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New Release! Chant Compendium 8 with beautiful Gregorian chant

The horror of a place of intense suffering lasting for eternity!

What Will Hell be Like?

Greatest Pain of Hell

The sword which shall pierce them with the greatest sorrow will be the thought of having lost God, and of having lost Him through their own fault. Unfortunates that they are! They now seek to lose sight of God, but once fallen into Hell, they will no longer be able to cease thinking of Him, and in this will their chastisement consist.
St. Augustine says that in Hell, the damned will be forced to think of nothing but God, and that will cause them terrible torment. And St. Bonaventure, expressing the same sentiments, says that no thought will torment the damned more than the thought of God. The Lord will grant to them such a vivid knowledge of their offended God, His goodness so unworthily spurned, and consequently, of the chastisement which their crimes have merited, that this knowledge will cause them a suffering greater than that of all the other punishments of Hell.
We read in the book of Ezechiel: "Over the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of crystal terrible to behold, and stretched out over their heads above." (1:22). Explaining these words, one author says that the damned will have continually before their eyes a terrible crystal or mirror: with the assistance of some fatal light, they will behold, on one hand, the immense good which they have lost in voluntarily losing divine grace, and, on the other, they will view the justly wrathful face of God; and this torment will surpass by a million times all the other punishments of Hell.
On this same subject, the author Cajetan makes the following reflection upon the words of David: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God." (Ps. 9:18). The Prophet, says this author, does not here speak of a change of heart, or conversion, but of the spirit of sinners. For just as sinners do not wish to think of God during this life, that they might not be forced to renounce their passions, they will be forced -- despite themselves and by a just chastisement -- to think continuously of God in Hell. They would wish to shut out all remembrance of God from their minds, but they will be forced to think always of Him, thus recalling all the benefits which they have received from Him, as well as the offenses which they have committed against Him and by which they have been separated from Him for all eternity.

The Damned Do Not Forget

Let us now consider briefly the condition of the intellect of the damned in Hell. St. Thomas says that the damned will be able to remember all the subjects of natural knowledge which they acquired here on earth, for this acquired knowledge will remain in their souls after death. This is evident from Sacred Scripture as well, from the response of Abraham to the rich man buried in Hell: "Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime." (Luke 16:25) This, then, is the conclusion of the Angelic Doctor: Just as in the elect there will be nothing that is not a subject of happiness to them, so also in the damned there will be nothing which will not be a subject of torment to them. Hence, the damned will preserve in their memories the things which they knew here on earth, not, it is true, for their consolation, but solely to increase their torment. Moreover, during this life the soul is frequently prevented from considering thoughts which would be disagreeable to it, because of corporeal sufferings and anxieties; but in Hell the soul will no longer be subject to this influence of the body. Hence, in Hell the soul will no longer be prevented from considering those things which can be a cause of torture to it. Likewise, in Hell the soul of a man will have constantly in its memory all the divine appeals made to it during life, as well as the number of sins which he committed, each of which will procure for him a new Hell.

The Damned Know Nothing About Us

Moreover, says Estius, just as God will procure the satisfaction of the blessed by making them know what concerns us, and especially that which concerns them in a special manner, such as our prayers addressed to them, on the other hand the damned will remain ignorant of all that concerns us, because they are complete strangers to the Church.

Do the Damned Have Faith?

It might be asked whether those Christians who possessed faith in this life, and who have not lost it by apostasy or heresy, will preserve it in Hell. St. Thomas repsods in the negative, for in order to believe with a supernatural and theological faith, one must hold with a pious affection of the will to God the revealer. This pious affection, however, is a gift of God, of which He deprives them as well as the demons. They do, however, believe by a sort of natural faith, to which they are forced by the evidence of external signs, though this faith is not supernatural. It is in this sense that St. James has written that "The devils also believe and tremble" (James 2:19), signifying that their fiath is forced and fearful.
Will the damned ever see or behold the glory of the Blessed? St. Thomas answers that at the Last Judgment the reprobate will see the blessed in their glory, without being able to distinguish in what it consists, solely realizing that they are enjoying an inexplicable glory. This signt will afflict them with great sorrow, either because of a feeling of envy, or because of regret at having lost that which they themselves could have acquired. And for their eternal chastisement, this shadow of the beatific vision which they have beheld will remain imprinted in their memory forever.

Taken from What Will Hell be Like? by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.

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