It would be an act of omission on my part not to post a topic on hell. I am doing this for the single purpose of reminding everyone that hell exists. Our Blessed Lord preached it in the Gospels. Our Lady of Fatima, who we just celebrated the centenary of her apparition last year, showed the three shepherd children a vision of hell. Well-known saints and mystics of the Church like St. Faustina Kowalska and St. Teresa of Avila to name a few were favored to see/experience hell. I hope that this long sermon by St. Alphonsus Liguori on hell arouses in all of us a deep sorrow for our sins, genuine repentance and conversion. Let us amend our wicked life and turn to the Divine Mercy of Our Savior Jesus Christ before it is too late.
ON THE PAIN OF THE SENSES WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER IN HELL
I shall first speak of the fire, which is the principal pain that torments the senses of the damned, and afterwards of the other Pains of Hell.
Behold! The final doom of sinners who abuse the Divine Mercy is to burn in the Fire of Hell. God threatens hell, not to send us there, but to deliver us from that place of torments. "Minatur Deus gehennam", says Saint Chrysostom, "ut a gehenna liberet, et ut firmi ac stabiles evitemus minas" (- from Homily). Remember then, Brethren, that God gives you today, the opportunity of hearing this sermon, that you may be preserved from Hell, and that you may give up sin, which alone, can lead you to Hell.
My brethren, it is 'certain', and of faith, that there is a Hell. After Judgment, the Just shall enjoy the Eternal Glory of Paradise, and sinners shall be condemned to suffer the everlasting chastisement, reserved for them in Hell. "And these shall go into Everlasting Punishment: but the Just, into Life Everlasting" - Matthew 25:46. Let us examine, in what Hell consists. It is what the rich glutton (Dives) called a Place of Torments. "In hunc locum tormentorum" - Luke 16:28. It is a place of suffering, where each of the senses and 'powers' of the damned, has its proper torment, and in which the torments of each person, will be increased in proportion to the forbidden pleasures in which he indulged. "As much as she hath glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her" - Apocalypse (Revelation) 18:7.
In offending God, the sinner does two evils:
1. He abandons God, the Sovereign Good, Who is able to make him happy, and
2. Turns to creatures, who are incapable of giving, any real happiness to the soul.
Of this injury, which men commit against Him, the Lord complains by His Prophet Jeremiah: "For My People have done two evils. They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" - Jeremiah 2:13. Since, then, the sinner turns his back on God, he shall be tormented in Hell, by the pain arising from the loss of God; and since in offending God, he turns to creatures, he shall be justly tormented by the same creatures, and principally by fire.
The vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms- Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 7:19. Fire and remorses of conscience are the principal means by which God takes vengeance on the flesh of the wicked. Hence, in condemning the reprobate to Hell, Jesus Christ commands them to go into eternal fire. "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire" - Matthew 25:41. This fire, then, shall be one of the most cruel executioners of the damned.
Even in this life, the pain of fire is the most terrible of all torments. But Saint Augustine says, that in comparison of the Fire of Hell, the fire of this Earth, is no more than a 'picture', compared with the 'reality'. "In cujus comparatione noster hic ignus depictus est". Saint Anselm teaches that the Fire of Hell, as far Surpasses the fire of this world, as the fire of the 'real' exceeds that of painted fire. The Pain, then, produced by the Fire of Hell, is far greater than that which is produced by our fire, because God has made the fire of this earth for the use of man, but He has created the Fire of Hell, purposely for the chastisement of sinners; and therefore as Tertullian says, He has made it a 'minister'-of His Justice. "Longe alius est ignis, qui usui humano, alius qui Dei justitiae deservit". This avenging fire is always kept alive by the wrath of God. "A fire is kindled in My rage" - Jeremiah 15:14.
"And the rich man also died: and he was buried in Hell" - Luke 16:22. The damned are buried in the Fire of Hell; hence they have an abyss of fire below, an abyss of fire above, and an abyss of fire on every-side. As a fish in the sea is surrounded by water, so the unhappy reprobates are encompassed by fire, on every side. The sharpness of the pain of fire, may be inferred from the circumstance, that the rich glutton complained of no other torment. "I am tormented in this flame" - Luke 16:24.
The Prophet Isaiah says that the Lord will punish the guilt of sinners with the Spirit of Fire. "When the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning . . ." - Isaiah 4:4. "The spirit of burning" is the pure 'essence' of fire. All 'spirits' or 'essences', though taken from simple Herbs or Flowers, are so 'penetrating', that they reach the very Bones. Such is the Fire of Hell. Its activity is so great, that a single spark of it, would be sufficient to melt a mountain of bronze. The disciple relates that a damned person, who appeared to a religious, dipped his hand into a vessel of Water; the religious placed in the vessel a candlestick of bronze, which was instantly dissolved.
This fire shall torment the damned, not only 'externally', but also 'internally'. It will burn the 'bowels', the 'heart', the 'brains', the 'blood' within the 'veins', and the 'marrow' within the 'bones'. The 'skin' of the damned, shall be like a ' caldron', in which their 'bowels', their 'flesh', and their 'bones' shall be burned. David says that the bodies of the damned shall be like so many furnaces of fire. "Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire, in the time of Thy anger." - Psalm 20:10.
O God! certain sinners cannot bear to walk under a strong sun, or to remain before a large fire in a 'closed' room. They cannot endure a spark from a candle, and they fear not the Fire of Hell, which, according-to the Prophet Isaiah, not only burns, but devours the unhappy damned. "which of you can Dwell with Devouring Fire?" - Isaiah 33:14. As a Lion, Devours a Lamb, so the Fire of Hell, Devours the Reprobate; but it Devours without destroying life, and thus tortures them with a continual death. "Continue", says Saint Peter Damien to the sinner who indulges in impurity, "Continue to satisfy your flesh; a day will come, or rather an eternal night, when your impurities, like pitch, shall nourish a fire within your very bowels". "Venit dies, imo nox, quando libido tua vertetur in picem qua se nutriet perpetuus ignis in visceribus tuis" - Epistle 6. And according to Saint Cyprian, the impurities of the wicked shall 'boil', in the very 'fat' which will issue from their accursed bodies.
Saint Jerome teaches that in this fire, sinners shall suffer not only the pain of the fire, but also the pains which men endure on this Earth. "In uno igne omnia supplicia sentient in inferno peccatores". How manifold are the pains of which men are subject, in this life. Pains in the 'sides', pains in the 'head', pains in the 'loins', pains in the 'bowels'. All these together torture the damned.
The fire itself, will bring with it, the pain of darkness; for, by its smoke, it will, according to Saint Jude, produce a storm of darkness which shall blind the damned. "To whom the storm of darkness is reserved, forever" - Jude 13. Hence, Hell is called a Land of Darkness, covered with the shadow of death. "A Land that is dark and covered with the mist of death: A land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth" - Job 10:21-22. To hear that a criminal is shut-up in a dungeon, for ten or twenty years, excites our compassion. Hell is a dungeon, closed on every side, into which a ray of the sun or light of a candle, never enters. Thus the damned "shall never see light" - Psalm 48:20. The fire of this world gives light, but the Fire of Hell is utter darkness. In explaining the words of David, "The voice of the Lord divideth the flame of fire" - Psalm 28:7; Saint Basil says, that in Hell, the Lord separates the fire that burns from the flame which illuminates, and therefore, this fire burns, but gives no light. B. Albertus Magnus explains this passage more concisely, by saying that God "divides the heat, from the light". Saint Thomas teaches, that in Hell, there is only as much Light, as is necessary, to torment the damned by the sight of their associates, and of the devils. "Quantum sufficit ad videndum illa quae torquere possunt" - Summa Supplementum Tertiæ Partis 97:5. And according-to Saint Augustine, the bare Sight of these infernal monsters, excites sufficient terror, to cause the death of all the damned, if they were capable of dying. "Videbunt monstra, quorum visio postet illos occidere".
To suffer a parching thirst, without having a 'drop of water' to quench it, is intolerably painful. It has sometimes happened that travelers, who could procure no refreshment, after a long journey, have fainted from the pain, produced by thirst. So great is the thirst of the damned, that if one of them were offered, all the water on this earth, he would exclaim: 'All this water is not sufficient to extinguish the burning thirst, which I endure.' But, alas! the unhappy damned shall never have a single drop of water to refresh their tongues. "And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame" - Luke 16:24. The rich glutton has not obtained, and shall never obtain, this 'drop of water', as long as God shall be God.
The reprobate shall be likewise tormented by the stench that pervades Hell. This stench shall arise from the very bodies of the damned. "Out of their carcasses shall rise a stink" - Isaiah 34:3. The bodies of the damned are called 'carcasses', not because they are dead (for they are living, and shall be forever alive to pain), but on account of the stench, which they 'exhale'. Would it not be very painful to be shut up in a 'closed' room, with a fetid corpse? Saint Bonaventure says, that if the body of one of the damned, were placed in the Earth, it would, by its stench, be sufficient to cause the death of all men. How intolerable, then, must it be to live forever in the dungeons of Hell, in the midst of the immense multitudes of the damned! Some foolish worldlings say: 'If I go to Hell, I shall not be there alone.' Miserable fools! do you not see that the greater the number of your companions, the more insufferable shall be your torments? "There", says Saint Thomas, "the society of the reprobate shall cause an increase, and not a diminution of misery" - Summa Supplementum Tertiæ Partis 86:1. The society of the reprobate, augments their misery, because each of the damned, is a source of suffering to all the others. Hence, the greater their number, the more they shall mutually torment each other. "And the people", says the Prophet Isaiah, "shall be as ashes after a fire, as a bundle of thorns, they shall be burnt with fire" - Isaiah 33:12. Placed in the midst of the furnace of Hell, the damned are like so many grains, reduced to ashes by the abyss of the fire; and like so many thorns, tied together, and wounding each other.
They are tormented, not only by the stench of their companions, but, also by their shrieks and lamentations. How painful is it to a person, longing for sleep, to hear the groans of a sick man, the barking of a dog, or the screams of an infant. The damned must listen incessantly to the wailing and howling of their associates, not for a night, nor for a thousand nights, but for all eternity without the interruption of a single moment.
The damned are also tormented by the 'narrowness' of the place, in which they are confined; for, although the dungeon of Hell is large, it will be too small for so many millions of the reprobate, who like sheep, shall be heaped, one over the other. "They are laid in Hell, like sheep" - Psalm 48:15. We learn from the Scriptures, that they shall be pressed together like 'grapes in the winepress', by the vengeance of an angry God. "The winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty" - Revelation 19:15. From this 'pressure', shall arise the pain of immobility. "Let them become immovable as a stone" - Exodus 15:16. In whatever position the damned shall fall into Hell after the General Judgment, whether on the 'side', or on the 'back', or on the 'head' downwards, in that, they must remain for eternity without ever being able to 'move' foot or hand or finger, as long as God shall be God. In a word, Saint Chrysostom says that all the pains of this life, however great they may be, are scarcely a shadow of the torments of the damned. "Haec omnia ludicra sunt et risus ad illa supplicia: pone ignem, ferrum, et bestias, attamen vix umbra sunt ad illa tormenta" - Homily 39.
The reprobate, then, shall be tormented in all the senses of the body. They shall be tormented in all the powers of the soul. Their memory shall be tormented-by the remembrance of the years which they had received from God for the salvation of their souls, and which they spent in laboring-for their own damnation; by the remembrance of so many graces and so many Divine Lights, which they abused. Their understanding shall be tormented by the knowledge of the great happiness which they forfeited, in losing their souls, Heaven, and God, and by a conviction, that this loss is irreparable. Their will shall be tormented by seeing that whatever they ask or desire, shall be refused. "The desire of the wicked shall perish" - Psalm 111:10. They shall never have any of those things for which they wish, and must forever suffer all that is repugnant to their will. They would wish to escape from these torments, and to find peace; but in these torments, they must forever remain, and peace they shall never enjoy.
Perhaps they may, sometimes receive a little comfort or at least enjoy occasional repose? No, says Cyprian: "Nullum ibi refrigerium, nullem remedium, atque ita omni tormento atrocius desperatio" - Sermon. In this life, how great so ever may be the tribulations which we suffer, there is always some relief or interruption. The damned must remain forever in a pit of fire, always in torture, always weeping, without ever enjoying a moment's repose. But, perhaps there is someone to pity their sufferings? At the very time that they are so much afflicted, the Devils continually reproach them, with the sins for which they are tormented, saying: 'Suffer, burn, live forever in despair; You yourselves have been the cause of your destruction.' And do not the Saints, the Divine Mother, and God, Who is called the Father of Mercies, take compassion on their miseries? No; "The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from Heaven" - Matthew 24:29. The Saints, represented by the Stars, not only do not pity the damned, but they even rejoice in the vengeance inflicted on the injuries, offered to their God. Neither can the Divine Mother pity them, because they hate her Son. And Jesus Christ, who died for the love of them, cannot pity them, because they have despised His Love, and have voluntarily brought themselves, to perdition.
ON THE PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER IN HELL
” Cast him into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” MATT. xxii. 13.
ACCORDING to all laws, divine and human, the punishment of crime should be proportioned to its grievousness. “According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be.” (Deut. xxv. 2.) Now, the principal injury which sinners do to God by mortal sin, consists in turning their back upon their Creator and their sovereign good. St. Thomas defines mortal sin to be”a turning away from the immutable good” (p. 1, qu. 24, art. 4).
Of this injury the Lord complains in the following words: ”Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord; thou hast gone backward. ” (Jer. xv. 6.) Since, then, the greatest guilt of the sinner consists in deliberately consenting to lose God, the loss of God shall constitute his greatest punishment in hell.
”There shall be weeping.” In hell there is continual weeping; but what is the object of the bitterest tears of the unhappy damned? It is the thought of having lost God through their own fault. This shall be the subject of the present discourse.
Be attentive, brethren.
1. No! dearly beloved Christians! the goods of the earth are not the end for which God has placed you in the world; the end for which he has created you is the attainment of eternal life. ”And the end life eternal.” (Rom. vi. 22.) Eternal life consists in loving God, and possessing him for eternity. Whosoever attains this end shall be for ever happy; but he who, through his own fault, does not attain it, loses God; he shall be miserable for eternity, and shall weep for ever, saying: ”My end is perished.” (Lamen. iii. 18.)
2. The pain produced by loss is proportioned to the value of what has been lost. If a person lose a jewel, a diamond worth a hundred crowns, he feels great pain; if the diamond were worth two hundred crowns, the pain is double; if worth four hundred, the pain is still greater. Now, I ask, what is the good which a damned soul has lost? She has lost God; she has lost an infinite good. The pain, then, arising from the loss of God is an infinite pain.
”The pain of the damned,” says St. Thomas, ”is infinite, because it is the loss of an infinite good.” (1. 2, qu. 87, a. 4.) Such, too, is the doctrine of St. Bernard, who says, that the value of the loss of the damned is measured from the infinitude of God the supreme good.
Hence, hell does not consist in its devouring fire, nor in its intolerable stench, nor in the unceasing shrieks and howlings of the damned, nor in the terrific sight of the devils, nor in the narrowness of that pit of torments, in which the damned are thrown one over the other: the pain which constitutes hell is the loss of God. In comparison of this pain, all the other torments of hell are trifling.
The reward of God’s faithful servants in heaven is, as he said to Abraham, God himself. ”I am thy reward, exceeding great.” (Gen. xv. 1.) Hence, as God is the reward of the blessed in heaven, so the loss of God is the punishment of the damned in hell.
3. Hence, St. Bruno has truly said, that how great soever the torments which may be inflicted on the damned, they never can equal the great pain of being deprived of God. Add torments to torments, but do not deprive them of God. ”Addantur tormenta tormentis, et Deo non priventur.” (Serm. de Jud. Fin.) According to St. Chrysostom, a thousand hells are not equal to this pain. Speaking of the loss of God, he said: ”Si mille dixeris gehennas, nihil par dices illius doloris.” (Hom, xlix., ad Pop.) God is so lovely that he deserves infinite love.
He is so amiable that the saints in heaven are so replenished with joy, and so absorbed in divine love, that they desire nothing but to love God, and think only of loving him with all their strength. At present, sinners, for the sake of their vile pleasures, shut their eyes, and neither know God nor the love which he deserves; but in hell they shall, in punishment of their sins, be made to know that God is an infinite good and infinitely amiable. ”The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgment.” (Ps. ix. 17.)
The sinner, drowned in sensual pleasures, scarcely knows God: he sees him only in the dark, and therefore he disregards the loss of God. But in hell he shall know God, and shall be tormented for ever by the thought of having voluntarily lost his infinite good. A certain Parisian doctor appeared after death to his bishop, and said that he was damned. His bishop asked him if he remembered the sciences in which he was so well versed in this life. He answered, that in hell the damned think only of the pain of having lost God.
4. ”Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. ” (Matt. xxv. 41.) “Depart from me.” This command constitutes the hell of the damned. Begone from me; you shall be no longer mine, and I shall be no longer yours. ”You are not my people, and I will not be yours.” (Osee i. 9.)
At present this punishment is, as St. Augustine says, dreaded only by the saints. ”Hæc amantibus non contemnentibus pœna est.” It is a punishment which affrights the soul that loves God more than all the torments of hell; but it does not terrify sinners, who are immersed in the darkness of sin. But at death they shall, for their greater chastisement, understand the infinite good which they have lost through their own fault.
5. It is necessary to know that men have been created for God, and that nature draws them to love him. In this life, the darkness of sin, and the earthly affections which reign in their hearts, stifle their natural tendency and inclination to a union with God, their sovereign good; and therefore the thought of being separated from him does not produce much pain. But when the soul leaves the body, and is freed from the senses, which keeps her in darkness, she then clearly sees that she has been created for God, and that he is the only good which can make her happy.
”But,” says St. Antonine, ”the soul separated from the body understands that God is her sovereign good, and that she has been created for Him.” Hence, as soon as she is loosed from the bondage of the body, she rushes forward to embrace her Supreme Good: but because she is in sin, and his enemy, God will cast her off. Though driven back and chased away, she retains her invincible tendency and inclination to a union with God; and her hell shall consist in seeing herself always drawn to God, and always banished from him.
6. If a dog see a hare, what effort does he not make to break his chain and seize his prey! Thus, at her separation from the body, the natural inclinations of the soul draw her to God, while at the same time sin separates her from him, and drags her with it into hell. Sin, says the prophet, like a wall of immense thickness, is placed between the soul and God, and separates her from him. ”But your iniquities have divided between you and your God.” (Isa. lix. 2.)
Hence, the unhappy soul, confined in the prison of hell, at a distance from God, shall weep for ever, saying: Then, my God, I shall be no longer thine, and thou wilt be no longer mine. I shall love thee no more, and thou will never again love me. This separation from God terrified David, when he said: ”Will God, then, cast off for ever? or will he never be more favourable again ?” (Ps. Ixxvi. 8.) How great, he says, would be my misery if God should cast me from him, and never again be merciful to me! But this misery every damned soul in hell suffers, and shall suffer for eternity. As long as he remained in sin, David felt his conscience reproaching him, and asking, ”Where is thy God?”
David, where is thy God, who once loved thee? Thou hast lost him; he is no longer thine. David was so afflicted at the loss of his God that he wept night and day. ”My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it has been said to me daily: Where is thy God?” (Ps. xli. 4.) Thus, even the devils will say to the damned: Where is your God? By his tears David appeased and recovered his God; but the damned shall shed an immense sea of tears, and shall never appease nor recover their God.
7. St. Augustine says, that if the damned saw the beauty of God, “they should feel no pain, and hell itself would be converted into a Paradise.” (Lib. de Trip. Hab.) But the damned shall never see God. When David forbade his son Absalom to appear in his presence, the sorrow of Absalom was so great, that he entreated Joab to tell his father that he would rather be put to death than never more be permitted to see his face. ”I beseech thee, therefore, that I may see the face of the king; and if he be mindful of my iniquity, let him kill me.” (2 Kings xiv.)
To a certain grandee, who acted irreverently in the church, Philip the Second said: ”Do not dare ever to appear again in my presence.” So intense was the pain which the nobleman felt, that after having returned home, he died of grief. What then must be the feelings of the reprobate at the hour of death, when God shall say to them: Begone; let me never see you again: you shall never more see my face!”I will hide my face from them; all evils and afflictions shall find them.” (Deut. xxxi. 17.)
What sentiments of pity should we feel at seeing a son who was always united with his father, who always eat and slept with him, weeping over a parent whom he loved so tenderly, and saying: My father, I have lost you; I shall never see you more. Ah! if we saw a damned soul weeping bitterly, and asked her the cause of her wailing, she would answer: I weep because I have lost God, and shall never see him again.
8. The pain of the reprobate shall be increased by the knowledge of the glory which the saints enjoy in Paradise, and from which they see, and shall for ever see, themselves excluded. How great would be the pain which a person should feel if, after being invited by his sovereign to his own theatre, to be present at the singing, dancing, and other amusements, he should be excluded in punishment of some fault!
How bitter should be his anger and disappointment when, from without, he should hear the shouts of joy and applause within! At present sinners despise heaven, and lose it for trifles, after Jesus Christ shed the last drop of his blood to make them worthy of entering into that happy kingdom. But when they shall be confined in hell, the knowledge of the glory of heaven shall be the greatest of all their torments. St. John Chrysostom says, that to see themselves banished from that land of joy, shall be to the damned a torment ten thousand times as great as the hell which they suffer. ”Decem mille quis pœnat gehennas, nihil tale dicet quale est a beata gloria excidere.” (S. Joan. Chry. ap. 8. Thorn. Suppl, qu. 98, art. 9.)
Oh! that I had at least the hope, the damned will say, that after a thousand, or even a million of ages, I could recover the divine grace, and become worthy of entering into heaven, there to see God! But, no! he shall be told, ”When the wicked man is dead, there shall be no hope any more. ” (Prov. xi. 7.) When he was in this life he could have saved his soul; but because he has died in sin his loss is irreparable. Hence, with tears of despair, he shall say: “I shall not see the Lord God in the land of the living.” (Isa. xxxviii. 11.)
9. The thought of having lost God and Paradise, solely through their own fault, shall increase the torture of the damned. Every damned soul shall say: It was in my power to have led a life of happiness on earth by loving God, and to have acquired boundless happiness for eternity; but, in consequence of having loved my vices, I must remain in this place of torments as long as God shall be God. She will then exclaim in the words of Job: “Who will grant me that I might be according to the months past, according to the days in which God kept me ?” (Job xxxix. 2.)
Oh! that I were allowed to go back to the time I lived on earth, when God watched over me, that I might not fall into this fire! I did not live among the savages, the Indians, or the Chinese. I was not left without the sacraments, sermons, or masters to instruct me. I was born in the bosom of the true Church, and have been well instructed and frequently admonished by preachers and confessors.
To this prison I have not been dragged by the devils; I have come of my own accord. The chains by which I am bound and kept at a distance from God, I have forged with my own will. How often has God spoken to my heart, and said to me: Amend, and return to me. Beware, lest the time should come when thou shalt not be able to prevent thy destruction. Alas! this time has come; the sentence has been already passed; I am damned; and for my damnation there neither is, nor shall be, any remedy for all eternity. But if the damned soul has lost God, and shall never see him, perhaps she can at least love him?! No; she has been abandoned by grace, and thus she is made the slave of her sins, and compelled to hate him.
The damned see that God is their adversary on account of their contempt for him during life, and are therefore always in despair. ”Why hast thou set me opposite to thee, and I am become burthensome to myself.” (Job vii. 20.) Hence, because the damned see that they are enemies of God, whom they at the same time know to be worthy of infinite love, they are to themselves objects of the greatest horror. The greatest of all the punishments which God shall inflict on them, will consist in seeing that God is so amiable, and that they are so deformed, and the enemies of this God. “I will set before thy face.” (Ps. xlix. 21.)
10. The sight of all that God has done for the damned shall above all increase their torture. “The wicked shall see and shall be angry.” (Ps. cxi. 10.) They shall see all the benefits which God bestowed upon them all the lights and calls which he gave them and the patience with which he waited for them. They shall, above all, see how much Jesus Christ has loved them, and how much he has suffered for the love of them; and after all his love and all his sufferings, they shall see that they are now objects of his hatred, and shall be no longer objects of his love.
According to St. Chrysostom, a thousand hells are nothing compared with the thought of being hateful to Christ. ”Si mille quis ponat, gehennas, nihil tale dicturus est, quale est exosum esse Christo.” (Hom xiv. in Matt.) Then the damned shall say: My Redeemer, who, through compassion for me, sweated blood, suffered an agony in the garden, and died on the cross bereft of all consolation, has now no pity on me! I weep, I cry out; but he no longer hears or looks to me! He is utterly forgetful of me. He once loved me; but now he hates and justly hates me; for I have ungratefully refused to love him.
David says, that the reprobate are thrown into the pit of death. “Thou shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction.” (Ps. liv. 24.) Hence St. Augustine has said: ”The pit shall be closed on top, it shall be opened at the bottom, it shall be expanded downwards; and they who refuse to know God shall be no longer known by him.”“Puteus claudetur sursum, aperietur deorsum, dilatatibur in profundum: et ultra nescientur a Deo qui Deum scire noluerunt.” (Hom, xvi., cap 50.)
11. Thus the damned see that God deserves infinite love, and that they cannot love him. St. Catherine of Genoa being one day assailed by the devil, asked him. who he was. He answered with tears: I am that wicked one who is deprived of the love of God. I am that miserable being that can never more love God. They not only cannot love God, but, abandoned in their sins, they are forced to hate him: their hell consists in hating God, whom they at the same time know to be infinitely amiable.
They love him intensely as their sovereign good, and hate him as the avenger of their sins. ”Res miserrima,” says a learned author, ”amare vehementer, et amatum simul odisse.” (Magnotius Medit.) Their natural love draws them continually to God; but their hatred drags them away from him. These two contrary passions, like two ferocious wild beasts, incessantly tear in pieces the hearts of the damned, and cause, and shall for all eternity cause, them to live in a continual death.
The reprobate then shall hate and curse all the benefits which God has bestowed upon them. They shall hate the benefits of creation, redemption, and the sacraments. But they shall hate in a particular manner the sacrament of baptism, by which they have, on account of their sins, been made more guilty in the sight of God; the sacrament of penance, by which, if they wished, they could have so easily saved their souls; and, above all, the most holy sacrament of the altar, in which God had given himself entirely to them.
They shall consequently hate all the other means which have been helps to their salvation. Hence, they shall hate and curse all the angels and saints. But they shall curse particularly their guardian angels their special advocates and, above all, the divine mother Mary. They shall curse the three divine persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; but particularly Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, who suffered so much, and died for their salvation.
They shall curse the wounds of Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus Christ, and the death of Jesus Christ. Behold the end to which accursed sin leads the souls which Jesus Christ has dearly bought.
PRAYER FOR THE GRACES NECESSARY FOR SALVATION
Eternal Father, Your Son has Promised that You will Grant us all the Graces which we ask for in His Name. In the Name and Merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following Graces for myself and for all Mankind. Please give me a Lively Faith in all that the Church Teaches. Enlighten me, that I may know the Vanity of the Goods of this World, and the Immensity of the Infinite Good that You are. Make me also see the Deformity of the Sins I have Committed, that I may Humble myself and Detest them as I should.
Give me a Firm Confidence of Receiving Pardon for my Sins, Holy Perseverance, and the Glory of Heaven, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, and the Intercession of Mary. Give me a Great Love for You, that will Detach me from the Love of this World, and of myself, so that I may Love none other, but You.
I Beg of You a Perfect Resignation to Your Will. I Offer myself entirely to You, that You might do with me, and all that belongs to me, as You Please.
I Beg of You a Great Sorrow for my Sins.
I ask You to give me the Spirit of True Humility and Meekness, that I may Accept with Peace, and even with Joy, all the Contempt, Ingratitude and Ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time, I also ask You to give me Perfect Charity, which shall make me wish well to those who have done Evil to me.
Give me Love for the Virtue of Mortification, by which I may Chastise my Rebellious Senses and oppose my Self-Love. Give me a Great Confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the Intercession of Mary Immaculate. Give me a Great Love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a Tender Devotion and Love to Your Holy Mother. Give me, above all, Holy Perseverance, and the Grace always to Pray for it, especially in Time-of Temptation, and at the Hour-of Death.
Finally, I recommend to You the Holy Souls of Purgatory, my Relatives and Benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to You all those who Hate me or who have in any way Offended me; I Beg You to Render them Good, for the Evil they have done or may wish to do me. Grant that, by Your Goodness, I may come One Day to sing Your Mercies in Heaven; for my Hope is in the Merits of Your Blood and in the Patronage of Mary. Mary, Mother of God, Pray to Jesus for me.