Why Does God Send People to Hell?
Catholic Apologetics #55
The existence of the devil is known with certainty as has been examined previously in view of both Sacred Scripture and Tradition. And similarly, Hell too exists with complete certainty. Our Blessed Mother affirmed the reality of Hell on July 13, 1917 when She showed the three children a vision which nearly caused them to die in terror. This vision was so powerful that it changed the three children forever, making them into saints who would spend their lives praying and making sacrifices for sinners.
Hell is a dogma of the Faith that cannot be disputed. There is a Hell, it is a place of the worst sufferings imaginable, and it lasts for all eternity and so will never end.
This reality has led some people to question why God would send so many people to an eternity in Hell. A popular quarterback in the National Football League recently attacked Christianity in a recorded interview by asking how there could be a God Who would send so many of His creatures to Hell. The answer is that it is ultimately not God Who sends souls to Hell; rather, it is the souls of the damned who bring the judgment of Hell upon themselves because of their abuse of free will.
What Is Hell? Does It Really Exist?
The Baltimore Catechism summarizes the Church’s teachings on Hell:
“Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are deprived of the sight of God for all eternity and are in dreadful torments. The damned will suffer in both mind and body because both mind and body had a share in their sins. The mind suffers the pain of loss in which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the pain of sense by which it is tortured in all its members and senses.” (Baltimore Catechism #3, Questions 1379 – 1380)
Hell is not a mere conjecture or theological opinion. It is not a medieval idea. It is a reality. And the devil wants more people to believe that Hell does not exist so that they too will be damned.
In a sermon delivered in Vatican City on March 27, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI remarked, “Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in Heaven and that hell – of which so little is said in our time – exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love.” Hell exists and it is eternal.
Sacred Scripture Abounds in References to Hell
Our Lord clearly taught that Hell exists, for example, “And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting” (Matthew 25:46). Likewise, all the Apostles taught the reality of Hell. St. John wrote: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Apocalypse 21:8). There are countless references to Hell in the Sacred Scriptures, a few of which are appended at the end of this article. Hence, a denial of Hell is in fact a rejection of the Sacred Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant revealed word of God.
Mystics and Seers Have Seen Hell
Blessed Elena Aiello (1895 – 1961) was a mystic, visionary, stigmatist, victim soul, and foundress of the Minim Tertiaries of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. She was privileged to have many visions including an apparition of the Bleeding Face of Jesus. Every Friday she suffered the physical stigmata on her body, and she received many apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One such message concerning Hell is as follows and was given on Good Friday in 1950, illustrating that even modern mystics have affirmed the existence of Hell.
Sister Elena Aiello asked Our Blessed Mother: “What will become of Italy? Will Rome be saved?”
The Madonna answered: “In part, by the Pope. The Church will be in travail, but the forces of Hell cannot prevail! You must suffer for the Pope and Christ, and thus Christ will be safe on earth; and the Pope, with his redemptive word, will, in part, save the world.”
The Madonna then came closer, and with a sad expression, showed me the flames of Hell. She said: “Satan reigns and triumphs on earth! See how the souls are falling into Hell. See how high the flames are, and the souls who fall into them like flakes of snow, looking like transparent embers! How many sparks! How many cries of hate, and of despair! How much pain!”
“See how many priestly souls! Look at the sign of their consecration in their transparent hands! (In the palms of their hands the sign of the cross, in more vivid fire, could clearly be seen!) What torture, my daughter, in my maternal Heart! Great is my sorrow to see that men do not change! The justice of the Father requires reparation — otherwise many will be lost!”
Blessed Elena Aiello’s visions of Hell in 1950 along with the vision of the three Fatima seers in 1917 are just a few of the modern-day affirmations of Hell’s existence.
Why Does Hell Exist?
But even though we know by virtue of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition that Hell exists, we may still struggle with understanding why it was part of God’s plan to create a place of eternal sufferings.
In his book on Hell, Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J. relates the following as to why failing to believe in the existence of Hell is foolish. Those looking to thoroughly understand this question should consult his book Hell: The Dogma of Hell, Illustrated by Facts Taken from Profane and Sacred History.
“Natural reason confirms the dogma of hell. An atheist was once boasting that he did not believe in hell. Among his hearers, there was a sensible young man, modest, but who thought that he ought to shut the silly speaker’s mouth. He put to him a single question: ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘the kings of the earth have prisons to punish their wicked subjects; how can God, the King of the Universe, be without a prison for those who outrage His majesty?’ The atheist of course had not a word to answer. The appeal was presented to the light of his own reason, which proclaims that, if kings have prisons, God must likewise have a hell.”
Both the Council of Orange in 529 and the Council of Trent in the 1500s specifically affirmed that God predestines no one to Hell but instead desires all men to be saved. It was for this purpose that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man, redeemed man, instituted the Sacraments, founded the Catholic Church, and continues to sanctify all those who turn to Him. The whole plan of Redemption centered on saving man from the punishment of being banished from God for all eternity. Hell is ultimately a place of intense sufferings chiefly because it is there that the unhappy souls who abide there finally understand what the absence of God feels like.
God does not desire anyone to go to Hell. In fact, it is the souls of the damned who bring Hell upon themselves by rejecting God through mortal sin. Despite the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, and even extraordinary visions and apparitions at times, many people choose to prefer sin over God. And since God has given human beings free will, they may ultimately choose to die preferring sin to Him. And for those who do so, they ultimately get what they desire – an eternity away from God.
It is not the fires of Hell, or the awful smells of rotting flesh and sulfur, or the constant screams and blasphemies that most torment a soul in Hell. It is ultimately knowing that there is no going back and that the soul in Hell has at last experienced the one place in existence where God is not present. And His absence and the lack of all hope for an appeal is the worst torment of all in Hell.
Hell exists because God has first loved us and created man with a free will so that man can love God in return. It is not possible to love without a free will. And a free will, by the very essence of its nature, is the ability to choose; that is, one can choose to love God or not to love God. Thus, man can refuse to use his will appropriately. God however will not destroy, or violate, the gift of free will He gives man because if He did so, He would strip man of the ability to love and deny His own Divine Self.
Those free-will beings who choose to love the Blessed Trinity and live in the state of grace will ultimately enjoy Him in Heaven. And those who do not love the Blessed Trinity will spend an eternity away from God. And that place away from God is Hell.
Prayer to Be Saved from Hell
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need.
A Few of the Scripture Passages which Affirm the Reality of Hell
“And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” -Matthew 13:50
“And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where there worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.” – Mark 9:42-43
“And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
“Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” – Matthew 25:41
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, who wrought signs before him, wherewith he seduced them who received the character of the beast, and who adored his image. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire, burning with brimstone.” – Apocalypse 19:20
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment.” – 2 Peter 2:4
“In a flame of fire, giving vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
“And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.” – Apocalypse 20:13-14
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God.” – Psalm 9:18
“Let death come upon them, and let them go down alive into hell. For there is wickedness in their dwellings: in the midst of them.” – Psalm 54:16
“Woe to the nation that riseth up against my people for the Lord almighty will take revenge on them, in the day of judgment He will visit them. For He will give fire, and worms into their flesh, that they may burn, and may feel forever.” – Judith 16: 20-21
 If one does not believe in the existence of hell – a place of eternal punishment – then one might not have the incentive to live according to the Will of God, which includes belonging to the Catholic Church, living in the state of grace by obeying the Ten Commandments of God and the six commandments of the Church, doing one’s daily duty, and performing Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy as one is able to.
 As cited on the website of mysticsofthechurch.com which uses as its primary source the book The Incredible Life Story of Sister Elena Aiello by Fr. Francesco Spadafora, published by Theo Gaus Inc., 1964. She was declared Blessed on September 14, 2011.
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