Let's Not Go There
WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACH ABOUT HELL?
For one thing, Hell is not empty. Certainly there are multitudes of pure spirits there - namely, Satan and his demon cohort, who fell into the abyss, having failed their primeval test.
Are there any souls in Hell? There is compelling evidence that a host of souls are in hell, as attested to by the saints and doctors of the church on the basis of attested private visions and locutions. Saints like Teresa of Avila compared the number of damned souls to the flakes of snow which fall in the dreary days of winter. There have been literally hundreds of accounts over the centuries in which either souls in Hell have appeared to warn people on earth of its horrific reality, or in which hell was similarly revealed in "near death" experiences. Above all else, the words of Christ Himself give every indication that entry into Hell is a very real and present danger for us all, while getting into Heaven is a much more difficult challenge and path actually taken by "few". ( Mt. 7:13-14)
There is a tendency among modern theologians and even some high ranking prelates to voice the "hope" that Hell is empty. Some seize upon words of Scripture, such as that God
"does not want any to perish, but all come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). But God also did not desire that any of the angels perish either, yet many did. Moreover, consider the words of Christ with respect to one man, Judas Iscariot: "None of them is lost but the son of perdition", and "better for that man if he had not been born". How could these words apply to a soul that would eventually be saved?
While the Church certainly expresses a yearning to bring about the salvation of every living person, this should not be understood as a hope that Hell is void of the children of Adam and Eve. For highly placed prelates to give currency to this personal opinion smacks of insolence - as if they are claiming a better vantage point for viewing the drama of salvation history than that afforded the saints, doctors of the Church, mystics and even Christ Himself. Given that it reinforces the view, all too prevalent in these times, that the afterlife either does not exist or, if it does, poses no threat to us, is also the direct opposite of charity.
Source: Fidelity Magazine
The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. (Catechism # 1035.)
in the Eucharistic Liturgy (Mass) and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance."
Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen. (Catechism #1037.)