Wherein Fr. Z rants about Hell and sin and Enemy of the soul

I often read from visitors here that they rarely, if ever, hear anything about the Four Last Things from their pulpits. I mention the reality of our possible eternal destiny with some frequency here and from the pulpit. It is my obligation to do so, precisely because it is my God-given job to get as many of you as I can to Heaven. Put negatively, to keep as many of you out of Hell as possible. This I do in the spirit of Augustine, who preached hard truths to his flock to save their souls and, importantly, to save his own soul.

The priest or bishop who will not preach hard truths will probably wind up in Hell. And, yes, I really believe that.

As if to fill a gap, today Michael Voris has a video in which he contemplates the eternal fate of the late Card. Danneels. He hopes that Danneels was somehow saved before his demise, but the video is, in the main, less than sanguine.

Voris asks the rhetorical question: Now that you are in Hell forever, was the sin worth it?

In my own attempt to get you to think about your eternal reward, I have often posed a project for your imaginations.

Try to imagine what goes through the mind of a soul during the first 20 seconds of its fresh arrival in Hell. Ready? GO!

I’ll wait while you do that.  …



Now that you have done that, I track back to Voris for a moment.

We don’t know what the punishments of Hell will be like. We have some ideas. Some come from pretty solid sources.  The first and greatest pain will come from separation from God. In itself, that should be enough to scare the Hell out of you. After the resurrection there will also probably be pain of body, since we are both body and soul. Lots of it. How that will work, we are not sure, but it isn’t going to be good and it is going to end neh-vur.

Voris’ video today provides, on a loop, a verbal painting of Hell worthy of Hieronymus Bosch, but with far less whimsy.  A daily diet of this is probably not salutary… but an occasional serving sure is.

Finally, I would remind everyone that our true enemies are not the heretics or schismatics or errant or malevolent or just plain stupid.   The real enemy is the Devil and fallen angels behind them.

We are born into this world, each one of us, under the dominion of the Enemy.   By baptism we are torn from the grasp of Hell and handed over to the King.   God does not compel us to remain united to Him.  We must strive with grace and elbow grease to remain in the Kingdom He opened to us through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t replace it.  Thus, we have a great deal to say about our final end.  And the final chapter of our story isn’t written and the cover is not, coffin-like, closed on our personal history until we breathe our last breath and throb that final heartbeat… which will happen.

You can rejoin the Enemy if you want to. It’s your choice.

Pray for the grace of final perseverance, no matter what the earthly cost.

Nothing that we can gain from this passing world, no creaturely good, is in the balance worth the risk of the lost of eternal Heaven.

Consider the Lord’s words in Mark 9:

καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε ἔκβαλε αὐτόν καλόν σοι ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρὸς ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται

And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. [Douay]

NB: Where their worm dieth not. This is personal. Hell is not “one size fits all”, it is tailor made… just for you. And for you priests and bishops out that, that means you. Like Danneels, you’ll be a priest in Heaven or in Hell, for priesthood is eternal and your judgment – and mine – will be more strict (cf. James 3:1).

Sin.  It’s just not worth it.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    CS Lewis in The Great Divorce posited that people condemn themselves by attachment to sin which remains after death

  2. St. Irenaeus says:

    Can someone explain to me why the four last things were left out of the contemporary Catechism?

  3. ArthurH says:

    I take hell seriously, mostly always have save for the period of my life when I left the Church, and then wandered in the desert outside the Church…. and even there I wondered, What if?

    As to guessing what Hell is like? The Church says Hell is forever, and I believe that–a bad place to be in whatever form you can imagine. But I can imagine a slightly different take on what “forever” means vis-a-vis hell and to Whom. [Ummm… this is not a good road to go down.] To start I offer this Truth as premise: God is outside time, we are in it. When in His presence, whenever we get there, we would also be, I should think, outside time as well. [No. We are and will be finite creatures who experience change. No.]

    The idea is complicated, and also not; I can expand on it further if anyone cares, but it is this: We are on earth body-soul beings, a unity, an inseparable entity, and where one is the other is. Our “glorified” body (with soul–still a unity) is what is released from matter at death (this is not a dualist view– no more than is Christ’s transfiguration — feast yesterday), glorified being some form of “light” body which is still body-soul. Christ showed Himself to be ALL light, WHITE light, with none of the Father’s White light that we all have been given,[Ummm… ?] kept from fully reflecting back to Him; in the case for any human (any, save Mary) we reflect back less than white to varying degrees, all from our worldly attachments to that is NOT Him (aka sin).

    A true martyr, one dying with no sin on his/her soul, goes to be in the presence of God, as sometime after their death are the Saints, who visit us from time to time with “some” kind of body– I say it is one “already glorified.” They are already at “the end of time” since God, Who is outside time and in Whose presence they are, “does not do time” as the saying goes. [True martyrs, in the moment they die, are considered to be at that moment living all the virtues in a heroic manner.]

    Those who are destined for hell have all the light-body apparatus for heaven, but have no light remaining to reflect, having absorbed– not reflected– ALL the light sent to them/present in them by God; they cannot ascend, yet they still “are.” Somewhere, bound to earth, in time. [Ummm…. ?]

    Those headed for purgatory– that merciful cleansing stop on the way to heaven–spend some “time” (as would time be for anyone on earth) knowing they are ALMOST in the Presence of God, yet are deprived of that joy for their residual sins. THAT is painful, as would be/is the pain of a person (I speak as one having been there) who does/did not receive communion despite going to daily Mass, until marriage irregularities are/were corrected (there are “passes” on this some today try to push, which I see as heresy).

    But the material world will end in time at its end and how much of a horror might it be for one assigned to hell to KNOW that his being WILL END when time does, when it need not have ended but for his/her bad choices; he/she will have a long time to ponder those choices

    That is NOT Church teaching, at least not said that way, and if it is in error, then it is I who am wrong. But my logic: Since I do not believe that anything NOT clean can be in the presence of God and ALSO do not believe that God pulls all those hell-bound souls out of hell once they are there…. well, another mystery we shall have to uncover when we meet our ends. Still: How can, after the end of time, there exist absolute evil in the Presence of Absolute Good? While Creation is in existence, that is how He wills it to be. After the end of physical Creation? Dunno. Here was a guess.

    I am hoping for my self and all my loved ones and anyone, really, to have a very long time, any time in Purgatory, since the end of that trial is assured. Hell? No bueno.

  4. frjimt says:

    here’s a link to an article re: four last things in the catechism:

  5. MargaretC says:

    Hello, Father,
    Just wanted to let you know that I went to confession last Saturday, and will try to go again at least once before Good Friday. Thank you for all your good work!

  6. ArthurH says:

    WOW! I MUCH appreciate Fr Z’s taking the time to comment on my comment! Really! Above the call of duty! Would love to have a 1 on 1 with him on this subject (inter alia), esp for the unfortunate hyper-simplification I gave my thesis in this format, thereby losing some of my points; but this is not the place nor the format. Someday, somewhere :) :)

    But I do make this observation and I am speaking here as a PhD scientist (which I was– retired from that and managing all that corporate stuff) and to some extent theologian (degree in that) it is here: and I repeat my comment and his following comment… though I can’t make mine red :)

    I said: When in His presence, whenever we get there, we would also be, I should think, outside time as well. [He said: No. We are and will be finite creatures who experience change. No.]

    I DO understand Fr Z’s comment but…. time, which is indeed relative to all manner of things (speed, pressure, altitude, location, etc.) is inherently, and by definition, ONLY a measure of change, that which ALL MATERIAL creation does. So, at the “end of time”–which will come with the end of material creation– what exactly would time BE/DO? What would be its function/purpose? Eternity for us–since with God–would be time-less. Change, then may be/likely will be real for us (somehow), but it cannot be measured “in/with time.” There would be no temporal referent for there being no physicality.

    And so one is stuck with the mystery of change in an ever-present NOW, as the birth/death/resurrection of the Person Who is Christ was part of Who God was/is/will be from all Eternity… while always being the Same. Hard to use our words to capture that.

    Again: thank you, Father, for your attention here in your busy world

  7. acardnal says:

    Personally, I accept the veracity of the Fatima visionaries who SAW the Blessed Mother Mary, and who SAW hell and said most are there for sins against purity rather than Bishop Robert Barren who said in a video that he has a “reasonable hope that all will be saved.”

  8. GregB says:

    Much has been made about the prophetic role in the Church, but not as much as to prophetic responsibility. Ezekiel 3:17-21 speaks to this prophetic responsibility:
    17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 20 Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life.”
    A similar warning is found in Matthew 18:6:
    6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
    The modern scandal is one of too much uncorrected bad example.

  9. THREEHEARTS says:

    one time after a Christmas pilgrimage to Tepeyac where on my birthday on 24th. Dec Blessed Mary confirmed in me several facts about my life and a prophetic prayer for individuals. This wonderful Mother then told me to say it over many. I did but the first receiver was Fr Walter Weinrich who said they will crucify you when you use it. I have concentrated its use to the priesthood although at times used it on catholic laity. Some priests cried one could not wait to hear the end and rushed out .
    I next saw him standing out in the Church with a terrible fright on his face and a posture that can only be described as terror. As time went by many heard rumors and never wanted to hear the prayer and I myself murmured to God it was not fair who was to say it to me. God replied later. Let me tell you how He did and what frightens me.
    on morning about 3am I was awakened from my sleep with a instruction to come to My Place. I got up and walked out of the bedroom into a space filled with a brilliant silvery light.I could see for miles literally. I could count because of the contrast between light and shadow the pine needles on the trees. Sit down I heard and the world became a crushing black void. I felt love had died did not exist. Hatred all around and what is more was in me. Self loathing was a pain like nothing I ever had before. I was conscious of others their hatred of me, of themselves and such a pain for a loss was preeminent. I still after many years try not to think of the pain of the loss of God that I knew was for ever and when I get cold I remember that freezing temperature. Don’t go there folks do everything you can to avoid it. by the way that 1996 visit to Mexico I told as ordered I did the 50 or so people that turned up, look at the moon many saw the woman clothed with the sun whose visit was confirmed with a tremendous shooting star that turned from blue to red and ending with a powerful whit explosion

  10. SanSan says:

    Thank you to Michael Voris and “all” the clergy who care about saving souls!

  11. Aquinas Gal says:

    I pray that Cardinal Daneels was saved and repented at the end of his life for his sins.
    All of us are poor sinners and need God’s mercy. Some have greater responsibility in the Church and will have to render a stricter account.

  12. Greg Hlatky says:

    Well, I reckon I’ll go to Confession.

  13. veritas vincit says:

    Besides the already-mentioned The Great Divorce, CS Lewis also wrote about the Last Things in The Problem of Pain. In one chapter, he speculates on Hell and the state of the damned (“ex-men” or “damned ghosts”). While he affirms that Hell is an eternity for those in it, he points out that Our Lord (in saying like “outer darkness”) stressed the finality of Hell, more than its duration. From that, he speculates that Hell, seen from the “outside” will not be “parallel” with Heaven, but will seem to “fade away into nonentity.”

    That makes a certain kind of sense. Otherwise, wouldn’t Hell be seen to coexist with Heaven for all eternity?

    (Of course, if this contravenes Church teaching, I humbly accept correction).

  14. Irish Timothy says:

    Thank you Father Z for posting this! I watched Michael’s video and he is 100% correct. Scary yes but that’s what hell is – no GOD and no love. I’m going to confession tomorrow. I pray to God I safely get there and will pray tonight and examine my conscience and as the priest that always hears my confession says ‘ Thank God for the grace of a good confession!!’ tomorrow

  15. Kent Wendler says:

    veritas vincit said “… will seem to “fade away into nonentity.”

    For some reason this made me think of the damned, after the Last Judgment, falling toward the event horizon of a black hole.

  16. OssaSola says:

    I am sure it was not random that the Blessed Mother, in speaking to the modern world at Fatima, lead with a lesson on Hell.

  17. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    Indeed, duplicitous clergy and duplicitous laity end up in hell if they don’t repent and change their lives.

    Several clergy and laity should be reminded that there are different types of duplicity; read the Catechism on the 8th Commandment and study it closely.

    For example, if a priest followed orders by a government entity to act in a certain way or communicate certain things during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during Confession, or on their blogs as a means to veil communications in a hidden or sneaky manner, such a priest would be duplicitous. This is implied in the Catechism, but it is fully explained by St. Thomas Aquinas in his discussions on dissimulation and other types of dishonesty.

    Jesus says in the Book of Revelation that deceivers of every type will end up in hell. There are different types of deception. Certain clergy and laity should open their own eyes to their own duplicity and arrogance.

    Cardinal Danneels caused great harm to the One True Church and may have ended up in hell because of his grave sins. But be aware that several persons pretending to be apposed to Cardinal Danneels are actually very likely on his side in their attempts to harm the Church. They are easy to spot if one has eyes to see.

    Relatedly, certain government entities may have infiltrated the “traditional” or “conservative” “catholic” blogosphere as well as the priesthood and episcopacy. They actually take the Bergoglian/Peronist approach by saying they are pro-life, pro-Latin, etc., and then subtly slipping in their heresies and other evils. One day they are promoting the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the next day they are promoting “God’s permissive will” or the government’s takeover of the Church or other grave evils.

  18. KateD says:


    We have voracious young minds eager to read and translate.

    Coming across it on your blog created an unexpected fun thing to incorporate into the day’s lessons.

    Thank you,Father!

  19. acardnal says:

    Personally, I accept the veracity of the Fatima visionaries who SAW the Blessed Mother Mary, and who SAW hell and said most are there for sins against purity rather than Bishop Robert Barren (sic) who said in a video that he has a “reasonable hope that all will be saved.”

    Now, if I had the opportunity to ask Bishop Barron a question I would ask him to reconcile his belief with the words of Jesus as quoted in Matthew 7:13-14:
    “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.”

  20. Clinton R. says:

    Thank you Father, for the great care you have for the eternal
    fate you have for our souls. I did go to Confession this evening as
    I kept contemplating your words: GO TO CONFESSION! I thank the Lord for the Sacrament. He does not want us in Hell and it is up to us to make use of Confession to be freed of sin and live in a state of Grace.

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