Lucia is not a saint, but she is one of the recipients of one of the most important private revelations of the twentieth century, which took place in Fatima (Portugal). In 1917 he was one of the three children who claimed to have experienced numerous visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She declared that Mary had shown her a vision of hell which she later described in her Memoirs:
“[Mary] She once again opened her hands, as she had done the previous two months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth and we saw it as a vast sea of fire and we saw the demons and souls [of the damned] immersed in it “.
“Then there were like burning embers transparent, all blackened and burned, with human form. They were floating in this great conflagration, now thrown into the air by the flames and then sucked again, along with large clouds of smoke.Sometimes they fell on each side like sparks on huge fires, without weight or balance, between shouts and lamentations of pain and despair, which terrified us and made us tremble with fear (it must have been this vision that made me cry, as people say she heard). “
“The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] for their terrifying and repellent appearance similar to that of horrendous and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning embers. This vision lasted only a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, who in her first appearance promised to take us to Heaven. Without this promise, I believe we would have died of terror and fright “.
Any reaction? We can all rely on the mercy of God in Christ, and thus avoid anything that is even close to these descriptions, spending eternity in union with God in heaven.
Drafting Papaboys source: Aleteia
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