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Is there anyone in Hell?

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Is there anyone in Hell?

Post  MRyan on Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:53 pm

Related to the News thread and the notice I posted for the series “Catholicism” by Fr. Barron, I just finished watching one of the trailers (http://www.catholicismseries.com/watch) featuring Loch Derg ("St. Patrick’s Purgatory") where penitents can go on a spiritual retreat (located in the middle of a lake in NW Ireland - See http://www.loughderg.org/)

Towards the end of the excellent promo, Fr. Barron said something like this: “ … just as the denizens of Hell, if there are any, are there freely”.

If there are any? This is an example of “Catholicism-Lite”, and it is most unfortunate that we find these types of “disclaimers” by such public Catholic figures who otherwise defend the traditional teachings of the Church, even if they have not been “defined”.

Bryan Cross has a very good commentary on this, which I’ve posted in full below:

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/05/predestination-john-calvin-vs-thomas-aquinas/#comment-20411 - see comment 41

Bryan Cross August 1st, 2011 4:00 pm :

“Thanks for your question, which is a good one. I’ve been at a conference the last four days, and haven’t had a chance to reply. It is true that the Church has not declared that any particular person is in hell, although some early statements seem to imply that Judas was not saved. And it is true that we may pray and hope for the salvation of any particular person, because the state of his soul at the moment of his death is hidden to us. (I’m not speaking of those whom the Church has beatified — in those cases we know the state of their soul at death, not by seeing into their soul, but by way of the declaration of the Church.) Also, I have deep respect, admiration and even affection for Fr. Barron, for his work, and for the gifts he brings to the Church, and the ministry God has given him. I think of him as our generation’s Bishop Sheen. In my mind, he is a tremendous gift to the Church, and I strongly support him and his ministry. I pray that God continues to bless him and his work. So, please keep that in mind. On this particular question, however, I respectfully disagree with him (and I am not presuming to speak for anyone else at CTC; I’m speaking only for myself, and I’m open to correction from the Magisterium.)

“That we may hope for the salvation of any particular person, even one who has died, does not mean that we have reason to hope that hell will have no human population, given the Tradition of the Church found in the unanimous testimony of the Church Fathers concerning the teaching of our Lord on this subject, revealed in the New Testament, and especially in the Gospels. Concerning the interpretation of Scripture, I have in mind the relevant decree in the Fourth Council of Trent:

Furthermore, to check unbridled spirits, it decrees that no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, distorting the Holy Scriptures in accordance with his own conceptions, presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and holds, or even contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, even though such interpretations should never at any time be published. (Council of Trent, Session 40
“There are many relevant passages from Scripture. Jesus said “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matt 7:13). When the Apostles asked Jesus, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” He answered “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Lk. 13:24), and “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Mt 7:22-23) “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 8:12) “These shall go into everlasting punishment.” (Mt. 25:46) In the context of the parable of the wedding guest who seeks to enter without the proper garment, Jesus says, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) And in explaining the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus explains that the tares are the “sons of the evil one,” and then says, “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.” (Matt. 13:40) The parable wouldn’t make sense if every person goes to heaven, especially since the “sons of the evil one” cannot be referring to believers who are in need of purgatorial cleansing. And Jesus says, “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Father’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29) Jesus’ statement wouldn’t be true if everyone was saved, because there would then be no “resurrection of judgment.” The Apostle John writes, “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:Eight)

“And the Church Fathers unanimously understood these passages in the traditional way, as teaching that some persons do go to hell. In my study of the Church Fathers, I have not found any Church Father who denies that these passages mean that some human persons go to hell, or who interprets these passages in such a way as meaning that no one goes to hell. On that particular question (whether Christ taught that some persons go to hell) we have a unanimous interpretive tradition in the Church Fathers, and that gives it a certain weight of authority.

“I should mention here the notion of universal restoration (apokatastasis [from ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων "restoration of all things" in Acts 3:21]), which was the opinion by some Greek Fathers not that no one would go to hell, but that eventually those in hell would be reconciled to God. We see this in Origen (not a Church Father), and in certain qualified respects in Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzen. Origen’s proposed universal restoration was not that no one would go to hell, but that the damned in hell, and the demons would eventually return to God. In the sixth century Pope Vigilius condemned the notion that the punishment of hell is temporary:

Can. 9. If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema. (Denz. 211)
“If he anathematizes those who deny that the punishment of impious men in hell is everlasting, how could he not also anathematize the notion that possibly in the end, there are no impious men? It would seem arbitrary to condemn the notion that eventually every man who goes to hell gets out of hell, while embracing the notion that possibly no human ever goes to hell on account of a posited possible efficacious [cannot ultimately be successfully perpetually resisted] divine work in the soul of every man in mortal sin, at the moment of death. Practically, they amount to the same, except the hopeful universalism position actually makes hell even less of worry or negative incentive, since if it were true, no man ever even goes to hell, whereas in the Origenistic notion, those who die in mortal sin suffer greatly in hell, before finally being released from hell.

“Since that time (i.e. the sixth century), the question whether hell is everlasting or only temporary has been settled in the Catholic Church. Once a person is in hell, he cannot ever come out of hell. He has for eternity separated himself from God by his free choice during this life. (See my “The Gospel and the Meaning of Life.”) In fact, the person who dies in mortal sin immediately goes to hell. In the fourteenth century Pope Benedict XII wrote:

Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately (mox) after death and there suffer the pain of hell. Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies “before the judgment seat of Christ” to give an account of their personal deeds, “so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5.10). (Benedictus Deus)
“This statement presupposes that there are such souls who die in mortal sin; it is implicit in the very statement. Pope Benedict XII does not need to state that some people go to hell, because it was understood that some people go to hell. Here, he is answering questions concerning what takes place between the moment of death and the Final Judgment, for those who die in mortal sin.

“But, it is important to note that the fact that some fourth century Eastern Fathers held to the notion of apokatastasis is fully compatible with what I said above about the unanimous consensus of the Church Fathers regarding the teaching of our Lord that some people do go to hell, because the apokatastatis dispute was about whether persons who are already in hell eventually get out of hell, not whether no human ever goes to hell. The latter was never in dispute, because it was understood to be part of the Apostolic teaching and the universal belief of the Church.

“Two councils are relevant here as well. They are not ecumenical councils, but they reveal the mind of the Church in relation to this question. The first is the Council of Quiersy, held in AD 853, which taught:

“Almighty God wills all men without exception to be saved, even though not all are saved. That some are saved is the gift of Him who saves; that certain ones perish, however, is the merit of those who perish.” (Denz. 318)(emphases mine)
“Two years later, in AD 855, the third Council of Valence taught:

But also it has seemed right concerning predestination and truly it is right according to the apostolic authority which says: “Or has not the potter power over the clay, from the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor, but another unto dishonor?” [Rom. 9:21] where also he immediately adds: “What if God willing to show His wrath and to make known His power, endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted or prepared for destruction, so that He might show the riches of His grace on the vessels of mercy, which He has prepared unto glory” [Rom. 9:22 f.]: faithfully we confess the predestination of the elect to life, and the predestination of the impious to death; in the election, moreover, of those who are to be saved, the mercy of God precedes the merited good. In the condemnation, however, of those who are to be lost, the evil which they have deserved precedes the just judgment of God. In predestination, however, (we believe) that God has determined only those things which He Himself either in His gratuitous mercy or in His just judgment would do according to Scripture which says: “Who has done the things which are to be done” [Is. 4 5:11, LXX]; in regard to evil men, however, we believe that God foreknew their malice, because it is from them, but that He did not predestine it, because it is not from Him. (We believe) that God, who sees all things, foreknew and predestined that their evil deserved the punishment which followed, because He is just, in whom, as Saint Augustine says, there is concerning all things everywhere so fixed a decree as a certain predestination. To this indeed he applies the saying of Wisdom: “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and striking hammers for the bodies of fools” [Prov. 19:29]. Concerning this unchangeableness of the foreknowledge of the predestination of God, through which in Him future things have already taken place, even in Ecclesiastes the saying is well understood: “I know that all the works which God has made continue forever. We cannot add anything, nor take away those things which God has made that He may be feared” [Eccles. 3:14]. “But we do not only not believe the saying that some have been predestined to evil by divine power,” namely as if they could not be different, “but even if there are those who wish to believe such malice, with all detestation,” as the Synod of Orange, “we say anathema to them” [see n. 200]. (Denz. 322, emphases mine)
“The last statement of that canon refers to the statement of the Second Council of Orange (AD 529), which anathematizes the notion that some persons are predestined to evil by divine power. What was in dispute (and being addressed by the Second Council of Orange) was not whether some persons are reprobated, but whether they are so by divine power, or by their own evil choices. That particular statement (by the Council of Orange) would make no sense if no one was reprobate. Again, the Second Council of Orange was not an ecumenical council, but it was confirmed by Pope Felix II, and reveals the mind of the Church on this doctrine at this time in Church history. The Council of Valence in AD 855 is in continuity with the Council of Orange regarding both the fact of reprobation, and the nature of reprobation. That some are reprobate (though not by divine power) has been the general teaching of the universal Church from the beginning of the Church until it began to be contested in the twentieth century. And that consensus carries a certain doctrinal weight, because of the authority of Tradition.

“This obligation to Tradition is fundamental to the Catholic theological method, as opposed to typical Protestant approaches to Scripture, where Tradition is subjected to our own interpretation of Scripture, and we take from Tradition only what passes that test. That method undermines the authority of Tradition. But the authority of Tradition is itself part of the Catholic Tradition, because the book and the community to which it was entrusted and the spiritual life, practice and understanding of that diachronic, organic community can never be separated; the community can never be abstracted from its past, but is always beholden to its past, in order to understand and develop rightly what it has received from all those who preceded. (See Verbum Domini.)

“Tradition, even in matters that have not been formally defined, has authoritative weight. Otherwise for any theological question that had not been formally defined, we would not be able to distinguish genuine development from corruption and liberalism (i.e. a departure from Tradition). To make that distinction we not only need to be steeped in the Tradition but also reverently be subject to that Tradition. It is crucial especially for anyone who teaches Catholic theology to be able accurately and in a principled way to distinguish between what is theological liberalism and what is authentic, orthodox theological development.

“Balthasar, in my opinion, incorrectly treats the authentic developments of Vatican II as a warrant for rejecting the Tradition regarding hell having a human population. The authentic developments of Vatican II do not justify or give reason to believe that the Tradition’s teaching that some humans go to hell is false, or that such teaching was never part of the Tradition.

“Moreover, the consequences of ‘hopeful universalism’ are, in my opinion, devastating, because it undermines evangelism, sacrifice for the lost, the gravity of mortal sin, and the importance of always remaining in a state of grace. It reduces practically to a kind of monergism, as when Balthasar writes:

And now, can we assume that there are souls that remain perpetually closed to such love? As a possibility in principle, this cannot be rejected. In reality, it can become infinitely improbable — precisely through what preparatory grace is capable of effecting in the soul.
“In effect, this is, like Calvinism, a denial of the resistibility of grace, and thereby a denial of the probationary nature of our present time on earth, and the meaningfulness of our present choices (again, see “The Gospel and the Meaning of Life“). That is because Balthasar’s claim proposes that before each person dies, God will find a way to overwhelm that person with [essentially] irresistible grace, such that it is “infinitely improbable” that any human who has ever lived or ever will live, ends up in hell. In that respect, it is Calvinism except without limited atonement.

“Because Christ’s teaching (recorded in Sacred Scripture) regarding hell has been understood unanimously by the Fathers, by the local councils, and by all faithful Catholics until the middle of the twentieth century to be teaching that some humans will not be saved, therefore the teaching that some are in hell carries an authoritative weight, the weight of the Tradition. In my opinion, no good evidence or argument has been provided by those who reject this teaching (i.e. that some humans are in hell), to show that it is not part of the Tradition. What is needed (by those advocating hopeful universalism) is an answer to the following question: If hopeful universalism were an inauthentic development that in fact contradicted the Tradition, what would be different?

“So, even though we cannot now know who is in hell, it does not follow that we have reason to hope that hell will have no human population, or that no one is reprobate. Likewise, our awareness that God desires all men to be saved does not justify hoping that all men will be saved, because the revelation cited above shows that His antecedent will and His consequent will are not identical, and therefore what is contrary to His revealed consequent will cannot be treated as an object of hope. Yes there has never been a single person conceived whom God does not will to be saved, but that claim in itself does not distinguish between God’s antecedent and consequent will, and so does not show that we have good reason to hope that all men will be saved.

“Also, the Catechism’s statement, “In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4) does not support “hopeful universalism,” because the prayer of the Church is not (and has never been) that hell would be empty of humans, but rather that each person who may yet repent will do so and be saved. Praying that each person who may yet repent will do so is very different from praying that hell will be empty. The former prayer is not equivalent to the latter prayer, nor does the former prayer logically justify the latter prayer or the doctrine implicit in the latter prayer. Hoping that no particular person goes to hell is not the same thing as hoping that hell remains permanently devoid of humans. And this is the same way to understand the prayer of the Rosary “lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.” The prayer is not an endorsement of “hopeful universalism,” because the persons to whom it refers are only those who may yet repent, not those who have already died and gone to hell.

“Except, perhaps in the case of Judas, the Church has never taught that some particular person has gone to hell. So for any particular person (again, except, perhaps, in the case of Judas) we may pray and hope that that person goes to heaven. But the longstanding and authoritative Tradition of the Church in her understanding of the teaching of our Lord in Sacred Scripture, has been that some persons go to hell. And therefore, hoping that hell will contain no humans denies what Jesus taught about hell, as interpreted by the Church for nineteen centuries. We don’t have to adopt hopeful universalism in order to pray for the salvation of every person who may yet repent and the purification of every person presently in purgatory. Nor does praying for the salvation of each person who has died provide evidence that hell may be or remain perpetually devoid of humans. Nor does anything in the teaching of Vatican II entail that the traditional teaching that some humans will go to hell, is false, or could be false.

“So, when I wrote that the Church teaches that “some are predestined to hell, on the basis of their foreseen sin and free rejection of God, as just retribution for their sin” I was referring to the Tradition of the Church, as seen in the evidence above. This doctrine has not been formally defined, but it has authoritative weight none the less (for the reasons I have explained), and Balthasar’s arguments against it are not good arguments. And so for these reasons I think Balthasar was in error on this point. I hope that helps answer your question.

“In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan”
[END]
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MRyan

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Re: Is there anyone in Hell?

Post  simple Faith on Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:57 pm

Mryan, nice to see your reference to Lough Derg. http://www.catholicismseries.com/watch/tv-schedule/videos/catholicism-preview-purgatory-why-would-anyone-go-through-this-from-episode-10

I recently completed the 3 day pilgrimage to the island. During the entire 3 days pilgrims remain bare-footed and are deprived of sleep and food. Apart from one short period of sleep at the end of day 2 all other time is spent in continous prayer whilst completing 'stations' over rocky ground around the ruins of the cells of old Irish monks.

If I didn't believe in the real possibility of ending up in hell, I would probably have booked a nice 3 day break in a luxury hotel instead.
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simple Faith

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Re: Is there anyone in Hell?

Post  MRyan on Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:25 pm

simple Faith wrote:Mryan, nice to see your reference to Lough Derg. http://www.catholicismseries.com/watch/tv-schedule/videos/catholicism-preview-purgatory-why-would-anyone-go-through-this-from-episode-10

I recently completed the 3 day pilgrimage to the island. During the entire 3 days pilgrims remain bare-footed and are deprived of sleep and food. Apart from one short period of sleep at the end of day 2 all other time is spent in continous prayer whilst completing 'stations' over rocky ground around the ruins of the cells of old Irish monks.

If I didn't believe in the real possibility of ending up in hell, I would probably have booked a nice 3 day break in a luxury hotel instead.
Simple Faith, that's wonderful. I was wondering if you and/or columba might be able to comment on the island ... and here you recently completed a three day retreat.

We pray you've won some grace for us all, poor sinners that we are.

God bless
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MRyan

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Is There anyone in Hell ?

Post  George Brenner on Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:17 am


We do not know if there are any Humans in Hell? What? Oh, I guess that explains the non existent or very short lines for confession, the immodest dress code that goes uncorrected at Mass by many and tens of things I could mention here. The countless writtings by the Saints and Church Fathers on the Fewness of those that are saved were probably fictional short stories. Not to mention the links below on the origin of the Prayer to Saint Michael, the visions of Hell by Sister Lucy and Sister Faustina and I am only getting started!




http://gen215.posterous.com/st-michael-the-archangel-prayer-full-bodied-v



http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/the-saint-michael-prayer.html





http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=1217









http://www.bibleprobe.com/fatimavisionsofhell.htm

















http://christtotheworld.blogspot.com/2010/01/sister-faustinas-vision-of-hell.html
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Re: Is there anyone in Hell?

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