Reflection on awareness of hell in our time
Have you noticed that we hardly hear in our churches about the threat of hell? Maybe priests these days are afraid of discouraging their flock from coming to the church? Indeed, some of the faithful come to Masses to find rest, joy and company and they are not willing to listen to about uncomfortable subjects. In the case of fear of preaching on hell priest must be helped by all of us to be brave and never to give up. Their duty is to show us love to God and Heaven as our destiny and a place already prepared for us but at some point they are obliged to teach us wisely on realm of eternal condemnation. The teaching must be well presented to show us a path to God and to be warn of abysses on our way. We must hear about being watchful as “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1P5:8). If we lead bad immoral life (according to God’s commandments) we will find ourselves outside of God, literally in reality called hell. In this way St Maria Goretti was educated by the Church. Knowing the danger of abyss of hell she shouted at her neighbour Alessandro when he wanted to have an impure act from her: “No, never, that is a sin! God does not want it and we would go to hell”. Thanking her preaching at that dramatic moment, and her determination in protecting chastity and yet in her immense prayers, in the eighth year in prison Alessandro was able to produce a deep act of contrition. He then only acknowledged and rejected his sins and all evil he did. He started living life in the spirit of great penance. He was just about to enter hell when he was rescued and he knew about it till the last day of his life.
The fact is that because God does not occupy the centre of lives of many people, their thoughts and actions are based on other principles. Hence many say that there are no temporary and eternal consequences. However, Fathers of the Church are firm on the reality of an eternal hell. St Ignatius of Antioch says: “Corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil teaching the faith of God for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire: and so will anyone who listens to him” (Letter to the Ephesians 16:1–2 [A.D. 110]).
The issue that some will go to hell is already decided! We must be aware of it. Of course, there is an issue of who in particular will go to hell and it is not within the range of our decision.