Before anything else, let it be said that, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)
The greatest accomplishment of the Enemy of our souls is to deceive people that the Enemy doesn’t exist … that there is no Hell … that people can’t go to Hell … that no one is in Hell, blah blah blah.
Let’s be clear about this. Catholics are obliged to believe in the existence of the Devil and of Hell. These are de fide doctrines taught by the Church without the possibility of error.
The Devil exists. Fallen angels hate you with a malice no human can imagine. They have an intellect that surpasses our mere human faculties in a way that we can’t fathom. They never tire. They are relentless. They are real. If you don’t believe in the existence of malicious fallen angels, you are in serious risk of joining them in Hell. This is no joke.
Hell is real. In Hell, the damned suffer the pain of sense and the pain of loss (hint: unending pain is a key feature of your eternity in Hell). We can choose to separate ourselves from God and go to Hell by sinning, by resisting grace, by failing to repent, by failing to do what we ought, by presuming that we are automatically saved. If, when you die – and you will die – you are not in the state of grace, if, when you die – and it is going to happen to you – you are not living the friendship of God, you will go to Hell. Once you are there, that’s it. There is no hope of ever changing your lot. There is no changing your mind. There is no possibility of leaving even after a million billion years.
If you don’t believe in Hell, you will probably wind up there. And if you chose that fate, it would be better for you had you never been born (cf Matthew 26:24).
STOP. Spend a moment to examine your conscience.
NOW. Try to imagine what goes through the mind of the damned soul during his first 30 seconds in Hell.
I remind you of these harsh realities because I don’t want to go to Hell.
Priests and bishops who don’t teach about Hell will probably wind up there.
It is my job to keep as many of you as possible out of Hell.
I will therefore tell you about Hell and then echo St. Augustine, who told his flock “Nolo salvus esse sine vobis! … I don’t want to be saved without you!” (s. 17.2)
We must be clear about the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Sure, we must also talk about heaven and goodness and joy and kitties and sunshine and birthday cakes. Let’s get this Hell and Devil thing straightened out because it’s been neglected for far too long.
We must also work to revive the Sacrament of Penance, which was instituted by Christ as the ordinary way our sins would be forgiven.
Going to confession, making a sincere confession of all your mortal sins in kind and number, can keep you out of Hell. Got that?
GO TO CONFESSION.
What a victory for the demons of Hell it has been to run down the Sacrament of Penance until it is barely thought of in some parishes.
Fathers, if you are parish priests and have the obligation to hear confessions, hearing confessions can help to keep you out of Hell. If you are parish priests and you don’t hear confessions or you won’t teach about confession, you will probably go to Hell. Just try to deny it. Just. Try.