Saturday, August 21, 2010

The eternity of hell


Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here. 

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 13:22-30
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. […] Depart from me, all you evildoers!
With these words, Christ reveals to us the eternity of hell – there will be no forgiveness after death for the sinner who has died in unrepentant mortal sin. No plea for mercy will then be heard and none will come to the aid of the damned, but their punishment will last for all eternity and there will be no end to their misery.
What is it that makes hell to be eternal? Is it God’s justice? Does God deny the damned the grace necessary for repentance? Are the wicked so abstinent as to refuse God’s grace? We shall see that the human soul, after death, becomes immutably fixed on either good or evil, such that no change of course is possible – not even God could bring a soul out of hell, there no grace is efficacious!

(In our discussion of this topic, we rely principally on part 2 of Garrigou-Lagrange’s spiritual classic Life Everlasting)
Why is hell eternal?
Hell is eternal on account of the grave offence which sin is against God. The gravity of punishment is not determined so much by the duration of the sin (most sins only last a moment, but hell is eternal), rather the punishment is determined by the malice in the soul of the sinner and the infinite good of the God who is offended. Thus, since mortal sin kills the soul by annihilating charity and offends God by completely severing any supernatural bond to him in love, such sin requires an eternal punishment. This punishment is the pains of hell (both the despair of the soul who has no hope and the physical pains of fire and ice).
Moreover, hell is eternal because the souls there are immutably fixed in evil, hating God and neighbor. Some theologians (Scotus and Suarez) held that this obstinacy is caused for men and for demons because God no longer offers the grace of conversion to these souls. This, however, is unsatisfactory, since the eternity of hell is then predicated upon a refusal on the part of God and not on the part of man.
Cardinal Cajetan shows the beginnings of a better way. He argued that, in death, the human soul becomes something like the angelic soul – as the pure spirit has a judgment that is immutable so to the judgment of the separated human soul is immutable. Because we are now living on earth and in terrestrial time, after making a choice we can learn something new and successively change our will. The angels however, have an intuitive knowledge, see reality in all its aspects, and can learn nothing new – thus they can never change their will. So it is with the separated soul after death, having chosen for either good or evil in the last moment of life, it can never alter this choice. Having freely chosen for either good or evil, the separated soul immutably fixes itself in this choice.
Later Thomists developed and adapted this fundamental insight of Cardinal Cajetan maintaining that “the soul begins to determine itself by the last free act of the present life, and it attains this fixation immutably, in regard to its knowledge and its will, in the first instant after death. Thus, it immobilizes itself in its own choice. Hence it is not a lack of God’s mercy which fixes the soul in obstinacy.” (Life Everlasting)
Finally, it will be helpful to consider that each man judges according to his inclination. Thus, the humble man judges all things by his inclination to humility, but the ambitious man judges by his inclination to pride – hence the proud man sees the same event quite differently than does the humble man. After death, our inclination to our last end cannot change: thus, the humble man will continue in the next life to judge definitively according to the inclination to virtue, but the proud man will judge definitively according to his pride. The pride of the unrepentant sinner is now eternalized, he is fixed in obstinacy, he is forever perverted and incapable of choosing the only road of return, namely, humility and obedience.

The words of the theologian Fr. Lacordaire: “Had justice alone created the abyss, there might be remedy. But it is love, the first love sempiternal, which made hell. This it is which banishes hope. Were I condemned by justice, I might flee to love. But if I am condemned by love, whither can I turn? Such is the fate of the damned, Love, that gave his blood for them – this Love, this same Love, must now curse them. […] Love is not a farce. It is God’s love which punishes, God’s crucified love. Love is life or death. And if that love is God’s love, then love is either eternal life or eternal death.” (cited in Life Everlasting)

44 comments:

Wild Bill said...

These teachings are terrific. How I wish we were hearing them from the pulpit like we did in the old days.

david said...

I've never before heard God's love equated with eternal death.

Anonymous said...

Hell is the place without God. God, that is, Love Himself let them who hate Him(It) to exist without Him(It). This is Love. For would it be love to force someone who hates you to be with you?

And what's the use of being forcefully with the one you hate: even without separate place as Hell is, such people couldn't have born being with God they hate, that is, would have had Hell even in Heaven. And why would God forcefully mingle those who love Him with those who hate Him? Hence Hell as the separate place is perfectly in harmony with God's infinite love.

Why doesn't God annihilate the souls of the damned out of His merciful love for them and so removes their horrible pains? It seems that He can't annihilate human soul including the souls of the damned any more than He can't annihilate Himself. For spirit is indestructible because it seems to be the image of indestructible Spirit, that is, God Himself. And human soul is spiritual and hence indestructible.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that some of you are equating Hell with "a place" of fire and craziness. My understanding has always been that the misery of Hell is the unattainable beauty of Love, the Beatific Vision. I won't quote, but "...eye has not seen nor ear heard..." St. Paul

Flexo said...

That's a LOT more complicated than it needs to be.

Hell is "eternal" because, like heaven, it is beyond and outside of linear time. And without linear time -- a before, a now, and an after -- everything is fixed: everything, including the state of our being, in grace or in sin, is fixed.

Fernando said...

I totally, but with charity, disagree with this position. But perhaps I’m not seeing things correctly. So I’ll post some thoughts. 1) Nowhere in the present biblical text it is spoken of "eternity" since we do not know what happened after this episode; 2) if one is to take the parable literally, then one must also assume that the soul, after their "final" decision to deny God – that will happen after our dead –, will want to be with God, and that expresses a change after our; 3) if angels were able to change their will and, doing so, became devils, one must, once again, assume that there’s change outside our space and time coordinates; 4) eternity is not a “lot of time”, rather the essence of time, but the essence of time does have the characteristic of time; so: if time measures changes, the possibility of a change must be inside “eternity”. Where? I’m wrong? Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Flexo, following St. Thomas, nails it. It really is that simple: it is metaphysically impossible for the soul not to "lie where it falls" for eternity because it leaves the temporal domain of change and becoming. Once it is outside of that domain, repentence is impossible- you are a finished work, i.e. you are what you have made of yourself as result of your choices on earth.

I would add, however, that the possibility of hell bestows a kind of dignity on us. The fact that our choices matter in the face of eternity, and that what we make out of our lives matters from the standpoint of eternity, we attain a cosmic significance that elevates us above the animals. The possible consequences of that dignity could be disasterous, but there is no way that we could be free beings with immortal souls and yet immune from risk of eternal separation from God.

salvemaria said...

St Faustina, 1st saint of the 3rd millenium said this of hell:

"I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." (Diary 741)."

She described the main pains of hell as:

1. The loss of God.
2. Perpetual remorse of conscience.
3. That one's condition will never change.
4. The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger.
5. Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
6. The constant company of Satan.
7. Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

(Diary 741)

Mary said...

Why would a good person, made a saint, be shown the evils and fires of hell? Never have we been given the diary work of an evil person who has seen the same. They have been spared that knowledge for a reason. Because the good person is usually consummed with the fear of being placed in hell, while the evil person does not even think about it.

The mind conjures up incredible scenarios, i.e. dreams, of the fears that could overcome each one of us.

We are all pieces of God - made in the image of God. Time has no consequence or is irrelevant to the Creator of all things. To us the 'moment' of death seems as a short breath in and out. To God it is an eternity. As humans we may not have convinced another during his/her lifetime to accept the saving grace of Jesus, but I am certain that at the moment of his/her death, in God's 'eternal time frame', our Heavenly Father would have had plenty of time to do what we did not have time to do.

Friends, God wants "all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth", 1 Timothy 2:4.

God's words never lie. Isaiah 55:11says, "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

That is surely Good News to me.

De Liliis said...

Thought provoking quotes by Fr. Lacordaire!

Here's another thought provoker that can be very beneficial to try to empathize with!

"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more richly, a perfect sight of the punishment of the damned is granted them."

St. Thomas Aquinas

www.saintsquotes.net

matt said...

Hello! Great article on a really tough question. I have wrestled with this a lot, and I still have a few questions. I am not looking for a fight; I am a Catholic Christian seeking to better understand my faith, and I just need a little more clarification if you have a moment.

You quoted Life Everlasting as saying that the soul attains is fixation immutably in its first moment after death. Does that mean that there is still time to repent one last time after passing from this world?

Also, do we have free will in the next life? If not, haven't we lost something that gives us dignity as human beings? Wouldn't that make those in Heaven mere automata praising God? If we do still have free will, can the damned turn towards God? If they can turn to God, why would God with-hold his Grace from them? If they cannot, do they really have free will, and are they really human?

Why is the moment of immobilization at the end of, or just after, this life? Why can't the damned, after experiencing what life is like without God, repent and be forgiven?

Again, great article. I find this issue fascinating and, ultimately, the only really good objection to Christianity.

Reginaldus said...

@Matt,
Thank you for such thoughtful questions! I will try to give something of the beginning of some answers:
1) Can you repent in that instant after death? This is a good question. In fact, this is one reason why some later Thomists modified the position of Cardinal Cajetan (whose position I presented in the article)...there is no chance for repentence. Thus, later writers argue that the final choice which becomes an eternal choice begins in the last moment of this life and is concluded in the first moment after bodily death. So, there is no time after death for repentence and no "second choice", but rather only the conclusion of the choice made in this life.
2)Is there free will in the next life? Good question...I will limit myself to saying that free will doesn't require having multiple options to choose from. Once a choice is freely made, continuing in this free choice (even if there is no longer any other possibility) is still free. The free will of the soul is fixed forever after death...but it freely continues in the path it choose in life.
3)Why is the moment of immobilization at the end of this life? The simple answer is that we are no longer able to merit (or demerit) after death. The choice is made...the experience of the damned only increases their hatred, because they have no charity in their souls.

I hope that this helps...It would take many more articles to fully explain these points.
Do look to Life Everlasting by Garrigou-Lagrange, it is most helpful!

Reginaldus said...

@Flexo and Anonymous (August 22, 2010 12:57 PM),
Thank you for your comments, however, I think you are a bit confused about the nature of time after death...

Only God is in time "sempiternal", where all is present.
Angels (and separated souls) are in aeviternal time, which means that there is change...angels think multiple thoughts in succession. Angels do experience change. So will human souls after death (for example, they will eventually be re-united with their bodies). There is succession, past present and future. This is different than our time on earth, because it is determined more by the process of thought in the mind than by movement of physical bodies.

Anonymous, if you want to find St. Thomas' position (and see that it is quite different from that expressed by Flexo), please see the treatese on angels in ST I, qq.50-64. Also, Life Everlasting by Garrigou-Lagrange is very helpful here.

So, to put it simply: No, men after death and angels are not "outside the realm of changing"; and no, the angels and separated souls are not "beyond and outside of linear time" where everything is in an eternal present.

The positions you are expressing are not, at least, those held by St. Thomas and the Catholic Church.

Reginaldus said...

@Fernando (Aug 2, 12:01pm)
Thank you for the comments, please let me give very brief answers.

1) In Mtt. 25:41 - "depart from me into the ETERNAL fire"...you are correct, eternity is not mentioned specifically in this Sunday's Gospel, but it is the teaching of Chrsit.
2) The damned desire not truly to be with God, but only that their punishment would end. They do not desire virtue and goodness and right, they are only asking for an end to their suffering. Thus, their plea for mercy is not born of true repentance, and so their punishment lasts forever.
3)Angels did not change their will and become deamons. As soon as they were created, they choose either for good or for evil. There was no second choice. Satan was made the greatest of the angels, but he NEVER loved God.
4) You are correct, for the souls of men and angels, there is change in the afterlife. But there is no change of the fundament choice for good or evil. Please see my comments to Flexo above....

I hope that this helps...I know that it is only the very beginnings of an answer to your very good questions.

Reginaldus said...

@ Wild Bill, I too wish more priests would preach on this topic...I did, and the parish was very positive and happy to hear the truth!

@Salvemaria and De Liliis, Thank you both for the great quotations!

@Mary, you give a sweet reflection, but it seems that Jesus tells us something different...God doesn't seem to give us an eternal moment at death to make a choice, we have already made the choice. And, if we take our Savior's words seriously, it seems that many make the wrong choice.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

Jesus is the truth, the way and the life.

As the truth Jesus never speaks of hell or sending anyone to hell in the New Testament. Yes, Jesus says the word hell 15 times as it is printed in all the bibles, but it is incorrectly used and has been a problem for a long time. The proper words, as I am sure you know are, Gehenna(city dump),Hades(the unseen), Sheol(grave), Hinnom(desolation and violation).

I have reflected long and hard on our spiritual soul and I believe it to be the Life of Christ living in me and I in Christ.

As such, the Way of Christ is what I am to be working on in me. Removing the worldly desires and growing ever more aware of Christ's spirit within. Be in the world, but not of it.

Jesus as the truth, the way and the life, does not say make a choice to follow me or love me, but He does give us two commands: To love the Lord, our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our body and all our soul. And to this he added and to love our fellow man as ourselves.

Jesus is saying, "If you seek God the way that I have and find the truth of who God is and live your life in that truth, then you too will have the relationship that I have with God. Don't just believe that I am from God and have done miracles, and can be raised from the dead, you too can do these things and more."

I can find no place in God's word where it is NOT possible for God to do the impossible where man can only do the incredible. I seem to find more of the opposite.
Are you sure that God doesn't give us a moment at death to not, so much make a choice, but to SEE the TRUTH and set us free to then welcome us home?

Our Savior used the power of intuition as well as words. He spent most of His time in prayer and reflection with our Father. As the Son of Man He set an example for us to follow. If we follow His example and words correctly they lead to some amazing discoveries that need reflection, contemplation and meditation just as Jesus did.

I find that many do make the wrong choice, but that there are many more who make NO CHOICE because they are confused about a great many things about organized religious doctrine.

Fernando said...

Hi Reginaldus... thanks for your comments...

1) I do not think its fair to go to Mt. 25 to interpret Lk. 13... thei are not paralel passages... in Lk 13 there's no reference to an Eternal punishement...;

2) In this text there's no evidence that the jews (and this text only apllyes for the jews as I hope you know) will only ask God to open the door to escape punishement; more: don't you agree that in the Bible the true repentance follows forgiveness?

3) Were can I see any proof that angels did not change their will?

4) I totally agree that there's no change in the fundamental choice, but any choice to be a true choice must be towards something percibed as good, so: can't someone realize that what they thought to be a good (deny God) was in fact a mistake and chanhe theire choice to a tue good (accept God)?

I cannot believe, at last, thate anyone won't have the slightest portion of his will directed towards God, and, being so, I do believe that this minisculous atome of good will be dispised by God forever... won't we all have our purgatoire? I think so... but I can be wrong...

Anonymous said...

Unrepentant mortal sin? I wonder if there's such a thing as confession of desire?

Reginaldus said...

@Fernando (Aug 23, 1:16pm),
Just to be clear, I am here attempting to present the Catholic view. So, I base my commentary on the teachings of the Church, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors, and especially on the theological reflection of St. Thomas Aquinas.

These are matters of divine revelation and, as such, cannot be known through mere intellectual speculation.

I am not sure where you are looking for your information and your commentary, but what you propose is not consistent with the Church Fathers.

1)Many of the Fathers (nearly all of them) read this passage of Luke in light of the passage from Matthew 25.
2) The Fathers of the Church do apply this passage to Gentiles as well as to Jews.
3) It is the common teaching of the Fathers and of St. Thomas that the fallen angels fell immediately after their creation.
4) It is a matter of divine and Catholic faith that those who die in mortal sin are not given a second chance, but are immediately condemned to an eternal hell.

I am sorry if my articles and previous comments have not been convincing.
At this point, I can only encourage you to read the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas (which is full of quotations from the Church Fathers)...this will show the way that the Church has always interpreted the passages. Hopefully, this will also be more convincing than my own writting.

Thank you for you comments and discussion. I hope that you can understand at least where I am coming from, even if you do not fully agree with my interpretation.

Blessings!

Reginaldus said...

Mary (Aug 23, 9:25am),

I am sorry, but I must say I am really not sure what is the basis of your reflections.

Do you really think that when our Savior speaks about Gehenna, he literally means the city dump? Do you really think that our Lord thought that the fires of the city dump were the place of punishment for the wicked?
I cannot believe that you really want to take such a strick fundamentalist approach to the Lord's words.
Gahenna (and the other words) are obviously meant as metaphors for a place of eternal punishment.

I am not sure what religion you are, but the views you express are radically contrary to any orthodox or main-line Christianity. Here at this blog, I am attempting to present the Catholic faith...I am happy to discuss the reasons for the Church's teachings, but I really don't know what to say to someone who would claim that "Jesus never speaks of hell or sending anyone to hell in the New Testament"...you need to re-read Mattew 25, "depart from me into the everlasting flames."

As to those who "make no choice"...remember that we are conceived in sin...we are all, from the moment of our conception, subject to a fallen nature and deprived of the glory and the grace of God (until baptism).
How this works with infants who die is a mystery, but when we reach the age of reason, if we have not been baptized, not turning to God results in turning toward hell.

Anonymous said...

Would like to warn everybody here that going into details is not only unnecessary for eternal salvation but can even lead to false belief i.e. heresy. God has always liked the simple folks (e.g. Jean-Marie Vianney was everything but learned) and has resisted the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25-26).

So: Hell is eternal. Whoever (including pope) dies in mortal sin goes to Hell. Whoever dies without mortal sin goes to Heaven, immediately or after Purgatory. Purgatory is not Hell nor our sufferings on Earth.

Whoever disbelieves any of the above truths doesn't have the faith in God i.e. Catholic faith and as such cannot be saved.

Fernando said...

Hi Reginaldus... glad for your gentil reply... I'm also a Roman Catholic, but I also understand that the "Church Fathers" are "legion" and their's opinion are "legion" x "legion"... so: 1), 2) and 3) to me are disputable since there's no obligatory believe sugested ti us by our mother and teacher, the Church... more: if the fire is eternal, nowhere is said in the Bible, I think, that people will be in the fire eternely... am I wrong? more: If Jesus sais thate God did not created hell, how can hell be eternal?

about 4) there were so many divine and catholic teachings that were changed during time even in the Catholic, and even about this subject people like Gregory of Nisa, Edith Stein and von Balthasar (just to speak of 3 names) do believe that people can be granted a forgiveness after death...

but the problem, to me, is to speak of the eternity of hell starting from a text, Lk.12, thate does not speak of it... I'm trying to solve some of my doubts with someone who clearly knows more than me, and I think this chance was a blessing for me...

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I posted comments about salvation and the DIVINE MERCY devotion given to St. Faustina on the previous blog "who will be saved." IF anyone cares to read and comment.

Reginaldus said...

@ Mary (aug 24, 2:31am - post deleted)

You wrote: "Our previous pope, Pope Paul had the courage to admit that hell did not exist."

This is a lie! At no time did Pope Paul (either the VI or any previous Pope Paul) state that hell did not exist.
You are crediting a pope with heresy.
No Pope has ever denied the existence of hell.

I will not allow such comments to be posted on this blog. For this reason, I have deleted your post.

You also mentioned (in your post that is now deleted) that the passages about hell refer only to the Jews and that only Jews go to hell. This smacks of anti-semitism.
Moreover, Mtt 25 is the judgment of "the nations", not the Jews alone, but all people. And those on the left go to hell, for they did not care for the poor.

I am sorry to have had to delete your post. But I cannot allow heresy to be attributed to the vicar of Christ.
In the future, please be sure to provide citations and references for controversial claims attributed to the Church's Magisterium.

Blessings and peace to you! I hope that you continue to read and feel free to comment on this blog.
Please do not take the deletion of your post as anything more than simply trying to protect the accuracy and quality of this blog. I in no way intend to deny your contributions and I do hope you will continue to comment in the future.

matt said...

Reginaldus,

Thank you for your answers to my questions! They make a lot of sense. I am sure you could go much deeper into those explanations, and I would LOVE to hear what you have to say, but I understand that this may not be the place. I will be sure to get a hold of that book you recommend.

Also, THANK YOU for this blog. I only just discovered it, but I think it is GREAT! I will be sure to read often. Once again, THANK YOU!

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

I appologize for being controversial in both my statements about Catholocism and Judaism. In no way am I anti-semetic nor against the catholic teachings. As I have mentioned before I have been exposed to other historical documentation that have led me to question some of my my previous teachings and that is what I am bringing to you here.

I quite understand why you deleted my post, but I am glad that you responded to it.

You make an excellent point about references and I will most definitely make a point of including them in the future.

As for the comment about Pope Paul this is what I read that led me to make that statement:

"At the General Audience of Wednesday, 28 July 1999, the Holy Father reflected on hell as the definitive rejection of God. In his catechesis, the Pope said that care should be taken to interpret correctly the images of hell in Sacred Scripture, and explained that "hell is the ultimate consequence of sin itself... Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy".

Now on reflection of your answer to my post and further investigation I find another section of one of the Pontiff's Wednesday messages that I have not seen before. It reads as follows:

"The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather* than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called 'hell'" (n. 1033).


And this is what is important that I missed in that section the asterisk after Rather and the note that followed. (Rather*)..... the note:

*[Note: The original Italian says, "(PiĆ¹ che) More than a place, hell indicates..." This suggests correctly that although hell is not essentially "a place," rather the definitive loss of God, confinement is included. Thus, after the general resurrection the bodies of the damned, being bodies not spirits, must be in "some place," in which they will receive the punishment of fire.]

http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2heavn.htm#Note

I am certain that this confirms your belief that I spoke heresy in my other post, but for me it still does not adequately explain hell.

I understand the separation from God and the sin and blackness of the heart which leads to the death of the soul.

Does this then mean that those who die this way will rise in body, having no soul on the day of resurrection?

Will these bodies burn in the fires of hell physically somewhere forever on the day of judgement?

Is the physical body then eternal if it must suffer and burn eternally?

Will those in Heaven, like the Rich Man and Lazarus be able to see each other, one suffering and the other in glory, for eternity?

Mary said...

Reginaldus,
I am sorry that my post disturbed you. Please accept my appology.

Excellent point about citations I will keep that in mind in the future. Thank you.

The comment about our late Pontiff, John Paul II, was taken from the following:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_28071999_en.html

"The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (n. 1033)."

The images of a place are no longer believable in this case. A state of mind becomes more clear. This opens up the question for heaven too.

From my own understanding of bible study, I believe God made man for eternity and made him in the image of his own eternity without EGO.
Deathlessness (eternity) was conditioned upon holiness. God said, “On the day you eat it you shall die” (Gen 2:17; 3:3). Satan deceived Eve and said if she broke God’s commandment “You shall not die” (Gen 3:5), which was a lie; for of the sinful Adam God said, “You are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).

I believe, what is being said to all of us, is that there is an awareness of who you are that extends beyond who you believe you are. When we have 'eaten' the illusion of our egos (desires) and believe this is the only thing that exists, then we really cannot stand aside to seek a higher consciousness (spirituality). We are too busy 'taking care of business' on earth which is your lower physical self consumed with desire, rather than your higher spiritual self seeking the devine. We cannot get beyond the world and can only return to dust. We have no soul to return to Christ. We can be only nourishment for the earth. Since thoughts are energy, whatever thoughts we are left with convert to energy and are re-absorbed back into the Collective Consciousness.

For those who have experienced the holiness of being in Christ and Christ being within them, a higher consciousness of knowing who God is and who we are in relationship to God becomes much more clear.

Love for others and self comes from self-forgiveness and non attachment to self. It is the means by which we open up to compassion and compassion is that which leads to aiding all suffering, personal or world suffering. Non-attachment and aiding world and personal suffering IS compassionate in a non-egoic emotional way that does not cause further pain. It recognizes the ills of the world without carrying those ills within your heart. It allows one to do what they can without guilt, pride or shame. VIEWING world suffering is the ego emotional painful way that stems from not forgiving yourself for the 'things' done to you or that you have done to others. It attaches yourself to the suffering of others and holds you to the outcome of any aid that you may offer. It promotes pride, guilt and shame depending on the outcome. Being in the world and not of it, means living daily without regret because you live in love and forgiveness. You are harmonious within and give of yourself to the best of your ability which should give God no reason to not be okay with that.

Upon death, the body goes to nourish the earth but the soul of Christ returns to Christ and all the energy of our thoughts return to the collective consciousness for eternity. We are safe in the arms of Christ forever because we become Christ as we sit at the right hand of God in Christ.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

Concerning Israel and the idea that I meant that hell was meant ONLY for them....

Obviously, I must have explained my position cumbersomely, because that is not what I meant at all.

The Pharasees of Israel, learned men of supposedly higher consciousness, who had been given information about pursuing awareness and a higher consciousness, had rejected that practice for personal worldly gain. What is more of a problem is that they were also leading everyone they were responsible for in the wrong direction, by NOT teaching them how to pursue and tap into their true nature's spiritual self to seek and gain awareness.

The Sadducees represented the aristocratic group of the Hasmonean High Priests who replaced the previous High Priestly lineage. They pretend that they know the truth and quote scripture, even though everyone else knew that they did not believe in the resurrection. What they said was that they were desiring to be instructed concerning that law, when really they are designing to prove Jesus a heretic.

Jesus does not change His story at any time, under any condition or under any persuasion, physical or otherwise. HE KNEW the truth and He was attempting to teach others BECAUSE the men who were supposed to be doing it WERE NOT!

The Holy Men of Israel wanted to keep peace with the Roman Consul; to place everyone below them through laws made by them in God's name. They needed their charges to be compliant and not unruly. What better way to keep them in their place but to TELL them that they were sinners and CONVINCE them that they needed the LAW. Yet, no one could keep the LAW. "For all have sinned and fall short of the Lord". Romans 3:23

God's TREASURE- The Chosen Ones - had turned their backs on God and had fully chosen the world as their own God. Their own EGO and desire for wealth, power and control on earth was their idol. They had broken the first commandment.

You stood at Mount Sinai and said, "All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and obey" (Exod 24:7), (whereupon) "I SAID: YE ARE GODS' (Ps 82:6); but when you said to the (golden) calf, "This is thy god, 0 Israel" (Exod 32:4), I said to you, “NEVERTHELESS, YE SHALL DIE LIKE MEN” (Ps 82:7).


God's CHOSEN ONES WERE LOST TO HIM.

Jesus came as it says in Luke 19:9-10 "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to SEEK and to SAVE what was LOST."

Jesus was preaching to the Jewish Nations, not ALL NATIONS. He was attempting to sway the Jews to Give up and Surrender their Earthly Spiritual Wealth and Entrust it to him. He was the one to carry the Treasure that is Israel, home to His Father and store it safely ABOVE.

Luke 12:33-34 Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Gentiles/Heathens had NO SPIRITUAL SOUL until we received the Holy Spirit on Pentacost - from the Ressurected Christ.

Until Christ our Savior came, no one but Israel was chosen in the Lord's eyes. Israel was not looking towards God any longer. Christ was sent to recapture that which was lost and give the Holy Spirit to all anyone who wished to receive it through Christ and after His resurrection.

Not all of Israel entrusted their spirit to Christ. Not all Gentiles have either.

Christ spoke to Israel about rejecting God and His commandments and the conseqences for their actions if they did not entrust their spiritual wealth to Him. This is the hell that they would face as a Nation. Complete separation from God and His promises to them.

I hope that this further explains my previous post.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,
I am sorry that my post disturbed you. Please accept my appology.

Excellent point when you say that I have not given you any citations as to where I have gotten my information from. I will certainly keep that in mind in the future. Thank you.

The comment that I made concerning our late Pontiff, John Paul II, was taken from the following:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_28071999_en.html

"The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (n. 1033)."

The images of a place are no longer believable in this case. A state of mind becomes more clear. This opens up the question for heaven as being a state of mind also.

From my own understanding of years of bible study, I believe that God made man for eternity and made him in the image of his own eternity without EGO.
Deathlessness (or “eternity”) was conditioned upon holiness. God said, “On the day you eat it you shall die” (Gen 2:17; 3:3). Satan deceived Eve and said if she broke God’s commandment “You shall not die” (Gen 3:5), which was a lie; for of the sinful Adam God said, “You are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).

What, I believe, is being said to all of us here is that there is an awareness of who you are that extends beyond who you believe you are. When we have 'eaten' the illusion of our egos (all our desires) and believe that this is the only thing that exists, then we really cannot stand aside to seek a higher consciousness (awareness/spirituality). We are too busy 'taking care of business' on earth which is your lower physical self consumed with desire, rather than your higher spiritual self seeking the devine. We cannot get beyond the world and can only return to dust. We have no soul to return to Christ. We can be only nourishment for the earth. Since thoughts are energy whatever thoughts we are left with convert to energy and are re-absorbed back into the Collective Consciousness.

For those who have experienced the holiness of being in Christ and Christ being within them, a higher consciousness of knowing who God is and who we are in relationship to God becomes much more clear.

Upon death, the body goes to nourish the earth but the soul of light in Christ returns to Christ and all the energy of our thoughts return to the collective consciousness for eternity. We are safe in the arms of Christ forever because we become Christ as we sit at the right hand of God in Christ.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

I understand you are simply trying to protect the accuracy and quality of this blog and I support you on this. In my innocence I did not believe that I was accusing the Vicar of Christ of any heresy, but what my mind knew and what you were reading were two different things of course.

Thank you for your forgiveness.

I wish to make it clear that the claim I made about the pope not believing that hell did not exist was not to say that there was no punishment or consequence for sin. Not being able to refer back to my post, I cannot see how I wrote it, but the intention was NOT to show that the Pontiff did NOT believe that hell did not exist at all. The intention was that he believed the truth of the reality of hell as St. Thomas saw it. Hell was NOT A PLACE where one would GO to receive punishment for sin, but a constant state of mind in torment.

To the late Pope John Paul II, this belief is in accordance with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

A common teaching of St. Thomas is as follows:

"Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us." [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Q69, a1, reply 1]

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=143666


Using this quote Pope John Paul II pointed out that hell is a state of being as that of a spirit or human soul, rather than a place, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical stance used by the Church in her theology and saying that he is using the same theology that St. Thomas Aquinas used long before him.

Reginaldus, what am I to believe when a Pope agrees with and quotes, the teachings of St. Aquinas as you do and yet says something that is correct in its teachings, but very different than we are used to hearing?

Theresa said...

Reginaldus wrote

As to those who "make no choice"...remember that we are conceived in sin...we are all, from the moment of our conception, subject to a fallen nature and deprived of the glory and the grace of God (until baptism).
How this works with infants who die is a mystery, but when we reach the age of reason, if we have not been baptized, not turning to God results in turning toward hell.?

What about a person baptized on their death bed while in a coma? Then receiving the last rites days later? Thank you

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

One last post. I have been away for a few days - just catching up.:>)

Matthew 25 as I mentioned was for the Nation of Israel and not all Nations. Because Jesus has been warning the Israelites who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In Matthew 25, He is still warning the Israelites who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to which He has come to announce His arrival as the promised Messiah King. All of Israel is likened to the 10 virgins who are expecting to be marriage attendants/brides maids. In the parable, they are answerable to the one groom which is the true Messiah. What Jesus is doing is illustrating readiness and expectation concerning His kingdom by using a cultural practice that all Israelites were familiar with. The virgins here are the customary wedding attendants/brides maids to the bride at the wedding feast.

There are prudent virgins among the invited, who embrace in full belief that He is the Messiah who is their King, Lord, and Savior. When the shout of Messiah comes at His return these prudent Israelites are ready for Him. They have prepared their lamps, so to speak, in seriousness of expecting the surprise wedding call. They will be ushered in to attend the wedding feast of joy in the kingdom of heaven of the New and better covenant, (Hebrews 8) which replaces the Old obsolete covenant as Messiah's "eternal covenant" (Hebrews 13:20). They know the groom and the groom knows them. On the other hand, the rest of the virgins are not saved; they never were saved. So at the time that they are supposed to come out to meet Messiah, they will realize that Messiah has come to Israel as promised, but it will be too late. They thought they were elect. They thought they were truly attendants, but the harsh reality is that they were never elect to eternal spiritual salvation, which is made evident in the fact that Christ says "Truly I say to you, I do not know you." (Matthew 25:12)

The point is that Messiah is making His general evangelistic call to all the lost sheep of the house of Israel and they are exhorted to turn to Him right now. Now is their day of salvation and preparation for His guaranteed and imminent return.

In the next parable of Talents, two verses suggest that Israel are the servants. "For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God" (Leviticus 25:55)
and "Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;" (Romans 9:27)

Jesus is still talking to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They are the lost sons of Israel who are his servants according to an old covenant, and He is still teaching them about His Messianic Kingdom.

The hypocrites are there in that same place too, according to Matthew 24:51, because they are the religious leaders of Jerusalem, who, as worthless unbelievers, reject the Messiah who has come to the sons of Israel.

Jesus is NOT talking about saved people losing their salvation. Jesus is talking to the LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, who had their Messiah come in their own generation, in which some do follow Him, and some will follow Him. His followers look forward to His return, and the fullness of His established kingdom. On the other hand, there are some there who do not follow Him, and will not follow Him, and so they are doomed to be assigned "a place with the unbelievers," where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for all who reject Jesus as the true Messiah.

Christ came to seek and save God's Treasure that was Israel. In doing so He made it possible for all the Gentile world to be saved as well. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and Faith we can build, with our own works, Treasures in heaven, to be held by Christ, along with Israel's.

Reginaldus said...

@Theresa (aug 29, 9:48am),
Very good question! The issue you mention hints at a very profound theological point...

In baptism, original sin and all actual sins are completely and entirely wiped away. So much so that even the guilt due for sin is forgiven -- these sins are no longer remembered before God.
In the Sacrament of Penance, on the other hand, the guilt of actual sin is forgiven but something of the punishment due for sin remains. Thus, these sins are forgiven, but not entirely "forgotten", as it were...
Thus, there is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, which is meant to strengthen us in hope and to remove the "vestiges" of sin which remain even after Confession. Anointing is meant for sins committed and forgiven AFTER baptism (anointing forgives any sin which has not yet been forgiven through confession).

All that is back-ground for an answer to your question...

The point is this: Last Rites (and Anointing in particular) is for sins committed after baptism. Thus, if a person were baptized in a coma (and therefore unable to commit any actual sins) it would seem that there would be no need for Anointing.

My own best inclination -- what I myself would do as a priest --- is this: the person should still be Anointed because the "vestiges" of actual sin still remain after baptism (particularly, concupiscence). Thus, it seems that the strengthening which the Sacrament gives would be helpful.

Incidentally, this is why we do not Anoint babies who are near death...they have not committed any actual sin...just as they have no need of confession, neither have they need of Anointing.

There is another part of the Last Rites that I would like to mention, though -- the Apostolic Pardon. I would not give this person the Apostolic Pardon (which is a plenary indulgence given at the moment of death)...the punishment for their sins is removed in baptism and so there is certainly no need for the indulgence (just like a baptized child has no need of indulgences)...

I hope that makes sense! Anointing would only be given insofar as it pertains to removing the concupiscence which would have been built up through the actual sins which the person had committed in their life before baptism.
Great question...perhaps, I will find time to dedicate an entire post to the problem!

Blessings!

Reginaldus said...

@Mary (aug 29, 2:21am, 9:29am, 10:33am),

First of all, thank you for continuing to comment on the blog and for taking my previous comments in a true spirit of charity!

You have brought out many many issues and also many interpretations of biblical passages...unfortunately, I really can't get into all of it here in the comments.

If I could first address the issue regarding what Pope John Paul II said about heaven and hell not being places...please see an earlier post on this blog from Aug 14th: Where was Mary assumed to? This post discusses the great Holy Father's comments and offers some means for interpreting them. I think that I am fully in line which what JP II had to say about heaven and hell...I certainly am trying to be one with him!

Setting aside the particulars of our debate...(since you are never going to convince me that Mtt 25 is meant exclusively for the Jews...Jesus says nationS [plural] not nation [singular])

I would like to learn how it is that you come to conclusions regarding the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. I, myself, try very hard to interpret the Scriptures in the Tradition of the Church -- relying especially upon the commentaries of the Church Fathers, the doctrine of the Magisterium, and the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other great theologians of our tradition.

I cannot help but notice that you do not quote the Fathers or the Doctors of the Church much...and you make only very vague references to the Magisterium.
I do not say this so much to criticize you or to attack you...I hate intellectual snobs and I am certainly not trying to say I know more theology or anything like that...
What I am concerned about, however, is the basic approach to Scripture. We can get in a lot of trouble and confusion if we read the Scriptures outside of the Church...that is, if we read the Bible without the spiritual and intellectual help of the Fathers of the Church, etc.

You simply state..."the Bible means such and such" or "this verse refers to so and so"...that would be just find and it might be true. But the interpretation you end up giving is very different from that of the great Saints...and it seems to be in conflict with the common teaching of theologians.

Just something to think about...

Again, I apologize that I cannot answer your posts individually. I did take the time to read them carefully and I see many good things there...I can especially see that you pray with the Scriptures a lot.
I only offer these challenging comments as an explanation of where I am coming from. Perhaps, in comments on future posts, you can explain further the way you approach theology, faith and the Bible.

Blessings to you and peace.

Theresa said...

Reginaldas, thank you very much. Your answer holds deep meaning for me.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

Thank you for your reply. I can very well appreciate why you cannot get into all the issues of my posts and that is as expected and not an issue with me as I do understand. If you wish to further discuss them with me I invite you to e-mail me if you wish. See my profile.

This is delightful repartee btw. I know that you have not forgotten that Israel is one nation consisting of 12 nation/S. So, the Nation of Israel in Matthew 25is really 12 nations and not one nation.

I shall go back and find the Aug 14blog about the Assumption of Mary. Yes, where would Mary have gone if Heaven were not a place? I am anxious to read it. Thank you.

The way I approach theology, faith and the bible will have to be in another post. I am having trouble getting condensed enough to fit the word limit. :>)

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

I have read the Aug 14th blog and find that it to come to the same conclusion as my previous post. That heaven/hell is not a 'place', but a state of being as per the words of St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope JPII.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58 says it best:
35But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
39All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55"Where, O death,is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?"

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Mary said...

Reginaldus,

You said, "I cannot help but notice that you do not quote the Fathers or the Doctors of the Church much...and you make only very vague references to the Magisterium"

Yes, you are correct in this and I do not take offense at your observation. I am no theologian by any means and I welcome any help that you can offer that will bring me closer to Christ.

I understand that the Magesterium is said to be in no way superior to the Word of God, but only the 'traditional' way that the Pope and Bishops interpret the Word for the Church so that there is no error or false teaching happening within the Church Body.

I have never seen a copy of this book, but I would imagine that it would be of great use. How could I go about getting a copy?

As the Vicar of Christ, our Pope is responsible for the souls of Christ's Church and in that he must teach the Word as it has been handed down to him through the ages.

My heart goes out to him as of late, because there are many who oppose him in their unrighteous behavior believing him to be Medieval and misunderstanding the times at hand. Utter nonsense, stemming from a life of selfish and hedonistic behavior.

There you have it! - my little soapbox speech for the day. :>)

I would rather, in many cases, just use the infallible Word of God for all my references. I believe that with the Lord's guidance and prayer, I will be able to understand what God wishes for me to know.

I am now wondering if that is not just my own pigheadedness???? I used to believe that our Church was playing middle man too often and preventing us from having a personal relationship with God by forcing us to go through the "office of the clergy" first before speaking with God. I can see how silly that is now. Who on earth could ever stop anyone from speaking to the Lord our God? One is never too old to learn a thing or two about oneself. That felt good.

I do attend regular bible study classes in my community and I teach
an organized bible class as well.

I am educated in the history of Israel, the Ancients of Egypt and Greece, India, Italy and Turkey. I have visited these countries also as part of my education and pleasure.

I have studied the religions of India, China, Tibet and the Middle East. All of which have Love as their central defining theme and hate as the curse or sin.

Out of curiosity I learned much through science and math about how one could create something from nothing in astrophysics. Einstein's E=mc2 brought home the fact that we are all the same on the atomic energy level, but when that energy is moving in different vibrations in time, space and place it produces different materials(manifests differently everywhere).

These two points led me to the metaphysical world and spirituality. I read books by authors such as Deepak Chopra, Dhali Llama, Tao, Buddah, and Thich Nhat Haht.

I have done tons of reading by many different authors:
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Father Jonathan Morris, C.S. Lewis, Marcus Borg, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Oswald Chambers, Charles Stanley, Dallas Willard, Karen Armstrong, Erich Frome, Beth Moore, Bishop J.S. Spong, Frederick Buechner, M. Scott Peck, and many many others. If you name someone I probably have read him or her sometime or another.

I read the bible and journal everyday at least 1 hour, but usually I have to drag myself away to do earthly chores. So, in the wee hours of the morning I get a chance to spend more time with the Lord or these chat rooms.

In summary, I would say that I approach theology from an historical perspective, faith from a spiritual devotion to God and His Son and the bible as the Word of God to be interpreted as Thomas Aquinas did, using his method - Quadriga1, the fourfold method of biblical interpretation.

I hope that this gives you a better idea of who I am in Christ and as a believer.

Reginaldus said...

Thank you to all who have contributed to this discussion.
It is indeed a great mystery.

M. said...

If at death our souls become like angels who cannot change their minds, then how did evil angels decide to rebel against God? Or is the implication here that a whole bunch of angels decided to rebel against God the minute they were created? Would appreciate an explanation.

Reginaldus said...

M.,
The idea is that the angels made their choice immediately upon their creation -- hence, it was not that Satan had loved God and then changed his mind; rather, immediately upon his creation, he fell (and took the other angels with him, who also sinned immediately).

So, your intuition correct: "a whole bunch of angels decided to rebel against God the minute they were created."

Created in grace, they fell at the very moment in which they came into existence.

For more, cf. Summa Theologica I, q.63, a.6.

[there is some room for speculation here, but I am giving what seems to be the most probable opinion]

Peace to you in Christ!

Tom said...

Reginaldus,

Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

I must say, "What a great blog!" Thank you. This discussion on the eternity of hell is one that has been on my mind for quite some time...years even. In fact, no other intellectual/moral/spiritual topic has caused me as much distress as this one. Many a time has there been where I complained to God about the "eternity" of hell. Believing that God is love and most merciful, I failed and still struggle with the concept of an "eternity" in hell. No chance for repentence or rehabilitation. No doubt, the enemy would tempt me to believe that God who can do all is not merciful if He allows souls whom He loves to suffer an eternity of "hell." And yet, thanks be to God, God gave me at the same time the deep penetrating truth that it is precisely because of God's mercy that there is a hell. Still, in my feeble mindedness, I fail to grasp the concept that hell can be merciful. I would often complain to God in a simple way that "Even I don't give my children timeouts that last forever." Or, wouldn't it be a better hell for unrepentent souls to "force them to have a place in heaven where, in pain, they must serve and honor you, albeit without love?" God is most merciful, no doubt. I love Him dearly, and yet I cannot see or understand the concept of an eternal hell. 1000 years in hell. Not an issue. 1 million years...still ok. But eternity? Everlasting suffering? And I understand that as God is eternal love, so too is His justice eternal...and yes, His mercy eternal. No? Even though I have heard it said that His mercy is greater than His justice... And I understand the point about God not able to terminate the existence of a soul no more than He can terminate Himself...and yet, God can do all things. Surely, something could be done to allow souls another chance? And yet, God gave them many, many chances. And God is even more willing to see and allow the suffering, death, and sorrow of His own Son on a cross that we, sinners, placed Him on...before He would change the eternal truths of Who He is. I mean on a human level, one might think..."Hey, my creatures messed up bigtime and have made themselves to be ugly...let me destroy them and start all over..." And yet, He loves us...He loves Himself in us.
When scripture tells us in Genesis that God regretted having made man...since God is eternal and all is present to Him at once, where did this "regret" go? Can He not then be regretful even now? Maybe it is better to say that God in a sense always has a real sense of sorrow over the sin of man than is always with Him, but that this is assuaged by the love He is shown by His saints. I welcome your comments to the above.
Lastly, when St. Thoms speaks of the fallen angels having falled immediately after they had been created...what sense of understanding do we have of "immediate"? I mean, even Lucifer had time to admire and take pride in himself for some time before the fall. That he was one of or the most beautiful of the angels before the fall...it would seem that he had some time for intimacy with God before the fall...and yet, I recognize that the angels had their test before they could enter heaven. God Bless you!

Mark of the Vineyard said...

I am currently reading Fr. Fortea's book on Demonology. He mentions that the angels' choice took place in time (I think the word used to describe angelic time is "evo"), which to us seems instantaneous. He argues that they slipped from venial into mortal sin and where cemented in their choice when they were shown the beatific vision (though some who were in venial sin were saved before that).
He also mentions that Hell is CURRENTLY not a place, but rather a state. Only at the Resurrection, when we are reunited with our bodies, will Hell actually become a physical place, though where exactly it will be is pure speculation.

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