A skeptic and a priest were debating:
Skeptic: There is NO Hell!
Priest: The HELL there IS!
We live in interesting times….and if we are to believe the avalanche of modern day prophecies and Marian messages, we are already beginning to live in that period called The End Times. Today’s materialistic world has served to dull Man’s sense of the spiritual, leading many to forget their sense of destiny and final end. The attachment to material things has also caused many to seriously doubt the veracity of the Last Things, especially the existence of Hell and the devil. In that sense, Satan has already won a victory by deluding many to doubt that both he and Hell exist. Some doctrinal errors even have people believing that, after a period of testing and prolonged hellfire (much like an extended purgatory), hell will disappear and all will then be allowed to go to heaven.
The bad news: Hell and the devil exist; Hellfire is for ALL ETERNITY; The pain of Hell is both of Sense and Loss; and, there will be no turning back, no reprieve.
The Pain of Loss is actually the greater of the two pains. It consists in the eternal privation of the vision of and union with God. Since the soul is made to be united with its Creator, the irresistible desire for union with the Eternal Good will be forever frustrated. St Augustine says that the pain is so intense that, if it were to be taken away, Hell would be immediately transformed into Heaven.
The Pain of Sense is immediately identified with a fire that burns with such intensity that the condemned feel the power of an all-consuming fire. It is a rational fire that is directed to those senses and members that offended God when the person was still on the earth. It is an eternal fire that burns but does not give out light, giving it the description of a “shining darkness”. Since each being may have committed a different array of (unrequited and/or unforgiven) sins during its lifetime, the punishment due each being will not be the same.
When a soul realizes that it cannot ever possess God, it then takes on the characteristic common to all denizens of that fiery place: It loses its capacity to love and begins to hate. It hates itself and all people who may have caused it to sin, and hates anything and everything it may chance on in that, literally, God-forsaken place.
Who goes to Hell?
The answer is easy. All those who abandon God and His doctrine while still on the earth. These people refuse to avail of the many help – spiritual and material – that God makes available to help a soul attain Heaven. Thus, even the greatest of sinners who, at the moment of death, makes a profession of faith and expresses the least remorse for past sin, may just steal Heaven from the clutches of the demon. It is said that those who, at certain points in their lives, resorted to certain spiritual exercises, or had recourse to heavenly intercessors – of which the strongest is the Mediatrix of All Grace – are given that chance to repent just before death.
However, this is not always assured, and it is best to always be prepared to meet Our Lord through a happy and holy death. A man who chose to live the life of a libertine was asked about his attitude. He replied that he would repent at the 12th hour (at the last minute, literally) before his passing. To which a wise man then retorted: What will happen then if you die on the 11th hour?