Jeffrey Epstein’s Soul, Prayer, Judgement, Mercy, and Hell

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Famed Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel once quoted a saying from an ancient rabbinical text:  the angels weep whenever a soul is condemned to Hell.  Our Lord seemed to echo that angelic emotion with His agonized sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He died. If the angels lament the loss of one soul, how much more does God mourn the loss of one whom He created in His image and likeness to live with Him forever?

The metaphor of weeping at such a loss holds a profound truth that applies to every one of us with regard to our fellow man: we must never desire or rejoice at the loss of any soul. And while there will always some who freely choose to be lost, it is the greatest of all tragedies.

The Soul of Jeffrey Epstein

These sentiments flooded my mind and heart at the first news of Jeffrey Epstein’s death on the morning of August 10. I read a good deal of vitriolic hatred directed toward him on social media in the following hours (and days).  The number of people gratuitously condemning him to hellfire was truly appalling.

Believe me, I am not defending Epstein or anything he did. He was not a good man. In fact, he was a very bad man and perhaps in the top tier of the world’s great evildoers. Yet, where does anyone get the moral authority to issue directives on Epstein’s eternal fate?

A not uncommon wish expressed on social media was the hope that “he burns in Hell forever.” One man even relegated Epstein to the ninth (lowest) circle of Hell, where, according to Dante, Judas and Brutus are getting their just desserts. If a 14th Century poet is indicative of the human tendency to consign hateful human beings to everlasting punishment, that spirit is alive and well in the 21st Century.

Same question: what human being has the authority to condemn – or even wish – a soul to be lost eternally?

God’s Attitude

If God Himself “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), the very thought that a soul could spend eternity in Hell should horrify a Christian. St. Paul uses the word “all” to describe God’s salvific desire, not some, and not just those who fit our personal criteria for salvation.

Look at it this way: when we are designating certain categories of people as worthy of Heaven and others as fit for Hell, isn’t it curious that we always seem to find ourselves on the worthy side of the ledger?

That little bit of Freudian self-interest, in itself, should tell us something about the nature of this existential problem. If we would never want to end up in Hell, why should we want anyone else to go there?

Thankfully, God does not follow our category system when dealing out divine justice. Even so, there seems to be good biblical evidence that someone in the “repentant serial pedophile” category could make it into Heaven more readily than someone in the “pharisaical Christian serial condemner of the sins of others” category. At least that’s how I read the “Lord, Lord” passage in Matthew’s Gospel, which ends with the divine pronouncement: “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21). I never want to hear those words addressed to me.

There is an old story about Heaven that goes as follows. If you and I make it to Heaven some day we are likely to get three big surprises.  The first will be that all the people we thought were going to be there, aren’t.  The second is that all the people we thought were certainly not going to be there, are. And the third surprise is that we are there.

The Demand for Justice

But please don’t misinterpret my stance as being soft on sin either.

Hell is not optional in the Christian worldview. A realm of eternal punishment has been revealed in Scripture in numerous places, both metaphorically (in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31, for example) and literally (in the Book of Revelation, 9:1 and 20:11-15). Christians believe in the concept of justice and, in particular, ultimate justice. This virtue lays a foundation for every nation’s legal system and regulates right relations within society.

In fact, we have a very great obligation to warn serious sinners of the possibility that their hardness of heart will lead to eternal death in Hell. The Prophet Ezekiel has the clearest statement on record of our prophetic duty to admonish sinners about their sin. (Spend some time with Ezekiel’s Chapter 33 to understand this requirement of Christian charity.)

In admitting the reality of Hell, however, we must keep in mind the vast difference between warning people of eternal punishment and the arrogance of consigning people to it.

There were other responses on social media the day Epstein died corresponding more or less to the sentiment that “he got what he deserved.”  I am not saying that these sentiments are wrong. They are a natural demand for justice.

The desire to see justice done, however, should never turn into condemnation. This side of Heaven it would be good to withhold all gloating, piling on, and rash efforts to relegate people to the lowest circles of Hell.

Yes, Epstein should have paid for his crimes, but eternal punishment is due only to those who refuse to repent and we are not privy to the secrets of any man’s heart. Eternal Justice remains firmly in Christ’s hands, not ours.

Ultimate Mercy

Christians also believe in divine mercy, God’s antidote to the power of sin.  For this reason we must hold out hope that Epstein repented at the end and was saved. Do you think this is impossible for such a wicked man? Think again.

The Oklahoma Bomber, mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, was a fallen-away Catholic and went to his execution after having confessed his sins to a priest the night before he died. Remember the vicious serial killer, Ted Bundy? He gave an interview to Dr. James Dobson just before he was executed.  In the interview he expressed sincere regret for all he had done, blaming no one but himself for his crimes. Repentance is possible, even for the wickedest of the wicked in this world.

Epstein’s Hope

We know that Jeffrey Epstein narrowly avoided death several weeks ago either by his own hand or by treachery. The cause of that incident is not clear, but it is not our purpose to discover it. Something deeper, more consequential, is at issue here.

Epstein knew he was facing a severe sentence for his monstrous crimes. He was surrounded by enemies and deprived of all his worldly power. When death stalked him, his soul must have been filled with mortal anguish, and at one point, he arrived at his do-or-die moment.

As they say, there is nothing like an imminent threat of death to focus one’s mind on God.

How did Epstein respond at the end? Did the wicked pedophile and sex trafficker feel the need for God and turn to Him for mercy? Did he repent of his evil?

We cannot know for sure, but we hope that he did. That is the only and also the final judgment that Christians can make on the matter this side of Heaven.

A Sinner’s Final Minutes

St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who was given the dreaded vision of Hell in the Divine Mercy apparitions, wrote in her famous Diary of the tenderness with which Jesus approaches a soul in despair offering His infinite mercy to the repentant sinner, even at the very moment of death.

To my mind, a hardened sinner is more likely to repent in his final moments than the man who takes sin oh so casually and eventually dies, sated, of the long-term effects of his prosperity.  It is the casual sinner who sees no mortal peril in his sin who is caught by death unawares.

Recall the parable of the morally slothful man who stocked his barn to capacity and told himself to “eat drink and be merry” (Luke 12:13-21) without concern for his immortal soul. “You fool!” said God on the day He took him. I never want to hear those words either.

Our Part

What is the difference between the wicked man who repents in his final moments and the wicked man who perseveres in the hardness of his heart and ends up in Hell?

Theologians may give a more sophisticated answer to that question, but I think it is this simple: the difference can be found in the sincere prayers of Christians for the souls of the wicked. Our Lady of Fatima said that many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray for them. In other words, our prayers for sinners tip the balance of God’s scales of justice to the side of mercy.

Does that sound implausible? I don’t think it is. He told Ezekiel that He “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 18:23). Just as Abraham was able to bargain for the lives of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33), God leaves the door open for our prayers to increase the grace of His mercy for those who need it most.

Yes, I do believe that the angels weep at the loss of every soul because they see it for the tragedy it is. The people who are yelling “burn in Hell” have no idea what they are wishing for.

If we Christians are too busy assigning the wicked to the various circles of Hell, we will forget about our obligation to pray for the salvation of every soul whom Christ redeemed by His precious Blood.

Without prayer everything is lost. With prayer – yours and mine – many of those wicked ones will be saved.

And we should also hope that, in our final moments, someone will be praying for us.

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35 thoughts on “Jeffrey Epstein’s Soul, Prayer, Judgement, Mercy, and Hell”

  1. I have nothing to forgive Jeffrey Epstein for because he never did anything to me. In fact I believe we may not understand and also misuse “forgiveness”. As far as I know God is not going to forgive any unrepentant person.

    It is true that there has being many convicted murderers who have confessed their sins and have asked for forgiveness and they may have very well been sorry and are in heaven , however, there are others who before they were executed said nasty to the victims family. One recent execution the inmate said he forgave the victim’s family for hating him and hopes God will forgive “them”. Never once did he say he was sorry for committing the murder and bringing all this grief and pain to them.

    It is hard to feel sympathy for people who do cruel things and aren’t sorry. I really don’t wish hell on anyone and wish all would repent, on the other hand if Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide so he wouldn’t have to face his earthly punishment (which in my mind isn’t even compared to what he put those poor girls through) then I’m guessing he wished he would have now because God’s punishment is far greater and there is no escape.

    I’m sorry but is hard to feel sorry for him.

    1. Hi Doris, the purpose of my article (if you were to go back and read it a bit more carefully) was not to solicit sympathy for an evil man, obviously, but to call all Christians to account for our own teaching that God wishes all to be saved. We should wish that too or stop calling ourselves Christians. Sometimes only prayer will bring someone out of their darkness. You lump Epstein in with that unrepentant murderer you wrote about, and then you seem to be quite certain that Epstein also had no remorse or repentance before he died. You know that how?

  2. Pingback: Jeffrey Epstein and Hell « Peter Darcy

  3. This begs the question, How can we be happy in heaven if our loved ones are in hell? How can Jesus be happy in heaven if His loved ones are in hell? Since Heaven is perfection, joy, and happiness, This is hard to understand.

    1. I think that heaven is where God’s will is perfectly achieved and followed. Hell is a free choiced for those who choose it. What would make you unhappy in comparison to being in the company of God? Everything will pale in comparison. There are mysteries in and to faith, but we should trust the message Sr. Faustina was given for us, “Jesus I trust in you”. You should have little concern if you Trust in Jesus. If you are concerned go back and re-read “Jesus I trust in you”. That said, I re-read it myself often!

    2. Interesting, I don’t often consider the Lords happiness. I hope that we do, bring Him more joy then pain. I believe He forgives all sins, all, that He may share and feel love in Heavan. However, Heavan, like you stated is perfect, which I believe should come at a price, and if not paid will not be granted. Ask for forgiveness and He readily does, He wants us to join Him, and asks so little of us-only that we ask forgiveness, and accept Him into our hearts. Eternal damnation is the alternative. As mortal beings we can never fathom eternity. I believe, a sin against our Creator should be met with serious consequences, even if we are ignorant of the true anguish we face in the afterlife.

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  5. Matthew 29 “The Rich Young Man” 16 – 30 is interesting in regards to Mr Epstein. Particularly 21-26 of this:
    ’21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
    22 When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
    23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
    24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
    25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”
    26 l Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”’
    Today’s readings also are enlightening if considered with the topics here (I hope readers heard them!). Today (and I paraphrase) the reading was on entering by the narrow gate and the master of the house not letting people in the house who claimed to eat with him etc. To know of the master is not enough, you must actually know the master is in part the point. I certainly hope and Pray that Mr Epstein turned to and found some favor with God, every soul is precious and I recall the passage above “but for God all things are possible”

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  7. If he asked for Mercy, Epstein is in Heaven. I pray daily for the conversion of sinners, offer theStations of the Cross for this intention and offered my (daily) Plenary Indulgence for the remission of his punishment.

    Yes. I felt guilty praying for him, felt guilty offering “an easy way out” of the punishment deserved. Yet, I feel wonderful in a sense of accomplishment,

    {I here on earth, living, have an opportunity (each day)} to pray a Holy Soul in Purgatory transition into Heaven.

    1. Oh… in the 2016 Year of Mercy, I walked through the Door of Mercy the intention of: all those who had committed suicide, and for all those who will commit suicide.

    2. Just to clarify, Sean: if Epstein asked for Mercy, he may be very, very far from Heaven yet! You mentioned Purgatory in your last sentence, and that is the antidote Catholics have to the “easy way out” for serious sinners (any sinners) who get in under the wire after committing so many abominable crimes. All the evil has to be atoned for in some mysterious way in Purgatory BEFORE one gets to Heaven because, as the Book of Revelation says, “Nothing unclean shall enter there” (Rev 21:27).

  8. What about sins against the Holy Spirit? Those who have murdered,and did not confess,those who died without remorse,who have belonged to societies looking to destroy the Church from within? Those who in life spread worship and deeds to the father of lies,who never repented,in scripture it is said Jesus said there will be those who cry Lord ,Lord.He replied that in life it was how you treated the least,the vulnerable,the helpless,those that live life continually killing,murdering,thinking they will get away with it mistake Gods Justice.That is why St Michael carries a scale.

    1. Hi Lucy, yes, you are right. There is the “unforgivable sin” that Jesus Himself points out as deserving of Hell. Christian Tradition rightly understands this sin as lack of repentance, and if Epstein was guilty of that sin too at the end, he has no hope of salvation. Eternal Hell is an undeniable reality. The point of the article is not so much to focus on ways in which people will more easily go to Hell but to desire, with God Himself, that all may be saved. For that we pray.

  9. God does not “desire” all men to be saved. That is not what 1 Tim. 2:4 says. It says that He WILLS that all men be saved. There is a big difference between wanting something and willing it. And with God, there is nothing that can resist His will, therefore, even Jeffrey Epstein will eventually be saved.

    HOWEVER –

    Getting there is going to be MOST UNPLEASANT for him. Jesus was quite clear that we shall reap in accordance with our deeds. That is why it is so important to now, in this life and with this opportunity, make the most of our chance to bring our lives into conformance with the will of God rather than suffer in the next life. St. Isaac the Syrian described the experience of the wicked in the next life as being “scourged by the love of God.” The wicked experience it as hell, yet it is the same love that blesses the righteous.

    The good news for Jeffrey Epstein is that it will not last forever. But it will seem like it is going on forever as he is cleansed of the deep wickedness that would make him do the things he did.

    1. MATTHEW 7:13-14 – “The Narrow Gate” – “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.” – Reference: Good News Bible GNT

    2. Dear Edward, your position is not a mainstream theological position except in Calvinist circles. It certainly is not the Catholic position. The Greek verb in this passage (thelo) can mean “to will” but it also can have numerous other translations. The authoritative Strong’s Concordance says the common biblical usages are to will, to wish, to desire, to be willing, to intend, to design. It’s best not to base a precise theory about eternal life on a very widely translated verb. We’ll stick with the Catholic teaching articulated in this article about God’s wholesome desire for our salvation which nonethelsss must be balanced with His gift of free will. The alternative to choosing Heaven is choosing a Hell that does indeed last forever.

  10. Mr. Darcy, Please remind me. Where in your article did you mention that the last thing Mr Epstein did in his life was commit suicide?

    1. Dear Sue, please remind me where you got your infallible knowledge that he committed suicide? Thanks.

    2. Even if he did commit suicide, I believe that it is possible at the very end or possibly a few minutes after death to ask for and receive forgiveness. No one knows what happens to people after death, even Hitler or Judas may have been saved, for all we know. We won’t know until we also pass someday.

  11. Our Lady of Fatima has given us hope that God indeed hears our prayers and pleas on behalf of our deceased loved ones who did not live in accordance with His Will.

  12. 1 CORINTHIANS 16:22 – Greetings from Paul: “Whoever does not love the Lord a curse on him! Marana tha—Our Lord come! – JOHN 6:39-40 – “God’s Will” – Reference: Good News Bible GNT

  13. I agree that it is our duty to pray for the lost. As a mortal, I can never fathom eternity; in Heaven nor Hell. As such it is my understanding that forgiveness is necessary for me and to forgive others to hopefully be spared and saved. However, for a human to take their own gift of life from Him…can one be forgiven from that? Despite all sins he may or may not have done, he could have been forgiven. Would the Lord infinitely merciful, provide the chance to ask for forgiveness in the unknown moment between that last breath of life and the cold release from this world? I ask as a trained suicide prevention and response professional and a man of flexible, but consistent faith. Personally, there are times when the only thing keeping me going, is not being sentenced to Hell via suicide.

    1. ROMANS 9:16 – “So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy.” – Reference: Good News Bible GNT

    2. Thanks Ed. I like your assessment of “flexible but consistent faith”! Stay strong. I find that devotion to the guardian angels is an enormous help with the suicidal and despairing. Praying for the intervention/intercession of THEIR guardian angels in times of crisis is a great assistance from above. Peace.

  14. I agree with Peter Darcy that we must never judge nor ever wish any soul eternal damnation.
    I try often to pray for souls who may have no-one to pray for them and I hope that the souls of Judas, Adolf Hitler Stalin, and many others might find mercy somehow because the Mercy of God is far beyond anything we can imagine. At every Holy Mass I can attend, I offer the intention that not one single soul will be lost on this day….
    My hope is that when I am no longer here some person will continue to offer prayers for me.

  15. Every Christian should remember when we pray the “Our Father” we state “… and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If you do not forgive and leave justice to God alone you have asked (repeatedly) to held to the same standard and not to be forgiven. If you do not forgive the “Our Father” is in part a self imposed curse instead of a blessing.

  16. I prayed for the soul of Jeffrey Epstein. I know that was God’s will for me to do. While I found his actions totally evil, I know that God created him to be with him in Heaven. I do hope and pray that Mr. Epstein repented in his final moments. Only God knows now…

  17. Yes – you have shed light on the REAL tragedy in the whole economy of creation. The whole world is engaged in the spiritual battle that St. Paul referred to when he wrote that our battle was not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers. Thank you for pointing out the saddest thing our lady ever said about souls. After I became a mother I suddenly realized how precious each soul is. If I who am so ignorant and sinful can come to understand this, how much do the hearts of our Lord and His mother feel sorrow at the eternal loss of the very souls they both suffered so much for on this earth? The only reason we are even on this planet is to choose our destiny, to become who we will be, a child of God in His presence, or to choose not to be. God asks us to choose life, for love of us. So also should we ask Him to help each one of His precious children.

    1. “DESTINY” – SIRACH (Ecclesiasticus) 2:18 – “We pace our destiny in the hands of the Lord, not in the hands of men, because His mercy is as great as His majesty.” – ROMANS 9:16 – “So then, everything depends, ot on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy. – Reference: Good News Bible GNT

    1. Remember also Jesus said “judge not lest ye be judged”
      We do not know his last moments between himself and Jesus but I would guess that if he made it at the last second, at least purgatory awaits

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