Choose a topic from Vol 1:


God's existence known by reason
Nature of God
Providence of God and Problem of Evil


Nature of man
Existence and nature of the soul
Immortality of the soul
Destiny of the soul
Freewill of man


Nature of religion
Necessity of religion

The Religion of the Bible

Natural religion
Revealed religion
Mysteries of religion
Value of the Gospels
Inspiration of the Bible
Old Testament difficulties
New Testament difficulties

The Christian Faith

The religion of the Jews
Truth of Christianity
Nature and necessity of faith

A Definite Christian Faith

Conflicting Churches
Are all one Church?
Is one religion as good as another?
The fallacy of indifference

The Failure of Protestantism

Protestantism erroneous
Greek Orthodox Church
Salvation Army
Witnesses of Jehovah
Christian Science
Catholic intolerance

The Truth of Catholicism

Nature of the Church
The true Church
Hierarchy of the Church
The Pope
Temporal power
Outside the Church no salvation

The Catholic Church and the Bible

Not opposed to the Bible
The reading of the Bible
Protestants and the Bible
Bible Only a false principle
The necessity of Tradition
The authority of the Catholic Church

The Church and Her Dogmas

Dogmatic truth
Development of dogma
Dogma and reason
The Holy Trinity
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Extreme Unction
The Millenium
Prayer for the Dead
The resurrection of the body
The general Judgment
The End of the World

The Church in Her Moral Teachings

Mental restriction
Ecclesiastical censures
Index of Prohibited Books
The Inquisition
Catholic Intolerance
Protestant services
Prohibition of drink
Sunday Observance
Convent life
Mixed Marriages
Birth control

The Church in Her Worship

Holy Water
Sign of the Cross
Liturgical ceremonial
Spiritual Healing
The use of Latin
Devotion to Mary
The Rosary
The Angelus
Devotion to the Saints
The worship of relics

The Church and Social Welfare

Poverty of Catholics
Catholic and Protestant countries
The Church and education
The Social Problem
The Church and Capitalism
The Church and the Worker


921. What do you mean by hell?

Hell is the eternal lot of misery awaiting those who die in a state of grave sin and at enmity with God. Before the general resurrection, the soul alone experiences this misery; after the resurrection, the body will be re-united with that soul and will share in the misery, being tormented by created elements even as the person forsook God during life for the enjoyment of created things. The chief misery will be the sense of having lost the happiness of the Vision of God; the other will be the torment of fire.

922. What evidence have you that such a hell exists?

The very best The God who made us tells us that He also has made a hell. There is a hell in which both the bodies and the souls of the lost will be afflicted. Thus the gentle Christ Himself warns us, "It is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish rather than that thy whole body go into hell." Mk. IX., 29. Remember that all shall rise some day, the good and bad alike, the body sharing in the fate of the soul. "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Jn. V., 28. Those who are lost will go to everlasting fire. Christ calls it "unquenchable fire." Mk. IX., 44. He tells us of the grim sentence, "Depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt XXV., 41. Such a solemn utterance of the judicial sentence demands the literal sense. Judges do not speak in metaphors at such moments, "Let him be hanged—but of course only metaphorically!" And it will be conscious suffering. Our Lord says, "Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished." Mk. IX., 43. And again, "There shall be woeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt XIII., 49. Continued conscious suffering is the fate of the lost. And reason demands such a fate. When a man sins gravely, he chooses between God and a thing forbidden by God. He cannot have both, and he prefers to renounce God rather than the created good. If he dies without repentance his will is still alienated from God. He would do the same thing again if he got the chance. And as long as these dispositions last, he must do without God, and happiness. These dispositions lasting forever once this probationary life is over, so will the penalty.

923. Do you maintain that there is a real fire in hell?

Yes. The fire of hell is a real and created fire, which will affect even the bodies of men who die at enmity with God. I grant that it will differ in various characteristics from natural fire as we know it. Christ chose the word fire as being that element best known to us which produces results most similar to the effects of the fire of hell. Yet fire as we know it depends upon combustion. The fire of hell will not depend upon being constantly fed with fuel, but upon God's will, the principle of all existing things. If God can will that fire should exist with the aid of fuel to which He gave its properties, He certainly can produce and conserve fire by simply willing it, and without the aid of created fuel. Thus He manifested to Moses a bush in flames yet unconsumed.

924. How can fire affect a spiritual being such as the devil?

By the restriction of its activities according to the limitations of the created agent of torture, and by the intellectual apprehension of the suffering fire normally causes. But difficulties concerning its method of action make no difference to the fact that it exists.

925. Heb. II, 14, tells us that the devil is to be destroyed. Who then will keep the fire of hell going?

The text means that Christ will destroy the power of the devil over the souls of the redeemed. Satan will never be personally destroyed. And in any case he does not keep the fire of hell going. If Satan had anything to do with it that fire would have been destroyed long ago. He has never enjoyed it. However, the torments of hell are dependent upon the will of God.

926. Why does the Church offer us hell when we have hell in this life?

The Church offers hell to no one. She does all she can to prevent people from going there. Meantime hell is not in this life. Those in hell are irrevocably lost, and no one is irrevocably lost while still in this life. Until his very last breath every man has the opportunity offered him to save his soul. Nor are the ills and sufferings of this life hell. They are often a very good medicine curing us of over-attachment to this earthly life. Again, Christ Our Lord endured more bitter sufferings during life than others are called upon to endure, and in no way could He be regarded as experiencing contact with hell.

927. Where is hell?

It is a place of suffering awaiting men after death, if they fail to depart this life in the grace and friendship of God. Information concerning its locality has not been revealed in terms of longitude and latitude, even could such terms avail. God has revealed that there is a hell, but not where it is. And the latter information is immaterial; nor can any argument be based upon its absence. If the cables reported an earthquake at Potosi, your ignorance of the locality of Potosi would not disprove the earthquake. Our not knowing where hell is makes no difference whatever to hell. God has told us that it is a reality and that a man is a fool who does not fulfill the conditions necessary to avoid it.

928. Your Church will have increasing difficulty in getting intelligent men to believe in hell.

The stream of converts from the ranks of intelligent men is sufficient answer to that suggestion.

929. Such a doctrine is against the weight of enlightened reason.

It is not. It is reason enlightened by God that accepts the doctrine. If you are speaking of natural enlightenment, then the first thing that such enlightenment admits is its own deficiency and limitation; the historical value of the Gospels, and the fact that those Gospels teach eternal punishment. It is the very unenlightened man who will admit eternal happiness because he likes it, and deny eternal punishment because he doesn't. The forces producing both are obviously in this world—good and evil. Meantime the Catholic Church has plenty of evidence that there is a hell. Opponents have not a scrap of evidence that there is not. And no man can explain the terrible sufferings of Christ, granted His knowledge that there was no hell to save us from, and that we would all get to heaven in the end, whether He suffered or not. He did not go through His crucifixion for nothing.

930. Modern progressive scientific theology has no time for hell.

The idea that there is no hell is neither progressive nor scientific. It is not progressive, for it is not progress to leave people ignorant of a chasm yawning beneath their feet. If to take the truth from people and leave them in error be progress, then only could you call this progress. Nor is it scientific. There is not a jot of evidence that there is no eternal hell, whilst God says that there is one. The men who deny hell go by their feelings, shutting their eyes to facts. No scientist does that. I feel that there ought not to be cancer. But there is cancer.

931. I cannot see how any clear-minded person can believe in hell.

That does not alter the fact that many clear-minded people do believe in its existence.

932. Many pretend to believe and are hypocrites.

Very few would pretend to believe in hell. An immense number pretend to themselves that they do not believe, and they do so in order to carry on as tranquilly as possible in evil conduct. Those who want to suppress hell are not characterized by a real desire to defend the honor of God, to be more scrupulous in the observance of His laws, and to be more faithful in the fulfillment of their duties.

933. Believers, lives must be overshadowed by stupendous horror!

There is no reason why that should be at all. They have only to repent of their sins sincerely and resolve to avoid grave violations of conscience, which alone can lead to hell. It is the man who does those things which God strictly forbids who has reason to be overshadowed, and even then by the horror of his conduct chiefly, and secondarily by the prospect of the fate such conduct deserves.

934. Where this terrible dogma does not embitter happiness, it destroys character.

That is a gratuitous assertion. I believe in hell. Since it exists I would much rather know than not know. And the knowledge does not embitter my happiness. As for my corrupt character, you at least have not sufficient evidence to judge me on that point.

935. If could rob people of their faith in hell I should not feel any regret.

That is because you do not understand the Christian religion, nor the nature of the eternal moral law. Hell exists, and since it does exist, it is treason to the God of truth and treachery to man to try to blind men to the fact.

936. Treachery to man! Are you pleased to know that there is a hell?

Since there is one, I am glad to know it. I do not want to think that there is not a hell if there is one. And I am glad that there is a hell. I am glad that the state has penalties attached to the breaking of its laws. If there were no such penalties, its laws would fail to preserve the peace and well-being of the community as they should. In the same way I am glad that God has a deterring penalty attached to the violation of His commandments.

937. Is your desire of hell for your fellow men due to your humanitarian sentiment or to the effete doctrine of your infallible Church?

I do not desire hell for my fellow men. I desire to save them from it. A truly humanitarian sentiment makes me glad that evil conduct is not a matter of indifference. It would be a dreadful thing if all men thought that they could sin with impunity. Your talk of an effete doctrine of an infallible Church is absurd.

938. I am human, and I can't believe in a burning hell, above all for souls Christ came to redeem.

I cannot believe that Christ came to redeem people if there be no hell from which to save them! But beware of your imagination. If you imagine a hell which is in any way opposed to the justice and love of God, that is not the hell you are asked to believe in at all. God is just, merciful, and truthful. He says that there is a hell, and you are asked to believe in the hell which He knows to exist, not in any vague speculation of your own as to its nature. Hell is as much a mystery of faith as is grace, and you are asked to believe in the fact of hell because God knows the truth and could not tell an untruth. You are not asked to comprehend fully its nature, and your inability to believe in the hell you imagine does not mean that you are unable to believe in the hell which God created "for the devil and his angels."

939. How could a mother be happy in heaven with her child in hell?

She could not, were her view of things limited by her present inadequate ideas. But with an unclouded view of what really constitutes goodness, and of what really constitutes evil, she will have very different estimates in heaven which will render happiness not only possible but a fact. Let us try to grasp it. Hell being a fact, our lack of understanding makes no difference. And in any case, Christ loved the child more than did the mother herself, yet He is happy in heaven. So there must be some way out. You see, we cannot interpret heaven in terms of this life. Here we are natural beings, our natural love directly awakened by our fellow beings. But in heaven God Himself will be the direct object of our love. We shall love God, what God loves, and as God loves. All other beings will be loved in God. Thus Christ said concerning the difference of human love in heaven that marriage shall not exist, but that men will be "as the angels of God in heaven." Matt. XXII., 30. Merely natural love will change to supernatural love in and through God, and people will be lovable in so far as they resemble God. If a son dies unrepentant, having identified himself with wickedness, then he will be the opposite of God. The mother will experience an absolute necessity to love God, who is pure, just, holy, and truth itself. And she will find complete happiness in doing so. Her natural love for her son gives way to a supernatural love for him if he is pure, just, holy, and truthful. But it gives way to her love for God if her child is impure, unjust, wicked, and essentially a liar, as is the father of lies himself. Her transfer to heaven has changed her reasons for loving her son, and if he dies in such evil dispositions she has no supernatural reason to love him. All her happiness is in God, and that happiness cannot be disturbed. This may sound difficult. It must. For we are trying to explain conditions of heaven by ideas drawn from our earthly experience, ideas which do not go far enough. The explanation gives a solution as far as the limited mind of man can go. And if it astonishes human reason, we should be more astonished still if our limited powers could fully grasp the matter.

940. Is any person so bad as to deserve eternal punishment?

Yes. The man who deliberately and finally despises and rejects the Infinite Love of God deserves to be deprived of it forever.

941. Surely he did some virtuous actions. Are they to be of no avail?

They would have counted for very much, had the man wished. But if he subsequently commits mortal sin and dies without repenting of it he forfeits any benefits of previous virtue. Refraining from adultery on Friday is no excuse for the commission of murder on Saturday.

942. You damn people whose wills are so weak that they cannot avoid sin!

None but deliberately willed and unrepented mortal sin meets with eternal punishment. If inherent weakness is so great as to destroy real responsibility, God would not accuse the man of mortal sin. But such is not the case with the normal man. The normal man is able to refuse consent of the will to evil inclinations and suggestions. Some people are only too ready to call their own cowardice inherent weakness. They could have refused to sin, but chose to sin, and afterwards fell back on the lame excuse of "weak moments."

943. However bad people may be, I think it is against right ideas of God to speak of His punishing anyone forever.

Then what are you going to do with Satan? He is a creature of God even as we. Is he going to reform? Will he ever come out of the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels? No. And granting the fact that God is punishing one of his creatures like that, responsible human souls can certainly meet with the same fate. I do not like the thought of anyone suffering in hell any more than you do. But that will not make me deny the existence of hell. Hundreds of things we do not like are facts.

944. How can you reconcile hell with God's love, justice, and mercy?

If I could not, that would but prove something wrong with my own ideas on the subject. For it is certain that God is loving, just, and merciful; and He has revealed that there is a hell. So the ideas cannot be repugnant. However God's love, justice, and mercy demand that there be a hell. His love demands a hell, for the more He loves goodness, the more He must hate sin. To the man who says that God loves too much to send a man to hell, I simply reply that He sends no man there; men go there. And God has loved too much not to let them go there if they scorn, reject, and throw God's love back in His face. Again, His justice demands that if a man dies rejecting an infinite goodness he should endure a penalty of a never-ending nature. If there were no eternal punishment, a man could cry to God, "You say 'Thou shalt not.' I say 'I shall.' Do your worst. You cannot punish me forever. What care I for your commandments or for yourself! You must either make me happy in the end, or annihilate me, when I shall have escaped your power." It is impossible for the drama of iniquity to end like that. That would not be justice. And as for God's mercy, already it is a mercy that man has the thought of hell as an emergency brake to stop his headlong rush into vice. The truth that there is a hell has mercifully saved many a soul from a life of blasphemy and sin, and still more often from death in a state of sin. And remember that God's mercy is offered to every man over and over again during life. Mercy is asked for, not forced upon people. Some men who are loudest in their protests against God's injustice would be the first to complain if God forced anything upon them, even His mercy. But men cannot have God's mercy and reject it at one and the same time.

945. But Christ who came as the revelation of God, was so kind and gentle!

That intensifies the force of the arguments for hell. Only a grim reality could have forced Him to speak as He did. He taught heaven and hell equally. You cannot have heaven because you like it and reject a hell taught with the same authority because you do not like it. Think of His passion and death. If there were no hell to save us from; if we all had to go to heaven whether He were crucified or not; then His sufferings and death were foolish. Men wish to abolish hell. There is but one way to do so. Let each man abolish his own hell by repenting of his sins and endeavoring to serve God.

946. You make Christ cruel.

I do not. Due punishment for not doing as Christ commands is justice, not cruelty. Parents know that it is not cruelty to inflict reasonable and deserved punishment upon children who are rebellious. And God has more right to your obedience than any parents to the obedience of their children. It is a blameworthy weakness in parents if they allow their children to do just as they please with no fear of the consequences. And God is not so foolish as to give serious laws to His rational creatures on the understanding that nothing will happen if they break them. But there is no need to endure the extreme penalty. Keep the laws and you will be safe.

947. Your hell is full of non-Catholics, who commit grave sin and do not know how to make an act of perfect contrition.

We do not know how far they understand the gravity of sin. As for the act of contrition, you are leaving out the greatest factor of all—God's grace. In a flash God can enlighten the mind and move the will to a purely interior act of contrition of which the onlookers know nothing. And God alone knows how many are thus saved.

948. If you believe in Christianity you must believe that there are infinitely more people in hell than in heaven.

I have not to believe that, and I do not believe it. Yet I believe in Christianity. Why should you, a non-Christian, prescribe for me what I have to believe? You might at least leave that to Christians.

949. How many souls are lost according to the Catholic Church?

Various theologians have expressed various opinions. But these are merely private opinions. The Catholic Church has no official teaching on the subject, nor has any definite information been revealed to men by God. The one thing certain is that men can be saved and men can be lost, and that unrepented mortal sin is the deciding factor. That is enough for all practical purposes.

950. Are Judas and Adam in hell?

It has never been revealed that any particular soul is in hell. Christ said of Judas, "Better for him had he never been born." That does not look too hopeful in his case, for no matter what a man has to endure, if he attains eternal happiness in the end, much better to have been born. However, even of Judas, no man has absolute certainty. The question can be solved only by God. It is practically certain that Adam is in heaven, and not in hell. Thus Scripture says, "Wisdom preserved him that was first formed by God, the father of the world . . . and brought him out of his sin." Wisd. X, 2. Adam was the type of the second Adam, Christ, and it is to be expected that Christ, the second Adam, would see to it that the first Adam was fully liberated from Satan. The Greek Church, from very ancient times, has celebrated the feast of Adam and Eve.



Prefer a PRINT version?