I’ve been working my way through the very long Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate (GEE). It’s a whopping 20K words.
There is a very good section near the end.
From GEE 159 and following, the Pope speaks in clear terms about the Devil, “the prince of evil”.
[W]e should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable. The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. “Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour”
There are some who mistakenly, cravenly shrink from using images of war, weaponry, combat when speaking about the spiritual struggle we undergo and which is constantly being waged around us in the angelic realm. In GEE the Pope admonishes people not to be naive.
God’s word invites us clearly to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11) and to “quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). These expressions are not melodramatic, precisely because our path towards holiness is a constant battle. Those who do not realize this will be prey to failure or mediocrity. For this spiritual combat, we can count on the powerful weapons that the Lord has given us: faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, [GO TO CONFESSION!] works of charity, community life, missionary outreach. If we become careless, the false promises of evil will easily seduce us. As the sainted Cura Brochero observed: “What good is it when Lucifer promises you freedom and showers you with all his benefits, if those benefits are false, deceptive and poisonous?”
This is timely, especially in the wake of the whole “Hellgate” dust up. If there is a Devil, there is a Hell. Period.
Yes, there is a Hell, the state of existence which is defined by eternal separation from God that results in “pain of loss”. After the resurrection there will also be “pain of sense”.
Yes, the Devil exists and is a personal being. The Enemy works ceaselessly to prevent God’s glory from being magnified. The Enemy – which are all the fallen angels – work to ruin souls so that they will be separated eternally from God in the state of Hell.
“Damnation” is not a state of nothingness. It is not “annihilation”. Nope. Damnation means eternal separation from God in the state of Hell, where there will be both pain of loss and pain of sense, true and enduring, all encompassing agony with no hope that it will ever end.
Make your choices, friends. People usually die according to how they lived.
Be wary of the Enemy.
Use your good weapons of spiritual warfare.
Start practicing for death – NOW.