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    Current rating: 4.5 (58 ratings)

    Fr. Barron comments on Is Hell Crowded or Empty?

Bill Baar
Growing up around Chicago, I've encountered refugees of many sorts from Shoah survivors to Croatian and Bosnia victims of ethenic cleansing. It's always seemed a bit of an insult to such people to contemplated a hell-after-life given the all to real hell they've lived. Just curious for your thoughts on that... a great article by the way and the only one I've read that offers the most powerful reason to my mind for hell. Without we're denied the freedom to make a choice about God. We become far less serious players in the Universe without hell.
3/30/2011 1:56:56 PM
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Tom Feia
Fr. Barron,

Thank you for your thoughts on the population of hell. It is true that the church has never officially declared a anyone to be damned. However, Jesus says that the way to destruction is broad and many are traveling on it. The way to life is narrow and only a few will find it. While we are not given an exact number for the damned and the saved, we do know in relative terms that MANY are bound for hell and FEW are bound for heaven. Jesus tells us of hell because of the depth of his love. His caution should make us cling to him all the more.
3/30/2011 2:51:37 PM
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Father, does this "Balthazar" position on Hell conflict with the second secret of the prophesy of Fatima?
3/30/2011 3:08:18 PM
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Timothy Dempski
I have heard many things about Rob Bell, and even heard some of his Sermons. After I watched Rob Bell's interview, it seemed to me that he avoided the questions or answered them in part. I have heard Scott Hahn, "Why Is There Hell? What You Should Know About It!" Which in part is the same message Fr. Barron comments above. Bell kinda said,"We make Hell on Earth..." and later he stated "after death God love will win over are souls." This seems very disconcerting. What he proposes brakes down the reasons for salvation and salvation history. "if" what Rob Bell said was true, my question is, "Why would God need to become man, if he could just win us over in pure love?"
3/30/2011 3:23:49 PM
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Dear Father'
Have heard the response "see you in hell!"...also have heard "going to hell and do not care"...
found later that this is very real and in both cases was an unheeded warning of the trouble to come...I have no doubts that the devil wants us in hell..
3/30/2011 4:50:09 PM
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Thanks for mentioning C.S. Lewis and his comments on hell. I'd also be interested on Fr. Barron's opinion of Lewis's work "The Great Divorce" which I feel is a wonderful description of heaven and hell.
3/30/2011 6:21:37 PM
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Perhaps will help:
I firmly beleive in the revelations of Fatima and other Marian apparitions. However, the Church rules these as private revelations. They do not alter Doctrine or Dogma. One is not obliged to beleive in these occurences to be a Catholic in good standing. Like I said, I do beleive in Fatima and the visions, but we only know what the visionaries told us. I am only speculating, I speak with no authority, but what if Mary was showing a vision of Hell as it could be or would have been save the Mercy of Christ? I don't know, I am just thinking of some way to possibly explain "Balthazar"
3/30/2011 7:53:06 PM
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Practically speaking, what is the point of "reasonably hoping" that all people will be saved?
3/30/2011 8:25:16 PM
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Paul Rodden
What's amusing me at the moment, is that 'Bible-believing' Evangelicals are producing books like Love Wins, whilst we're producing Verbum Dei. They have Dominic Crossan's 'Jesus', based in the 'latest historico-critical scholarship', whilst we have Benedict XVI's the 'Faith-filled Exegesis' (Jeff Mirrus) of Jesus, based in ressourcement.

All seems rather upside down...! :)
3/31/2011 4:33:00 AM
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As a practical matter it is better to believe Hell is a real danger so that we do not waste the graces granted us here and now. I personally believe that while Christ's Divine Mercy has opened the door to Heaven for all human beings, we still must step through it and cooperate with grace. The very comfortable and too easy view that we are easily redeemed denies many of Christ's words (as Father pointed out) but also Paul ( work out your salvation with fear and trembling). We live in world where we long for convenience,( I know I do) and naturally we'd like our salvation to be convenient and easily achieved. It wasn't easy for the Apostles or Saints why would I expect it to be easy for me? Ignoring the real possibility of Hell ignores , in my view, Jesus' call to take up our cross and follow Him. I think that "we all going to be saved view" diminishes the suffering of the martyrs as well as undermining our will to emulate them.
3/31/2011 9:28:23 AM
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Jason Fairfield
I think having a reasonable hope that "all will be saved," while perhaps undermines the dangers of the sinful life, is conducive to our command to love our enemy, and that we cannot judge the state of someone's soul.

Simply put, we don't know (it's all an act of grace anyway) and in not knowing, charity demands we assume the best.

Something else I heard, I don't know the source.

"Be hard on yourself, but overwhelming forgiving of others."

My 2 cents.
3/31/2011 11:01:16 AM
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Bobby Mixa
It seems problematic to talk about this too much. I think it's simple: stay out of hell and all that leads to such a state. Turn to Christ, knowing that your salvation (communion with God) rests in him. I do not think it is healthy to overly think about things that we have no access to. We know through Christ that God is love. He desires the salvation of all. Don't think too much about particularities here.
3/31/2011 11:11:02 AM
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michael jaffray king
My thoughts after listening to Father Bob on Hell!

I think that this is one of the most thought provoking and just plain deep video broadcasts I have ever listened to and then considered.
I have not really ever given this matter much thought before but have always believed that Hell exists as taught by our Lord and that it is a place to be avoided at all costs.
I love praying that part of the Rosary where we say..””Save us from the fires of Hell, and lead ALL SOULS TO HEAVEN and ESPECIALLY THOSE IN MOST NEED OF THY MERCY!”
I do not think that I would get any joy over watching enemies, and even my enemies, get their just punishment.
Thomas Aquinas seems to be pretty off on that point.
It would be so much better to see them repent and see the error of their ways.
That would be worth watching...
I love the movies where the bad guy becomes good at the end.
In my small ministry I meet so many lonely people.
Loneliness is a form of Hell.
Being cut off from others and especially being cut off from God.
I hope, and HOPE seems to be the very correct word, that all will eventually be allowed to go to Heaven.
There is the mystery of our prayers for the dead which seems to help them.
If it didn't it would be a pointless activity.
Also Jesus commands us to Love our enemies. Love being defined as wishing the greatest good for them..That would not be sending them to eternal punishment. To learn some lessons as in Purgatory, Yes, but HOPEFULLY not for ever, but more as a correctional means.
3/31/2011 12:08:28 PM
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I think Cardinal Dulles says it best back in an article that appeared in First Things in 2008:

"We cannot take it for granted that everyone is seeking the truth and is prepared to submit to it when found. Some, perhaps many, resist the grace of God and reject the signs given to them. They are not on the road to salvation at all. In such cases, the fault is not God's but theirs. The references to future punishment in the gospels cannot be written off as empty threats. As Paul says, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7)."
3/31/2011 1:17:15 PM
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John Tuturice
Fr. makes some interesting points. However, something needs to be cleared up here. While the Church has not definitively said who is in Hell, she has afirmed that there are most definately people in Hell. Consider Mt 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Also, Catholic Catechism number 1038 affirms that at the final judgement the just and the unjust (aka, the saved and the damned), will have their bodies re-united to their souls.
3/31/2011 1:24:12 PM
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Free will gives us the ability to choose to love or not until what point? That is the mystery which determines whether or not there is a hell. If that determining point is physical death then we can logically conclude that the people who die refusing God's love and to love in return stay separated from God and are therefore eternally unhappy because they cannot love and without Love Itself there is no happiness.
3/31/2011 1:24:49 PM
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What about the first secret of Fatima? Was Our Lady showing the visionaries what 'could' happen? The vision of hell she revealed was of an awful 'place' that was definitely populated.

Praying for the salvation of souls is necessary for all of us. "Reasonably hoping" that all souls will be saved seems to me to be foolish and even dangerous.

And to the poster who wrote, "Thomas Aquinas seems to be pretty off on that point," that is a very bold statement to make. Saint Thomas Aquinas was not infallible but he was most certainly a towering intellect and holy man. Dismissing his thought on any issue of faith should never be done lightly.
3/31/2011 5:26:11 PM
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A wonderful edition on a subject dear to my heart. I stand with the universalists, and you could have also included Blessed Julian of Norwich. I fully acknowledge that there is no statement of a universalist position inside the Bible. But nonetheless, if God's love is infinite and if God is just, then there is no sin or rejection that deserves eternal damnation. It wouldn't be loving and it wouldn't be just. Father, you use the example of that person who chooses to cut himself off from the party. Well, a loving God will nonetheless embrace that person and through the power of loving persuasion bring that person to the party. Can God not have such persuasive powers?
3/31/2011 9:00:10 PM
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Granted private revelations are not dogma but Mary said at Fatima that souls are falling into Hell like snowflakes.
Many saints have been shown Hell. Saint Teresa of Avila for one, and just one of many. Jesus spoke of it often. Truth doesn't contradict itself. Nor does Jesus. I am very disappointed in this presentation because I like Father Barron's work.
3/31/2011 10:35:25 PM
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I am no theologian, but what I have read about Balthazar, I wouldn't put too much stock in his interpretation of Hell.

Indeed an essay written by Alyssa Lyra Pitstick suggests that his reinterpretation of Christ's decent into hell promotes a doctrine of " 'discontinuity' between the
Church's teaching and his reinterpretation ... (and that he actually) offers a total inversion of the great mystery." which has presented modern day Catholics with a "caricature of our Redeemer as
passive, spineless, and lacking in both divine and manly authority." totally opposed to traditional Catholic doctrine.

You may want to rethink this one Fr. Barron.
3/31/2011 10:49:49 PM
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mel statom
The comments of Pope Benedict regarding the interpretations of private revelations are instructive regarding the Fatima
visions and can be found online as well as in the book " The Last secret of Fatima, my conversations with Sister Lucia" by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:

The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima

THEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY BY CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A careful reading of the text of the ... - Cached - Block all results
3/31/2011 11:15:26 PM
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mel statom
The comments of Pope Benedict regarding the interpretations of private revelations are instructive regarding the Fatima
visions and can be found online as well as in the book " The Last secret of Fatima, my conversations with Sister Lucia" by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:

The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima

THEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY BY CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A careful reading of the text of the ... - Cached - Block all results

I also recommend " Understanding Difficult Scriptures in a Healing Way" By Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Dennis Linn, Chapter 2: The Descent into Hell.......a reader friendly approach into Von Balthsar's thought.

Scripture scholar William Barclay is of the opinion that the word eternal and punishment are mistranslated. The Greek word we translate as eternal is aionios....Barclay says that aionios does not mean an infinite quantity of time as we know it, but refers to a different quality of time....God's time rather than human time. The Greek word we translate for punishment is kolais...a word used to refer to the pruning of trees. The Linns suggest, if Barclay is correct, a better translation of the words aionios and kolasis, rather than " eternal punishment" would be something like " healing in God's time."
Its worth a read!
3/31/2011 11:46:19 PM
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michael jaffray king
Dear Jason even Father B commented that he found His very favourite saint TA a bit tough and or dark when he said this. Let me ask you a question?
Would it make you happy to see people getting their just punishment?
It would make me very sad and The Lord says something to the effect that He gets no pleasure and I quote
Eze 33:11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
So I stick to my point of view and I do not believe that the very great Thomas Aquinas will be offended and hopefully from his vantage point will agree, So I stick to my point.. Hope that went some way to clear up my statement..
3/31/2011 11:57:22 PM
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michael jaffray king
Father you have stirred up quite a BUZZZ.
Personally I think the word HOPE is the Key...
This is what you brought out and we can but HOPE that the Punishment of Hell will somehow have a remedial effect... Maybe that is a false hope but I will stick to it until on the other side I am found to have hoped in vain. I am sure that people are in Hell and it seems from the Bible that it is pretty permanent but HOPEFULLY when lessons have been learned there may be mercy shown for those who want out and have learned their lessons.
4/1/2011 12:48:59 AM
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Somehow I feel that Jesus's teaching on the broad and narrow ways isn't so much about the population of hell as its about how we may choose to live our lives. some of the characters in Jesus' parables are on a certain path to destruction, only to be pulled back into communion by God's divine mercy. While I think that we all depend on God's mercy, I think that Jesus is calling his disciples to be in a better relationship with Him, not just one of sinner and merciful judge, but one of reciprocating servants.

I think of it the way that my dad always explained being a lawful citizen. he always said that you don't want to end up in the 'System,' that is the criminal justice system. Simply stated: you can live in this country the hard way or the easy way. I think my dad in saying this was calling me to be a more participatory and servant-like citizen. I think Jesus wants to inspire us similarly in our relationship with God. Only then does the Kingdom of God become a reality in our lives.
4/1/2011 1:59:18 AM
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john kissane
It seems to me that we are all focusing too much on how we FEEL about this question.If we take our emotions out of this process ,remember that God brings us truth and not deceptionI think we will get a better understanding.As pointed out all ready the scriptures and Jesus seem to strongly point out the existence of hell.It also seems evidnt that surely Angels and Men are residing in Hell.The Church points to this truth certainly by apponting Priests to be exorcists and by sanctioning exorcisms.Clearly a fair reading of history gives testimony to this view.I think that we are not comfortable with this fate but We must except it with faith and use our power of prayer penance and sacrafice to make it more rare by Gods grace.jk
4/1/2011 2:37:06 PM
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roy m nakamoto
Hell is a place where God isn't. Without God we go to a place of emptiness. If this is Hell I don't want to go there.
4/1/2011 4:45:08 PM
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David P. Hahn
Thank you Father for that. I have tried to say what you said many times but people say I am espousing heresy. Edith Stien was once quoted as saying God can trick people into choosing heaven without violating their free will. This takes it one step further. I haven't found that quote so I am not sure if she said it or not. But I would like to say what I think that quote means. One God wants everybody in heaven. God will do everything in his power to help you choose him up to the last second of your life. everything but take away your free will. Now St. Paul was persecuting the Church. He thought he was doing good. When God struck him down he showed him the truth. He explained to Paul who he was. The truth about himself and his church. I have often asked myself what would happen if God did that to every person? would not every person choose Christ if Jesus did something like that to everyone. Show them the truth so clearly that it could not be denied. Did God trick St. Paul into believing? Who wouldn't believe if that happened to them. Does God love St. Paul more than he loves other people? No he doesn't. He wants all people in heaven more than we want to be heaven ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. If doing what he did to ST. Paul would convert all people God would do it. I have heard of people who have had near death experiences. In the moments before they were dead they saw their whole lives flash before them. How can someone see their whole life in a matter of minutes. God can do anything and suspend time and show them it. I have heard of people changing their ways after seeing this. They saw the sin in their lives and the effect it had on other people. Something they didn't see clearly before. They were sorry and repented. Now is it possible that in a persons last second of life God could suspend time and show them their whole life. Show them his love and how their actions were contrary to such a beautiful thing? Of course God could. does he though? If it would get someone to clearly see and repent and say in the last moment of their life with heart felt tears. Oh my God forgive me for all the pain I have caused to people in this world by my sins. I am so sorry. I personally believe this is how God tricks souls into heaven. Is it possible that someone after seeing this would still reject God. Only God and those in hell if anybody is there knows the answer but I have a hard time seeing that happen. Dare we hope that all men repent after such an event? I do. Even Hitler. I would rather see a repentant Hitler in heaven after a long purgatory say a trillion years, than a Hitler in hell for ever. There would be much rejoicing in that repentant sinner.
4/2/2011 12:51:27 PM
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With all due respect, Father, I think you're into a bit of wishful thinking.
4/2/2011 8:14:16 PM
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I find much to agree and disagree with in David's post. I'll leave it at that. I will say this though, I think that Paul's conversion was a very unique and specific event in the history of the church. I personally think that Paul was capable of rejecting God's call, as we all are capable of such a thing. Believe it or not, however irresistibly God might reach out to us (and it seems like often He refrains from extravagent displays), we can still reject His love. Think about some thing that you really wanted at one point in your life and then had the fortune to acquire it, maybe it was a marriage, a vacation or even a material object. The human heart easily sees these things anew and is capable of rejecting them. I don't doubt the capacity we have to despair and turn away, even from the infinite love of God.
4/2/2011 8:35:44 PM
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Wishful thinking? Maybe. But it seems to me that this "wishful thinking" does not, by any means, negate the reality of hell or minimize the vital importance of offering one's life in response to the love of God (for one's own freedom and ultimate good, not for God's). It simply "wishes" that no one has or will say no to this offer, since we do not ultimately know when the last offer is given to a soul. Hoping that this is a real possibility does not relax the way we respond to God's love in the present. It would likely, on the contrary, intensify our response, unless we are merely looking for an excuse or justification to do what we want separate from God. If this is the case we've missed the whole point of life, anyway.
4/2/2011 10:10:14 PM
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"I think that 'we're all going to be saved view' diminishes the suffering of the martyrs as well as undermining our will to emulate them."

It also makes Christ's death pointless. If even people in hell get out eventually then Our Lord's coming to earth and dying for us was a wasted gesture. I mean, what's the point? To show us His love? Why bother if we're all going to Heaven anyway. To pay for our sins so that we don't have to? Then sin on, everyone.
4/3/2011 9:53:33 AM
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michael jaffray king
David I think there are a few points to consider.
Going to Hell and suffering the torment of separation from God is one. Then there is the fact that Heaven is not a place where we are all on even ground. There will be the least and the greatest. By dying on the cross Jesus showed us Sacrificial Love in such a great way that in itself is a huge example to follow. What God does is His business whether Hell is eternal or whether it is for a long time and remedial. As a human being taught by Jesus to love our enemies and not to judge them I think that it is quite OK for us mortals to ask for all the Mercy for ourselves and for others with the Proviso... ""Thy will be done!""
Hell is definitely a place to be avoided and the children of Fatima were shocked and disturbed by what they saw and experienced. It is for real but the only point is that even though it seems from Bible teaching that it is eternal, we as humans knowing how bad we are can only HOPE and PRAY that first we don't go there and second that others too can learn their lessons. That is a Hope...We are allowed to Hope as Father points out and that is a good stance to take as a Human Being.
What do you have to say to that???
4/3/2011 3:27:39 PM
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john kissane
If only this all had to do with knowledge!Do alcoholics and drug addicts have knowledge of the effects of these drugs on humans ?Will God pursue us to the finil degree of course!But experience shows us that people often do that which will cause themselves harm.How often do people eat food which destroys health and they do it with often do people drive in a way that is insanely dangerous an yet they do it anyway.Why does this happen?I dont know!jk
4/3/2011 3:31:16 PM
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Dave Hahn

Hi. First off I would like to clarify one thing. I didn't say that all people would be saved. I simply set up a hypothetical scenario to make people think. Many different situations or thoughts can rise from the scenario. Some which you have presented but others from an opposing view. If there are souls in hell than they are the kind of souls that would reject God's love with full knowledge and full consent what ever that looks like. So even if they experienced such a hypothetical scenario they would still reject God and go to hell. Maybe there are people who would do that. I'm not saying there aren't. That scenario for me paints a picture of what perhaps full knowledge and full consent look like. So my view is not to say that we are all saved.

To answer your question about the suffering of the martyrs and Christ's death. Even if I did think we were all saved it would not diminish Christ's death. This would not be possible if Christ didn't die. It is precisely the fact that Christ died that this would be possible. Otherwise rather than all people going to heaven all people would go to hell. None of us can merit heaven without Christ's death. It's not possible. We ARE all saved by Christ's death. Those that end up in hell if there are any choose as Father said to go to hell.

There is a saying by Mother Theresa I think that goes like this, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." God wants us to have a change of heart. God desires us not to sin because of the punishment of hell. What he wants is for us to not sin because we LOVE as God loved. I think if people understood the depth of God's Love and Mercy and her I mean a profound understanding. One that touched the heart. One that is known not only with the intellect but with our God given emotions. An epiphany experience their hearts would be changed. They would desire to be and do good. They would never come up with the excuse that you came up with the conclusion we can just sin on. They wouldn't want to sin because they would see that it was contrary to the Love they have just experienced from God.

We are the examples of God's love. We are to Love our neighbor as God loves us. If we focused our attention on showing people God's love rather than talking about hell than we would make all that much more ground in converting people through Love. You'll see that our Lord when he engaged the "sinners" didn't use the fear of hell to keep people from sinning although he talked about the doctrine of hell I think. He always used compassion to convert sinners.
The women caught in adultery, Zacchaeus etc.

I believe what Christ is doing through his ministry is making Love known in the depths of our being to people who are caught in a cycle of sin. It is this Love that will free people from this sin and the cross is the source of this sin. I think that the cross is the the invisible love of God made visible by the physical. In our world we need the physical to be manifested because we are in the material world. Christ saving Love becomes physical through his death on the Cross. From his death all grace flows that transforms hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. I hope you can see where I am going with this. It is not simply a matter of saying all people are saved but a way of looking at the topic from a different mind set.

I would like to make one other point. In the CCC it says in #1735 Im*****bility and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors. Some of these are more obvious to us than others to understand. One thing I have noticed in my own life is that when I am fearful of doing something I have often ended up doing the very thing I am afraid of doing and have noticed other people do the same thing. I heard their is a psychological reason why people do this. I don't know what it is. However when I learned of God's love from Therese of the little flower my view of God changed. I no longer feared sinning and going to hell because I understood God in a new light. This freed me up to not think about my sins and worry but to turn to God because he had open loving arms. And by doing this I was able to get closer to God and he was able to transform me because I was no longer afraid. I think many people are afraid to approach God because they have a wrong view of God. I think many people are weak and can't overcome sin no matter how hard they try. So because they have this fear of God they put up a defense mechanism and deny that they have done what they have done or make some excuse to justify what they did. They're afraid of the hammer coming down on them so to speak. Now where do we get this notion that a hammer is going to come down us. Not from God. If people were treated with Love from an early age when they did something wrong I believe they would overcome the sin they commit. Rather they have experienced the hammer coming down this causes fear. In a way I can't explain I think this fear perpetuates the sin. Fear is useless. It causes us to stay in sin. when JPII said be not afraid I heard from somewhere what he meant was be not afraid to approach God no matter how deep your sins are. He was speaking especially to the greatest sinners of the world. The ones that put division between them and God. The ones that were afraid to approach God because of the awful things they had done. There is no need to fear God. It keeps us from what we need to overcome our sins, God.

So in conclusion what I said was not a simple way of dismissing the need for Christ death or for sacrifice from martyrs. Those things are needed to help people draw close to God the source of our healing. The scenario I put forth is meant to put a different view on the topic. Not to say it isn't possible for people to go to hell but perhaps to say it doesn't happen quite the way we think. If people received the proper Love and treatment here on earth perhaps they would not sin, objectively speaking that is, so much and we wouldn't witness so much grave not necessarily mortal sin as much.

What I explained in my first post is what the Lord gives to the sinner out of his Mercy because we as the body of Christ failed to give the sinner during their life. If after this experience of Love they reject God than they damn themselves to hell.
4/3/2011 10:01:11 PM
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Robert McLeod
Fr Barron has previously commented that when all is said and done all that will remain when time ends is love. Is there any room for an eternal hell when it must be encompassed within eternal love? It's hard to imagine. Perhaps all are saved by a means known only to God.
4/3/2011 11:56:41 PM
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Don Kuznia
I believe hell exists and those who do not follow the teachings of Christ will end up there. We are all imperfect, and I believe that purgatory will be a part of the vast majority of people. Our stay in purgatory could be a time span of only minutes or hours to decades or even centuries. Jesus forgives all our sins if we turn to him with sorrow and reconciliation for mortal sin. But we still must be made pure before entering heaven.
4/4/2011 9:41:01 AM
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@ Bill Baar,

I don't know if anyone has responded to your post, so I thought I would. Obviously, the suffering of those people you've met is very real (a 'real hell on earth' as we say), but as Christians we have to hold that the other Hell is the really real one because it is eternal. As terrible as their sufferings were in the home countries, they were only temporary.

From my own point of view, it is much more of an insult to tell such people that Hell doesn't exist, and therefore there is no justice to be measured out to those who persecuted them, and that their tormentors are as deserving of eternal bliss as they are.

I hope that helps.
4/4/2011 11:05:11 AM
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I am sorely confused. Jesus I don't think would lie and he addresses hell on many occasions. If no one goes to hell why would there be a separation of goats and sheep, why would I be thrown into the fires where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, why should I be careful not to fall into the pit with the blind pharisees. If no one goes to hell, why do we need confession, ???????????? I don't understand at all. The Catholic Catechism clearly states that the result of unrepented mortal sin is exclusion from heaven, and eternal death, hell. It only states that God did not predestine anyone to hell. This teaching is contradictory to the Church.
4/4/2011 7:17:44 PM
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Dave Hahn

I agree with everything you said. I am not trying to make the case that no one goes to hell or that it is impossible to go to hell if that is what you think.
4/4/2011 8:24:19 PM
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Dave Hahn
I see there are two Davids in the thread maybe you weren't addressing me.
4/4/2011 8:29:15 PM
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For more discussion on this subject see:

What is the point of evangelization? What is the point of the Catholicism Project, Father, if not to save souls?
4/5/2011 12:46:22 AM
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michael jaffray king
Dear Maria
I do not think there needs to be any confusion at all. Everything you write is correct BUT BUT I do not think it is wrong to HOPE even if maybe this is a false hope that somehow and in some way that Punishment is remedial.
I do not understand how BUT we pray in the Jesus prayer of Fatima, Oh My Jesus! Forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of Hell! and then we pray...Lead all souls to Heaven and especially those in most need of Thy Mercy!
Get my point.. It is not my job to go around condemning others to hell or even myself.. My job is to pray for the whole world..Divine mercy is atonement for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.
What God does is His business and He warns us over and over again like you so rightly said..
My job is to passionately love all the enemies..By loving them I must wish for only good for them... Not Hell and vengeance... That is God's business not mine. Mine is to love them and pray for them and treat them as somebody to love.
4/5/2011 12:49:10 AM
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Maria you are not confused. It is Father Baron who is confused. Stay the course.

Shame on you, Father Baron, for using your silver tongue in such a way. Repent.
4/5/2011 5:46:20 AM
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I believe God gave us two great things, His love and our freedom. Father Barron you made a very good point that I have believed for a very long time and that is the Church does not know who is in Hell, if anyone is. If you look at Paul's writings he says all are asleep awaiting Judgement. Revelation clarifies this when it speaks of the great White Throne Judgement. It is a singular event when every knee will bend and declare Jesus as Lord. Then, as it goes on, the books will be opened and those not found in the Book of Life will be cast out. Nobody knows who goes where and we are told not to judge, that belongs to God. All we can do is pray and hope for all and love our neighbour as Jesus commanded.
4/5/2011 9:07:25 AM
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michael jaffray king
Dear Jason and Dear Rob....
God bless both of you!!!
Rob you seem to have the right approach...
Jason in asking Father Bob to repent kind of makes me smile. First I do not know what you really want him to repent of. I have listened and re listened to this great homily over and over again.
It seems perfectly reasonable to HOPE... It seems that you want to take scriptures which are really in God's hands to implement as He sees fit and you want to use them yourself to back up your point of view. It seems that you might be one of those people like Thomas Aquinas who in my opinion sadly said that he would get pleasure and joy in seeing the wicked punished for ever and ever.
I would suggest that you carefully consider what you have said and maybe it is you who need to repent????. Father is not denying the fact that Hell is a very real place and he points out that Jesus Himself is the One who preaches and tells us about it and warns us about it.
I have a question for you???
Do you passionately love your enemies???
I admit I do not but Jesus exhorts me to do just that.. So when I fail in really loving them and thinking evil about them then I am most definitely on the wrong track.
Why were the children seers of Fatima asked to pray the following.."Oh My Jesus forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven especially those in most need of Thy Mercy!"????
CS Lewis explains that the door lock is on the inside..I like that!! Why don't you????
Only those who want to go there... go there..I like that too.
4/5/2011 1:25:42 PM
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David J
hey guys I thought it would be good to clarify what St Thomas said on the Blessed rejoicing over the punishment of the wicked - it's a little less objectionable than people would think. Here's the crux of it

"I answer that, A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly." St Thomas Aquinas, Suppliment to the third part of the Summa, Question 94, article 3

If I understand correctly, in heaven we rejoice in the Justice of God, and in his wisdom. Therefore we rejoice in the punishment of the damned, but only because it is part of his plan, his Justice, which are indeed one with his Love. If you want to read a little more around the article - the objections etc, then here's a link.
4/5/2011 4:29:04 PM
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What is this 'irresistible love of God' people talk about ? Am I missing something ?
4/6/2011 5:42:37 AM
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What is 'free will' ? We would need to truly and wholly know God to freely, wholly and truly reject God.

The ONLY person who truly and wholly knew, knows God is Christ.

I honestly cannot see how we can wholly reject something we cannot wholly know. It's not possible.

Perfect love casts out all fear. Those of you living in fear or hell are not 'perfect', as the Heavenly Father is 'perfect' in your capacity to love. You are already in 'hell' in that sense.

Think about it.
4/6/2011 5:47:45 AM
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John Tuturice
This video blog by Fr. Barron seems to have really stirred the pot here. In a certain sense, I think that is good that we are talking about Hell because, quite frankly, it's hardly ever talked about from the pulpit.

That said, the reason for all the talking/writing seems to be an unfortunate one. Why is it so divisive an issue to believe that one can "reasonably hope" that no one is in Hell vs. the idea that there are most certainly people in Hell?

Perhaps the most important reason that comes to mind is that our understanding of Hell affects directly our understanding of Jesus. And that, I'm sure we can all agree on, we want to get right.

So, what is the crux of the problem here? Why are there two such strong viewpoints on the matter that are not being reconciled here? I think the answer, and I'm sure Fr. Barron would probably agree being a Thomist, is that we are too complex to see the simplicity of God's truth all at once.

Since we don't have God's capacity to see everything at once, we need to be humble and patient in our approach so that we are sure to take everything that we have on the topic and consider it as a whole and not just in parts. This, I think, is what is causing the divide here.

That all being said, what do I think the specific disconnect is on the matter? It is the following.

Those who want to "reasonably" hope that there is no one in Hell point to the extremes that God went to in order to redeem everyone. This is most definitely an important point to consider. So extreme was the sacrifice of Jesus that He most definitely won salvation for everyone. However, since we have the gift of free will, that operation of salvation still remains a two way street. This means we have to want it. If we are honest, we can all admit we know plenty of people who do not accept Jesus, let alone His Church. But, then there is also the Church's teaching that we can assist in bridging the divide for those who are separated from God's saving grace with our prayers, fasting and mortification. And don't we see that in the Gospel's when Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic who was lowered down from the roof based off the faith of his four friends?

So, why then, is there such strong support that there are most definitely people in Hell even though Jesus's sacrifice was so powerful and intercessory prayer is so effective. The reason is that Jesus told us there are people in Hell. Yes, He did give us warnings on the reality of Hell. But, He also used such definitive language when doing so as to leave no doubt that while we should "desire" the good of the other and never want them to go to Hell, the reality is that many people still choose to go to Hell even when given sufficient grace to say "yes" to Jesus.

For example, when Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic due to the faith of his four friends, that faith never took away the free will of the paralytic. Even though his friend’s intercessory action and desire for his healing brought him so close to Jesus as to make the choice much easier to say "yes" to Jesus, it did not take away his free will. He could have said "no" in his heart. If he did, Jesus would not have forgiven him his sins.

Also, consider the specific words that Jesus uses in His references to Hell. They are not only warnings on the danger of Hell. Some of them even affirm that people actually go there. For example, in Mt 7:13-14, Jesus doesn't just say that many follow the wide path to perdition (aka, Hell), He speaks of them entering the "gate". He then tells us that few find and follow the way to life. Or consider Mt 25 where Jesus talks about the separation of those destined for Heaven and those destined for Hell. If there is a "reasonable" hope that all can be saved, then why is there a separation? Should not our hope be based on the whole of Jesus’s message and not just on a part of it?

This is a sobering reality that we would all do well to consider. Not only for the sake of our own souls, but for the souls of others. We should all, according to our means and state in life, pray often for the salvation of souls who are outside God's salvific graces that they may be saved. Like the four faithful friends, we can help bring them close to Jesus. However, only they can say "yes" to Him.
4/6/2011 7:11:46 AM
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I had a revelation regarding this subject. I had a dream I went to a dark place, there was no light, no sound and nothing senses can perceive. I was fully conscious, floating in this nothingness. I couldn’t feel my body, just my thoughts were present. I know who I was and had all my memories. All of a sudden I started to remember my life and a terrible anxiety overcame me. I suspected where I was and became more anxious and desperate, didn’t know the time or date or since when I was there or if I would ever got out. This was a very real dream When I woke up, I was very disturbed. This unbearable anxiety was nothing I experienced before. I consulted the dream with a religious person (I wasn’t at the time)and suggested I visited the purgatory. After that something flashed in my mind and I realized this: in this place there was no light and I was anxious because I needed the light. God is the light, the absence of light is darkness. I was in Hell!. It surely felt like it. It makes sense.

Later I understood how someone would get there. God is energy and as energy He has a frequency. In order for us to be saved, we need to tune our soul to God's frequency, that is what we know as living in grace. Anyone or any religion or even without religion can do this thorough meditation, prayer and performing good deeds. Once you are in God's wavelength, when you die, you are pulled (like a magnet) to God's presence. If you are not in his wavelength, you are not pulled and remain in the eternal darkness.

That revelation changed my life, I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to God's service. God Bless
4/7/2011 4:45:29 PM
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Fr. Barron,

Don't we still have to hold to satan and fallen angels occupying hell as they are unchanging beings?
4/12/2011 11:05:19 AM
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1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." 618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth." 619
It seems to me that FR. Barron's position does damage to the teaching of the Church in the CCC. I think that the position of an empty hell takes the warnings of Jesus to lightly. There is the possibility of taking too harsh a view that almost no one can get to heaven. I think that the reality is somewhere in between the extreams.
4/13/2011 8:27:40 AM
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Teresa Santoleri
It is with sadness that I listen to Fr. Barron's discourse on the existence of Hell. It seems that so many of our shepherds are leading us astray.
Jesus I believe mentions Hell thirty-three times in the Gospels. He preaches its existence not as a "possibility" but as an actuality. He tells us that MANY will not find the narrow gate which leads to life. He calls us to repentance, so that we can have life in him.
Our Lady in Fatima said that souls fall into hell like snowflakes. Father blithely rejects not only the teachings of Doctors of the Church St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas but also every other saint, many who had visions of Hell and with great personal sacrifice implore their flock to turn away from sin. St. John Vienney spent countless hours in the confessional, others were martyrs, or missionaries, all for one purpose to call people to conversion.
In light of Christ's teaching I think it is unreasonable to hope that ALL people are saved. When I am praying for souls I always pray with hope for their salvation. One wonderful thing about God is that since he is utside of time I can even pray for those that have died, that they will have a happy death united with Christ. The problem is that when someone has lived their entire life rejecting God's love, they may easily continue to reject his Mercy.
I think it is very dangerous to have the presumption as Father suggests that we can hope that everyone is saved. I don't think Jesus would have said of Judas that it would have been better if he had never been born, if he would eventually have eternal life. In our sphere of influence, we must continue to be a witness of Christ's call to holiness, and not be lulled into complacency by platitudes about the underpopulation of hell.
4/13/2011 10:49:20 AM
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michael jaffray king
Dear Teresa
One thing that I can promise you is, that Father Robert Barron is leading no one astray.In fact very very very much the opposite. I do not know of hardly anyone who has and is doing more to win souls and present our awesome Church to the world than Father Bob.
Never does he say that there is no Hell.
He just says that it is reasonable to HOPE that eventually no one will linger in Hell for ever.
I like that position because it gives me hope that as I pray for all souls to go to heaven and especially those who are in most need of His mercy, that this prayer of mine given to the children of Fatima can and will hopefully be answered.
For me this prayer is a key.
Every day I meet people who are already in Hell. They are lonely and want to remain so. I as a simple missionary try to help them but many times I cannot but instead pray for them.
Therese of Licieux, with her very first convert, is a super example for me that we as humans should never give up hope on people. You probably know the story well. There is a convicted murderer who is on his way to the guillotine. He has refused the Priests and the cross and only curses and blasphemes. If ever there was a more hopeless case, and a more likely candidate for hell it would be hard to imagine. Therese does not give up, she continues to interceded for this man and then at the very last moment he grabs a hold of the cross, and the Priest who is standing by is able to help him to repent.
We too should keep that hope strong as otherwise we will be guilty of judging others in a very unmerciful way.
If God wants to send people to an eternal Hell then that is His business not mine. Well it is my business to warn every one with every breath in my body, and I hope you do that and take every opportunity to do so??? until my last breath that this Hell is a distinct possibility but my hope is that the prayers of the saints and incidentally your prayers too will help such souls not to go there.
I hope that was a help and God bless you!
4/13/2011 12:46:33 PM
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David P. Hahn
@ John

Since you have quoted the CCC. I will quote it as well because the CCC makes the case that Father Barron is correct. They basically say the same thing he says. 1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: "Lord, let me never be
parted from you." If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also
true that God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him "all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).

Meaning with God it is possible that all men will be saved. So if the CCC says it is possible than we can hope they are ( all in heaven and not in hell). This statement would not be made by the Church if they knew people were in hell because than it would no longer be possible.
4/13/2011 7:38:02 PM
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This is the point; If Fr. Barron is winning souls, what is he winning them for? If we can reasonably hope that they will be saved anyway then why bother the poor folks. We win souls to gain them heaven and save them from hell. If I get the same thing you get without effort why would I strive to be holy. We could eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we all go to heaven. A supposed reasonable hope that hell is empty takes away the reason to work out your salvation in fear and trembling. By the way Jesus died to redeem mankind, salvation is what we must attain by grace through faith and works.
If someone goes to hell for 5 minutes or 100,000 years, still it is as a speck compared to eternity, hardly any difference at all. Sin has offended an infinite God therefore the punishment is infinite if not repented for.
We never give up hope for people but after death comes the judgment and we should not judge their souls one way or the other. It is just as much in error to assume they are in heaven as in hell. This does not mean that God will not judge them. The scripture and the Church say that they will be judged.
Unless you are a mystic or have been graced by a vision, I doubt very seriously that you have ever met anyone already in hell. You may see someone’s life as what you would think of as a living hell but this is just your opinion. The hell we are speaking of is the actual hell of the damned and not just poor living conditions or mental illness. This may be the cross that they have been given to lead them to the Church and God.
Hell is there for the fallen angels that chose not to serve. It is eternal. Jesus said that many follow the road that goes to destruction. He also said that he would separate the wheat and the chaff, the saved and the damned, the sheep and the goats, and that the goats, chaff, damned, would be thrown into the everlasting fire prepared for Satan and the fallen angels.
God does not want to send people to hell but he gave us free will. If we choose through our beliefs and actions to go to hell then He will not overpower or trick us into heaven. I do not want anyone in hell but that does not make it reality. There is divine justice. God is merciful and just. We can’t just hope for lollipops and rainbows when Jesus revealed everlasting fire where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is never quenched. If I am wrong then we will all be there in heaven but if I am right then maybe warning sinners of hell will give them the reason to seek God.
I am not bashing Fr. Barron. I really enjoy a lot of his videos. This one seems so much out of place.
Dr. Ludwig Ott in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma says:
1. The Reality of Hell
The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous sin enter hell. (De fide.)
Then a few sentences later:
The Athanasian Creed declares: “But those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.
Hell is something to be feared, not something uncomfortable to be hoped away. We did not create hell and cannot make the reality of it go away.
4/14/2011 7:20:24 PM
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I've talked about this a couple of times at my blog. Rob Bell is recognizing some fundamental issues in his theology. When you don't have the Church as your guide, this is what you do: heresy.

Hoping that everyone will go to heaven and believing that no one will go to hell is very different. I think this is more about our attitude toward each person we come into contact with in our life, not our belief about eternal damnation.

The Scriptures, The Catechism, the 2nd council of Constantinople, and the Church Fathers make it clear that there is an eternal punishment. We acknowledge it in our act of contrition in Confession ("just punishments") and in the Eucharist prayers ("departed brothers and sisters"). Since, the Lord desires that "none should perish" let that be our desire, but since our Lord also taught that broad is the road, let's not be nieve either.
4/14/2011 9:02:33 PM
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I think Hell is empty. God loves all his children and no way he would allow any of them go through suffering. He is always there for us. And He loves us to such a great extent. Though we must believe and do good deeds so we can earn the passageway to heaven.
4/15/2011 8:59:59 PM
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It is meaningless to speak of "freely rejecting God". The person who rejects God isn't free, but enslaved to sin. Those whom God sets free will love him.
4/17/2011 4:10:56 PM
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I think that it's WAY OFF to reasonably hope that all will be saved. It's like "reasonably hoping" that no one will die of cancer. On the other hand, I think that one can reasonably hope that each individual will be saved.

An analogy that illustrates my view is that of decomposing uranium. I can “reasonably hope” that a given particle will not have broken down after 4 half lives, but I cannot “hope” that it has not halved 4 times. There WILL be 1/16th remaining. Hoping for THAT is not virtue, but stupidity.

I know that the percentage of humanity who will be damned is going to be more than zero.
4/20/2011 4:21:46 AM
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David. P Hahn

Nobody knows that. I have heard countless priest and bishops beside Father Barron say that not even the Church knows that. If that is true why would the CCC say what I quoted above "Lord, let me never be
parted from you." If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also
true that God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him "all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).

Thats the key. With God all things are possible. Your thinking as man not as God. The CCC says it is possible. So we can hope for it. Whether or not it happens we don't know.
4/23/2011 10:39:53 AM
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John Tuturice
To Henry: To say that Hell is empty is a heresy and quite frankly, false compasion. While God's perfect mercy trumps his perfect justice, it only does so if we ask for it. We have a free will for a reason and that is so we may choose to live in God's love. If we say no, we do not enter into that union with God.

Should a bank robber, a murderer be allowed to roam free in a just society? When you say that Hell is empty, that is the relative equivalent of saying that bank robbers and murderers should roam free in society. Empty out the prisons!

... seriously. Jesus warned of the dangers of Hell more than he spoke of the glories of Heaven. Why? Why does anyone receive a severe warning about a danger? For the simple reason that the danger is very real!

Look, I'm sure you don't mean to be writing heresay. You, like I and many others are a product of some degree from decades of cotton candy homilies that rarely, if ever, touch on the hard truths that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels.

However, we can not stay there. The Church, in Her wisdom, has given us the Catechism and numerous other resources ... most of which are available for free on the internet. Don't stay in ignorance. Seek the higher, fuller truth that is available to us.

God bless,
4/23/2011 11:53:23 AM
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John Tuturice
To David P. Hahn,

I think you are missing the nuance of both the CCC passages on Hell and of Jeff. Neither is saying to not hope for individuals to be saved or to even pray that all may be saved, for surely that is a possibility due to the actions of Jesus.

However, and this is the BIG however ... Jesus warned of the dangers of Hell so severely that if we are to take Him at face value we MUST acknowledge that while no individual person is specifically known to be in Hell, there are most definately people in Hell.

Matt 25:31-46 is a perfect example of this. Similar to the bread of life discourse in John 6, Jesus does not mince words here. There will be people that suffer eternal damnation. I don't know how much clearer it can get than that.

What we should do is take the lead of the four faithful friends in Mark 2:1-12 that lead to forgiveness of the paralytic's sins by praying often for those who are outside the salvific grace of God in the hope that they may be saved.

However, if we are to be honest, we must acknowledge that no matter how powerful Jesus's salvific act was, no matter how much our intercessory prayer and acts can bring people closer to Jesus ... in the end, they must choose whether or not they want to be with God. Period.

Do I hope, in a human hope, that all will be saved? YES! But, do I realize that some will not choose God in the end? Sadly ... yes. All the more reason why we should pray often for those who need it for salvation.
4/23/2011 12:15:06 PM
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michael jaffray king
Dear JT
I agree with nearly all you say and also with nearly all of those who say differently.
One factor that we cannot calculate is just how effective our prayers are for those who have passed on. Maybe we pray without fasting..I know I do..I wish I had more conviction to fast... Maybe my motivation, devotion and my concentration are not nearly effective enough.
I think it is quite reasonable to have this hope that even after being cast into hell, the most powerful and loving force in the Universe, may in the end when He sees contrition come upon those being tormented to say enough is enough.
No where in scripture does it hint at that but with God all things are possible.
You and I are not God or anywhere near being with the same mind that He has.
We are neither Loving enough or dedicated enough or merciful enough or wise enough to be able to say exactly what goes on.
We know that Purgatory is a place where we will be purged and made perfect enough to gain entrance into Heaven.
Our prayers for those in Purgatory are very valuable and their prayers for us too are valuable.
I am an evangelist and I am out every day except Sundays warning people and compelling people and lovingly advising people to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Even though I may hope that all eventually will be saved does not deter me or in any way impede me from going out and giving the Roman Catholic Christian message of salvation through Jesus Christ and the need to take part in the Eucharistic feast of His Bride the Church, as often as possible.
Once we become too dogmatic, I think we are in danger. The Lord is in control and it may well be that there is no way out of Hell ever.
Maybe it is not just a remedial punishment but an Eternal Punishment like the Bible and Jesus seem to clearly point out.
However if God wants to change the rules out of Love and compassion then that is His business.
So I will take the stance of CS Lewis and Father Bob and leave this complicated and fascinating subject in His hands and of course not to be complacent but instead hopeful.
Have you ever thought that your prayers for somebody who is even now dead, a really bad person who hated and disbelieved in Jesus or God can still arrive in time(there is no time in eternity) before their death as a prayer in their defence and a plea for mercy for them.
I have relations that probably have no business to be anywhere but firmly in an everlasting Hell. Even as I write this they have been pretty much condemned by me but and this is the big but, I still pray for them believing that in some way my prayer for these rather objectionable characters could somehow receive mercy.
If they do not then that is God's business but at least I can say that I have not given up on them even after the point of death and the first judgement. If God wants to give up on them and knows that they will never change then that is something that only He is able to effectively know, understand and do.
Now here is a question for you.???
What would be the point of any punishment if it was not remedial?????.
That is just from the point of view of Logic?????...
4/24/2011 1:54:35 AM
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To minimize hell and make it irrelevant is can put souls in great danger if they are inclined to believe that hell is not a possibility for them. If this is so then sin is irrelevant also. Since there is nothing that one can do to lose heaven then all of the talk of right and wrong is bunk. One can do what he will and have no fear. Once this heresy is believed then who needs religion or God for that matter. If there is a heaven then surly I will be there no matter what and if there is not then I am no worse off than the atheist. I don’t need to burden myself with all of this pious religiosity. I can satisfy my carnal will with impunity. I decide what is right and wrong for me. Wow sounds like the serpent in the garden.
As far as a Priest that believes this, how can I believe he really has concern for my soul to correct me and help me to get to heaven? Maybe he will say that contraception or abortion is ok. I will already get there in his mind. So if I sin he doesn’t necessarily have to correct me, if it isn’t politically expedient or politically correct. Not a biggie, I will go to heaven anyway. I can kill, rape, extort, lie or any other sin I care to commit because it does not matter in the end. By the way, if we will all end up in heaven then I don’t have to go to confession because it does effectively nothing in the end. Yep, sounds like hell to me.
I think I will believe Jesus and the Church. Some of you are putting people in hell through your teaching. It may also be your fate for doing so. May God have mercy on your soul.
4/24/2011 8:49:58 AM
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michael jaffray king
Dear John,,,
Like so many I really think that you have missed the point. Hardly any of the contributors to this excellent blog have said that Hell does not exist. Certainly not Father Bob,
It is just a Hope.
I like this HOPE because it gives me the opportunity to pray for those as I have said in my previous comments.
Please try and see the wood for the trees.
No one or almost no one is jumping to the conclusion that there is no ETERNAL Hell.
It is just a Hope that is all.
4/24/2011 1:34:49 PM
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I think it would have been better put, then, that it is our part as disciples of Christ, to "charitably hope" that all human souls will be saved.

The fact that so many angels, originally created good by God, chose to reject God irrevocably, and that they make it their business now to seduce human souls into joining them in their proud foolish decision, must give us cause, along with many other proofs from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, to "reasonably expect" that there will be some human souls who will also make that fatal decision, just as the fallen angels (it is said 1/3 of them followed Lucifer into hell) did.

The CCC is always a light:


391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268

392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God."270 The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".271

393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."272

It is reasonable then, however heartbreaking and troublesome it may be to imagine, that we as Christians "reasonably surmise" that some human souls will not accept salvation, just as the fallen angels proudly chose not to serve.

Of course we are to lovingly hope and work for the salvation of each and every human's soul, and never be so proud or so callous as to think we might do God's job of sorting out who's who, sheep or goat. Our job, as some here have already stated, is not only to get ourselves on the right path to Heaven, but seek to help all those souls that God leads us to into Heaven as well. There does always seem to be a certain amount of disagreement about how that is best attempted, but I think God has not just one way of using so many unique and gifted disciples. We do seem to tend to make ourselves judges at times of whether or not one’s call of evangelizing is equal to or as good as another’s. Pride is a hard part of original sin to be rid of, yes?

But I think some have made a solid doctrinal point based in sound Catholic teaching. It does seem misleading to state that we may "reasonably hope" that all souls will be saved. It tends to give one the impression that everyone will make that choice to serve God and not self before they die, because after all, who could possibly be so proud and selfish as to want to be eternally separated from our loving God? Especially in this day and age in the Church when it appears that to a great extent the human race (we Catholics included, as evidenced by the lack of reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and our cavalier attitude toward personal sin) have greatly dismissed the idea of original and actual sin in our lives.

Well, after all is said, it is a truth of the faith that many very intelligent beings (the fallen angels) made that proud choice to reject God’s love rather than to serve Him. I'm not sure why any human creature would reasonably think that fatal choice could not also be made by any one of us mere humans.

It is a good Christian heart and mind that seeks and hopes and works for the salvation of all mankind. It is also a good Christian heart and mind that is keenly aware of the battle for souls that is being carried on in this life, every moment of our existence.

This life on earth is neither Heaven nor Hell. It can seem like one or the other at times, but it is not. It is in reality, as harsh as the term may seem, a battleground for souls.

And lingering in Purgatory for a brief or long time, is also not Hell. If you make it to Purgatory, you're on your way to Heaven. Souls in Hell do not have that option. And when we die, we will be either going to Heaven or Hell. Period. There is no such thing as "lingering" in Hell. Like Heaven, it's a permanent residence.

Whether Hell is crowded or empty seems like a silly question, really. Certainly it is not empty. Now whether it’s crowded or not, who cares? If a soul winds up chosing that place along with the proud fallen angels and souls who have made that same selfish choice, then it really doesn’t matter how crowded it is. It’s not going to be any kind of place I hope anyone would choose through selfish pride.

Fact remains though, that some do. And that is tragically sad. But the Church clearly teaches that once a soul makes that choice and dies in that choice, it’s irrevecocable.

Lucifer cried out “Non servium — I will not serve.” In response, St. Michael the Archangel called the faithful to do battle against Lucifer and it’s a battle that continues till the end of time.

Let us hope and pray and work with St. Michael and the Queen of Heaven’s good army of angels and saints, and with St. Michael the Archangel, humbly, lovingly, and boldly echo his call to action, “Quis sicut Deus — Who is like unto God?” and allow God the Most Holy Trinity to use us, too, as soldiers in His most holy army.
4/24/2011 3:10:06 PM
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Everybody here is right and wrong at the same time. There is no hell, as it has been described. But there is indeed an eternal torment for all souls not being with God. In my vision, I saw a place of total darkness but the anxiety you felt like burning your soul. I refuse to accept the notion of an all loving God that SEND people to hell, that wasn't what God showed me. People send themselves not to be with God by not being in God's wavelength (in God's grace).
4/24/2011 7:15:01 PM
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David P. Hahn
@John Tuturice
You said
"Do I hope, in a human hope, that all will be saved? YES! But, do I realize that some will not choose God in the end? Sadly ... yes."

I'm glad you hope all will be saved. So do I. I don't know if all will be or not. I don't think you or I really know if anybody doesn't choose God. We don't know.

I know a man who was totally worldly. Rich young a party animal. To make a long story short God gave him a mystical experience. He saw every sin he ever committed and how it effected people. The first sin he saw was when he was five and stole a match box car from a store. He saw how that made the store owner suspicious of everyone from that day forward. He saw how he used women and felt the pain he caused them. This happened with every sin he committed. This all happened within a short time frame although the acts took a life time to committ. God can suspend time and do this. He said when he came to he was kneeling on the ground soaked in sweat and tears from what he saw. He is a devote Catholic Priest today. He was about to married to beautiful women as well.

My thouht is that God can do this to everyone the second before they die. Suspend time and show every person what this now Catholic priest saw. Is it possible that God could do this. Of course he could. Would God do this if it would help a person repent. I think He would. He wants all souls in heaven more than the soul wants to be in heaven.

So I would like to present this as a possibility. That God puts all souls through this experience before they die. If a person experiences this and still has no remorse than yes they might go to hell. I just wonder if anybody after experiencing such a dramatic thing would still not repent. Maybe some wouldn't. I really don't know. My point is we don't really know whether or not any human soul is in hell or not. I'm not saying it is impossible or hasn't happened. The fact is from what I have heard from many priest and bishops is that we really don't know.

The story about the sheep and the goats doesn't say there are going to be goats to separate. It only says that God will separate the goats from the sheep and it says who will be a goat and who will be a sheep when that happens. Perhaps our Lord told the story so that all people would know how to be a sheep and not a goat. No where does this say whether or not there will be any goats to separate from the flock.
4/24/2011 8:52:49 PM
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michael jaffray king
It seems pretty obvious from talking to thousands of people that they do not believe in Jesus Christ. They surely go to Hell if they maintain this attitude. However as I see it that maybe after suffering in a Hell of hopefully some kind of remedial punishment, that they will be given the opportunity to think again. That is my hope.
The thief on the cross was not a believer until he had suffered excruciating pain by being nailed to the cross. He woke up to the fact of Christ considerably faster than his comrade on the other side of Jesus.My hope is, and it is only a hope, that by now that rebellious thief will have seen the error of his ways and like the so called good thief is able to make it back into the arms of Jesus. A silly hope??? Maybe, but it is my hope.
4/25/2011 1:14:21 AM
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Good post Ken. I agree. Catholic dogma and teaching is well defined. Hell is too difficult a doctrine and dogma for many. Like John 6, where the disciples left Jesus over the hard teaching on the Eucharist, This is another hard truth.
The term used " I don't know if there is anyone is in hell" can also be applied as I don't know how many are in heaven. Other than knowing that some are is about as far an I can go. If I assume God will save all men then I am guilty of the sin of presuming on the mercy of God, especially after what Jesus taught about hell. As I said in an earlier post, It is just as much in error to assume they are in heaven as in hell.
This is starting to remind me of the discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
4/25/2011 8:50:03 AM
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I think maybe there are many reasons that we are hesitant to acknowledge Christ and His Church's teaching on the reality of Hell and that Hell is, and is to be, populated with some human souls as well as the original fallen angels.

Whatever the motive behind our acceptance of this reality, it is a dangerous thing for us to over-intellectualize our Lord's teaching, like for example the Pharisee's who were seeking to undermine his Truth, or, as Mother Angelica used to say, not to accept His Truth due to a "misguided compassion" which goes against the firm, merciful, and just teachings of His Holy and Apostolic Church.

I think in these times it is so difficult, often enough, for us to hear His Clear Voice as there is so much open sin and open denial of Him — intellectually, spiritually, and morally. What a confusing age we live in! Thankfully, we have Jesus and Mary and the rock of St. Peter, Christ's One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, to guide us. And even then, one has to be willing to listen very closely as often enough there are those within Her ranks who, through one reason or another, choose to listen to the world, or themselves, or the devil, rather than Jesus, Who comes to us through Our Blessed Mother Mary.

As for His teaching, it is quite clear really, in all areas of Divine Revelation — Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church — some human souls will end up in Hell. Forever, eternally. That certainly is a cause for concern. "Everlasting punishment," as Jesus Himself has warned us.

How clearly He states this in His Gospel according to St. Matthew:

"[31] And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. [32] And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. [34] Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

[36] Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? [39] Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? [40] And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

[41] 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. [42] For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. [43] I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. [44] Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? [45] Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

[46] And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Sheep and goats. And yes, He did say that there would be "goats" who shall go into "everlasting" punishment.

Now, will we sit back and listen to the intellectual obsfuscations that inevitably go out like smoke from a dying fire! :*)

God bless us all, and help us dear Lord, overcome our fear, our self-love, and our foolish pride. How weak and needy I am, and in such great need of You always.

Pax Christi
4/25/2011 11:20:19 AM
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michael jaffray king
Dear Ken I believe that most of us know only too well all the scriptures that you have quoted. They are scary stuff.
My question is this... If we believe implicitly as you say we should then surely we should spend every spare moment trying with all means at our disposal to prevent people from being swallowed up by Satan and then enduring Everlasting Punishment.
That would be the obvious thing to do... Luke Ch 14 v 33
Mark 16 15
Taking no thought of what we should eat and drink or clothe ourselves.
Just spend every spare minute working tirelessly for God and His Kingdom...
Personally I try to do just that and have been doing that for the past 40 years.
As far as I can tell from the people I meet every single day, is that the vast majority are going to Hell and don't even seem to care.
Now whose fault is that???
Only theirs???
Are they the only ones to blame???
OR do you and I have a part to play in their wickedness and rebellion???
Have we fasted and prayed for them.. Do we go up to them with a smile even when it is extremely embarrassing and try to make friends with them.
Are we daily perfect Ambassadors of Grace and Mercy to those around us?
If you are honest and I am going to believe that you are then you fall dismally short as we all do on this matter.
I am going to work and take seriously all those terrifying scriptures BUT at the same time I am going to secretly or rather on this blog openly hope for some kind of eventual mercy for these miserable wretches. Why? Because I am to blame for their position..I and the Church and those in it are to blame too.
We do not know their circumstances. Maybe if I had lived in their kind of state I would be a Devil worshipper instead of a devoted to Jesus and Mary Christian.
The fact that I love my Church warts and all is a gift of God and nothing really for me to pat myself on the back for, although I would like to take the credit.
There is no easy answer for all this because if we take these words literally then the blood of those in Hell is going to be very much on our hands.
Ezekiel Ch 3 17 to 19 if I remember correctly..
Let's hope that by throwing our selves at the feet of His Mercy, that He will allow us to enter in.. It will only be by His Mercy and His Grace that you or Father Bob or anyone will ever make it.
God help those who do not and let us continue to pray... Save s from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in the most need of Thy Mercy.
4/25/2011 12:30:30 PM
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michael jaffray king
You know I think that all these very tough and terrifying verses are put there just as much for us the so called righteous Christians as for those who need to be warned by them.. What do you think????
4/25/2011 12:33:11 PM
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Yes, Michael, I think the verses are there for ALL of us. And we are all responsible for souls, for our own first and foremost, and then in some ways the souls of those that God chooses to lead us to for the purpose of evangelization. Jesus makes that clear, as well, in the scripture from St. Matthew that was quoted in my previous post. As we do to the least of these, so we do unto Him."

Here again, though, who but God can know if what we are doing is our utmost for Him. No doubt, you, I, and every Christian has fallen short of that "perfection" in Christ while still laboring in this "valley of tears", "poor banished children of Eve."

Our Holy Mother the only one being conceived without sin.

I was just reading a small portion of "Reconciliatio et Paenetentia," JPII's Apostolic Exhortation, Dec. 2, 1984, which deals with matters of mortal and venial sins, and the difference between the two types.

As St. Paul wrote, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But the points made regarding the difference between mortal and venial sins is germane, I would think, to the answering of your question regarding individual culpability for the souls of others God leads us to.

And only God can judge whether or not we have failed mortally in that area, I would think. Ours is to do our best, I would say, and not fail in our call, which as I mentioned earlier, may likely be as unique to each individual disciple as God so ordains it. There are many different parts to the body of Christ, yes?

1 Cor. 12, yes? We must be careful to remain humbly in Christ:

"And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help; nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you. [22] Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary."

Each part must serve its purpose, yes?

God bless you, Michael. I very much admire your zeal and desire to serve wholeheartedly our Savior.

To Jesus through Mary, your brother in Christ,


I'm sorry to have to be away from this for a time now as I have things I must attend to. Pax Christi.
4/25/2011 2:05:08 PM
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David P. Hahn
I think michael jaffray king makes some great points. Ponts I have thought of myself but didn't articulate. If you look at the CCC as to what they say is grave matter or mortal sin compared to venial sin we are all committing mortal sins or sins of grave matter. None of us can get into heaven by or works alone. We need the Mercy of God. What gets people into heaven is relying on God's Mercy. Those who rely on God's mercy will be forgiven and justified through His Mercy. That is why it is so important to tell people of God's mercy and not "you better watch out or you'll go to hell." People need to know God is Merciful. Not excuse their sinfulness but so they understand God's goodness and want to follow him because of that goodness.
4/26/2011 2:33:54 PM
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David P. Hahn
Wonder what people thought of this. A friend sent it to me.

The Easter Sermon of
St. John Chrysostom
Bishop of Constantinople (c. A.D. 400)

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!
4/26/2011 2:53:50 PM
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michael jaffray king
What a VICTORIOUS writing from Saint John Chrysostom!!
Now that turns my key and I am sure that no one will have difficulty with that.
I loved every word of it and will copy paste for use in the future.
Thanks so much David and Ken and Father Bob. This Post of yours Father has really helped us all to learn about so many side issues like Humility, and Self Righteousness. It seems the more we comment the more we learn.
This subject has helped us and Yes I think the Greatest Lesson is to, like Saint Therese of Licieux, throw ourselves, no matter what good or half good or just plain bad we have done,at the Mercy of a Loving Father. Like the Pilgrim's prayer... Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me and on my friends and enemies too. Repeated often 12,000 times a day like the Pilgrim was taught until it was soaked into his bones.
With the Rosary and prayers like this we will all make it!!!
And we will be instrumental into helping others to make it too. Even the absolutely hopeless cases!!! Never give up on anybody. Hard but a real challenge.
4/26/2011 4:16:16 PM
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I can't conceive an all loving God that decides to send someone to hell. Is not logical. God doesn't send anyone to hell, people send themselves by not living in grace. Salvation is simple: you either live in grace or you don't. If you live in grace (with all duties and responsibilities that implies) you are saved if not, your soul will reside in the eternal darkness.
4/26/2011 7:26:53 PM
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David M
Fr. Barron,
1.) Are you saying that you really think it is possible (looking at our world and human history) that no one has ever died with an un-confessed mortal sin on his conscience? The Catechism says that such a person would proceed directly to hell and remain there forever (CCC 1033-1041, 1861, 998). "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from God and the blessed is called ‘hell’" (CCC 1033).

2.) Are you prepared to say that the devil is not in hell or that the fallen angels will not be condemned to hell for all eternity? The Bible and the Catechism say the opposite.
(Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10; CCC 391-395). The fallen angels "irrevocably rejected God and his reign" and so their sin is "unforgiveable." "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death" (CCC 392-393).

3.) If you admit that the devil and the fallen angels are permanently in hell (or will be), which is what the Church clearly teaches, how can you say that Christ's mercy means we can reasonably hope that all men are saved, but that we can't reasonably hope that all angels are saved?

4.) How do you deal with the many Scriptures that speak about hell and its eternity in the Gospels, the New Testament Letters, and the Book of Revelation? For instance, Jesus says that the road to destruction is broad and many take it. See Matthew 5:22, 29-30; 7:13; 10:22; 10:28; 11:23; 13:30, 41-42, 49-50; 18:8-9; 22:13; 23:33; 24:51; 25:13, 30, 41, 46, etc. See Revelation 19:20; 20:13-15.

5.) How do you deal with Fatima and other Church approved private revelations that clearly describe hell and declare that there are individual human beings who are already there?

6.) What does salvation even mean if all are automatically saved by Jesus? Why would he call people to conversion in order to save them? Salvation implies that one is being saved from something. If Jesus saves everyone, then why does the New Testament (St. Paul, etc.) exhort us so often to strive for salvation, as if there is an aspect of it that requires our faith or cooperation? "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12). What about all the people who St. Paul says will not inherit the Kingdom of God? What about the fact that St. Paul tells us that people can forfeit their salvation? (1 Tim 1:19-20). Why would the New Testament say people will be saved "if" they do certain things (like repent or receive baptism or forgive others or act charitably) or have faith? What if someone does not love or forgive or ask for forgiveness? Jesus says such a person cannot be saved. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). And it is clear from real world experience that many people do not do things like forgiving others. Of course, we leave the judging of individuals to God, and we pray for all the departed (good and bad), but we know that not all people are dying in a state of grace. Salvation is offered to all, but it is also clearly contingent on free human choices (our response to God’s invitation), and our human responses are greatly varied.

I have enjoyed many of your lectures, but my heart sank when I heard you on this topic.
Even if you have managed to thread the needle here with a nuanced interpretation that has not yet been condemned by the Church, what you have done with these very public comments is not prudent. It may in fact be scandalous. In a private theological discussion this opinion of yours would have been fine, but you are a well respected catechist priest. Case in point: you may have caused scandal to a person I know who was about to enter the Church. By so clearly watering down and explaining away obvious Scriptural (and Catechism) texts affirming hell's existence, you may have made it more difficult for "Bible believing Protestants" to become Catholic. Please read the Scriptures I cited above and reconsider your position. We pray for all. No one on this side of the veil knows who exactly is in hell short of some private revelation. But we do know there are people and angels there. Even if you are correct, and Jesus was just using hyperbole to scare us, why should you replace Jesus' own form of teaching with a watered down version of your own? If He wanted us to see the horror of the possibility of hell so that we turn back to our loving Father, you have succeeded only in lessoning the salutary impact of this effective "hyperbole" by pointing it out as such. Either way, you are not doing people any good with this hypothesis. You could have reminded us of the unfathomable goodness, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ without conjecturing that hell might be empty.
4/26/2011 10:00:58 PM
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What can equal the blindness of him who sells eternal happiness for the fleeting and bitter pleasures of this world? How incomprehensible is the ignorance of him who neither fears Hell nor strives for Heaven; who feels no horror for sin; who disregards the menaces as well as the promises of God; who makes no preparation for death, which hourly seizes its victims; who does not see that momentary joys here are laying up for him eternal torments hereafter! "They have not known or understood; they walk on in darkness "(Ps. 81:5) of sin through this life, and will pass from it to the eternal darkness of the life to come. 

From: The Sinners Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada, Tan Publishing, page 117
4/27/2011 9:29:49 AM
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Word On Fire
This comment thread has had an interesting and lively run. A review of the comments from the last several days has led me to conclude that the conversation here has finally exhausted its possibilities. I thank everyone who has taken part in this dialogue. Since I do have the advantage of having the last word here I would like to say that it seems that some postings on this forum have misunderstood Father Barron’s position or have taken their disagreement with Father’s position as in some way indicating that Father’s position is “scandalous” or that his profession of the Catholic Faith is questionable. This is unfortunate. As a point of clarification, Father Barron has in no way denied the orthodox position in regards to the Church’s understanding of hell, which concerns its duration and its existence. The Church’s Magisterium has made no formal definition (except in regards to the fallen angels) concerning number of the inhabitants in hell. For those who wish to consider a more detailed analysis of how the Church discerns how a theological opinion or position squares with the deposit of Faith, I would recommend this article ( ) posted on the Word on Fire blog. For a further clarification of Father’s position, consider this article ( or this video ( ) or this radio interview ( ).

For those of you who have stated a theological opinion contrary to Father Barron’s hope that God might effect the redemption of even the most recalcitrant sinner (and have asserted that many people are most certainly damned), please understand that while such a position is not contrary to what can believed about hell, it does not represent, in any way, sure and certain teaching. To assert that it is, is to go beyond what the Church actually professes and proposes for belief in regards to the population of hell. It seems to me to be an odd kind of hope that one would desire that people be in hell rather than holding out for an alternative, but in this respect, one is entitled to one’s theological opinion. The Magisterium, in its wisdom, has held back from a formal definition in respect to these issues, leaving room for theological opinion, and we might consider if there is something for us to learn from this example.

Further, some have remarked that, unless the belief that hell is currently inhabited by damned human souls is strongly encouraged without nuance, somehow a moral laxity might set in that would provoke indifference to the possibility of eternal perdition. Perhaps this is the case, but I don’t know that the reality and duration of hell, truths of the Faith that we must believe, is made any more frightening by insisting that I might one day meet my neighbors in hell. There is already enough in what the Church formally teaches about hell to frighten me, but I guess some might require more than this.

Finally, fear of hell or of punishment might be a motivator to achieve a virtuous life (it even represents the beginning of moral consciousness for many), but for the Christian who seeks holiness such a disposition can only be a preliminary stage in the spiritual life. I might, out of fear, reverence God or seek my neighbor’s good, but Christ’s commandments in regards to the moral life expect more of us than to do what is virtuous because we fear reprisals. Christ commands us to love God and our neighbor and to do so, not simply because we fear what he will do if we don’t, but because in loving God and our neighbor we have the opportunity to love him and share in his divine life. The worst part of the scenario that Christ sets up for us in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel is not just the terrifying judgment, but the realization that an opportunity to love Christ has been lost and cannot be recovered. Christ’s desire that we love God and our neighbor presses upon us with an urgency greater than fear of hell because the possibilities to fulfill his will in this regard are much more immediate to our experience. Anyone who has sought to keep Christ’s commandment to love God and neighbor has likely discovered a much more demanding way of life than simply doing what is good as a means of avoiding punishment. All this being said, it seems to me that love for Christ may just be a more important motivation and invitation to holiness of life than anything else. Some, evidently, beg to differ on this point, and choose a different way. For hope of heaven and fear of hell, let us keep our advocacy of our respective positions charitable and free of spurious accusations.

The comments are now closed.

Father Steve Grunow
4/27/2011 3:12:12 PM
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