OLDIE POST Hell and the Enemy exist. Priests and bishops who don’t teach about them will probably wind up there.

Originally posted in 2012.  I think it still pertains.


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?


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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. boxerpaws63 says:

    there is a hell and it’s not empty

  2. ex seaxe says:

    A curious fact has recently come up on the New Liturgical Movement site. In the OF lectionary for year A there are four passages from Matthew which include someone “cast out into exterior darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. In every single case there is an optional short form of the reading which omits that bit.

  3. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Amoris Laetetia and the Spadaro-ites/Kasperites seem to have forgotten that passage from Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians among many other scriptural passages and Council pronouncements.

    God’s precepts are not impossible for the justified to observe.

  4. So much is missing when we are not taught about Hell – because, too, wait, there’s even more.

    Not only do we need to go to confession, we need to make reparation for our sins. Confession can can not only put us back in the state of grace and keep us out of Hell, but confession also can mitigate some of that required reparation. Reparation for our sins, even forgiven ones, is made in Purgatory if not done during our lives. Unfortunately, the pains of Purgatory can be equal to the sufferings in Hell. The difference in Purgatory is that it does end and the souls are holy and united to God.

    So yea, thank you to Father and all clergy who remind us to fear Hell and stay out of it. But only pure saints go to Heaven – we must be purged of every stain before we can enter – do your penance now! Better and quicker now than later without our bodies.

  5. youngcatholicgirl says:

    As odd as it may sound, that was a beautiful post, Father. A good reminder to pray for our priests and bishops.

  6. comedyeye says:

    As long as that book by Un Bathasar is floating around, there will be people who hope, if not believe, that Hell is empty.

  7. Josephus Corvus says:

    I was talking to somebody about this the other day and he posed an interesting comment that I didn’t know how to refute. Mind you, I know that it’s wrong, I just don’t know the specifics. His general point is that pretty much only the well taught, believing Catholics (like those who read Fr. Z’s blog) have a chance of going to hell. The “logic” goes like this.

    1. To end up in hell, you must have an unforgiven mortal sin.
    2. To be guilty of a mortal sin, the grave action must be done with full consent and knowledge of its gravity.
    3. So, with the exception of some of the big obvious ones (murder, bank robbery, etc.), it is extremely difficult for someone who has not had Church teaching drilled into them to commit a mortal sin. This includes such things as a number of sexual sins, leaving the Church for another “faith community”, etc., because even if the person knows it is wrong (and that in itself is an IF), they don’t understand the gravity – or for non-Catholics it might not even be considered wrong.

    So, can anybody help me with a good answer?

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    Nolo salvus esse sine vobis

    I love Saint Augustine.

  9. beelady says:

    Thank you for reposting,Father! I missed it the first time.
    Posts like this are the reason I support your good work with a monthly donation.

Comments are closed.