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Hell is eternal separation from God, reserved for those who at the end of earthly life refuse to accept God as their shepherd.
The greatest pain of hell is separation from God. The second greatest pain is the soul’s constant awareness that it could have chosen eternal life with God but instead chose eternal separation from God. The third greatest pain is the company of the damned, the demons and the souls filled with hate.
Jesus told us that hell is real. Mt 13:41 “The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those at His left hand, ’Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Jn 15:6 “If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on July 13, 1917 to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the three children who were tending sheep near the small village of Fátima, in Portugal. The Blessed Virgin opened her hands and projected a beam of light that penetrated the depths of the earth. Lucia dos Santos, oldest of the three, wrote:
We could see a vast sea of fire. Plunged in the flames were demons and lost souls, as if they were red hot coals, transparent and black or bronze colored, in human form, which floated about in the conflagration, borne by the flames which issued from them, with clouds of smoke, falling on all sides as sparks fall in a great conflagration without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair that horrified us and caused us to tremble with fear. The devils could be distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals, frightful and unknown, but transparent like black coals that have turned red hot. The Blessed Virgin, with unspeakable sadness and tenderness, told the children, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go.”
CCC 1033 “We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves. “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 Jn 3:14 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. Mt 25:31-46 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.”
CCC 1034 “Jesus often speaks of Gehenna, of the unquenchable fire reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both body and soul can be lost. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather ... all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,” Mt 13:41 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!” Mt 25:41
CCC 1035 “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.
CCC 1036 “The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
CCC 1037 “God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy 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.’” 2 Pet 3:9
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