The Spiritual Geography of Hell

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You cannot scare someone into heaven, or into believing in the Triune God. Likewise, you cannot focus exclusively on the love of God alone without recognizing His strict and just punishment on sin. Love is what draws us closer to God. The love of God and the love of one’s enemies are extremely important in the spiritual battle we all face.

I must point out, this article is not a “Dante’s Inferno.” We have heard so much about this fiery world, this world of flames, grinding of teeth and eternal torture, but do we really understand, on a theological and spiritual level what it means to be eternally separated from God?

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.(Matthew 25:46)

Death and the Soul’s Journey into Hell

It is a common teaching among theologians that immediately upon the death of a human, each person is judged by Jesus Christ at the place of death. If the individual dies in a state of unrepentant mortal sin (no sanctifying grace), most likely, this descent into hell occurs immediately and instantaneously after the judgement.

After a person breathes forth their last breath and the body expires, the soul is released into eternity, and that soul’s will is permanently fixed towards their current disposition. In this state of a fixed will, the soul either loves God for eternity or hates God for eternity. This can be likened to the fallen angels, who cannot change their will or decisions they made to rebel against God, even if they were given the opportunity towards repentance. Perhaps, the most perplexing condition of a damned soul is realizing that they were created for the beatitude. The damned soul feels an immense gravity and pull towards God, but realizes that for all eternity, they will never be in his company, that they are anathema, fixed in eternal reprobation.

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves . . . To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” (CCC 1033)

Levels of Hell and the Eternal Company of Satan

Every soul in hell will reap in eternity what they sowed here on earth. Therefore, one can state that in hell, there will be different levels of punishment and severities, based on one’s sinful disposition here on earth and how much they offended God. However, do not be fooled, there is not a single level of hell that will be tolerable, even for a microsecond for any human soul.

Simply stated, this punishing world was created for the fallen angels. However, sinful man chooses to enter this ghastly existence, and God, in his nature, does not impede on the free will of man. Either you choose him during your short time in this valley of tears, or you choose to be eternally separated from him upon death. This choice is strictly ours and we have a free will to decide which destiny we pick for eternity. Either an eternity spent with the Lord and the Saints, or one spent with the devil, his angels and reprobate souls.

God gives us an ample amount of grace to choose to do what is right and good.  He loves us and does not want robots following him. He gives us the choice to willfully serve him or not. He does not impede on our decisions but offers to us many opportunities to come to repentance and follow him.

On the Nature of Hell

Hell is a world without the love and tenderness of God. It is a world completely void of anything good. In this world, eternal pain exists due to the total separation from God.

Because the blood of Christ can no longer atone of the sins of the damned, the damned are rather, punished in proportion to the sin that damned them in payment for their sin. Unfortunately, this debt can never be paid in full as it was already paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. This payment was willfully rejected by the damned. Even worse, the damned are in the constant company of Satan and his fallen angels, therefore one cannot begin to imagine the forms of punishments that are conceived by the fallen angels to inflict on the poor souls that find themselves at their mercy. People often ask, “well won’t the damned souls in hell be relieved by the company of other damned souls?” Rather, I tell them, every soul in hell feels an indescribable sense of loneliness; further, they feel the suffering of all the souls around them immensely with no limit.

On the Suffering in Hell

In hell, all the five senses are tortured to the extreme with absolutely no cessation for all eternity. The soul feels pain much more immensely than the flesh. The pain that can be inflicted on the soul is a million times worse than that, that can be inflicted on the body. The human body has a pain threshold after which an individual can either pass out or die. Unfortunately, when it comes to the soul (which was made eternal by God) there is no such flesh limitation and thus no threshold. The soul continues to live on, even after immense tortures that are inflicted upon her.

Saint Faustina’s Warning

Saint Faustina is known as the Apostle of mercy. The Lord Jesus revealed to her his infinite wonderful mercy so that she could proclaim it to the whole world. However, the Lord Jesus did not deny his justice. He gave Saint Faustina a vision of hell so that we could know that hell is real. During her revelation, she noticed that the devils had full hatred of the Lord. Further, she noticed that most of the souls in hell are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

She also gave an account of the seven tortures of hell.

Today under the guidance of an Angel, I was in the depths of Hell. It is a place of great torments all throughout its terrifyingly wide extension. These are the various punishments: the first penalty, that one which constitutes Hell, is the loss of God…

The loss of God is the first torture. The second being perpetual remorse of conscience. The third being the knowledge that one’s condition will never change. The fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. The fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all evils, both of others and their own. The sixth is the constant company of satan. The seventh is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses, and blasphemies. In hell, there are caverns and pits of torture, where one form of agony differs from another.

Through Struggle: A Warning to Humanity

There is a dangerous teaching making its rounds, stating that perhaps, in the end, all the fallen angels (including Satan) and damned souls will be saved from hell or the false teaching of annihilationism, which states that God will eventually destroy the wicked, leaving the righteous to immortality. All these teachings are false because if such were the case, why did Christ go through what he did on the cross to save us from hell? Hell is eternal. Souls and the fallen angel that find themselves in hell are there for eternity and hell is most certainly not empty. The world we live in is filled with unimaginable sufferings that can befall anyone at any time.

Therefore, we must always be prayerful, humble and patient during our times of trials. The way we react to the fiery darts the world throws at us could have lasting eternal consequences. Demons are extreme legalists. Meaning, (if Christ permits) if you open a doorway, then they can begin tormenting, oppressing and even possessing a person’s body. We need to put on the full armor of the Lord every single day.

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. (Ephesians 6: 11-13)

We must always be forgiving or ask for the grace of forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a primary means a demon can gain a foothold and stronghold in an individual’s life.

If we are to even call ourselves Christians, we must not only make a list of all the people we can remember who have offended us, but we need to continually pray for them, love them and wish them well. Failure to do so may open us up to oppression, even rendering our confessions sacrilegious. If we cannot forgive our fellow men then why do we ask for forgiveness in confession? Great pains may befall us in this world (divorce, heart-breaks, financial loss, death of people whom we love, illness, betrayal, sudden unexplained evil, ostracization…etc) but we must always unify our suffering with that of Jesus Christ.

We must pray our rosary daily and stay very close to our blessed mother. We often neglect to ask our guardian angels for help but we need to maintain a close relationship with our guardian angel who is constantly on our side. This world where we live in and the spiritual warfare cannot be taken lightly. If angels can fall, so can humans but we must be grateful for the powerful Catholic faith that provides us with every means necessary to survive this valley of tears and to protect us from the nefarious plans of the devil.

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23 thoughts on “The Spiritual Geography of Hell”

  1. Sobering, to be sure. Thank you Dr. Osita. And, too, Our lady showed hell to the little children of Fatima. Jacinta was so moved for pity she could never forget it during her short time left on earth.

  2. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  3. Which is easier to say, “be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” or “rise, pick up your mat and walk”?

  4. Josephine Harkay

    I don’t know why a person becomes an atheist, but some are leading very moral lives listening to the innate voice of their consciences. Will they also be automatically damned?Couldn’t they fall under the concept of “invincible ignorance?” How about those who lose their faith in the Catholic Church because they have been abused by a clergyman, or they just see the rot that has been eating away at the church for many decades now and have therefore lost their trust in the Church leadership.

    1. Instead of focusing on the salvation of other soul’s you should focus on the salvation of YOUR own soul. Trying to analyze and understand God’s judgement on any soul is SERIOUSLY dangerous. Only God knows where a soul will ultimately go on their day of judgement. Trying to rationalize and theorize on such matters that does not concern you does not take away from the fact that hell is ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT 100 PERCENT A REAL GHASTLY WORLD. Focus on YOUR own salvation Leave the judgement to God!

  5. This article starts by saying, “You cannot scare someone into Heaven . . .”, and then proceeds to do exactly that. In fact traditional Catholicism is fear-based.

    1. If you can’t deal with the reality of hell, then that’s your issue. Just because you don’t believe in its existence doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. My article doesn’t even come close to defining how horrible that place is. I will never back down from speaking the truth on this. Never!

    2. Oh and fun fact, Baptists and protestants believe in hell too and preach more about it that you can imagine. So please don’t attack traditional catholicism, that is pretty offensive.

  6. Since our distinguished author has a PhD in statistics, I thought I might throw out some numbers. The words “repent and repentance” are mentioned far more often in the New Testament. The word “repent” is mentioned only once in every 46 pages in my copy of the Old Testament, but in every 8 pages in the New. The word “repentance” is mentioned only once in every 192 pages in the Old, yet in every 18 pages in the New. Now I’m no expert in finding significance, but I got a “hunch” that Jesus was trying to tell us something.

  7. I have funny story – not mine. I think this was told by Father Larry on the radio, but I’m not positive. He told that purgatory is like Heaven’s bathroom. You arrive for the banquet, but you’ve come from a muddy soccer game. You are offered whether you would care to take a shower and get cleaned up. You of course would say, “that sounds perfect!” You made it to heaven, but you just need some time to get cleaned up. It’s no punishment, it’s a relief.

  8. All I can say is this article is almost entirely hypothetical. My Mother , a staunch Irish Catholic, when asked about the afterlife “well, nobody ever came back to tell us”. Your statement… “Every soul in hell will reap in eternity what they sowed here on earth”. How does a poor soul know when they sowed enough? When I was an altar boy the Nuns used a scare tactic to say that “we would go to Hell if our soul had ONE mark on it”. Then she would place a black mark on her white habit to demonstrate our souls.

    I am a sinner and a wimp. I am always looking over my shoulder to see the four horse men coming in my direction. I resort quickly to the thought of how a loving God could damn persons of his own creation to Hell. An analogy could be during your life to get to Heaven one might walk a piano wire to be in the state of grace.

    What about the worse of society, serial murderers and rapists. Do they repent in the confessional and walk free? The Catholic Church finds a serious penance sealed and not reported to civil authorities. In my mind that is the sin of all sins, to throw the perpetrator back on the street to murder and rape again.

    1. Josephine Harkay

      The seal of the confessional is unbreakable. The penitent will be urged to give himself up to the authorities but it is not a condition of absolution. Many murderers and rapists are also back on the street after they have served time.

    1. You stated that, “Hell is awful but tolerable in the sense of not going insane there.” That is ABSOLUTELY false. There is no way hell is tolerable. If it were then why did Jesus Christ die a gruesome death to save us from that absolutely intolerable place of existence? You also mentioned “stick to the scriptures.” I could quote a plethora of scriptures that clearly talk about the horrid nature of that place but I am not going to (you may look it up). You also stated that “The pain of sense can not be so extreme that it makes the pain of loss secondary.” Nowhere in my article did I even state that. Notice how Saint Faustina clearly stated the “7 tortures of hell.” She did not say that one was more extreme than the other. They are all awful. My article does not even go anywhere close to describing the horrid nature of that ghastly world. I will not cave in to the modern idea that “hell is tolerable.” It is not. As for the rich man, mark my words, his conversation was probably carried our in screams and shrieks from the pain and absolutely torture he was going through. In hell you have absolutely no control of your mental faculties. You forfeit all your rights the moment you enter that world. Look, I know that it is a hard teaching for people to accept nowadays but I will never cave into making it tolerable because many souls are being lost there. A good study of theology would also be enlightening.

    2. Josephine Harkay

      Dr. Osita,
      I firmly believe that I am my brother’s keeper and it is only natural that I am deeply concerned about family members who do not follow anymore all the teachings of the Catholic Church. How can you say that their salvation does not concern me? I know my own salvation is my No. 1 priority, and you have no idea how many times I told Satan (the only person to whom I ever said it) to “go to hell!” Believe it or not, I don’t even use a product that has the word “devil” in it, e.g. Red Devil paint, etc.

  9. Josephine Harkay

    Jesus only said about hell that it is unquenchable fire, a furnace of fire, it is being cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth, and where the worm of our guilty conscience will never leave us. The CCC also explains that hell means an eternal separation from God. Neither Jesus nor the Church mentions that the fallen angels will inflict additional punishment on human souls, nor that the human intellect will be confused. Of course visionaries give us a more detailed description of hell, but we should be careful about certain assumptions what hell is like.

    1. In the scriptures, there are a plethora of passages pertaining to the tortures of the damned by the demons. A demon most certainly will not be having a tea party with a human soul that find itself in hell. This description of hell pales in comparison to its true and horrid nature because it is beyond human sense and comprehension. Further, fallen angels are of a higher nature than human beings and therefore can influence and hurt our immaterial facultires as well. If they do this on earth how could they not be able to do this in hell? Theologians give account to these types of tortues as well.

    2. Josephine,
      Yes, yes and yes. The demons are in hell which they take with them but they were able to talk to Christ in complete sentences and they are able to plan temptations etc. Likewise the rich man in hell (while the poor Lazarus went to heaven)wanted to warn his brothers on earth and he too carried on a conversation with Abraham. The above author therefore should watch the extremes on both ends. Saint revelations are not binding on Catholics. At the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent, folks should read “ private revelation”.
      Hell is awful but tolerable in the sense of not going insane there. Stay with scripture. The demons and the rich man could carry out conversations with Christ and Abraham. The pain of sense can not be so extreme that it makes the pain of loss secondary. No…the loss of God should be primary not drowned out by the pain of sense.
      Also those who hope for an empty hell like Bishop Barron, Deceased Rahner and Balthasar…are incorrect. Luke 13:24 has Christ say, “ Many will seek to enter on that day and will not be able.” Some at Catholic World Report are in that camp. Not correct.

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